Ronna Burger

Ronna Burger is Professor of Philosophy, Catherine & Henry J. Gaisman Chair, and Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University, where she has been teaching since 1980.   She is the author of books on Plato’s Phaedrus (Alabama 1980) and The Phaedo: A Platonic Labyrinth (Yale 1984, St. Augustine’s Press 1999), as well as Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates: On the Nicomachean Ethics (Chicago 2008).   Burger’s work on Plato and Aristotle provided a basis for extending her studies in recent years to Maimonides and the Hebrew Bible.  Publications include “Maimonides on Knowledge of Good and Evil: The Guide of the Perplexed I.2,” in Political Philosophy Cross-Examined (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) and “Male and Female Created He Them: Some Platonic Reflections on Genesis 1-3,” in The Nature of Woman and the Art of Politics (Rowman & Littlefield 2000).

In the Wilderness: Moses as Lawgiver and Founder

This paper traces the emergence and development of Moses’ role as founder and legislator in the narrative of Exodus and Numbers, with an eye to three moments in particular: his response to the episode of the golden calf, his subsequent encounter with God on Mt. Sinai for a second reception of the law, and finally, his exclusion from entrance into the promised land. My reflections on these three moments are inspired, in the first case, by Machiavelli’s account of what was required for Moses to establish new laws and orders, in the second, by Maimonides’ interpretation of the knowledge Moses seeks of God’s “glory” and His “ways,” and finally, by Plato’s thought about the withdrawal of the statesman and legislator on the model of a withdrawing god.