Averroes and Averroism in Medieval Jewish Thought (Maimonides Library for Philosophy and Religion, 4) 9004679480, 9789004679481

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Table of contents :
Contents
Foreword
Notes on Contributors
Part 1
What Is Jewish Averroism?
1
Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist? Some Provocative Reflections on Jewish Averroism
2
How a Rehabilitated Notion of Latin Averroism Could Help in Understanding Jewish Averroism
Part 2
The Maimonides/Averroes Complex
3
Is Maimonides’s Biblical Exegesis Averroistic?
4 Averroes and Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ among the Jews:
New Interpretations for Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon’s Allegorical Correspondence with Maimonides
5
The Garden of Eden and the Scope of Human Knowledge: Maimonides, Falaquera, and Nissim of Marseille
6
The Role of Averroes’s Tahāfut in Narboni’s Commentary on the Guide
Part 3
Averroes in Jewish Religious Discourse
7
Averroism, the Jewish-Christian Debate, and Mass Conversions in Iberia
8
Double Truth in the Writings of Medieval Jewish Averroists: An Esoteric Way of Appealing to Both Sceptics and Non-sceptics
9
Averroes’s Influence upon Theological Responses to Scepticism in Late Medieval Jewish Philosophy
Part 4 Jewish Authors Doing Philosophy with (and about) Averroes
10
Love and Hate May Lead Astray: Moses Halevi’s Rejection of Averroes
11
Averroism in Judah ha-Cohen’s Midraš ha-ḥokhmah?
12
Falaquera the Averroist
13
The Necessary Existent, Simplicity, and Incorporeality: An Anti-Avicennian-Averroist Approach
14
Gersonides and Kaspi on the Uncertainty of the Future and the Practical Intellect
15
Rabbi Moses ben Judah (Rambi) as an Averroist
16
Crescas’s Attitude toward Averroes
17
Matter and Elements: Al-Ġazālī and Averroes as a Source of Isaac Abravanel’s “The Forms of the Elements”
Part 5
Averroes in Hebrew and from Hebrew
18
Choking on Water, the Stratification of Society, and the Death of Socrates in the Hebrew Averroes
19
Ṭodros Ṭodrosi’s accessus ad auctorem: A Hebrew “Aristotelian Prologue” to Averroes’s Middle Commentaries on Rhetoric and Poetics
20
Jacob Mantino and the Alleged Second Latin Translation of Averroes’s Long Commentary on On the Soul 3.5 and 3.36
Index
Recommend Papers

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Averroes and Averroism in Medieval Jewish Thought

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Maimonides Library for Philosophy and Religion General Editor Giuseppe Veltri (Universität Hamburg) Managing Editor Sarah Wobick-Segev (Universität Hamburg) Editorial Board Jonathan Garb (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Racheli Haliva (Shandong University) Yehuda Halper (Bar-Ilan University) Warren Zev Harvey (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, emeritus) Christine Hayes (Yale University) Julie Klein (Villanova University) Yitzhak Y. Melamed ( Johns Hopkins University) Stephan Schmid (Universität Hamburg) Josef Stern (University of Chicago, emeritus) Sarah Stroumsa (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, emerita) Irene E. Zwiep (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

volume 4

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/mlpr

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Averroes and Averroism in Medieval Jewish Thought Edited by

Racheli Haliva Yoav Meyrav Daniel Davies

LEIDEN | BOSTON

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Cover illustration: Averroes, Compendien, Shemaʿ ṭivʿi, Ha-shamayim ṿe-ha-ʿolam, Otot ha-ʿelyonot—BSB Cod.hebr. 208, f. 46v. Reproduced with kind permission from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Haliva, Racheli, editor. | Meyrav, Yoav, editor. | Davies, Daniel, 1977–editor. Title: Averroes and averroism in medieval Jewish thought / Racheli Haliva, Yoav Meyrav, Daniel Davies. Description: Leiden ; Boston : Brill, [2024] | Series: Maimonides library for philosophy and religion, 2666–8777 ; volume 4 | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2023045802 (print) | LCCN 2023045803 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004679481 (hardback) | ISBN 9789004685680 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Averroës, 1126–1198. | Averroës, 1126–1198—Influence. | Jewish philosophy—Early works to 1800. | Islamic philosophy—Early works to 1800. | Hebrew literature—History and criticism. | Philosophy, Medieval. Classification: LCC B749.Z7 A725 2024 (print) | LCC B749.Z7 (ebook) | DDC 181/.06—dc23/eng/20231107 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023045802 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023045803

Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download: brill.com/brill-typeface. issn 2666-8777 isbn 978-90-04-67948-1 (hardback) isbn 978-90-04-68568-0 (e-book) DOI 10.1163/9789004685680 Copyright 2024 by Racheli Haliva, Yoav Meyrav, and Daniel Davies. Published by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Schöningh, Brill Fink, Brill mentis, Brill Wageningen Academic, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Böhlau and V&R unipress. Koninklijke Brill NV reserves the right to protect this publication against unauthorized use. Requests for re-use and/or translations must be addressed to Koninklijke Brill NV via brill.com or copyright.com. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.

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Contents Foreword ix Racheli Haliva, Yoav Meyrav, and Daniel Davies Notes on Contributors xvi

Part 1 What Is Jewish Averroism? 1

Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist? Some Provocative Reflections on Jewish Averroism 3 Steven Harvey

2

How a Rehabilitated Notion of Latin Averroism Could Help in Understanding Jewish Averroism 28 Giovanni Licata

Part 2 The Maimonides/Averroes Complex 3

Is Maimonides’s Biblical Exegesis Averroistic? 47 Mercedes Rubio

4

Averroes and Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ among the Jews: New Interpretations for Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon’s Allegorical Correspondence with Maimonides 62 Reimund Leicht

5

The Garden of Eden and the Scope of Human Knowledge: Maimonides, Falaquera, and Nissim of Marseille 105 David Lemler

6

The Role of Averroes’s Tahāfut in Narboni’s Commentary on the Guide 121 Yonatan Shemesh

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Contents

Part 3 Averroes in Jewish Religious Discourse 7

Averroism, the Jewish-Christian Debate, and Mass Conversions in Iberia 185 Daniel J. Lasker

8

Double Truth in the Writings of Medieval Jewish Averroists: An Esoteric Way of Appealing to Both Sceptics and Non-sceptics 198 Shalom Sadik

9

Averroes’s Influence upon Theological Responses to Scepticism in Late Medieval Jewish Philosophy 219 Shira Weiss

Part 4 Jewish Authors Doing Philosophy with (and about) Averroes 10

Love and Hate May Lead Astray: Moses Halevi’s Rejection of Averroes 233 Yoav Meyrav

11

Averroism in Judah ha-Cohen’s Midraš ha-ḥokhmah? 249 Resianne Fontaine

12

Falaquera the Averroist 261 Yair Shiffman

13

The Necessary Existent, Simplicity, and Incorporeality: An Anti-Avicennian-Averroist Approach 287 Bakinaz Abdalla

14

Gersonides and Kaspi on the Uncertainty of the Future and the Practical Intellect 309 Alexander Green

15

Rabbi Moses ben Judah (Rambi) as an Averroist 328 Esti Eisenmann

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Contents

16

Crescas’s Attitude toward Averroes 350 Warren Zev Harvey

17

Matter and Elements: Al-Ġazālī and Averroes as a Source of Isaac Abravanel’s “The Forms of the Elements” 361 Elisa Coda

Part 5 Averroes in Hebrew and from Hebrew 18

Choking on Water, the Stratification of Society, and the Death of Socrates in the Hebrew Averroes 383 Yehuda Halper

19

Ṭodros Ṭodrosi’s accessus ad auctorem: A Hebrew “Aristotelian Prologue” to Averroes’s Middle Commentaries on Rhetoric and Poetics 397 Francesca Gorgoni

20 Jacob Mantino and the Alleged Second Latin Translation of Averroes’s Long Commentary on On the Soul 3.5 and 3.36 420 Michael Engel Index 437

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Foreword Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rušd, who was obviously not Jewish,1 was one of the most important figures in medieval Jewish philosophy. He was often referred to simply as “the renowned sage” and his works became the standard primary texts in almost all fields of scientific endeavour. To the Latins, he was known as “the commentator,” because they took his commentaries to be the most authoritative accounts of Aristotle’s thought. Many of these commentaries do not survive in Arabic but are extant in Hebrew, their proliferation reflecting Averroes’s authority among the Jews. Averroes is crucial for the history of Jewish thought and, mutatis mutandis, the Hebrew tradition is crucial for studying Averroes. The two are inseparable. As soon as he appeared on the scene, Averroes completely changed the Jewish philosophical landscape. He is present—or his presence is felt—in practically all philosophical and theological discussions. Through his commentaries, Averroes was the Jewish philosophers’ main source of Aristotelian science. When these philosophers wrote about Aristotle, they generally meant the Aristotle explained by Averroes. Of course, not all medieval Jewish authors were Aristotelians and, just as Aristotle represented a particular philosophical school that polarised opinion, Averroes too was a divisive figure, and his ideas were subject to dispute between the philosophers themselves. Besides controversies regarding particular philosophical questions that were part of the Aristotelian discourse, Averroes’s ideas about religion, authority, and sacred texts were taken on board. Some of these doctrines were considered to be difficult for Jewish authors to square with traditional ideas. Nevertheless, many were adopted as hermeneutical tools by which to interpret sacred texts or their commentaries, as shown by the ways in which they were pressed into service to explain the inner truths of biblical texts or of Judaism. Many such commentaries followed in the wake of Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed, and among them were streams in which Averroes was prominent. The combination between Averroes’s impact and Maimonides’s authority problematises matters further: sometimes they were put side by side, sometimes placed in opposition. 1 Averroes was accused by his persecutors of being of Jewish descent. Whether there was any truth to this is impossible to determine based on the available material. See Maribel Fierro, “Ibn Rushd al-Ḥafīd (Averroes) and his Exile to Lucena: Jewish Ancestry, Genealogy and Forced Conversion,” Al-Qanṭara 38, no. 2 (2017): 131–52 and Delfina Serrano, “Explicit Cruelty, Implicit Compassion: Judaism, Forced Conversions and the Genealogy of the Banu Rushd,” Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 2, no. 2 (2010): 217–33.

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In short, there are many layers to Averroes’s penetration into Jewish thought, rendering any attempt to capture it as a whole extremely difficult. This volume brings together a wide variety of papers on particular aspects of Averroes’s impact in a single place in order to attest, at least in a cursory way, to the reach that he had among the Jews. It is not supposed to be systematic and comprehensive, with a defined thesis, but is instead an attempt to present an overview of scholarship currently taking place, with the aim of indicating something of the range of fruitful ways in which Averroes’s works and ideas were transmitted, studied, discussed, digested, and criticised. Although Averroes’s influence in Hebrew has long been acknowledged and studied, research in the field has expanded and developed in recent years. Accordingly, some important Jewish authors do not feature heavily in this volume. A number of those who are well known have been treated extensively in essential analyses that should be consulted alongside the present work in order to acquire a fuller overview of the field as a whole.2 2 Here is a brief survey of some publications from the past five years (which continue a wealth of earlier publications) that cover issues either not dealt with or only briefly covered in the present volume. The most important Jewish philosopher in the context of Averroes is perhaps Gersonides, who has been researched extensively. For the most recent scholarship see Ofer Elior, Gad Freudenthal, and David Wirmer, eds., Gersonides’ Afterlife (Leiden: Brill, 2020) and Esti Eisenmann, “Gersonides’ Criticism of the Aristotelian System and of Averroes’s Interpretation of Aristotle in His Supercommentary on the Epitome of the Physics,” Aleph 21, no. 1 (2021): 79–121. Another important author to whom we would like to have given more attention in this volume is Joseph Kaspi. See the recent study by Adrian Sackson, Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence (Leiden, Brill, 2017) and (alongside Qalonimos ben Qalonimos, who is also not represented in this volume), Gad Freudenthal and Hanna Kasher, “Qalonimos b. Qalonimos scolding Joseph Ibn Kaspi,” (Hebrew), Qoveṣ ʿAl Yad 27 (2021): 53–150. There has been plenty of research on the Hebrew translations of Averroes, which we only lightly touch on in this book. An entire volume is devoted to the issue: Reimund Leicht and Giuseppe Veltri, eds., Translating Averroes into Hebrew (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming). Much of this research has been boosted by the materials aggregated in the Digital Averroes Research Environment (D.A.R.E.) website (https://dare.uni-koeln.de/). Also, lately: Yoav Meyrav, “Averroes’s Epitome of Aristotle’s Physics in Hebrew: Translation, Transmission, and Revision,” Aleph 22, nos. 1–2 (2022): 183–232. Other notable publications concerning authors less well-represented in this volume include: Michael Engel, Elijah Del Medigo and Paduan Aristotelianism: Investigating the Human Intellect (London: Bloomsbury, 2016); Michael Engel and Giovanni Licata, Elijah Del Medigo’s Commentary on Averroes’ De Substantia Orbis (Berlin, De Gruyter, forthcoming); Racheli Haliva, Isaac Polqar: A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew? (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020); Maud Kozodoy, The Secret Faith of Maestre Honoratus: Profayt Duran and Jewish Identity in Late Medieval Iberia (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); Giuseppe Veltri, Giada Coppola, and Florian Dunklau, eds., Between Two Worlds: The Tractate Or ʿAmmim (Light of the Nations) of the Last Jewish Scholastic Philosopher Obadiah Sforno (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming); Giuseppe Veltri, Giada Coppola, and Florian Dunklau, eds., The Literary and Philosophical Canon of

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The present volume is divided into five sections. The authors of the first section courageously tackle the very question that this foreword does its best to avoid—namely, the coherence, nature, and scope of the notion of “Jewish Averroism,” adopting different starting points and reaching different conclusions. Steven Harvey problematises the notion of Jewish Averroism due to its “nebulousness” and its derivation from its Latin counterpart, in which context it functioned differently. Through a careful unfolding of the narrative of medieval Jewish philosophy following the emergence of Averroes, Harvey argues that none of the features traditionally associated with “Averroism” can be applied properly to all the Jewish philosophers thus labelled, rendering the term futile and sometimes even misleading. Still, the term can be applied, tentatively, to a smaller group of authors who openly endorsed Averroes’s philosophy, knew him well, and commented upon his works. But this, too, is not without problems. Giovanni Licata, in turn, describes the turbulent career of the term “Latin Averroism” in the historiography of medieval philosophy and explains how it can be legitimately used as an analytical category in contemporary scholarship. He then asks what we can learn from this when attempting to attribute the appellation “Averroist” to a Jewish author and what the criteria for doing so would be. The contributors to the present volume were all given preliminary versions of Harvey’s and Licata’s papers and asked to use the terms “Averroist” and “Averroism” in dialogue with them. The second section is devoted to exploring the interaction between the personas and philosophical ideas of Maimonides and Averroes, the dialectics between whom are a constant in medieval Jewish authors. First, Mercedes Rubio draws parallels between Maimonides’s methodology in interpreting biblical parables and that of Averroes, similarities that are founded on their common recognition of the importance of philosophy for proper interpretation of their respective holy texts. She concludes that certain differences might indicate that Maimonides learned of Averroes’s methods too late to integrate them fully. Nevertheless, the kinship between them opens the way to the fruitful fusion later thinkers were to make of their writings. Obadiah Sforno (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming). Finally, the Hebrew supercommentators on Averroes’s commentaries are surveyed and analysed in Yehuda Halper, “Philosophical Commentary and Supercommentary: The Hebrew Aristotelian Commentaries of the Fourteenth through Sixteenth Centuries,” in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Its Literary Forms, ed. Aaron W. Hughes and James T. Robinson (Indiana University Press, 2019), 104–32, which includes references to all the scholarship done on this important topic. In this context, see also Steven Harvey and Oded Horezky, “Averroes Ex Averroe: Uncovering Ṭodros Ṭodrosi’s Method of Commenting on the Commentator,” Aleph 21, no. 1 (2021): 7–78.

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Reimund Leicht’s analysis of the “allegorical correspondence” between Maimonides and his disciple Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon, whose authenticity is disputed, shows that the two correspondents were part of a scholarly network to which Averroes had also belonged. The existence of these connections, at such an early stage, serves as a prehistory of sorts to the eventual predominance of Averroes among Jewish authors and its inherent connection to the study of Maimonides. Yonatan Shemesh shows how Averroes’s Incoherence of the Incoherence—the response to al-Ġazālī’s Incoherence of the Philosophers—serves Moses Narboni as an interpretive key to Maimonides’s Guide. Maimonides’s philosophical ideas that stemmed from the Avicennan “contamination” of the Aristotelian tradition were exposed to al-Ġazālī’s critiques. By employing and repurposing arguments from Averroes’s Incoherence, Narboni reinterpreted Maimonides in a way that neutralised Avicennan presence in the Guide and reinforced the work’s philosophical credibility. The affinity between Maimonides’s and Averroes’s approaches is brought into sharp relief in David Lemler’s chapter on interpretations of the Garden of Eden story. Lemler shows that disagreements between scholars over how to understand Maimonides’s interpretation have parallels in various medieval exegetes who may be labelled “Averroists.” These interpreters themselves held varied positions about single issues, in this case the question of the true potential of the human intellect. This indicates that Averroism, or “following Averroes” can express itself in different ways. The third section asks about the role Averroes’s (and Averroes-inspired) ideas played in shaping trends and currents within medieval Jewish religious discourse. The contributors to this section reconsider well known themes associated with Averroes and offer alternative perspectives to previously held opinions. Daniel J. Lasker considers the role of philosophy in the conversions to Christianity. In some widely accepted historical accounts, philosophy is responsible for weakening people’s faith, and “Averroism” was used as a term to refer to philosophy generally. Lasker argues for an alternative position by pointing out that anti-Christian polemicists found Averroes and his philosophy helpful in articulating their critiques. While they were forced to accept an “Averroist” principle that reason cannot demonstrate that Judaism is true, they argued that it can demonstrate the absurdity of Christianity. Anti-Christian polemicists therefore considered philosophy a bulwark against conversion rather than a cause of apostasy. Shalom Sadik discusses the famous (some would say, notorious) “double truth theory,” which was employed in order to hide esoteric positions from the masses. Unlike the common assumption about what holds true of Latin

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Averroists, the idea is not that there are two opposing statements that are equally true. Through examination of the ways in which Isaac Albalag and Isaac Polqar divulge their opinions to the elite while communicating other views to the masses, Sadik illustrates a way in which the Averroist label is applied differently to Jewish writers, on the one hand, and Christian authors, on the other. Shira Weiss shows the impact Averroes had on discussions of Jewish doctrine. Focussing in particular on Joseph Albo, she shows that some of Albo’s ideas cannot be traced back to Simon ben Ṣemaḥ Duran, even though that is the more commonly cited source, but must instead derive from Averroes. Even though Albo follows Duran in some ways, he can be seen as an example of how Averroes’s theological ideas were incorporated organically into the context of particularly Jewish thought. The fourth section of this collection consists of studies of the role Averroes plays for several Jewish authors. The long list of authors discussed in this section, and the different attitudes they reflect toward various facets of Averroes’s thought, both as a philosophy in its own right and as a source for philosophy, is only the tip of the iceberg. Yoav Meyrav’s exploration of the anti-Averroism of Moses Halevi finds a philosopher operating within the currents of Arabic philosophy, dissociated from any Jewish context, whose main concern is the potential damage of Averroes’s reactionism to the coherence of the philosophical project, which had reached maturity with Avicenna. Resianne Fontaine examines Judah ha-Cohen’s use of and attitude toward Averroes in his encyclopaedia Midraš ha-ḥokhmah. This is the earliest surviving Hebrew text that makes extensive use of Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle, before Averroes’s authority was established, and it reflects a certain ambivalence. On the one hand, Judah is heavily dependent on Averroes as a source for Aristotelian philosophy, to the point that he sometimes confuses between Averroes and Aristotle. On the other hand, this dependence does not deter Judah from openly criticising (and sometimes ridiculing) not only Aristotle’s ideas, but also Averroes’s slavish defence of them. Yair Shiffman takes a close look at several philosophical issues raised by Shem Tov Falaquera in Moreh ha-moreh, his commentary on Maimonides’s Guide. Shiffman shows how Falaquera, while drawing heavily (and enthusiastically) upon Averroes’s works, nevertheless does not attach exclusivity to Averroes’s authority, turns to other sources when needed, and deviates from Averroes’s ideas when he does not agree with them. Bakinaz Abdalla provides an account of an important disagreement between Avicenna and Averroes via Isaac Albalag, who takes Averroes’s side in the debate. Abdalla covers arguments for God’s existence and unity, and the

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solutions offered to the problem of procession of multiplicity from a simple God. She shows how debates concerning philosophical theology in which Averroes himself engaged could be taken over wholesale into a new Jewish environment in a perfectly natural way. Alexander Green assesses the ideas of Gersonides and Joseph Kaspi, two contemporaneous philosophers, both heavily influenced by Averroes, regarding prophecy and the knowledge of future contingencies. The context is the obligation for self-preservation. In order to overcome apparently determined futures, Gersonides emphasises the role the practical intellect can play for individuals. Kaspi is presented with a different problem, because his application of physics to politics generates a theory in which the fates of kingdoms and empires are determined, and it is these that dictate future dangers. Esti Eisenmann reveals Rambi’s (Rabbi Moses ben Judah) relationship with Averroes on two levels. First, through an analysis of a series of issues in physics and metaphysics, she shows that Rambi is a close follower and endorser of Averroes’s ideas and frequently explains why they are better than other philosophers he discusses, such as Avicenna and al-Ġazālī. Second, it seems that Rambi is well aware of the tension between the philosophical truths he accepts and the religious truth, which he also accepts. Openly acknowledging the legitimacy of incompatible realms of knowledge—but also adhering to their strict separation—Rambi emerges as holding a “double truth” position. Warren Zev Harvey presents and analyses the twenty explicit mentions of Averroes in Ḥasdai Crescas’s Light of the Lord in order to distil from it Crescas’s attitude toward Averroes. From these references a complex relationship emerges, which ranges from explicit praise to accusations of vanity. Elisa Coda asks how exactly Averroes, alongside al-Ġazālī, is used as a source in Isaac Abravanel’s The Forms of the Elements, a philosophical treatise written relatively early in his career. Coda shows how this modest work, a large part of which is doxographic, exemplifies the importance of Averroes’s corpus to Jewish philosophers not only for Aristotle’s ideas, but also for a whole range of ideas throughout the history of philosophy at that time. The fifth and final section addresses topics that stem from the translation to Hebrew and from Hebrew of Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle’s works, regarding issues of content, presentation, and production. Yehuda Halper explores what kind of Socrates a medieval Jewish scholar reading Averroes would encounter, and how this persona came to be through a combination of translation errors, lack of information, and Averroes’s creativity. Averroes’s Socrates is very different from the one we find in Plato, and also from the otherworldly “wise, ascetic, monotheist” version found in the

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doxographical tradition Jewish authors took over from their Arabic predecessors. Francesca Gorgoni examines Ṭodros Ṭodrosi’s introduction to his translation of Averroes’s Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. This introduction is valuable in its own right, and Gorgoni’s analysis shows how this important translator and scholar incorporated ideas from the surrounding environment. The introduction is built around the four Aristotelian causes, a common practice in Latin texts. Another parallel is the important place given to rhetoric as a part of practical philosophy, which the scholastics seem to have taken over from the Arabic tradition. Finally, Michael Engel explores a specific case in Jacob Mantino’s intellectual career as a testimony of the invaluable role Jewish intellectuals played in translating and printing Latin editions of Averroes’s works during the Italian Renaissance, suggesting the tantalising possibility that Jewish involvement added “name value,” or a stamp of quality, when producing these editions.



This volume stems from a conference that took place in Hamburg on 12–14 November 2018, which was convened with the idea of exploring the connections between Averroes, Jewish Averroism, and scepticism. The conference demonstrated that this is a topic ripe for investigation, but it also served to highlight Averroes’s enormous role in medieval Jewish thought. We therefore decided to broaden the range of topics in order to present a volume that would complement existing studies together with offering a collection of original contributions. The conference was organised as part of the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies: Jewish Scepticism (MCAS), funded by the German Research Council. We would like to acknowledge MCAS’s support, especially that of Giuseppe Veltri, the director of the Centre, and of the Institute of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Universität Hamburg. We would like to warmly thank Sarah Wobick-Segev for her (as always) meticulous overseeing of the publication of this volume. We also thank Rebecca Straple for language- and copy-editing and Katharina Langenbach for her excellent work on the index. Racheli Haliva Hamburg, March 2022

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Notes on Contributors Bakinaz Abdalla graduated from the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University in 2019. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Nile University. Her research spans different topics in Jewish and Islamic thought, including the relationship between religion and philosophy, the existence and nature of God, and the problem of evil and suffering. Elisa Coda is a Senior Researcher in Medieval Philosophy at the University of Pisa, Italy. Among her publications, she is the author of Pensiero divino, anime umane. L’aristotelismo di Temistio e la filosofia pre-moderna (Edizioni ETS, 2022) and the editor of George Vajda’s Pensées médievales en hébreu et en arabe. Études (Vrin, 2016). Daniel Davies received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2007. He focuses on medieval philosophy and philosophy of religion, and his publications include Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed (Oxford University Press, 2011), which received an honourable mention from the Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards. Esti Eisenmann studies Jewish thought over the generations. Her research deals with the concept of divinity, biblical exegesis, ethics, and the interpretation of the Jewish tradition in light of Greek philosophy, with special attention to the Jewish contribution to the development of the sciences. She is currently investigating Gersonides’s Hebrew commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics. She teaches courses on Jewish philosophy and mysticism at the Open University of Israel and Herzog Academic College. Michael Engel is a scholar of the Hebrew and Latin Averroist traditions. He is a research associate at the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion at the University of Hamburg.

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Resianne Fontaine is a retired senior lecturer in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her field of research is medieval Jewish philosophy and science. She is co-editor of the journal Aleph: Historical Studies in Science & Judaism. Francesca Gorgoni is senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University. She specialises in medieval Jewish philosophy in the context of Islamic philosophy and Latin literary culture. She has recently published a study entitled “The Jewish Reception of Aristotle’s Poetics in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Provence: A Survey of the Arabic Sources” (European Journal of Jewish Studies, 2022) and co-edited the book Philosophical Translations in Late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages: In Memory of Mauro Zonta (Aracne, 2022). Alexander Green is a visiting associate professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at SUNY Buffalo, where he teaches Jewish philosophy, ethics, and the history of biblical interpretation. He is the author of The Virtue Ethics of Levi Gersonides (Palgrave, 2016) and Power and Progress: Joseph ibn Kaspi and the Meaning of History (SUNY Press, 2019). Racheli Haliva is an associate professor at the Center for Judaic and Inter-Religious Studies at Shandong University, China, and served as a co-director at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies at Universität Hamburg. Her research focuses on medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy. In particular, she explores Jewish Averroist thought and intra-religious polemics from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. Yehuda Halper is an associate professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University. His book Jewish Socratic Questions in an Age without Plato (Brill, 2021) won the Goldstein-Goren Book Award for best book in Jewish thought for the years 2019 to 2021. He is the principal investigator of the Israel Science Foundation project #622/22, “Samuel ibn Tibbon’s Explanation of Foreign Terms and the Foundations of Philosophy in Hebrew.”

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Steven Harvey is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Bar-Ilan University and president of the SIEPM’s Commission for Jewish Philosophy. He has published extensively on medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy, with a special focus on Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle, and on the influence of the Islamic philosophers on Jewish thought. Warren Zev Harvey is a professor emeritus in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of many studies on medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, including Physics and Metaphysics in Hasdai Crescas (J.C. Gieben, 1998). He is an EMET Prize laureate in the humanities (2009). Daniel J. Lasker is the emeritus Norbert Blechner Professor of Jewish Values at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva. He is the author of eight books and close to 300 other publications in the fields of Jewish philosophy, especially the works of Judah Halevi, the Jewish-Christian debate and its philosophical implications, and the thought and history of Karaism. Reimund Leicht received his Ph.D. from the Freie Universität Berlin in 2004 and is a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His fields of research and publication are medieval Jewish philosophy in its multicultural context, the formation of Hebrew philosophical and scientific terminology, Christian Kabbalah (Johannes Reuchlin), and the history of the Wissenschaft des Judentums. David Lemler is an associate professor in the Department of Arabic and Hebraic Studies at Sorbonne Université, Paris, where he teaches medieval Jewish thought and literature. His main research fields are medieval Jewish philosophy and the articulation between philosophy and exegesis. Giovanni Licata is a researcher in the history of philosophy at the Sapienza University of Rome. His main fields of research are the philosophy of Spinoza, Averroism, Jewish and Arabic philosophy, and Renaissance philosophy. He has recently

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published “Secundum Avenroem.” Pico della Mirandola, Elia del Medigo e la “se­ conda rivelazione” di Averroè (Officina di Studi Medievali, 2022). Yoav Meyrav is the principal investigator of the ERC-funded HEPMASITE (Hebrew Philosophical Manuscripts as Sites of Engagement) project at Universität Hamburg and a former research associate at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies. He has published on ancient, Arabic, and Jewish philosophy, Hebrew philology, and the history of metaphysics. Mercedes Rubio is a senior assistant professor in philosophy at Universidad Villanueva in Madrid and a research associate at University of Navarra in Pamplona. She is a holder of the Diplôme Européen d’Études Médiévales and her publications cover a wide range of topics in Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew philosophy. Shalom Sadik is an associate professor in the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva. He has authored three books (The Essence of Choice in Medieval Jewish Philosophy [Van Leer Institute Press and Magnes Press, 2017]; Ideology of Apostasy—The Ideology of Jewish Spaniards Who Converted to Christianity [Magnes Press, 2020]; and Maimonides—A Radical Religious Philosopher [Gorgias Press, 2023]) and over seventy articles on various topics related to medieval philosophy and history. Yair Shiffman was a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the head of the Faculty of Arabic and Jewish Philosophy at the David Yellin College of Education in Jerusalem, where he lectured on the history of Islam and Jewish and Islamic philosophy and also taught Arabic. His research deals with the connection between Jewish and Islamic philosophies in the Middle Ages, which served as the subject for his many articles and his six books. Yonatan Shemesh is a postdoctoral associate in Jewish thought in the Judaic Studies Program and the Philosophy Department at Yale University. He received his MA in religion and his Ph.D. in the history of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School and his BA in history from Bowdoin College.

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Shira Weiss is the assistant director of Yeshiva University’s Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership and teaches Jewish thought at the Bernard Revel Graduate School. She is the author of Joseph Albo on Free Choice (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Ethical Ambiguity in the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and the co-author of The Protests of Job: An Interfaith Dialogue (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).

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Part 1 What Is Jewish Averroism?



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Chapter 1

Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist? Some Provocative Reflections on Jewish Averroism Steven Harvey 1

Introductory Words

The title of my paper, like some parts of it, is intended to be provocative. Why would anyone—except, perhaps, one who knows something about al-Ġazālī and very little about Averroes—choose this title for a chapter in a volume on “Averroes and Averroism in Medieval Jewish Thought”? You will, I hope, soon understand, but for now I imagine you will agree with me that the question “Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist?” is by no means a simple one. In fact, it is a quite fascinating and somewhat complex question. In short, it may be argued that no medieval scholar understood and valued Avicenna’s philosophy and science as much as his learned critic and accuser al-Ġazālī. Does this make him an Avicennist? As every beginning student of Islamic philosophy should know well, the leading Islamic mutakallim and mystic Abū Ḥāmid al-Ġazālī accused the Islamic philosophers and, in particular, the only two he truly valued as philosophers, al-Fārābī and Avicenna,1 of being infidels on three counts: (1) that they believed in the eternity of the world, that it is without beginning; (2) that they said that God’s knowledge does not encompass the temporal particulars among individual existents—in other words, that God does not know particulars; and (3) that they denied the resurrection of the bodies of the dead. For any one of these three beliefs, the philosopher who held it was to be proclaimed an infidel (takfīr) and killed.2 In short, for al-Ġazālī, it would have been obligatory to kill Avicenna as a kāfir, or infidel, had he not died well over a half-century 1 See, e.g., al-Ġazālī, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, ed. and trans. Michael E. Marmura (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1997), intro., 4–5; and al-Ġazālī, Deliverance from Error (al-Munqiḏ min al-ḍalāl), in The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazālī, trans. W. Montgomery Watt (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1953), 32. 2 See, e.g., al-Ġazālī, Incoherence of the Philosophers, 230, and al-Ġazālī, Deliverance from Error, 37–38; cf. al-Ġazālī, Fayṣal al-tafriqah bayna l-Islām wa-l-zandaqah, in Al-Ghazālī, Le critère de distinction entre l’Islam et l’incroyance: Interprétation et divergence en islam, ed. and trans. Mustapha Hogga (Paris: J. Vrin: 2010), 8, 71–72. On al-Ġazālī’s “fatwā” against these three

© Steven Harvey, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_002

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earlier. It would seem that a savant like al-Ġazālī with such convictions could hardly be called an Avicennist. On the other hand, as mentioned above, Avicenna was one of only two Islamic philosophers whom al-Ġazālī truly respected and admired, and he explicitly said so on several occasions. In addition, the more that scholarship uncovers about al-Ġazālī and his writings, the closer his own philosophic and scientific views seem to that of the object of his criticism, Šayḫ al-Ra‌ʾīs, the sheik of all scholars. It has been known for some time that al-Ġazālī adopted many of the philosophical teachings of Avicenna. The prevalent opinion, based on al-Ġazālī’s own comments, was that for him logic was the study of the methods of demonstration and of forming syllogisms, and it did not contradict anything in religion; metaphysics had many doubts (in fact, most of the metaphysical opinions of the philosophers contradicted the truth); and, as for physics or natural science, the truth was mingled with the false, although al-Ġazālī wrote in his autobiography that “just as it is not a condition of religion to reject medical science, so likewise the rejection of natural science is not one of the conditions, except with regard to [certain] particular points.”3 In short, with regard to logic, as Charles Manekin has put it, “[al-Ġazālī,] the arch-critic of the philosophers has nothing substantially negative to say about their logic,”4 and Manekin has shown that most of al-Ġazālī’s discussions of logic in his Intentions of the Philosophers closely follow Avicenna.5 This is certainly true even in the section of the Intentions on natural science. Of course, this should not be surprising, since the main philosophical source for the Intentions has been identified as Avicenna’s Persian summa, Dānesh-nāme-ye-ʿAlāʾī (Book of knowledge for ʿAlāʾ al-Dawlah) or, as Wilferd Madelung has argued, introductory manuals written by philosophers of the school of Avicenna and based on his Persian work.6

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teachings of the philosophers and the obligation to kill them, see Frank Griffel, Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 101–5. Al-Ġazālī, Deliverance from Error, 33–38, citation on 36–37; and al-Ġazālī, Maqāṣid al-falāsifa, ed. Muḥyī al-Dīn Ṣabrī al-Kurdī (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿah al-Maḥmūdīya al-Tiǧārīya, 1936), introduction, 2–3. Charles H. Manekin, “The Logic of the Hebrew Encyclopedias,” in The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy, ed. Steven Harvey (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), 288. Manekin, “The Logic of the Hebrew Encyclopedias,” 298. See Jules Janssens, “Le Dânesh-Nâmeh d’Ibn Sînâ: un texte à revoir?,” Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 28 (1986): 163–77, and Wilferd Madelung, “Al-Ghazālī’s Changing Attitude to Philosophy,” in Islam and Rationality: The Impact of al-Ghazālī, ed. Georges Tamer (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 24.

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Yet, I have noticed that the bulk of the section on natural science in the Intentions presents teachings that do not concern al-Ġazālī in his Incoherence of the Philosophers and that he seems to accept as true science. This fits in with Madelung’s observation that al-Ġazālī did not compose the Intentions simply as a basis for his refutation of Avicennian theology, but also to “encourage his students and Muslim religious scholars in general to study these sciences and benefit from what was rationally sound in them.”7 Regarding metaphysics, one might think that Avicenna had little to say to al-Ġazālī. Yet, Frank Griffel in his 2009 study, Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology, provides a different perspective on al-Ġazālī’s attitude toward metaphysics. He writes: When [al-Ġazālī] summarized his views about the metaphysics of the falāsifa in such popular works as his autobiography, he turns his criticism of metaphysics to the fore and mentions his appreciation of their teachings only in passing. Yet a thorough study of al-Ghazālī’s works on theology leaves no doubt that his views on ontology, the human soul, and prophecy are particularly shaped by Avicenna.8 Griffel adds that even al-Ġazālī’s condemnation of the falāsifah as infidels for their three aforementioned heterodox teachings was “actually a part of the naturalisation of Aristotelian philosophy into Muslim theology.”9 He explains that “by highlighting these three teachings, the great Muslim theologian opened the Muslim theological discourse to the many other important positions held by the falāsifa.”10 It must be remembered, however, that the same al-Ġazālī is also known in the West for his Incoherence of the Philosophers, with its devastating critique of 7 8

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Madelung, “Al-Ghazālī’s Changing Attitude,” 24. Griffel, Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology, 7. See further, Alexander Treiger, Inspired Knowledge in Islamic Thought: Al-Ghazālī’s Theory of Mystical Cognition and Its Avicennian Foundation (London: Routledge, 2012). Treiger writes that al-Ġazālī’s Incoherence of the Philosophers “is an extremely complicated work, where, under the guise of a refutation, al-Ghazālī in fact prepares the ground for an acceptance of key philosophical beliefs to a degree unprecedented in Islamic theology” (93). For Treiger, al-Ġazālī did not intend “to negate the philosophers’ conclusions, but only to undermine their reasoning” (103). He co-opted “Avicenna’s theory of prophecy and transform[ed] it into a full-fledged theory of mystical cognition.” Treiger concludes that al-Ghazālī may be “described as a clandestine sympathizer and popularizer of philosophy who is willing to accept even the most radical philosophical doctrines, while giving the appearance of denouncing them” (104). Griffel, Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology, 7. Griffel, Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology, 7; cf. 99–103.

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the philosophy of al-Fārābī and Avicenna and, hence, of future Islamic falāsifah. Indeed, he undoubtedly helped bring about the demise in the West of the school of Aristotelian philosophy and science founded by al-Fārābī.11 But the matter is even more complex. Thanks to the recent studies by Afifi al-Akiti and Madelung on al-Ġazālī’s little-studied Maḍnūn corpus (that is, that which is to be maḍnūn, or restricted from those not fit for it), we now know that al-Ġazālī secretly propounded some quite unexpected views.12 If you are not familiar with these views, you may find them quite surprising. Madelung writes:

11 This is not to deny Treiger’s assertion that “in the guise of a critic [of philosophy], al-Ghazālī was, in fact, one of the greatest popularizers of philosophy in medieval Islam” (Treiger, Inspired Knowledge, 104). But when Treiger writes of the “facile view that al-Ghazālī was simply an enemy of philosophy and […] was somehow responsible for its alleged downfall in Islamic lands” and adds “[n]othing could be further from the truth” (104), his statement needs to be clarified. Yes, “al-Ghazālī was in fact a key contributor to a deep philosophical transformation of all aspects of Islamic thought—including Kalām and Sūfism—and to an unprecedented flourishing of Avicennian philosophy itself” (104), but his damning critique of the philosophers had dangerous consequences for the future of Aristotelian philosophy, at least, in the Islamic West—and this cannot be overlooked. Treiger tries to buttress his point that the popularising al-Ġazālī played absolutely no part in “the downfall of philosophy (itself an invention of Western historians of Arabic philosophy)” by showing that even Averroes admitted that al-Ghazālī disclosed “all of philosophy to the general public” (104). But he seems to miss Averroes’s point (stated explicitly by Averroes after the passage he cites): Precisely through al-Ġazālī’s reckless popularisation of the teachings of the falāsifah, he threatened philosophy (and religion) in Islam. For Averroes, “The right course for al-Ghazālī to follow would have been not to divulge philosophy to the general public [al-ǧumhūr].” See Averroes’s explicit statements in his al-Kašf ʿan manāhiǧ al-adillah (Uncovering the Methods of the Proofs), ed. Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧābirī (Beirut: Markaz Dirāsāt al-Waḥda al-ʿArabīya, 1998), 152, and in Ibrahim Najjar, trans., Faith and Reason in Islam: Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001), 70. Robert Wisnovsky made clear in his oft-cited study that scholars of Islamic thought can no longer justify the opinion that al-Ġazālī’s Incoherence of the Philosophers “caused the annihilation of philosophical activity in Islamic civilization”; see his “One Aspect of the Avicennian Turn in Sunnī Theology,” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 14 (2004): 65. Indeed, in the centuries following the Incoherence, Avicennian philosophy flourished in the Islamic East and penetrated into various disciplines and religious sciences. My point is simply that in the Islamic West, despite Averroes’s best efforts to neutralise al-Ġazālī’s accusations against the philosophers of infidelity and his ruinous critique of their teachings, the tradition of Islamic Aristotelianism seems on the surface to have come to an end with the death of Averroes, and Averroes’s own commentaries on Aristotle’s philosophical and scientific works were hardly cited. 12 Afifi al-Akiti, “The Maḍnūn of al-Ghazālī: A Critical Edition of the Unpublished Major Maḍnūn with Discussion of his Restricted, Philosophical Corpus” (PhD diss., Oxford University, 2007).

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In [the Major Maḍnūn] al-Ghazālī unreservedly holds the truth of what he had condemned in his Tahāfut [Incoherence] as unbelief requiring the death penalty: the eternity of the world as the necessary emanation from the Necessary Existent and the negation of God’s knowledge of particulars except through universals. He describes the hereafter entirely in terms of the survival of the human soul without mention of physical resurrection.13 Tzvi Langermann, who has published on Hebrew texts related to the Maḍnūn corpus, writes: Certainly, the most exciting, and controversial, issue in the thought of al-Ghazālī is his “secret position,” if indeed he had one, on philosophy. This “secret,” which is generally connected to the so-called Maḍnūn writings, is an endorsement of some of the noxious ideas (largely taken from the thought of [Avicenna]) that al-Ghazālī rebutted, seemingly quite thoroughly and finally, in his Tahāfut [Incoherence].14 But al-Ġazālī’s inner beliefs are by no means clear, and his piety was sincere. Madelung writes: “Objective truth evidently was for him the Qurʾān, the very speech of God. [… He] did not accept Avicenna’s philosophical system as unquestionable reality.”15 We can now return to my opening question: Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist? And here’s the rub: What is an “Avicennist” or, for that matter, an “Avicennian” or “ibn Sinian”? What do we mean by these terms? These are not actors’ terms. We cannot find the answer in contemporary post-al-Ġazālī Arabic texts. They are our own inventions. We imbue them with meaning. We give them importance. The main difficulty in answering our opening question stems primarily not from al-Ġazālī’s being at once both the harsh critic of Avicenna and perhaps his greatest admirer, nor from our failure to discern al-Ġazālī’s ultimate teachings and fathom his personal views, but rather from the nebulousness of terms such as “Avicennist” or “Avicennian.” I suggest that we would be better served by asking less ambiguous and more constructive questions, such as: Was al-Ġazālī directly familiar with Avicenna’s writings? If so, which texts did he read? Did he value them? Did he accept their teachings? Did he cite them? 13 Madelung, “Al-Ghazālī’s Changing Attitude,” 29. 14 Tzvi Langermann, “The ‘Hebrew Ajwiba’ Ascribed to al-Ghazālī: Corpus, Conspectus, and Context,” Muslim World 101 (2011): 683. 15 Madelung, “Al-Ghazālī’s Changing Attitude,” 30.

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Did they influence him? If so, in what ways? Most students of Islamic philosophy can begin answering most of these questions, although some of them are trickier than others. The answers will give us an excellent perspective on the relation between al-Ġazālī and Avicenna and their respective teachings and inform us to what extent the former was influenced by the latter. We may not be able to put a fancy label on al-Ġazālī, but we will have a good idea about his place in the history of Islamic philosophy. But if you disagree with me, I will give you—as Socrates gave to Meno—an answer that you will like: al-Ġazālī was, in a sense, an Avicennist. 2

“Averroist,” “Averroistic,” “Averroean,” et al.

By now, you have probably figured out the answer to my second question: Why have I asked this question about al-Ġazālī and Avicenna? I address this question as a way of offering perspective on the meaning of terms such as “Averroist,” “Averroistic,” “Averroean,” “ibn Rushdian,” and “Averroism,” which lie at the heart of this volume, its very title, and most of its chapters. Do we adopt these terms from the medieval Latins? Or perhaps from historians of Scholastic thought? And if so, do they apply as well to medieval Jewish thought as they do to Scholastic thought? I will point to some pitfalls and snags inherent in the use of these terms, particularly in the context of post-Maimonidean Jewish thought, and try to suggest a simple working definition of “Averroist.” In an article that appeared about two decades ago in a special issue of the Jewish Studies Quarterly at the request of the issue’s editor, Resianne Fontaine, I evaluated the present-day importance of Ernest Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme—or, at least, that part of it that deals with Averroes’s impact on post-Maimonidean Jewish philosophy. After summing up Renan’s account of Jewish Averroism, I wrote that “we are in a position today where we can appreciate the magnitude of the impact of Averroes on medieval Jewish thought.”16 Moreover, “with a continuous flow of editions, translations, and studies of the works of the medieval Jewish thinkers, the picture gets clearer and clearer.”17 I continued: Renan was perhaps the first to underscore the role of the Jews in realizing the importance of, preserving, explicating, promulgating, and 16 Steven Harvey, “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 113. 17 Harvey, “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism,” 113–14.

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transmitting the commentaries of Averroes. And Renan was the one to state emphatically that Averroes replaced not only al-Fārābī and Avicenna, but Aristotle himself, as the supreme philosophic authority among the Jews, and the author of the most trusted and studied texts for learning science and philosophy. Renan’s work was based primarily on old lists and library catalogues, and—in the revised version—on Munk’s Mélanges and the early compilations of Steinschneider.18 What is even truer today than when I wrote my article is that our understanding of Averroes’s influence on Jewish thought is informed by an ever-growing number of monographic studies on dozens of Jewish thinkers influenced by Averroes. The best of these studies exhibit an intimate knowledge of the particular Jewish author and attest to a careful and patient reading of his writings. The present volume underscores this point. What we are learning is that Averroes’s influence upon the Jews was not monolithic. He influenced many different thinkers in very different ways. As Isadore Twersky showed over a half-century ago, his influence was not limited to philosophers, but extended to writers of all literary genres. To these authors, as a result of the “translating, paraphrasing, commentatorial and critical work” of dozens of thirteenthcentury scholars, Averroes became—as Twersky put it—a “household name.”19 His influence on a given thinker is known to us today not simply from the fact that this thinker is, for example, listed in some catalogue as a translator or commentator of a work by Averroes, but from a scholarly study of that translation or commentary and from our own reading of the relevant sources, which today are, for the most part, easily—if not immediately—accessible, whether published or still in manuscript. In speaking then of the impact of Averroes on thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Jewish thought, for example, it is no longer helpful just to mention the names of thinkers like Samuel ibn Tibbon, Judah ben Solomon ha-Kohen, Shem Ṭov ben Joseph ibn Falaquera, Isaac Albalag, Isaac Polqar, Gersonides, Joseph ibn Kaspi, Moses Narboni, Profiat Duran, and Ḥasdai Crescas—all of whom, incidentally, appear in the titles of the chapters of the present volume. We must, at the very least, turn to the research on these thinkers—including and especially the most recent research—to try to discern precisely how their thought relates to that of Averroes. The present volume will thus be of immense utility for such inquiries. 18 Harvey, “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism,” 114. 19 Isadore Twersky, “Aspects of the Social and Cultural History of Provençal Jewry,” in Jewish Society Through the Ages, ed. H.H. Ben-Sasson and S. Ettinger (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), 205–7.

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However, our key question ought not to be: Was Philosopher X an “Averroist?” Rather, our questions must include: Which texts by Averroes did he cite? Did he read them? Did he understand them? Did he cite them approvingly? For what purpose did he use them? What is my problem with “Averroist,” “Averroistic,” “Averroean,” and other such terms? In all fairness, “Averroist”—unlike “Avicennist”—was already an actor’s term in the thirteenth century. My problem again is with the nebulousness of the term, which was probably not a problem in the thirteenth-century Scholastic world when it seemed to be used with great precision. But what does it mean to us today? This is a baffling question, and scholars try to justify their use of it by defining it carefully. For example, in the 2013 collection of essays Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, co-editor Guido Giglioni writes in his learned introduction about the care the editors took in the volume to distinguish ibn Rušd, the twelfth-century historical figure, from Averroes, his literary incarnation in the Latin West, and to distinguish “between ‘Averroan’ [‘any philosophical view that belongs directly to Ibn Rushd’], ‘Averroist’ [‘opinions held by any follower of Ibn Rushd in the Latin West’] and ‘Averroistic’ [‘the general cultural label denoting a pronounced (vaguely Aristotelian) rationalistic attitude’].”20 While scholars have long recognised the need to distinguish between ibn Rušd’s teachings and those attributed to him by later thinkers, the pedantic distinction between ibn Rušd’s teachings and those of Averroes seems misplaced and even misleading (and, in any case, is noticeably not followed consistently in Renaissance Averroism). Scholars of ibn Rušd today who read him in the Arabic original do not always agree on his personal views—Anna Akasoy makes this point in her essay in Renaissance Averroism—particularly regarding philosophical problems such as God’s knowledge of particulars and the creation/eternity of the world.21 On the other hand, those who seek to understand ibn Rušd through reading the medieval Latin translations are often able to do so. The key questions here concerning the medieval Latin readers are not semantic, but rather, once again: Did X read Averroes? Did he cite him approvingly? How did he understand him? For what purpose did he use him?

20

Guido Giglioni, introduction to Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, ed. Anna Akasoy and Guido Giglioni (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013), 1–2. 21 Anna Akasoy, “Was Ibn Rushd an Averroist? The Problem, the Debate, and Its Philosophical Implications,” in Akasoy and Giglioni, Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath, 321–47.

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The history of the term “Averroist” is treated by Dag Hasse in a carefully researched article that appeared in 2007.22 What is perfectly clear from the article is that historians continue to use the term “Averroist” and disagree about what it means and about whom may be identified as one. As for the term “Averroism” and the “character of Averroism as a movement,” the term’s very validity as a label is debated and, according to Hasse, there is no consensus.23 Part of the problem, as Hasse observes, is that there is still “no systematic inventory of references to ‘Averroistae’ in medieval and Renaissance texts.”24 This would be crucial for understanding how the actors themselves understood this term and the different ways in which it was used. Hasse, an expert in Islamic philosophy, meant that there is “no systematic inventory of references to ‘Averroistae’” in Latin—not Arabic or Hebrew—medieval and Renaissance texts. But while there is no such Arabic term or concept for “Averroistae,” I wonder if any medieval Jewish thinker used a comparable term? I don’t mean something like Isaac Abravanel’s name for these scholars, the “cursed sect” (ha-kat ha-arurah), in which he includes Aristotelian philosophers with seemingly heterodox opinions,25 but rather where such thinkers or others are grouped under the category of Averroists, or followers of Averroes. The first reference to the “Averroistae” is generally considered to be that of Thomas Aquinas in his De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas, written in 1270. While the title is likely a later addition, Thomas does refer to the Averroists once in his book; according to the Corpus Thomisticum, Index Thomisticus, however, he uses the term only once in all his writings.26 A few decades later, pseudo-Thomas Aquinas, Thomas of Sutton, called the unicity thesis a “mistake into which the Averroists in Paris lapsed in our time, and against them we [meaning Aquinas] have written De unitate intellectus.”27 Hasse mentions several other thirteenth-century authors who speak not just against Averroes, but against his followers, the Averroistae, as well. Here the critique focuses on their views about the unicity of the intellect and related problems. I had thought that Albert the Great, by virtue of his 1256 work, De unitate intellectus 22 23 24 25 26 27

Dag Nikolaus Hasse, “Averroica secta: Notes on the Formation of Averroist Movements in Fourteenth-Century Bologna and Renaissance Italy,” in Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin, ed. J.-B. Brenet (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2007), 307–8. Hasse, “Averroica secta,” 307. Hasse, “Averroica secta,” 308. Isaac Abravanel, Mifʿalot Elohim (The Works of God) (Lemberg, 1863), 12a. See http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/it/index.age;jsessionid=64ADE2D55FBFB6F39F B4BB008D607322. See http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/it/index.age;jsessionid=64ADE2D55FBFB6F39F B4BB008D607322: “et in hunc defectum venerunt Averroistae Parisiis nostris temporibus, contra quos scripsimus de unitate intellectus.”; trans. in Hasse, “Averroica secta,” 310.

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contra Averroistas, should be added to this small list, but a leading Albert scholar, Henryk Anzulewicz, has explained to me that this title seems to stem from a fifteenth-century manuscript and that Albert most likely never used this term.28 In any case, “Averroist” seemed originally to have referred to those who held the heterodox teaching, associated with Averroes, of the unicity of the intellect and who, thus, denied individual immortality. Indeed, this was the main sense in which the term “Averroistae” was understood throughout the late Middle Ages. Ramon Llull, in his critique of the Averroists, around the year 1310, speaks of the “Averroistas” and those who follow the heretical Averroes. Llull attacked many of their doctrines and, as Hasse notes, “the term Averroista [for him] comes close to assuming the much wider meaning of ‘heterodox philosopher.’”29 But is not heterodoxy in the eye of the theologian? Hasse tells us that while all of these doctrines were somehow related to the Parisian condemnations of 1270 and 1277, only some of them could be attributed to Averroes. According to Hasse, references to the Averroists or followers of Averroes (or the Commentator) are quite scarce until around 1500. The one such example he gives is by William of Alnwick, who died in 1333. William refers to anonymous “followers of the opinion of the commentator” and their upholding of the “sinful and arrogant opinion of Averroes on the unicity of the intellect.”30 28

For the latest word on the title and structure of this work, see Anzulewicz’s learned introduction to Albertus Magnus, De unitate intellectus: Über die Einzigkeit des Intellekts, ed. Henryk Anzulewicz and Wolf-Ulrich Klünker, with Philipp A.C. Anzulewicz (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2022), intro., esp. 11–18. For Anzulewicz, we cannot even be certain that Albert gave this work a title, for four of the oldest manuscripts and one from the fifteenth century have no title (12); and if he did, it was most likely the short form, De unitate intellectus, which is attested in five manuscripts (12). The title, De unitate intellectus contra averroystas, is found in a fifteenth-century manuscript in the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome (12n25). Anzulewicz notes that there are five different variants of the title or heading of this work in the manuscripts, some of which are quite long and come from copyists, not Albert (12–13). Among these longer variant headings not by Albert, one finds: contra averroistas, contra averroim et eum sequentes, and contra averrois (13n27). The reading contra averroistas is found in the lengthy heading in Paris MS, BnF lat. 14557, 24ra: “liber de diversitate animarum post mortem resolutis corporibus contra auerroistas qui dicunt unam in omnibus.” What is significant for our purposes about this heading is that the manuscript dates from the thirteenth century and may, therefore, be included among the first Latin references to the Averroists (Dr. Anzulewicz has kindly sent me a photo of this folio and is quite sure that the scribe who wrote it was the scribe of the manuscript). I am very grateful to Dr. Anzulewicz for clarifying these matters for me and for sharing his edition and the relevant manuscript folios. 29 Hasse, “Averroica secta,” 310–11. 30 Hasse, 311–12.

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In other words, until about 1500, “Averroist” was rarely used. When it was, it applied to its original meaning as one who, seemingly like Averroes, believed in the doctrine of the unicity of the intellect or, alternatively, to a Latin thinker who put forward heterodox views, which were not necessarily found in the writings of or attributed to Averroes. After 1500 or so, when the term began to be used a bit more often, it did not always apply to followers of Averroes, the philosopher, but may rather have referred to followers of his commentaries.31 It was used, at times, as a pejorative and at other times to connote praise. Most significantly, when Hasse wishes to analyse the character of Averroism as a movement, his focus is on adherents of the unicity thesis, for, as he puts it, “in the present state of scholarship, there does not seem to be firm ground for extending the analysis to physical and metaphysical issues.”32 Hasse’s study makes clear the ambiguity of the terms “Averroists” and “Averroism” even today. In other words, despite countless attempts of modern historians to define these terms, they are as problematic as they were over 60 years ago, when Paul Oskar Kristeller and earlier Fernand van Steenberghen debated the usefulness of these terms.33 Despite their many disagreements, both scholars agreed that it was an immediate task of the historian to define carefully the term “Averroist.” Easier said than done. For van Steenberghen, the term originally referred to “one who was an adherent of heretic monopsychism,” and he writes that “there is no evidence to give a wider significance of the term.”34 According to Kristeller, we cannot take the term to refer to any thinker who makes some use of Averroes, for it would then refer to every “Aristotelian philosopher after the middle of the thirteenth century,” nor can we take it to refer to those “who agree with Averroes on the interpretation of every single passage in Aristotle, [for then,] there hardly ever was a single Averroist.”35 Kristeller concludes that “we must either abandon the term Averrois[t] altogether, or limit it to those few thinkers who accepted the unity of the intellect.”36 Virtually lost in all these debates, and notwithstanding how we understand “Averroist” and “Averroism” or what any medieval Christian 31 Hasse, 315–16. 32 Hasse, 317. 33 Fernand van Steenberghen, Aristotle in the West: The Origins of Latin Aristotelianism, trans. Leonard Johnston (Louvain: Editions Nauwelaerts, 1955); Paul Oskar Kristeller, “Paduan Averroism and Alexandrism in the Light of Recent Studies,” Atti del XII Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia 9 (1960): 147–55. 34 van Steenberghen, Aristotle in the West, 205. 35 Kristeller, “Paduan Averroism,” 149–50. 36 Kristeller, 149–52; cf. the three-part article written about the same time: Stuart MacClintock, “Heresy and Epithet: An Approach to the Problem of Latin Averroism, I–III,” The Review of Metaphysics 8 (1954–1955): 176–99, 342–56, 526–45. MacClintock cautions at the outset

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really may have believed, is the simple fact that few philosophers were read as widely and consulted as often by medieval philosophically inclined Christians as was Averroes. 3

Jewish Averroism

I return now to the topic of our volume, Jewish Averroism. In seeking to understand this expression, it is useful to recall that soon after his death Averroes became known as an authoritative interpreter of Aristotle among the Jews at the same time that his commentaries were slipping into oblivion in the world of Islam. How and precisely when did Jews become interested in Averroes? I have repeatedly maintained that Averroes’s fame as a commentator goes back to two letters that Maimonides wrote near the end of his life, and I feel even more certain about this today.37 This point was already made perfectly clear by Ernest Renan, over a century and a half ago, when he wrote that it was thanks to the “high recommendation of Maimonides [that Averroes’s] name became almost instantaneously the foremost philosophic authority among the Jews.”38 Of course, he was not at the time considered the Commentator, as he would become in the Latin West. For Maimonides, Averroes was an excellent of his in-depth study that “the designation ‘Averroism’ ought not to be employed without severe qualifications” (176). 37 See, e.g., Steven Harvey, “When Did Jews Begin to Consider Averroes the Commentator?,” in Florilegium mediaevale: Études offertes à Jacqueline Hamesse à l’occasion de son éméritat, ed. José Meirinhos and Olga Weijers (Louvain-la-Neuve: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales, 2009), 279–96; see 282–83 for more on Maimonides’s two letters, one to Joseph ibn Simon in 1191 and one to Samuel ibn Tibbon in 1199. Recently, Doron Forte has claimed that Maimonides does not recommend—and does not even mention—Averroes in the letter to ibn Tibbon. His argument, which boldly goes against the universally accepted opinion, is based primarily upon a consideration of the relatively few manuscripts of the letter that mention Averroes and of their likely late dating. See Doron Forte, “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23 (2016): 47–90. I have recently argued against Forte’s claim. My argument comprises seven considerations: two philological (based on testimonia Forte chose to ignore), two terminological, and three just common sense. I present these considerations as complementary, one supporting the other, that together make clear that the most-often cited version of the letter is actually very old, the most reliable version, and likely the most authentic one. In fact, current evidence now points to ibn Tibbon as the translator of this version of the letter. See Steven Harvey, “Did Maimonides Recommend Reading Averroes’ Commentaries on Aristotle?,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 28 (2021): 159–90. 38 Ernest Renan, Averroès et l’averroïsme: essai historique (Paris: Michel Lévy, 1866), 180.

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commentator, but so were Alexander of Aphrodisias and Themistius. For Samuel ibn Tibbon, Alexander and Themistius were superior to Averroes.39 It seems that translators such as Jacob Anatoli and Moses ibn Tibbon, who chose to translate Aristotelian logic and science via Averroes instead of Aristotle, were the first to single Averroes out as the great commentator on Aristotle. Anatoli was the first to do so, just as his close colleague in the court of Frederick II, Michael Scot was the first to do so among the Latins through his translations.40 Indeed, it is tempting to imagine, as I have written elsewhere, that these two scholars—perhaps the first two philosophers to study Averroes’s commentaries in-depth together—came to realise among themselves the importance of Averroes for understanding Aristotle, and through their translations helped to establish how Jews and Christians would study the Philosopher, Aristotle, in the centuries to come. In any case, Anatoli’s decision to translate Averroes instead of Aristotle, and thus to determine that learned Jews would study Aristotle via Averroes, virtually assured Averroes’s reputation as a commentator, especially as few other commentators on Aristotle would be translated into Hebrew.41 The thirteenth-century encyclopedists, who knew Averroes’s commentaries well, clearly shared this view. Thus, for example, Shem Ṭov ben Joseph ibn Falaquera wrote in the introduction to his encyclopedia, Deʿot ha-filosofim (Opinions of the Philosophers): There is not a thing in this entire composition that I say of my own; rather all that I write are the words of Aristotle as explained in the commentaries of the scholar Averroes, for he was the last of the commentators and he incorporated what was best from the [earlier] commentaries.42 This view of Averroes is explicitly shared by the encyclopedist Levi ben Abraham ben Ḥayyim of Villefranche, who wrote toward the end of the thirteenth century that “the books of Aristotle are better than the books of anyone else” and the “commentaries of Averroes are superior to all other commentaries.”43 To the extent that Falaquera’s and Levi ben Abraham’s ency39 Harvey, “Averroes the Commentator?,” 283–84 and 290. 40 Harvey, 285–87. On the early Latin translators of Averroes, see Dag Nikolaus Hasse, Latin Averroes Translations of the First Half of the Thirteenth Century (Hildesheim: Olms, 2010). 41 Harvey, “Averroes the Commentator?,” 290–91. 42 Translated in Steven Harvey, “Shem-Ṭov ibn Falaquera’s Deʿot ha-Filosofim: Its Sources and Use of Sources,” in Harvey, Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias, 214. 43 Harvey, “Averroes the Commentator?,” 289. On Levi ben Abraham ben Ḥayyim as an encyclopedist, see Warren Zev Harvey, “Levi ben Abraham of Villefranche’s Controversial Encyclopedia,” in Harvey, Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias, 171–88.

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clopedias were read, they only fortified Averroes’s standing as the premier interpreter of Aristotle. But it was not until the first two decades of the fourteenth century, with Qalonimos ben Qalonimos and the virtual completion of the project of translating Averroes’s middle and long commentaries, that it finally became possible for Jews who did not read Arabic or Latin to study and penetrate Aristotelian science—that is, through the trusted commentaries of Averroes. Philosophically inclined Jews did not waste a minute! The treasured Averroean translations were copied and recopied, and immediately after Qalonimos had finished his translations a whole new literature—the supercommentaries on Averroes’s commentaries—emerged and took hold. As if the ban of 1305 against the study of philosophy had never been, the study of Aristotelian-Averroean philosophy flowered among Jews in the decades that followed. It is easy to name many philosophers who were nurtured by the Commentator in the fourteenth century, such as Jedaiah ha-Penini, Gersonides, Joseph ibn Kaspi, and Moses Narboni, as it is to name the supercommentators from the school of Gersonides who systematically learned Aristotelian science through Averroes. Indeed, the Hebrew translations of the commentaries of Averroes not only made possible the study of Aristotelian science among Jews; they helped contribute to its advancement.44 Averroes and Maimonides were the two major medieval philosophical authorities among the Jews. I emphasise medieval because, unlike Renan, I believe Aristotle remained the ultimate philosophical authority. Aristotelian philosophy and science were studied through Averroes’s commentaries, but the goal was to learn Aristotelian science. Moreover, as virtually every doctoral student in medieval Jewish philosophy comes to learn, when a medieval Jewish thinker refers to Aristotle—for example, “as Aristotle said in the Physics”—more often than not he has one of Averroes’s commentaries in mind. This is in sharp contrast to the Latins, who clearly distinguished between the Philosopher and the Commentator. In part, this is because the Latins focused on the long commentaries, where the difference between the words of Aristotle and those of Averroes was explicit. In contrast, advanced readers of the commentaries in Hebrew usually studied the middle commentaries, where it is often difficult to discern between the two philosophers. Even the leading fourteenth-century Jewish scientist and philosopher, Gersonides, confused the two at times. It was easier just to refer to Aristotle; after all, both Aristotle and Averroes presented the same true science, Aristotelian science. 44 Harvey, “Averroes the Commentator?” 294–95.

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From the perspective of medieval Jews, then, followers of Averroes’s commentaries were not Averroists, but Aristotelians. Who then were the Jewish Averroists? The subtitle of my chapter is “Some Provocative Reflections on Jewish Averroism.” What is most flagrantly provocative is my questioning of the very terms that lie at the foundation of our volume: “Averroist,” “Averroistic,” and “Averroism.” I have rehearsed the problems of these terms for historians of medieval Christian thought; but there, at least, some of the actors themselves used “Averroist” and even in a particular context. This does not seem to be the case in our Hebrew texts. Nonetheless, can we agree on a simple working definition of “Averroist”? We have seen the major ways in which the Latins themselves used the term, but these do not seem to be useful categories for our Jewish philosophers. As I have just argued, “Averroist” is not a good term for readers of Averroes’s commentaries. In part, this is because such thinkers would rather have been thought of as Aristotelians. Additionally, all serious medieval Jewish philosophers who had access to Averroes’s commentaries read them, so they all would be Averroists. As for the original and most meaningful sense of “Averroist” as a follower of the doctrine, attributed to Averroes, of the unicity of the intellect, this also is not so useful for the medieval Jewish philosophers: first, because the doctrine did not have for them nearly the centrality and significance it had in Christian thought, and second, because most Jewish thinkers would not have identified it with Averroes in particular. As for taking “Averroist” as assuming the much wider meaning of “heterodox philosopher,” this is also problematic. It did not assume that meaning. There were, of course, many Jews from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries—some quite familiar with Averroes’s commentaries—who attacked those whom they perceived to be heterodox philosophers, whether philosophers or preachers or biblical exegetes. They referred to these thinkers by many names, but there was no tradition to identify them as Averroists or followers of Averroes. If anything, they were “pseudo-philosophers” or “philosophists” (mitpalsefim), followers of the philosophers or of the Greek or of Maimonides. They were, for example, “clever savants” (ḥakhamim meḥukkamim [from Prov. 30:24]), “infidels” (koferim or epiqorsim), opponents (mitnaggedim), rebellious servants (ʿavadim ha-mitparṣim [from 1 Sam. 25:10]), or simply “philosophers” or “these men.” At times they were named explicitly, as in Abravanel’s “cursed sect” (ha-kat ha-arurah), previously mentioned, which included Falaquera, Albalag, Abner of Burgos, Narboni, and Kaspi. Virtually all scholars today use the terms “Averroist” and “Averroism” to describe certain medieval Jewish philosophers and certain philosophical movements within Judaism. And indeed, these terms are used throughout the

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present volume. They were not used by the Jewish actors themselves, but were likely borrowed by historians of Jewish philosophy from discussions of medieval Christian thought and cemented in our minds through Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme, first published in 1852.45 But in his chapter on Jewish Averroism, the term is not used in the particular senses in which it is employed in his section on medieval Christian thought. Renan gives us an account of the sudden rise and fall of Averroes’s influence on Jewish thought in the four centuries following his death. It is to this general sense of “Averroist”—that is, a thinker influenced by Averroes—to which I wish to turn now. Let us characterise the type of Jewish philosophers we might wish to call “Averroists.” For a moment, let us consider Falaquera, Albalag, Kaspi, and Narboni, philosophers who happen to be on Abravanel’s list and also in our volume. They all knew Averroes’s writings well, particularly his commentaries on Aristotle. They all put forward certain teachings that seemed to go against traditional Jewish beliefs. They all were careful students of Aristotelian logic, philosophy, and science and were well-read in Islamic philosophy; they wrote on logic as well as philosophy and science. They all were followers of Averroes. Can we agree then that these four should all be called Averroists? And if so, are they all Averroists in the same sense? Falaquera likely was the best read of the four in Greek and Arabic philosophy and science. He considered Averroes’s commentaries the most valuable, and his encyclopedia is composed of them. Moreover, his Epistle of the Debate is based closely on Averroes’s Decisive Treatise and, like the Decisive Treatise, attempts to show the harmonisation between the Divine Law and human Wisdom, with these two significant differences. First, while Averroes’s primary interest can be said to be the need of philosophers for Islam, Falaquera’s interest lies in the need of Judaism for philosophy. Second, therefore, while 45 On Renan and Latin Averroism, see Catherine König-Pralong, “Averroïsme latin,” in Encyclopédie de l’humanisme méditerranéen, ed. Houari Touati, 2014, http://www .encyclopedie-humanisme.com/?AVERROISME-LATIN-33: “Renan situe les prémisses du premier averroïsme à la cour des Hohenstaufen dans la première moitié du XIIIe siècle. Frédéric II, l’empereur incrédule, en est l’initiateur ; le véritable « fondateur » en est Michel Scot, l’un des traducteurs qui œuvraient à la cour de Frédéric II, le premier grand traducteur d’Averroès. De Michel Scot à Vanini au XVIIe siècle, le motif des entreprises averroïstes est la « mécréance », une révolte de la raison contre la croyance religieuse, qui s’alimente à la philosophie d’Averroès et surtout à celle d’Aristote qu’Averroès et les Arabes restituent enfin à l’Occident. […] Doctrinalement, l’averroïsme selon Renan peut se résumer à quelques thèses : l’unicité de l’intellect pour tous les hommes, l’éternité de la matière et une forme de déterminisme qui ne laisse aucune place à la contingence théologique. À cela s’ajoute une théorie de la félicité mentale qui exclut du plan humain les interventions gratuites d’un quelconque Dieu arbitraire et personnel.”

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Averroes cautions his reader against studying demonstrative books, Falaquera promises to write such books—and indeed did—for his reader.46 On the one hand, we can call Falaquera an Averroist because he read and benefited from every book he could find by Averroes; he based his philosophical encyclopedia on Averroes, and explained why; and he leaned on Averroes’s dialectical writings for his own attempt to show the harmony between Judaism and philosophy. On the other hand, he did not hesitate to disagree with Averroes; he had an equally high opinion of other philosophers, such as al-Fārābī and Maimonides; and his views seem to be, in general, less heterodox than Albalag, Kaspi, or Narboni. Ultimately, I would prefer to call Falaquera an Aristotelian or eclectic Aristotelian. In an un-Averroistic way, he sought to popularise philosophy among a wider audience than Averroes or, for that matter, Maimonides, envisioned. We don’t have very much writing by Albalag, but he certainly deserves the appellation “Averroist.” Georges Vajda was on the mark when he identified Albalag as an “averroïste juif” in the title of his monograph,47 and it is no surprise that there are a few chapters on him in the present volume. For now, I will simply point out, as I have elsewhere, that Albalag’s introduction to his Tiqqun ha-Deʿot (Correction of the Opinions) reads like a treatise of the falāsifah on political philosophy, reminiscent of sections of Averroes’s Decisive Treatise and al-Fārābī’s Attainment of Happiness.48 Indeed, the entire introduction is devoted to explaining why Albalag composed his book. In so doing, he places his presentation of Ġazālīan logic and science in a political framework—the stated goal being to uphold the true teachings of the Torah, so useful for the wellbeing of society and the happiness of man. Al-Ġazālī appears in Albalag’s introduction, for the first time in Hebrew, as an author whose writings on philosophy and science are worth studying. However, Albalag’s comments on al-Ġazālī’s own introduction show that he will be quite critical of al-Ġazālī’s science and that he believes al-Ġazālī in fact strayed from the true path of both 46 47 48

See Steven Harvey, Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate: An Introduction to Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 83–98. Georges Vajda, Isaac Albalag: Averroïste juif, traducteur et annotateur d’al-Ghazâlî (Paris: Librairie J. Vrin, 1960). Steven Harvey, “Author’s Introductions as a Gauge for Monitoring Philosophic Influence: The Case of Alghazali,” in Studies in Jewish and Muslim Thought Presented to Professor Michael Schwarz, ed. Sara Klein-Braslavy, Binyamin Abrahamov, and Joseph Sadan (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 2009), 56–59. See Isaac Albalag, Sefer tiqqun ha-deʿot, ed. Georges Vajda (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1973), introduction, 1–5; French translation by Georges Vajda in Isaac Albalag, 15–21; English translation by Charles Manekin in The Jewish Philosophy Reader, ed. Oliver Leaman, Daniel H. Frank, and Charles H. Manekin (London: Routledge, 2000), 247–50.

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Aristotelian philosophy and of religion. In this introduction, Albalag compared al-Ġazālī to Maimonides, for both strayed in the interpretation of the opinions of both philosophy and religion. The reason, Albalag explained, is that both al-Ġazālī and Maimonides drew from the same source—the method of al-Fārābī and Avicenna—which strays from that of Aristotle. Albalag also explains the title of his book here, noting that the opinions that needed correcting were, of course, those of al-Ġazālī’s Intentions of the Philosophers, for although al-Ġazālī thought he was giving an account of the opinions of the philosophers, “in reality he was not giving an account of their opinions but of his own […] so that he revealed his own confusion instead of theirs.”49 Here and throughout the book, Albalag emerges not as a follower of the major falāsifa, not of al-Fārābī or Avicenna or even Maimonides, but of one philosopher: Averroes. This is what most makes him an Averroist, even more than his seeming adoption of the view, presumably held by certain contemporary Latin Averroists, of the double verité.50 In what sense may we call Kaspi an Averroist? Unlike Albalag, Kaspi was a follower and admirer of Maimonides. As Hannah Kasher has written, “Kaspi saw himself as a successor of Maimonides, who explains [him] and implements his method.”51 “At times,” she writes, “he saw himself as the faithful disciple of Maimonides, who reveals what his master had concealed.”52 Maimonides likely had the greatest influence upon him. Indeed, we may call Kaspi a Maimonidean. Was he an Averroist? He was certainly an Aristotelian and frequently cites the works of Aristotle, but invariably these citations to Aristotle are actually to Averroes’s commentaries, which he knew well. While he cites other Islamic falāsifa, it was Averroes who had the greatest impact upon him, and he shared many of Averroes’s theological and political views. So yes: in this respect, we could refer to him as an Averroist, yet I would imagine that he himself would have preferred to be referred to as an Aristotelian, just as he invariably cites Aristotle instead of his direct source, Averroes.53 In a recent study on Kaspi, 49 Isaac Albalag, Sefer tiqqun ha-deʿot, 5, sec. 1; Vajda, Isaac Albalag, 21. 50 On Albalag, the Latin Averroists, and the double verité, see Vajda, Isaac Albalag, part 5, 251–66. 51 Hannah Kasher, Joseph Ibn Kaspi, Šulḥan kesef [The Silver Table] (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1996), 15. 52 Kasher, Joseph Ibn Kaspi, 15. 53 This is evident not only when Kaspi cites a book in the name of Aristotle, while his source is Averroes’s commentary on it, but also elsewhere, e.g., in his ethical will, where he recommends to his son to “read Aristotle’s Ethics, of which I have made a digest,” where the epitome is actually of Averroes’s Middle Commentary on the text; cited from Joseph Kaspi, Sefer ha-musar (Guide to Knowledge), in Hebrew Ethical Wills, vol. 1, ed. and trans. Israel Abrahams (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1926), 144.

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Adrian Sackson noticeably avoids using the terms “Averroist” and “Averroism.” He does, however, refer to Kaspi as an “Aristotelian-Averroean-Maimonidean,” and this seems quite accurate and helpful.54 Earlier he had explained that “Maimonides, Aristotle, and Averroes were the most central [authors] in forming Ibn Kaspi’s view of the world.”55 While Maimonides “is the most formative influence, shaping Ibn Kaspi’s philosophical and theological ideas, [and] his approach to interpretation of biblical and rabbinic texts,” Averroes “played a dual role in Ibn Kaspi’s intellectual development—as a transmitter (and interpreter) of Aristotle; and as a thinker in his own right.”56 Finally, we have Narboni. While Kaspi wrote abridged summaries of two of Averroes’s commentaries, and Falaquera translated and blended together large portions of many of Averroes’s commentaries in his encyclopedia, Narboni wrote commentaries on several of Averroes’s writings, including a few treatises on the soul—most importantly, his Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction and his commentary on Alexander’s De intellectu—and on his De Substantia orbis, his middle commentary on Physics, and his Questions in Physics. His commentary on al-Ġazālī’s Intentions of the Philosophers is replete with citations from numerous commentaries by Averroes. But it is his adoption of a full range of Averroes’s views, including that on the unity of the intellect and the corresponding denial of individual immortality, that has led scholars to call Narboni the complete Averroist. Thus, Kalman Bland writes of Narboni: The passing hints to the eternity and necessary existence of the world, the vigor with which he denies to revelation truths inaccessible to man’s reason, the unconditional acceptance of Ibn Rushd’s philosophic program—all lend support to the image of Moses Narboni, the complete Averroist.57 Bland notes that his reference to Narboni as “the complete Averroist” is taken from a 1972 lecture by Alfred Ivry, entitled “Moses Narboni: The Compleat Averroist.”58 But the story does not end here. In Ivry’s most recent study on

54 Adrian Sackson, Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 100, 252. 55 Sackson, Joseph Ibn Kaspi, 44. 56 Sackson, 44–45. 57 Kalman P. Bland, The Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982), 9. 58 Bland, The Epistle on the Possibility, 18n46.

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Averroes and Narboni, he seems to qualify his description of Narboni as the “compleat Averroist”: Narboni’s positive attitude towards al-Ghazālī may therefore require some modification of Narboni’s image as a staunch Averroist. Though he seems to follow Averroes’ metaphysical teachings on the annihilation of the self at the moment of conjunction with the Agent Intellect, Narboni, as reflected in his Ghazālīan extracts in Shelemut Hanefesh, may have retained sympathy for, and perhaps a belief in, a personal survival of the soul and a personal God.59 4

Concluding Words

As among the Scholastics, and at about the same time, Averroes became the commentator on Aristotle par excellence among the Jews. Indeed, in contrast to the Scholastics, Jews learned and mastered Aristotelian philosophy and science primarily through Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle. Yet it was the Scholastics who coined the term “Averroist” and used it at certain periods and, as scholars have shown, in different senses. This term, or a parallel one, was not used in Arabic by the Muslims or in Hebrew by the Jews. I have suggested reasons that can explain why it was not used in Hebrew and would not have been meaningful to the medieval Jews. Presumably under the influence of historians of Scholasticism, historians of medieval Jewish philosophy have increasingly used this and similar terms, and I have done so as well. It is part of our discourse. It is the subject of the present, very rich volume. Curiously, in the classic post-Renan histories of Jewish philosophy of Husik and Guttmann, no Jewish philosopher is called “Averroist” and there is no Jewish Averroism.60 The same, I believe, is true in Colette Sirat’s 1985 History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, despite her learned accounts of virtually all the Jewish philosophers who have been called Averroists, including Falaquera, Albalag, Kaspi and Narboni.61

59 Alfred L. Ivry, “Al-Ghazālī, Averroes, and Moshe Narboni: Conflict and Conflation,” in Tamer, Islam and Rationality (above, n. 6), 286–87. 60 Isaac Husik, A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1916; repr., Mineola: Dover Publications, 2002); Julius Guttmann, Philosophies of Judaism, trans. David W. Silverman (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964). 61 Colette Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

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I have offered a glimpse of these four philosophers to see what, if anything, binds them together as Averroists. They all knew Averroes’s writings well; they all studied Aristotelian logic, natural science, and metaphysics through the commentaries of Averroes; they all highly valued Averroes; and they all held certain seemingly heterodox teachings. Falaquera, unlike Albalag, had an equally high opinion of other philosophers, such as al-Fārābī and Maimonides, so is it not misleading to call him an Averroist? His views seem to be, in general, less heterodox than the other three, but as the recent scholarship on al-Ġazālī as well as the above-cited statement of Ivry suggest, we cannot always be sure of the personal religious beliefs of a particular thinker, even of a “compleat Averroist” like Narboni. Vajda described Albalag as a Jewish Averroist, and this precise term seems quite fitting in his case—at least, in the Latin sense.62 After all, he explicitly put forward the double verité teaching. But this is not a position that Averroes held, and I wonder if any other Jewish thinker expressed it so clearly. Latin parallels aside, what most makes Albalag an Averroist— or should we then say, an Averroean?—is that, for him, Averroes was the most reliable philosopher. This would be different from Kaspi, who, if anything, was a Maimonidean or, perhaps better, in Sackson’s well-chosen words, an “Aristotelian-Averroean-Maimonidean.” As for Narboni, Ivry has had the last word. In truth, all four of these philosophers can with justification be called “Averroists.” But how would they have defined themselves? And what binds them together as Averroists? If we mean that they were all students of Averroes’s commentaries, the list of Averroists would be very long, judging by the number of Hebrew manuscripts of these commentaries, and most of them would likely have considered themselves Aristotelians. If we mean that they held certain heterodox views, then why not call them Farabians or, as is often done, radical Maimonideans (although this might not be appropriate for Albalag) or radical Jewish philosophers (so as to include Albalag)? Finally, if we mean that they are associated with certain teachings attributed to the Latin Averroists, then this needs to be clarified better and may have little to do with Averroes himself. Averroes, through his commentaries on Aristotle, became a philosophical authority among the Jews and the most widely read philosopher

62 I wonder to what extent Vajda’s book contributed to the modern widespread use of “Jewish Averroism” and “Jewish Averroists.” He himself was sparing in the use of these terms and focused on their Latin sense: cf. his Introduction à la pensée juive du Moyen Âge (Paris: J. Vrin, 1947). I imagine certain general historians, particularly Yitzhak Baer, played a significant role.

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in Hebrew, but his theology was not singled out among them, as it was among the Scholastics. My primary intention in this study was to point to some pitfalls and snags inherent in the use of terms such as “Averroist” and to try to suggest a working definition of this term. As for the definition, I have certainly tried, but it has eluded me. While I am now sceptical about whether a meaningful working definition of “Averroist” exists for Jewish philosophers, I believe that the best place to look for it is in the pages of the present volume. Bibliography Abrahams, Israel. Hebrew Ethical Wills. 2 vols. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1926. Abravanel, Isaac. Mifʿalot Elohim (The Works of God). Lemberg, 1863. Akasoy, Anna. “Was Ibn Rushd an Averroist? The Problem, the Debate, and Its Philosophical Implications.” In Akasoy and Giglioni, Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath, 321–47. Akasoy, Anna, and Guido Giglioni, eds. Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013. Al-Akiti, Afifi. “The Maḍnūn of al-Ghazālī: A Critical Edition of the Unpublished Major Maḍnūn with Discussion of his Restricted, Philosophical Corpus.” PhD diss., Oxford University, 2007. Albalag, Isaac. Sefer tiqqun ha-deʿot. Edited by Georges Vajda. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1973. Albertus Magnus. De unitate intellectus: Über die Einzigkeit des Intellekts. Edited by Henryk Anzulewicz and Wolf-Ulrich Klünker, with Philipp A.C. Anzulewicz. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2022. Averroes. Al-Kašf ʿan manāhiǧ al-adillah fī ʿaqāʾid al-millah (Uncovering the Methods of the Proofs). Edited by Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧābirī. Beirut: Markaz Dirāsāt al-Waḥdah al-ʿArabīyah, 1998. Bland, Kalman P. The Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982. Busa, Roberto, et al. Corpus Thomisticum: Index Thomisticus. Web edition by Eduardo Bernot and Enrique Alarcón. http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/it/index.age;jses sionid=64ADE2D55FBFB6F39FB4BB008D607322. Forte, Doron. “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23 (2016): 47–90.

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Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid. Fayṣal al-tafriqah bayna l-Islām wa-l-zandaqah. In Al-Ghazālī, Le critère de distinction entre l’Islam et l’incroyance: Interprétation et divergence en islam, edited and translated by Mustapha Hogga, 25–113. Paris: J. Vrin: 2010. Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid. Deliverance from Error (Al-Munqiḏ min al-ḍalāl), in The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazālī, trans. W. Montgomery Watt (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1953). Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid. The Incoherence of the Philosophers. Edited and translated by Michael E. Marmura. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1997. Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid. Maqāṣid al-falāsifah (Intentions of the Philosophers). Edited by Muḥyī al-Dīn Ṣabrī al-Kurdī. Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿah al-Maḥmūdīyah al-Tiǧārīyah, 1936. Giglioni, Guido. Introduction to Akasoy and Giglioni, Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath, 1–34. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013. Griffel, Frank. Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Guttmann, Julius. Philosophies of Judaism. Translated by David W. Silverman. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964. Harvey, Steven. “Author’s Introductions as a Gauge for Monitoring Philosophic Influence: The Case of Alghazali.” In Studies in Jewish and Muslim Thought Presented to Professor Michael Schwarz, edited by Sara Klein-Braslavy, Binyamin Abrahamov, and Joseph Sadan, 53–66. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 2009. Harvey, Steven. “Did Maimonides Recommend Reading Averroes’ Commentaries on Aristotle?” Jewish Studies Quarterly 28 (2021): 159–90. Harvey, Steven. Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate: An Introduction to Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. Harvey, Steven. “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 100–119. Harvey, Steven. “Shem-Ṭov ibn Falaquera’s Deʿot ha-Filosofim: Its Sources and Use of Sources.” In Harvey, Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias, 211–37. Harvey, Steven. “When Did Jews Begin to Consider Averroes the Commentator?” In Florilegium mediaevale: Études offertes à Jacqueline Hamesse à l’occasion de son éméritat, edited by José Meirinhos and Olga Weijers, 279–96. Louvain-la-Neuve: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales, 2009. Harvey, Steven, ed. The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000. Harvey, Warren Zev. “Levi ben Abraham of Villefranche’s Controversial Encyclopaedia.” In S. Harvey, Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias, 171–88. Hasse, Dag Nikolaus. “Averroica secta: Notes on the Formation of Averroist Movements in Fourteenth-Century Bologna and Renaissance Italy.” In Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin, edited by J.-B. Brenet, 307–32. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007.

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Hasse, Dag Nikolaus. Latin Averroes Translations of the First Half of the Thirteenth Century. Hildesheim: Olms, 2010. Husik, Isaac. A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy. New York: Macmillan, 1916. Reprinted Mineola: Dover Publications, 2002. Ivry, Alfred L. “Al-Ghazālī, Averroes, and Moshe Narboni: Conflict and Conflation.” In Tamer, Islam and Rationality, 275–87. Janssens, Jules. “Le Dânesh-Nâmeh d’Ibn Sînâ: un texte à revoir?” Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 28 (1986): 163–77. Kasher, Hannah. Joseph Ibn Kaspi, Shulḥan Kesef (The Silver Table). Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1996. Kaspi, Joseph. Sefer ha-musar (Guide to Knowledge). In Hebrew Ethical Wills, vol. 1, edited by Israel Abraham, 127–61. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1926. König-Pralong, Catherine. “Averroïsme latin.” In Encyclopédie de l’humanisme méditerranéen, edited by Houari Touati, 2014. http://www.encyclopedie-humanisme.com /?AVERROISME-LATIN-33. Kristeller, Paul Oskar. “Paduan Averroism and Alexandrism in the Light of Recent Studies.” Atti del XII Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia 9 (1960): 147–55. Langermann, Tzvi. “The ‘Hebrew Ajwiba’ Ascribed to al-Ghazālī: Corpus, Conspectus, and Context.” Muslim World 101 (2011): 680–97. MacClintock, Stuart. “Heresy and Epithet: An Approach to the Problem of Latin Averroism, I–III.” The Review of Metaphysics 8 (1954–1955): 176–99, 342–56, 526–45. Madelung, Wilferd. “Al-Ghazālī’s Changing Attitude to Philosophy.” In Tamer, Islam and Rationality, vol. 1, 23–34. Manekin, Charles H. “The Logic of the Hebrew Encyclopedias.” In The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy, edited by Steven Harvey, 277–99. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000. Manekin, Charles H., trans. “Isaac Albalag, The Emendation of the ‘Opinions.’” In The Jewish Philosophy Reader, edited Oliver Leaman, Daniel H. Frank, and Charles H. Manekin, 247–50. London: Routledge, 2000. Najjar, Ibrahim, trans. Faith and Reason in Islam: Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001). Renan, Ernest. Averroès et l’averroïsme: Essai historique. Paris: Michel Lévy, 1866. Sackson, Adrian. Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Sirat, Colette. A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Tamer, Georges, ed. Islam and Rationality: The Impact of al-Ghazālī. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Treiger, Alexander. Inspired Knowledge in Islamic Thought: Al-Ghazālī’s Theory of Mystical Cognition and Its Avicennian Foundation. London: Routledge, 2012.

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Twersky, Isadore. “Aspects of the Social and Cultural History of Provençal Jewry.” In Jewish Society Through the Ages, edited by H.H. Ben-Sasson and S. Ettinger, 185–207. New York: Schocken Books, 1971. Vajda, Georges. Introduction à la pensée juive du Moyen Âge. Paris: J. Vrin, 1947. Vajda, Georges. Isaac Albalag: Averroïste juif, traducteur et annotateur d’al-Ghazâlî. Paris: Librairie J. Vrin, 1960. van Steenberghen, Fernand. Aristotle in the West: The Origins of Latin Aristotelianism. Translated by Leonard Johnston. Louvain: Editions Nauwelaerts, 1955. Wisnovsky, Robert. “One Aspect of the Avicennian Turn in Sunnī Theology.” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 14 (2004): 65–100.

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Chapter 2

How a Rehabilitated Notion of Latin Averroism Could Help in Understanding Jewish Averroism Giovanni Licata What historians of philosophy usually do, among other things, is to reconstruct the real currents of philosophical thought. In doing so, they make use of historiographical concepts. Just as without the conceptualisation of reality there would be no universals but only individuals, so too in the history of philosophy there would be no currents or schools of thought, only atomised philosophers. Historiographical concepts, such as Thomism, Scotism, Platonism of Chartres, Avicennism—to confine ourselves to medieval philosophy—are of particular importance in recognising the conscious position of a thinker in the history of philosophy, their ideological affinities, and the tradition to which they belonged. Yet, few of these concepts in the historiography of medieval Latin philosophy are so controversial as Averroism. Although in Latin the noun averroista1 is very ancient and dates back to the end of the thirteenth century, also being the title of a famous work by Thomas Aquinas against the Parisian Averroists—the De unitate intellectus contra averroistas—the term Averroism, as historiographical notion, was used for the first time in 1852. Indeed, that year Ernest Renan published the first edition of his influential book Averroès et l’averroïsme.2 As is known, Renan painted with bold strokes the history of the influence of Averroes’s thought in both the Latin and Jewish contexts, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Despite the scant primary sources available at his time, he filled the gaps with remarkable insight. According to Renan’s reconstruction, the first Latin Averroists were several Parisian Arts Masters active in the 1260s and 1270s, whose “erroneous” doctrines were condemned 1 Dragos Calma, “La polysémie du terme averroïsme,” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie 57, no. 1 (2010): 189–97, republished in Dragos Calma, Études sur le premier siècle de l’averroïsme latin: Approches et textes inédits (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011). I am very grateful to Dragos Calma, Yoav Meyrav, and Racheli Haliva for their valuable criticism and remarks, and to Jean-Baptiste Brenet for allowing me to read, before the publication, his article, “L’averroïsme aujourd’hui,” in Dante et l’averroïsme, ed. Alain de Libera, Jean-Baptiste Brenet and Irène Rosier-Catach (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2019), 47–78. 2 Ernest Renan, Averroès et l’averroïsme: Essai historique (Paris: Auguste Durand, 1852, republished with corrections and additions, Paris: Michel Lévy, 1861).

© Giovanni Licata, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_003

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by the bishop Étienne Tempier in 1270 and 1277. These Masters held to, among other themes, the doctrine of the unicity of the potential intellect for all humans, a controversial psychological thesis set forth by Averroes in his long commentary on On the Soul. Since this theory entailed the mortality of the individual soul and the inexistence of reward and punishment in the afterlife, Averroes became, malgré lui, the icon of religious disbelief in the Latin world and the forerunner of libertinism. However, taken in this sense, the history of Latin Averroism, Renan acknowledged, was “nothing but the history of an enormous misunderstanding,”3 having little to do with the authentic thought of ibn Rushd. Recent studies on the historiography of Latin Averroism4 have rightly underlined the fact that Renan’s chapter on thirteenth-century Averroism was built on weak foundations: he based his reconstruction solely on those who had attacked the Averroists, such as Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome, and the bishop Tempier, without knowing a single Averroistic text. In fact, it was not until the twentieth century that scholars of medieval philosophy began to discover and publish the manuscripts of thinkers such as Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia.5 In 1899 the Dominican Pierre Mandonnet published the book Siger de Brabant et l’averroïsme latin au XIIIme siècle, with an appendix containing some previously unknown works by Siger.6 Mandonnet accepted Renan’s idea that in the thirteenth century Averroism was a real current of 3 According to John Marenbon’s translation in his article “Latin Averroism,” in Islamic Crosspollinations: Interactions in the Medieval Middle East, ed. Anna Akasoy, James Montgomery, and Peter Pormann (London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2007), 135–47. For the original text, see Ernest Renan, Oeuvres complètes de Ernest Renan, vol. 3 (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1949), 322. 4 See in particular Ruedi Imbach, “L’averroïsme latine du XIIIe siècle,” in Gli studi di filosofia medievale tra Otto e Novecento: Contributo a un bilancio storiografico, ed. Ruedi Imbach and Alfonso Maierù (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1989), 191–208. Cf. Gianfranco Fioravanti, “Boezio di Dacia e la storiografia sull’averroismo,” Studi medievali 7, no. 1 (1966): 283–322; Catherine König-Pralong, “Averroïsme latin,” in Encyclopédie de l’humanisme méditerranéen, ed. Houari Touati (2014), http://www.encyclopedie-humanisme.com/?Averroisme-latin-33; Marenbon, “Latin Averroism”; and Valeria Sorge, “L’aristotelismo averroistico negli studi recenti,” Paradigmi 17 (1999): 243–63. 5 For an updated overview on Siger, see François-Xavier Putallaz and Ruedi Imbach, Profession philosophe: Siger de Brabant (Paris: Les éditions du Cerf, 1997). Luca Bianchi has recently shown that, with respect to Boethius of Dacia, the use of the term “Averroist” does not correspond to reality, in “Boèce de Dacie et Averroès: essai d’un bilan,” in Regards sur les traditions philosophiques (XIIe–XVIe siècles), ed. Dragos Calma and Zénon Kaluza (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017), 127–52. 6 Pierre Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et l’averroïsme latin au XIIIme siècle (Fribourg, 1899). A second edition, revised and augmented, was published between 1908 and 1911 in two volumes (Louvain: Institut supérieur de philosophie de l’Université, 1908–1911).

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thought with distinguishable features. The doctrinal content of this current, for Mandonnet, could be summarised in four fundamental theses: the unicity of the (material) intellect, the eternity of the world, the denial of providence, and the negation of human liberty.7 These theses are indeed present in Siger’s works, and for that reason were condemned by the bishop of Paris. During the twentieth century more details were added to this rough list of propositions. Other theses were believed to belong to the Averroistic tradition, including the achievement of beatitude through philosophy (a theme that emerged thanks to the discovery of Boethius’s De summo bono); the possibility of knowing the separate substances;8 the debate on Averroes’s interpretation of the first mover (as an efficient, or only final, cause of movement of the heavens);9 prime matter as a substratum composed of interminate dimensions (an original conception of matter that Averroes sets forth in his De substantia orbis);10 the eternity of the human species; the autonomy of philosophy from theology; and the so-called doctrine of double truth. Moreover, in the last century, scholars have added to our knowledge concerning the biography and scientific production of many Latin Averroists who in Renan’s time were hardly more than a name and who worked mainly as professors at the Universities of Erfurt, Bologna, and Padua from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.11 Paradoxically, despite the increase in studies on this crucial intellectual phenomenon, during the twentieth century the label Averroism tended more and 7 8

9 10 11

Imbach, “L’averroïsme latine du XIIIe siècle,” 196. See Carlos Steel, “Siger of Brabant versus Thomas Aquinas on the Possibility of Knowing the Separate Substances,” in Nach der Verurteilung von 1277: Philosophie und Theologie an der Universität von Paris im letzten Viertel des 13. Jahrhunderts. Studien und Texte, ed. Jan A. Aertsen, Kent Emery, and Andreas Speer (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2001), 211–31. See also the useful remarks in Antonio Gagliardi, Tommaso d’Aquino e Averroè: La visione di Dio (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2002). On this debate see Agostino Poppi, Causalità e infinità nella scuola padovana dal 1480 al 1513 (Padova: Editrice Antenore, 1966). See Robert Pasnau, Metaphysical Themes: 1274–1671 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2011), 60–66. For detailed bibliographies on last century’s scholarship, see Anna Akasoy and Guido Giglioni, eds., Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013); Jean-Baptiste Brenet, ed., Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007); Alain de Libera and Maurice-Ruben Hayoun, Averroès et l’averroïsme (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1991); Zdzisław Kuksewicz, De Siger de Brabant à Jacques de Plaisance: La théorie de l’intellect chez les averroïstes latins des XIIIe et XIVe siècles (Warsaw: Ossolineum, 1968); L’averroismo in Italia: Convegno internazionale (Roma, 18–20 aprile 1977) (Roma: Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, 1979); Bruno Nardi, Saggi sull’aristotelismo padovano dal secolo XIV al XVI (Firenze: Sansoni, 1958); Friedrich Niewöhner and Loris Sturlese, eds., Averroismus in Mittelalter und in der Renaissance (Zürich: Spur Verlag, 1994); and Valeria Sorge, Averroismo (Napoli: Guida, 2007).

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more to be used with suspicion and frequently replaced with no less ambiguous labels such as “Radical” or “Heterodox Aristotelianism.”12 Some scholars—not a few in the field of medieval Latin philosophy—today believe that Averroism is a misleading label, which does not correspond to any current of real thought. Averroism, we are now told, is a historiographical myth. At the origin of this position was the influential work of Fernand van Steenberghen (1904–1995), a Catholic priest and historian of medieval philosophy at the University of Louvain. Van Steenberghen, who aimed at demolishing Mandonnet’s book on Siger of Brabant, maintained that in the thirteenth century there was no Averroism—according to van Steenberghen, it is only from the fourteenth century, with John of Jandun, or even later, that we can start to recognise the existence of Averroists. At the end of the thirteenth century, he argued, the only point in common between the historical Averroes and the so-called Averroists was the doctrine of one separate possible intellect for the entire human species. In dealing with Siger of Brabant’s doctrines, van Steenberghen claimed that the sources testify to the influence of Neoplatonism (e.g., Liber de causis) and Avicennism in his thought, and that Siger at some point abandoned Averroes’s doctrine of intellect and eventually moved much closer to the position defended by Aquinas—each individual having his own agent and possible intellect. Finally, van Steenberghen claimed that in the whole history of medieval philosophy nobody professed the double truth theory—a theory that was believed to be a distinctive feature of the Averroistic movement.13 Van Steenberghen’s crusade against the label Averroism was strengthened by the studies of the Dominican friar René-Antoine Gauthier, Paul O. Kristeller, and other distinguished scholars,14 so that nowadays there is a certain fear of using the term Averroism without putting it in quotation marks, even when referring to thinkers who lived in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and who clearly defended the truth of Aristotle’s doctrines, as interpreted by Averroes, against the Thomists and the orthodox theologians. The hidden truth is that historiography of Averroism is in itself an ideological field of research, 12

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The label “Radical Aristotelianism” was first proposed and defended by van Steenberghen and today is accepted by many scholars. On the reasons for this choice see Fernand van Steenberghen, La philosophie au XIIIe siècle (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut supérieur de philosophie, 1991). For a summary of van Steenberghen’s views see van Steenberghen, La philosophie au XIIIe siècle, chap. 8. For a critical analysis of van Steenberghen’s hidden assumptions see Sergio Landucci, “Alla ricerca della ‘doppia verità,’” Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 72, no. 1 (2017): 1–27. Paul Oskar Kristeller, “Paduan Averroism and Alexandrism in the Light of Recent Studies,” in Renaissance Thought and the Arts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 111–18.

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in which personal religious or anti-religious beliefs have influenced the perception of this intellectual phenomenon. Not only was Renan’s reconstruction highly ideological and full of prejudices against Arabic philosophy, but also van Steenberghen’s effort to separate the name of Siger from the heretical views of Averroes was (though in a different way) ideological, being influenced by the Neo-scholastic milieu of the School of Louvain. Therefore, mainly because of the impact of van Steenberghen’s oeuvre on medieval scholarship, today not only is there no agreement on which doctrines—if there ever were any—were professed by the followers of Averroes in the Latin world, but it seems that earlier scholars were looking for something that never existed. This is particularly true for historiography on thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Averroism, whereas, among historians, the existence of Averroist thinkers in the Renaissance has been less controversial, thanks also to the groundbreaking studies of Bruno Nardi on Paduan Aristotelianism.15 Nevertheless, I maintain that the concept of Averroism must not be abandoned, provided that this term is not taken as a monolith, but rather accepted with some flexibility. The reason for this claim is quite obvious: as commonly happens in the history of the reception of philosophical texts, the influence of Averroes on the Latin world is also a history of adaptation, development, and even radicalisation.16 Moreover, Averroes’s influence on the philosophers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance was not homogenous and changed according to the historical reception of Averroes’s works. Indeed, as is well known thanks to the fundamental studies of Moritz Steinschneider and Harry A. Wolfson, there was a twofold entry of Averroes’s translations into the Latin world: the first one, during the thirteenth century, consisted of the Latin translations of only fifteen out of the thirty-eight commentaries on Aristotle taken directly from Arabic (among which there were the long commentary on On the Soul 15 Nardi, Saggi sull’aristotelismo padovano, and Sigieri di Brabante nel pensiero del Rinascimento Italiano (Roma: Edizioni Italiane, 1945). Nardi demonstrated that it is possible to reconstruct a distinctive Averroistic tradition starting from Siger’s legacy. See also Akasoy and Giglioni, Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath; Dag Nikolaus Hasse, “Averroica secta: Notes on the Formation of Averroist Movements in Fourteenth-Century Bologna and Renaissance Italy,” in Brenet, ed., Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin, 307–31; Giovanni Licata, ed., L’averroismo in età moderna (Macerata: Quodlibet, 2013); and Edward Patrick Mahoney, Two Aristotelians of the Italian Renaissance: Nicoletto Vernia and Agostino Nifo (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000). 16 This, of course, is not to deny that an Averroist did not profess all the same ideas of the historical ibn Rushd. Already many years ago, Léon Gauthier suggested creating the noun “rushdism” and the adjective “rushdist” to contrast them with the noun Averroism and the adjective Averroist. See Ibn Rochd (Averroès) (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1948), 68n1.

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and the long commentary on On the Heavens—the only works by Averroes not translated into Hebrew between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries). The second entry, which started with Elijah Del Medigo at the end of the fifteenth century and continued through the sixteenth century, consisted of more accurate or brand-new translations, this time all from Hebrew into Latin.17 Thanks to these Renaissance translations, knowledge of Averroes became philologically more correct; for instance, a precise theory of the relationship between philosophy and religion began to take form, mainly based on the first edition of Averroes’s Destructio destructionum (the Latin translation of the Tahāfut al-tahāfut), published in 1497 with the commentary of Agostino Nifo (a second, more accurate, translation appeared in 1527). According to this Averroist theory, which can be found in the writings of heterodox thinkers such as Pietro Pomponazzi and Giordano Bruno, religion is of no use for wise men, but it is necessary for the moral education of unlearned persons, who cannot be persuaded by the demonstrations of philosophy.18 In the last few decades scholars have proposed many definitions of Latin Averroism. Some of them define it as a collection of heterodox philosophical theses opposed to the Christian dogma, of which the most important are monopsychism, happiness in this life, eternity of the world, and double truth.19 Others stress a more general feature, defining Averroism as a movement against the effort of reading Aristotle through the lens of Christian religion;20 or, to quote an effective definition by Étienne Gilson: “in its very essence, Latin Averroism was confirmation of an actual disagreement between certain conclusions of [Aristotle’s] philosophy, regarded as rationally necessary, and

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Moritz Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher (Berlin: Bibliographisches Bureau, 1893; repr. Graz: Akademische Druckund Verlagsanstalt, 1956); Harry A. Wolfson, “The Twice-Revealed Averroes,” Speculum 36 (1961): 373–92 and “Revised Plan for the Publication of a Corpus Commentariorum Averrois in Aristotelem,” Speculum 38 (1963): 88–104. For an up-to-date history of the Hebrewinto-Latin translations of Averroes in the Renaissance, see Giovanni Licata, Secundum Avenroem: Pico della Mirandola, Elia del Medigo e la “seconda rivelazione” di Averroè (Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali, 2022). 18 See Bruno Nardi, “Le opere inedite del Pomponazzi. III. Filosofia e religione,” Giornale critico della filosofia italiana 30 (1951): 363–81; repr. in Bruno Nardi, Studi su Pietro Pomponazzi (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1965), 122–48. 19 Sten Ebbesen, “Averroism,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig (London: Routledge, 1998), 595–98. 20 This is the position held by Martin Grabmann: see Imbach, “L’averroïsme latine du XIIIe siècle,” 201.

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certain teachings of Christian Revelation, regarded as true on the authority of the word of God.”21 But on this occasion I would like to focus on the definition proposed by John Marenbon, accepting it as a working definition. According to Marenbon the label Latin Averroist should apply to those writers who: (a) accepted Averroes’s view that there is only a single potential intellect; (b) concentrated their efforts on reaching and examining an accurate account of Aristotle’s ideas—usually based on that presented by Averroes—even where these positions are incompatible with Christian teaching (in particular, the position that the world has no beginning); and, (c) adopted some sort of strategy to explain why they, though Christians, did (a) and (b).22 Of course, it may be possible to find some cases in which a philosopher did not accept point (a), and even criticised it, such as Pomponazzi, though he borrowed from Averroes’s other fundamental topics; in these cases, I suggest that we should not classify this type of philosopher as a (Latin) Averroist, but we should only say that he was influenced by Averroes. Monopsychism, indeed, more than other doctrines, is a conditio sine qua non of belonging to this current of thought in the Latin world. Concerning point (b), it goes without saying that the acceptance of the thesis of the eternity of the world, and more generally the Aristotelian cosmological framework, entails the impossibility of the common view of God as a Being with absolute will, who hears the prayers of believers and is able to perform miracles for their benefit. The eternity of the world could also implicitly undermine some basic tenets of Christianity such as the Last Judgment and the resurrection of the dead.23 A few words on point (c) are necessary here, because my position is slightly different from that of Marenbon. The strategy to which Marenbon alludes was known by the label of “double truth,” which originated in the field of medieval Latin philosophy at the end of the nineteenth century. Actually, double truth is neither a theory nor a doctrine—as we sometimes happen to read—but a 21 Étienne Gilson, Dante the Philosopher, trans. David Moore (London: Sheed & Ward, 1948), 215. 22 This definition, which can be found in Marenbon’s penetrating article, “Latin Averroism,” was used by the same author some years before in “Dante’s Averroism,” in Poetry and Philosophy in the Middle Ages: A Festschrift for Peter Dronke, ed. John Marenbon (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 352–53. 23 On this point some useful observations may be found in Tullio Gregory, “Escatologia e aristotelismo nella scolastica medievale,” in Mundana sapientia. Forme di conoscenza nella cultura medievale (Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1992), 261–74.

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strategy that some authors from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era employed when they perceived a conflict between reason and faith. Sometimes double truth appears in the form of a statement, usually found at the beginning or at the end of a work, in which an author maintained that if the thesis rationally demonstrated conflicts with faith, he preferred to believe in the religious dogma. I offer an example from Siger of Brabant’s De anima intellectiva: “We say that the Philosopher [i.e., Aristotle] meant this concerning the union of the intellective soul to the body; however, we willingly prefer the sentence pronounced by the holy Catholic faith, whether it was contrary to this sentence of the Philosopher, and to whatever other sentences.”24 The fate of the label double truth is somehow similar to that of Averroism, because it too has been considered a misleading notion in today’s scholarship. In 2006 the Italian historian of philosophy Sergio Landucci devoted an extremely valuable book to the subject of double truth.25 This book, which seems to be little known, cannot be ignored by those who want to understand several crucial issues related to the history of Averroism. Landucci’s argument goes against the mainstream view, which stems from Gilson’s and van Steenberghen’s interpretations,26 that double truth theory is a myth because nobody in the Middle Ages professed the coexistence of two contrary truths, i.e., the truth of reason and the truth of revelation—this fact being against the principle of non-contradiction. Landucci shows that a form of double truth was indeed used by many heterodox philosophers, but not in the sense of the coexistence of two contrary truths. Actually, the label double truth can be properly used if we define it in the following way: there is double truth “when a thinker, after reaching a reasoned conclusion in contradiction with faith, declares that he does not share this conclusion because of a mere act of reverence and in absence of rational arguments against it.”27 The strategy, 24 Siger de Brabant, Quaestiones in tertium de anima, De anima intellectiva, De aeternitate mundi, ed. Bernardo Bazán (Louvain: Publications universitaires, 1972), 88: “Hoc dicimus sensisse Philosophum de unione animae intellectivae ad corpus; sententiam tamen sanctae fidei catholicae, si contraria huic sit sententiae Philosophi, praeferre volentes, sicut et in aliis quibuscunque.” See also 83–84 for another important passage from the De anima intellectiva (“Quaerimus enim hic solum intentionem philosophorum et praecipue Aristotelis …”). 25 Sergio Landucci, La doppia verità: Conflitti di ragione e fede tra Medioevo e prima modernità (Milano: Feltrinelli, 2006). 26 Étienne Gilson, “La doctrine de la double vérité,” in Études de philosophie médiévale (Strasbourg: Publications de la Faculté des Lettres, 1921), 51–75; Fernand van Steenberghen, “Une légende tenace: La théorie de la double vérité,” in Introduction à la philosophie médiévale (Louvain: Publications universitaires, 1974), 555–70. 27 Landucci, La doppia verità, 141–42.

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which we find in the works of Siger of Brabant, John of Jandun, Elijah Del Medigo, and also in some heterodox thinkers who were not strictly Averroists, fits in perfectly with this definition.28 I have dwelt on this point because the label double truth has also been applied to some Jewish philosophers in order to describe their position on the conflicting relationship between faith and reason. To my knowledge, the first scholar who made use of this notion in Jewish historiography was Julius Guttmann, in relation to Isaac Albalag’s and Elijah Del Medigo’s attitudes,29 and his opinion was repeated later by other scholars in the field of Jewish philosophy. Since today the notion of double truth, as we have seen, cannot be used without some qualification, if we want to continue using it we should offer a coherent definition that takes into account the critical debate within Latin historiography. Moreover, knowledge of the history of Latin Averroism is important in order to ascertain whether some Jewish Averroists were conditioned by the external, Latin environment. Indeed, the thesis clearly supported by Albalag and Del Medigo, i.e., that philosophy and religion are two distinct and independent areas within the domain of human knowledge, with their own specific sources of legitimacy (reason and revelation), could also have been influenced by the Parisian Master of Arts of the late thirteenth century. It remains to be shown that Albalag had access to the works of the early Latin Averroists, as was supposed by Julius Guttmann and Georges Vajda;30 but we know for certain that Del Medigo was influenced on some topics by John of Jandun and the Paduan

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This is the explicit of Del Medigo’s Quaestio de efficientia mundi (1480): “Si quid tamen dictum sit contrarium legi non mirum est, quia tantum intentiones philosophorum secundum fundamenta eorum dicere volui. Scitur enim quod via legis, cui magis creditur, alia est a via philosophica” (ed. in Licata, Secundum Avenroem, 349; the term lex here is of course used in the sense of “religious law”). For other examples, see Giovanni Licata, La via della ragione: Elia del Medigo e l’averroismo di Spinoza (Macerata: Edizioni Università di Macerata, 2013), 99. For some examples in John of Jandun, see Stuart MacClintock, Perversity and Error: Studies on the “Averroist” John of Jandun (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956), in particular 69–99 with notes; for an updated study on John of Jandun, see Jean-Baptiste Brenet, Transferts du sujet: La noétique d’Averroès selon Jean de Jandun (Paris: Vrin, 2003). Julius Guttmann, “Elia del Medigos Verhältnis zu Averroës in seinem Bechinat ha-Dat,” in Jewish Studies in Memory of Israel Abrahams, ed. G.A. Kohut (New York: Jewish Institute of Religion, 1927), 192–208. On the rise of the historiographical concept of double truth in the German academic world at the end of the nineteenth century, see Landucci, La doppia verità, 137. Georges Vajda, Isaac Albalag: Averroïste juif, traducteur et annotateur d’al-Ghazâlî (Paris: Vrin, 1960).

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Averroists.31 In any case I think that it would be a mistake to investigate the phenomenon of Jewish Averroism in isolation from that of Latin Averroism. Of course, both developed Averroes’s thought within their own cultural context, but it would be an exaggeration to state that they ran on parallel tracks. If we now take a look at the other side of the picture, we find that the notion of Jewish Averroism, which also sprang from Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme, was not questioned in Jewish Studies. Unlike Latin Averroism, Jewish Averroism has been considered a valuable tool for describing an effective current of thought, as Steven Harvey showed in an important article on this subject.32 Indeed, while Averroes’s influence on the Latin philosophy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is still debated, as we have seen, it is beyond any doubt that the Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages who came after Maimonides had a deeper knowledge of Averroes’s thought than their Christian contemporaries, thanks to the Arabic-into-Hebrew translations made by the enlightened circles of Provençal Jews who had escaped from Spain.33 Not only did the Jews translate from Arabic thirty-six of the thirty-eight commentaries on Aristotle written by Averroes, but they also translated other important Averroian works which were unknown to the Latin world during the Middle Ages: the Questions on Physics, the commentary on Plato’s Republic, and above all the two fundamental works on the nature of philosophy and its relation to religious law, the Decisive Treatise and the Incoherence of the Incoherence (the latter was in fact translated into Latin in 1328, although it seems that it did not circulate widely).34 The momentous impact of Averroes’s translations on medieval Jewish philosophy cannot be underestimated, although it is obvious that reading his texts or even commenting on them cannot be a sufficient condition for one to be considered a Jewish Averroist. Yet, Averroes’s most faithful followers—among them Isaac Albalag, Moses Narboni, Isaac Polqar (or Pulgar), Joseph Kaspi, and Elijah Del Medigo—seem to have shared a common interpretation of

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See Michael Engel, Elijah Del Medigo and Paduan Aristotelianism: Investigating the Human Intellect (London: Bloomsbury, 2017); Licata, La via della ragione; and Licata, Secundum Avenroem. 32 Steven Harvey, “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 100–119. 33 See Mauro Zonta, La filosofia antica nel Medioevo ebraico (Brescia: Paideia, 1996). 34 Giovanna Murano, “Il manoscritto della Destructio Destructionum di Averroè appartenuto a Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale, VIII E 31),” Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 60 (2018): 67–80.

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Averroes’s legacy on some crucial themes.35 However, the publication of the critical edition of the unpublished works of these (and other less-known) authors, along with the annotated translation into modern languages, will allow a more precise understanding of this current of thought. Among these themes there are the following: the legitimacy and the necessity of philosophical investigation for the enlightened few; the Torah as a book intended to educate the unlearned with rhetorical (that is, not scientific) arguments;36 the elitism of knowledge; the achievement of beatitude through speculative knowledge; the concept of the first mover as an efficient cause of movement (not only final); the eternity of the world, understood as eternal creation on the basis of Averroes’s Incoherence of the Incoherence; the immutable order of nature; the impossibility of miracles; the denial of individual providence; an Averroistic reading of controversial issues in Maimonides’s Guide; and a critical stance against kabbalists and mitpalsefim, i.e., philosophisers.37 Some of these themes are specific to Jewish Averroism because of two historical reasons: the circulation of Averroes’s translations in medieval Jewish culture and the sociocultural differences between the Jewish and Latin contexts.38 Moreover, it is worth noting that Jewish Averroists did not support a doctrine which, as we have seen, is a trademark of the Latin Averroists: the 35 36 37

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Just to be clear: some of these themes were common to other falāsifah, e.g., al-Fārābī and ibn Bāǧǧah, but in the Jewish philosophical tradition they were attributed to Averroes, because of the greater circulation of his works. The first two themes come obviously from the Decisive Treatise and the Incoherence of the Incoherence. On the Hebrew translation of the Decisive Treatise and its reception, see Licata, La via della ragione, 122–26. See Oliver Leaman, “Jewish Averroism,” in History of Islamic Philosophy, vol. 1, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 1996), 769–80; Giovanni Licata, “Il De substantia orbis nell’averroismo ebraico (Isaac Albalag, Moshè Narboni, Elia del Medigo),” in Tradizione e illuminismo in Uriel da Costa, ed. Omero Proietti and Giovanni Licata (Macerata: Edizioni Università di Macerata, 2016), 75–103; and Giovanni Licata, “The Term mitpalsef in Jewish Philosophy and Its Particular Use in Jewish Averroism,” in Studies in the Formation of Medieval Hebrew Philosophical Terminology, ed. Reimund Leicht and Giuseppe Veltri (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 151–65; Igor H. de Souza, Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018). On Albalag, see Georges Vajda, Isaac Albalag; on Moses Narboni, see Maurice-Ruben Hayoun, La philosophie et la theologie de Moise de Narbonne (1300–1362) (Tubingen: Mohr, 1989); on Polqar, see Racheli Haliva, Isaac Polqar: A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew? (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020); on Kaspi, see Adrian Sackson, Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence (Leiden: Brill, 2017). On the sociocultural differences between the two worlds see Leo Strauss, “How to Begin to Study Medieval Philosophy,” in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 221–26; and Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 7–21.

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unicity of the material intellect. The reason is known: Averroes formulated this theory only in the long commentary on On the Soul, which was not translated into Hebrew until the end of the fifteenth century. Instead, Jewish Averroists mainly based their knowledge of Averroes’s psychology on the epitome and the middle commentary on On the Soul, and on the Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect.39 Only Elijah Del Medigo supported the unicity thesis in his Two Investigations on the Nature of the Human Soul, written first in Latin in 1481–1482 for Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and later translated by himself into Hebrew. Since he was active in the milieu of the University of Padua, he had access to key texts by Averroes preserved not only in Hebrew but also in Latin and was therefore able to merge the Jewish Averroist tradition with the Latin one.40 I would like to mention one more substantial difference between Latin Averroists and Jewish Averroists. Influenced by the legacy of Maimonides’s Guide, some Jewish Averroists used to quote the Bible in support of their philosophical theses or to interpret it in the light of Averroes’s Aristotelianism (even though other Averroists—as can be seen from Albalag’s Tiqqun ha-deʿot and Del Medigo’s Beḥinat ha-dat—criticised the philosophical allegorisations of the Bible, or at least their disclosure to common people). Instead, Latin Averroists, being Masters at the Faculty of Arts, could not deal with the interpretation of the Bible, because this was the task of the Masters who belonged to the Faculty of Theology.41 Moreover, according to the methodology of Latin Averroists, which was influenced by Averroes’s commentaries and by the philosophical commentaries of Albert the Great, religious and theological doctrines such as miracles, prophecy, and the afterlife cannot be the subject of any rational inquiry.42 To conclude, I have shown that a rehabilitated notion of Latin Averroism can lead to a better understanding of what Jewish Averroism really is, thanks to 39 K.P. Bland, The Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982); Herbert Davidson, “Gersonides on the Material and Active Intellects,” in Studies on Gersonides: A Fourteenth-Century Jewish Philosopher-Scientist, ed. Gad Freudenthal (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 195–265; Roberto Gatti, Come l’uom si etterna: Traduzione annotata del Commento di Lewi ben Gershom (Gersonide) ai tre Opuscoli di Ibn Rushd e figlio sulla felicità mentale (Torino: Paideia, 2021); Zonta, La filosofia antica nel Medioevo ebraico. 40 For a detailed analysis of the Two Investigations see Engel, Elijah Del Medigo. 41 Luca Bianchi, Pour une histoire de la double vérite (Paris: Vrin, 2008); Putallaz and Imbach, Profession philosophe; James A. Weisheipl, “The Structure of the Arts Faculty in the Medieval University,” British Journal of Educational Studies 19, no. 3 (1971): 263–71. 42 Bruno Nardi, “La posizione di Alberto Magno di fronte all’averroismo,” in Studi di filosofia medievale (Roma: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1960), 119–50.

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the investigation of the analogies and differences between the two legacies of Averroes in the Latin and Jewish cultures. Moreover, from the above discussion it seems that in Jewish philosophical tradition we can detect three approaches that can be justifiably labelled as Averroistic: (1) the employment of Averroistic theses in the realm of Biblical exegesis; (2) the employment of Averroistic theses to solve controversial issues in the interpretation of Maimonides’s Guide; and (3)  the merging of the Jewish Averroistic tradition with the Latin one, endorsing the unicity thesis as presented in Averroes’s long commentary on On the Soul or the separation between philosophy and religion. Yet, a comprehensive history of Jewish Averroism, a history that also takes into account the relationship with Latin Averroism and is aware of the fact that Averroism is said “in many ways”43 is still a desideratum. A partial reason for the lack of such a history could be due to the tendency of some scholars of medieval Jewish philosophy to see Maimonides as the sole influence behind all premodern Jewish rationalists. For example, Jacob Joshua Ross, the editor of the critical edition of Del Medigo’s Beḥinat ha-dat, wrote that “while the non-Jewish students of Delmedigo may have classified him as an ‘Averroist,’ he clearly saw himself as a follower of Maimonides.”44 Instead, it seems to me that the time is ripe to explore in the other direction, recognising the reception, the adaptation, and the development of Averroes’s works as a relevant cultural phenomenon in Jewish thought.45 Bibliography Akasoy, Anna and Guido Giglioni, eds. Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013. Bianchi, Luca. “Boèce de Dacie et Averroès: essai d’un bilan.” In Regards sur les traditions philosophiques (XIIe–XVIe siècles), edited by Dragos Calma and Zénon Kaluza, 127–52. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017. Bianchi, Luca. Pour une histoire de la double vérite. Paris: Vrin, 2008. 43 See Calma, Études sur le premier siècle de l’averroïsme latin, 8–21. 44 Jacob Joshua Ross, “Elijah Delmedigo,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta, https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018 /entries/delmedigo/. This entry was replaced in 2019 by a new one by Michael Engel: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/delmedigo/. 45 As I have shown elsewhere, Averroes’s legacy can also be detected in Spinoza’s thought. See Licata, La via della ragione, and my notes in Spinoza, Éthique, sous la direction de Maxime Rovere (Paris: Flammarion, 2021).

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Bland, K.P. The Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982. Brenet, Jean-Baptiste. Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. Brenet, Jean-Baptiste. “L’averroïsme aujourd’hui.” In Dante et l’averroïsme, edited by Alain de Libera, Jean-Baptiste Brenet and Irène Rosier-Catach, 47–78. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2019. Brenet, Jean-Baptiste. Transferts du sujet: La noétique d’Averroès selon Jean de Jandun. Paris: Vrin, 2003. Calma, Dragos. Études sur le premier siècle de l’averroïsme latin: Approches et textes inédits. Turnhout: Brepols, 2011. Calma, Dragos. “La polysémie du terme averroïsme.” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie 57, no. 1 (2010): 189–97. Davidson, Herbert. “Gersonides on the Material and Active Intellects.” In Studies on Gersonides: A Fourteenth-Century Jewish Philosopher-Scientist, edited by Gad Freudenthal, 195–265. Leiden: Brill, 1992. de Libera, Alain and Maurice-Ruben Hayoun. Averroès et l’averroïsme. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1991. de Souza, Igor H. Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018. Ebbesen, Sten. “Averroism.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 595–98. London: Routledge, 1998. Engel, Michael. “Elijah Delmedigo.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2019 Edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries /delmedigo/. Engel, Michael. Elijah Del Medigo and Paduan Aristotelianism: Investigating the Human Intellect. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Fioravanti, Gianfranco. “Boezio di Dacia e la storiografia sull’averroismo.” Studi medievali 7, no. 1 (1966): 283–322. Gagliardi, Antonio. Tommaso d’Aquino e Averroè: La visione di Dio. Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2002. Gatti, Roberto. Come l’uom si etterna: Traduzione annotata del Commento di Lewi ben Gershom (Gersonide) ai tre Opuscoli di Ibn Rushd e figlio sulla felicità mentale. Torino: Paideia, 2021. Gauthier, Leon. Ibn Rochd (Averroès). Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1948. Gilson, Étienne. Dante the Philosopher. Translated by David Moore. London: Sheed & Ward, 1948. Gilson, Étienne. “La doctrine de la double vérité.” In Études de philosophie médiévale, 51–75. Strasbourg: Publications de la Faculté des Lettres, 1921.

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Gregory, Tullio. “Escatologia e aristotelismo nella scolastica medieval.” In Mundana sapientia. Forme di conoscenza nella cultura medievale, 261–74. Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1992. Guttmann, Julius. “Elia del Medigos Verhältnis zu Averroës in seinem Bechinat ha-Dat.” In Jewish Studies in Memory of Israel Abrahams, edited by G.A. Kohut, 192–208. New York: Jewish Institute of Religion, 1927. Haliva, Racheli. Isaac Polqar: A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew? Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020. Harvey, Steven. “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 100–119. Hasse, Dag Nikolaus. “Averroica secta: Notes on the Formation of Averroist Movements in Fourteenth-Century Bologna and Renaissance Italy.” In Averroès et les averroïsmes juif et latin, edited by Jean-Baptiste Brenet, 307–31. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. Hayoun, Maurice-Ruben. La philosophie et la theologie de Moise de Narbonne (1300– 1362). Tubingen: Mohr, 1989. Imbach, Ruedi. “L’averroïsme latine du XIIIe siècle.” In Gli studi di filosofia medievale tra Otto e Novecento: Contributo a un bilancio storiografico, edited by Ruedi Imbach and Alfonso Maierù, 191–208. Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1989. König-Pralong, Catherine. “Averroïsme latín.” In Encyclopédie de l’humanisme méditerranéen, edited by Houari Touati, 2014. http://www.encyclopedie-humanisme.com /?Averroisme-latin-33. Kristeller, Paul Oskar. “Paduan Averroism and Alexandrism in the Light of Recent Studies.” In Renaissance Thought and the Arts, 111–18. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Kuksewicz, Zdzisław. De Siger de Brabant à Jacques de Plaisance: La théorie de l’intellect chez les averroïstes latins des XIIIe et XIVe siècles. Warsaw: Ossolineum, 1968. L’averroismo in Italia: Convegno internazionale (Roma, 18–20 aprile 1977). Roma: Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, 1979. Landucci, Sergio. “Alla ricerca della ‘doppia verità.’” Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 72, no. 1 (2017): 1–27. Landucci, Sergio. La doppia verità: Conflitti di ragione e fede tra Medioevo e prima modernità. Milano: Feltrinelli, 2006. Leaman, Oliver. “Jewish Averroism.” History of Islamic Philosophy, vol. 1, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman, 769–80. London: Routledge, 1996. Licata, Giovanni. “Il De substantia orbis nell’averroismo ebraico (Isaac Albalag, Moshè Narboni, Elia del Medigo).” In Tradizione e illuminismo in Uriel da Costa, edited by Omero Proietti and Giovanni Licata, 75–103. Macerata: Edizioni Università di Macerata, 2016. Licata, Giovanni. La via della ragione: Elia del Medigo e l’averroismo di Spinoza. Macerata: Edizioni Università di Macerata, 2013. Licata, Giovanni. L’averroismo in età moderna. Macerata: Quodlibet, 2013. - 978-90-04-68568-0 Downloaded from Brill.com 04/07/2024 09:55:16PM via University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Licata, Giovanni. “The Term mitpalsef in Jewish Philosophy and Its Particular Use in Jewish Averroism.” In Studies in the Formation of Medieval Hebrew Philosophical Terminology, edited by Reimund Leicht and Giuseppe Veltri, 151–65. Leiden: Brill, 2020. Licata, Giovanni. Secundum Avenroem: Pico della Mirandola, Elia del Medigo e la “se­ conda rivelazione” di Averroè. Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali, 2022. MacClintock, Stuart. Perversity and Error: Studies on the “Averroist” John of Jandun. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956. Mahoney, Edward Patrick. Two Aristotelians of the Italian Renaissance: Nicoletto Vernia and Agostino Nifo. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. Mandonnet, Pierre. Siger de Brabant et l’averroïsme latin au XIIIme siècle. Fribourg, 1899. A second, revised edition was published in two volumes, Louvain: Institut supérieur de philosophie de l’Université, 1908–1911. Marenbon, John. “Latin Averroism.” In Islamic Crosspollinations: Interactions in the Medieval Middle East, edited by Anna Akasoy, James Montgomery, and Peter Pormann, 135–47. London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2007. Murano, Giovanna. “Il manoscritto della Destructio Destructionum di Averroè appartenuto a Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale, VIII E 31).” Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 60 (2018): 67–80. Nardi, Bruno. “La posizione di Alberto Magno di fronte all’averroismo.” In Studi di filosofia medievale, 119–50. Roma: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1960. Nardi, Bruno. “Le opere inedite del Pomponazzi. III. Filosofia e religione.” In Giornale critico della filosofia italiana 30 (1951): 363–81. Reprinted in Bruno Nardi, Studi su Pietro Pomponazzi, 122–48. Firenze: Le Monnier, 1965. Nardi, Bruno. Sigieri di Brabante nel pensiero del Rinascimento Italiano. Roma: Edizioni Italiane, 1945. Nardi, Bruno. Saggi sull’aristotelismo padovano dal secolo XIV al XVI. Firenze: Sansoni, 1958. Niewöhner, Friedrich and Loris Sturlese, eds. Averroismus in Mittelalter und in der Renaissance. Zürich: Spur Verlag, 1994. Pasnau, Robert. Metaphysical Themes: 1274–1671. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2011. Poppi, Agostino. Causalità e infinità nella scuola padovana dal 1480 al 1513. Padova: Editrice Antenore, 1966. Putallaz, François-Xavier and Ruedi Imbach. Profession philosophe: Siger de Brabant. Paris: Les éditions du Cerf, 1997. Renan, Ernest. Averroès et l’averroïsme: Essai historique. Paris: Auguste Durand, 1852. Reprinted with corrections and additions, Paris: Michel Lévy, 1861. Ross, Jacob Joshua. “Elijah Delmedigo.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2018 Edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta, https://plato.stanford.edu/archives /win2018/entries/delmedigo/.

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Sackson, Adrian. Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Siger de Brabant. Quaestiones in tertium de anima, De anima intellectiva, De aeternitate mundi, edited by Bernardo Bazán. Louvain: Publications universitaires, 1972. Sorge, Valeria. Averroismo. Napoli: Guida, 2007. Sorge, Valeria. “L’aristotelismo averroistico negli studi recenti.” Paradigmi 17 (1999): 243–63. Steel, Carlos. “Siger of Brabant versus Thomas Aquinas on the Possibility of Knowing the Separate Substances.” In Nach der Verurteilung von 1277: Philosophie und Theologie an der Universität von Paris im letzten Viertel des 13. Jahrhunderts. Studien und Texte, edited by Jan A. Aertsen, Kent Emery, and Andreas Speer, 211–31. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2001. Steinschneider, Moritz. Die hebraeischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1956. First published in 1893 (Berlin). Strauss, Leo. “How to Begin to Study Medieval Philosophy.” In The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, 221–26. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Strauss, Leo. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. Vajda, Georges. Isaac Albalag: Averroïste juif, traducteur et annotateur d’al-Ghazâlî. Paris: Vrin, 1960. van Steenberghen, Fernand. La philosophie au XIIIe siècle. Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut supérieur de philosophie, 1991. van Steenberghen, Fernand. “Une légende tenace: La théorie de la double vérité.” In Introduction à la philosophie médiévale, 555–70. Louvain: Publications universi­ taires, 1974. Weisheipl, James A. “The Structure of the Arts Faculty in the Medieval University.” British Journal of Educational Studies 19, no. 3 (1971): 263–71. Wolfson, Harry A. “Revised Plan for the Publication of a Corpus Commentariorum Averrois in Aristotelem.” Speculum 38 (1963): 88–104. Wolfson, Harry A. “The Twice-Revealed Averroes.” Speculum 36 (1961): 373–92. Zonta, Mauro. La filosofia antica nel Medioevo ebraico. Brescia: Paideia, 1996.

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Part 2 The Maimonides/Averroes Complex



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Chapter 3

Is Maimonides’s Biblical Exegesis Averroistic? Mercedes Rubio In order to answer the question posed in my title, first of all we should ask ourselves whether we can speak about an Averroistic author who was a contemporary of Averroes. The latter lived between 1126 and 1198, and Maimonides between 1138 and 1204. Averroes was twelve years old when Maimonides was born, and died six years before him. These chronological parameters suggest that they were less likely to have been acquainted with each other’s literary production in its entirety. One needs a certain distance in time to appreciate fully an author and their overall contribution to intellectual history. Secondly, we should bear in mind that, even though both were born in Cordova and this could have facilitated greatly their scholarly exchanges and personal contacts, Maimonides was forced to leave his city as an adolescent and he then abandoned the Iberian Peninsula for good. He spent the rest of his life first in Fez (Morocco) for a few years and then in Egypt, with a short visit to the Holy Land. For his part, Averroes spent most of his life in Al-Andalus, moving between the cities of Cordova, Seville, and Lucena, with a sojourn in Marrakesh. According to Majid Fakhry, it was in Marrakesh that he began to write his first Aristotelian commentaries, in 1169.1 Shlomo Pines argues that, even if Maimonides refers to Aristotle in various passages of the Guide of the Perplexed, he seems not to have been acquainted with the commentaries of Averroes on the Aristotelian corpus at the time of writing the Guide.2 Yet, a number of textual witnesses do seem to indicate that 1 Majid Fakhry, Averroes: His Life, Works and Influence (London: Oneworld Publications, 2001), 2. Charles E. Butterworth dates most of Averroes’s Aristotelian commentaries to between 1169 and 1182 in the introduction to his translation Averroës, The Book of The Decisive Treatise (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2001), xv. Deborah Black dates some of Averroes’s summaries of Aristotle’s works to 1159 in “Ibn Rushd (Averroes),” in The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Medieval Philosophers, vol. 115, ed. Jeremiah Hackett (Farmington Hills: Gale Research Inc., 1992): 184–95. 2 Shlomo Pines, “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed,” in Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, vol. 1, trans. Shlomo Pines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), cviii. Ernst Renan quotes a letter from Maimonides to Joseph ben-Yehuda, according to which he did not receive Averroes’s commentaries until 1190. Averroès et l’averroïsme : Essai historique, (Paris : Auguste Durand, 1852), 140. The authenticity of this letter was questioned by J.L. Teicher in “Maimonides’ Letters to Joseph ben

© Mercedes Rubio, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_004

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Maimonides was familiar with Averroes’s works, as he appears to be one of the first Jewish scholars to express appreciation for his writings in various letters.3 Even if the recommendation to study the works of Averroes and Maimonides’s praise of the Commentator in these letters are indeed authentic, and even if these texts significantly influenced Jewish scholarship after his death, attaching the adjective “Averroistic” to the name of Maimonides could be easily challenged for many other reasons, such as the difficulty of knowing Averroes’s true position on many issues and the fact that his name became indissolubly linked to his commentaries of Aristotle’s works.4 In addition, scholarly research has imbued the term “Averroism” with a particular meaning that cannot be ignored. Studies on scholars linked to the Parisian Faculty of Arts in the thirteenth century have tinted the term with certain epistemological connotations, chiefly as a synonym of contradiction between the truths of faith and reason.5 If we understand the term “Averroistic” as describing someone who was directly exposed to the works of Averroes for a long period and in a way that Jehudah: A Literary Forgery,” Journal of Jewish Studies 1 (1948): 35–54. Herbert A. Davidson argues that Maimonides might have known Aristotle only through the commentaries of al-Fārābī and Avicenna and through widely circulated Neoplatonic works mistakenly attributed to him. “Maimonides, Aristotle, and Avicenna,” in De Zénon d’Élée à Poincaré, ed. Régis Morelon and Ahmad Hasnawi (Louvain: Peeters, 2004), 719–34. 3 Two of the extant Hebrew versions of the letter to Judah ibn Tibbon are examined in Alexander Marx, “Texts by and about Maimonides,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 25, no. 4 (1935): 371–428. For an examination of this letter and its possible impact in the post-Maimonidean study of philosophy among Jewish scholars, see Steven Harvey, “Did Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon Determine Which Philosophers Would Be Studied by Later Jewish Thinkers?,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 83, no. 1–2 (July–October, 1992): 51–70. For a detailed study of the textual tradition of this letter see Doron Forte, “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance,” in Jewish Studies Quarterly 23, no. 1 (2016): 47–90. Forte has questioned the authenticity of Maimonides’s recommendation of Averroes’s commentaries in this letter. 4 Steven Harvey has noted in the first chapter in this volume the vagueness of terms like “Averroist” and the ambiguity caused when different scholars apply them to various authors. In addition, as he has observed elsewhere, “if an Averroist is someone who follows Averroes’ teachings, we should recall that there is still no consensus on his precise personal views on several theological-philosophic problems […] Moreover, Averroes was studied by Jews in the Middle Ages not primarily for his theology, but as the authoritative explicator and interpreter of Aristotelian or true science.” We may add that this they held in common with most of their Christian counterparts. Steven Harvey, “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 118–19. 5 For an enlightening survey of how scholars used the terms “Averroism,” “Averroist,” and the like through the past century and a half, see Giovanni Licata, “How a Rehabilitated Notion of Latin Averroism Could Help in Understanding Jewish Averroism” in this volume.

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could have shaped his own ideas significantly, an “Averroistic Maimonides” seems to be out of the question. However, we could call “Averroistic” or “Averroian” someone who held similar views to those of Averroes, simply because he outlived him and shared his scholarly concerns in a particular field. In this study I will use the term “Averroistic” in this last sense. There are striking similarities between Averroes and Maimonides when considering their personal circumstances and interests and their philosophical standpoints. Both men became physicians and interpreters of the Law in their respective communities, and both considered Aristotle their main source of philosophical inspiration. Both defended the need to restrict the teaching of philosophy to certain intellectual elites. Both were concerned with the relationship between philosophy and religion, between reason and faith. Both examined the exoteric and esoteric teachings of scripture and the role of allegory in sacred texts. Both were attacked for eroding the foundations of religion with their teachings. We can easily imagine a situation in which both Maimonides and Averroes participated in the same intellectual concerns that impregnated the cultural, philosophic, and religious milieu in which they lived, and were influenced by similar readings and ideas.6 That would lead us to expect a parallel or at least partly similar literary production. On the contrary, Carlos Fraenkel has pointed to the fact that, even though Averroes and Maimonides had strikingly similar biographical paths and had access to the same philosophical sources, philosophy occupied a very different place in each one’s overall production: central in the case of Averroes, marginal in the case of Maimonides.7 However, they shared the same concern for the apparent contradictions between religious and philosophical truths, tried to explain the reasons for these inconsistencies, and looked for ways to reconcile both sources of knowledge. This brief—and by no means exhaustive—outline of the various elements involved in the complex question of a possible Averroistic approach to biblical exegesis in Maimonides’s work is enough to help delimitate the scope of this article as follows: I will argue that neither Averroes nor Maimonides are Averroists in the sense in which the term is sometimes used—to showcase the ambiguous approach to truth of certain medieval Masters of the Parisian Faculty of Arts described above. In other words, both Averroes and Maimonides uphold the unicity of truth. However, their differences in understanding the role of sacred scripture as a source of knowledge are irreconcilable. Averroes 6 Cf. Harvey, “On the Nature,” 106. 7 Carlos Fraenkel, “Philosophy and Exegesis in Al-Farabi, Averroes, and Maimonides,” Laval théologique et philosophique 64, 1 (Feb. 2008): 105–25.

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relies on certain Aristotelian epistemological principles to interpret the Qurʾan, chiefly the notion of sign, which enables human apprehension of hidden realities and is central for explaining certain kinds of figurative speech found in sacred scriptures.8 Maimonides does not seem to be aware of the relevance of this epistemological tool for biblical exegesis, as can be gathered from his explanations on the nature and role of figurative speech in the Bible. This leads them in opposite directions regarding the possibility of knowing God through the sacred texts. 1

Averroes’s Notion of Interpretation

In an insightful article, Terence J. Kleven examines the historical reading of Averroes’s works—a reading that has led mainstream Christian scholars, many Islamists, and even the Egyptian Enlightenment Movement to consider him the main proponent of a dismissal of religion by philosophy, of the rupture between reason and faith, and as the standard bearer of Western secularism—and convincingly proves it wrong.9 Indeed, Averroes asserts in The Decisive Treatise that there is one single truth, which is offered at different levels of interpretation and comprehension.10 For him, both the literal and 8

For a comparison of the exegetical principles of both authors, see Georges Tamer, “Zur Interpretation von Heiligen Schriften bei Averroes und Maimonides,” in Die Trias des Maimonides: Jüdische, Arabische und Antike Wissenskultur, ed. Georges Tamer (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005): 237–55. 9 Terence J. Kleven, “‘For Truth Does Not Oppose Truth’: The Agreement of Divine Law and Philosophy in Averroës’ ‘The Book of the Decisive Treatise’ (Kitab Fasl al-Maqal),” in Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad: Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions, ed. Joseph Morrison Skelly (California: Praeger, 2010), 225–36. See also Richard C. Taylor, “‘For Truth Does Not Contradict Truth’: Averroes and the Unity of Truth,” Topoi, 19 (2000): 3–16. 10 Averroes, Decisive Treatise: 8:27–9:2 (all quotes from this work are from Butterworth’s edition): “Since this Law is true and calls to the reflection leading to cognizance of the truth, we, the Muslim community, know firmly that demonstrative reflection does not lead to differing with what is set down in the Law. For truth does not oppose truth; rather, it agrees with and bears witness to it.” Several scholars have examined the possible influence of Averroes’s Decisive Treatise on Maimonides. See, for instance, Warren Zev Harvey, “On Maimonides’ Allegorical Readings of Scripture,” in Interpretation and Allegory: Antiquity to Modern Period, ed. J. Whitman (Boston: Brill, 2000), 182: “Averroes’ views on ta‌ʾwil are stated succinctly in his Decisive Treatise, and it is quite possible that they influenced Maimonides’s formulation in Guide 2.25. According to him, truth is its own witness, and thus the truth of reason cannot conflict with that of scripture; so whenever demonstration (burhān) contradicts the literal meaning (ẓāhir) of the Qurʾan, the text must be interpreted by way of allegory (ta‌ʾwīl).” Harvey also speculates that, since the

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allegorical meanings of a sacred text are relevant for the transmission of truth because they are addressed to various audiences, who have different ways of grasping truth and assenting to it: People’s natures vary in excellence with respect to assent. Thus, some assent by means of demonstration; some assent by means of dialectical statements in the same way the one adhering to demonstration assents by means of demonstration, there being nothing greater in their natures; and some assent by means of rhetorical statements, just as the one adhering to demonstration assents by means of demonstrative statements.11 Kleven argues that Averroes’s support in the Treatise for the study of philosophy begins by way of exegesis, since the latter asserts that the Qurʾan instructs reflecting on existing things by means of the intellect and supports this assertion in Qurʾanic verses.12 In this same text, Averroes puts forward an interesting definition of philosophy: If the activity of philosophy is nothing more than reflection upon existing things and consideration of them insofar as they are an indication of the Artisan—I mean insofar as they are artifacts, for existing things indicate the Artisan only through cognizance of the art in them, and the more complete cognizance of the art in them is, the more complete is cognizance of the Artisan—and if the Law has recommended and urged consideration of existing things, then it is evident that what this name indicates is either obligatory or recommended by the Law.13 Averroes’s core argument is a syllogism that can be accepted by dialectical theologians and philosophers alike, which masterfully harmonises between the object of philosophy and the instructions of religious law. What is remarkable about his definition of philosophy is that it singles out an aspect of the study of existing things, namely that of being an indication of the Artisan. Philosophy is not just contemplation of being qua being; its object is the examination of created beings insofar as they point to their Maker. The more we know the universe, the better we know God. Decisive Treatise was completed before 1179 and Maimonides composed the Guide during the 1180s and early 1190, both belonged to the same philosophical tradition and may have used common Aristotelian sources; this could explain the similarities between the two. 11 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 8:10–16. 12 Kleven, “For Truth,” 229. 13 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 1:7–2:3.

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Averroes describes the reflection that is proper to philosophical thinking as “drawing out the unknown from the known,” a process that takes place in the form of discursive thought, which Averroes calls “syllogistic reasoning.”14 He identifies various types of syllogism: demonstrative,15 which in his opinion is the most complete one; dialectical; rhetorical; and sophistical.16 Strictly speaking, the linguistic expression of a syllogism is that of a series of premises and a conclusion. This is the technical language in which dialecticians specialise. But it should be noted that Averroes is taking this term also in a wider sense to refer to discursive thought in general, for which he uses the expressions “unqualified syllogistic reasoning” and “intellectual syllogistic reasoning.” Averroes interestingly observes that intellectual reasoning was discovered by non-Muslims (a veiled reference to Greek philosophy) and argues that, according to the Law, belief and reason cannot contradict each other because the object for both is truth. Therefore, even non-believers can attain certain knowledge of God. Demonstrative syllogism is the most perfect among the various logical formulations classified by Aristotle in Prior Analytics17 and Posterior Analytics.18 This is the type of reasoning that is most associated with the study of natural and exact sciences. Averroes chooses demonstrative syllogism as the standard for elucidating whether an assertion in the Law should be taken literally or interpreted to clarify an apparent contradiction. He explains that: The meaning of interpretation is: drawing out the figurative significance of an utterance from its true significance without violating the custom of the Arabic language with respect to figurative speech in doing so—such as calling a thing by what resembles it, its cause, its consequence, what compares to it, or another of the things enumerated in making the sorts of figurative discourse cognizable. We firmly affirm that, whenever 14 Averroes, 2:22–27: “Since it has been determined that the Law makes it obligatory to reflect upon existing things by means of the intellect, and to consider them; and consideration is nothing more than inferring and drawing out the unknown from the known; and this is syllogistic reasoning or by means of syllogistic reasoning, therefore, it is obligatory that we go about reflecting upon the existing things by means of intellectual syllogistic reasoning.” 15 Averroes, 2:28–3:2: “And it is evident that this manner of reflection the Law calls for and urges is the most complete kind of reflection by means of the most complete kind of syllogistic reasoning and is the one called ‘demonstration.’” 16 Averroes, 3:8–9. 17 Aristotle, Prior Analytics, 1.1.24b19–22. 18 Posterior Analytics is entirely devoted to demonstration, but one definition can be found in 1.2.71b15–19.

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demonstration leads to something differing from the apparent sense of the Law, that apparent sense admits of interpretation according to the rule of interpretation in Arabic.19 Allegory is a particular literary form. It is the great achievement of the ancient Greeks who identified the peculiar nature of veiled or indirect language, essential for our understanding and expression of realities that fall beyond and above our grasp.20 But an allegory—as a single term used metaphorically—is a sign pointing to something else, owing to the part of its meaning that is known to us. Interpretation of sacred scripture is therefore permissible and even necessary when the apparent sense of the text contradicts logical thinking. If the interpretation is correct, it is always possible to find in scripture other passages that support it.21 However, not all interpreters agree about which texts should be interpreted and which ones should not.22 Averroes recalls that the ability to understand differs from one person to another, according to their innate dispositions and circumstances, and that those unable to understand the inner sense or who had no access to education are not obliged to grasp it.23 God has provided for the latter so as to prevent them from falling into unbelief by coining for them, likenesses and similarities of these [hidden things] and calling them to assent by means of those likenesses, since it is possible for assent to those likenesses to come about by means of the indications shared by all—I mean, the dialectical and the rhetorical. This is the reason for the Law being divided into an apparent sense and an inner sense. For the apparent sense is those likenesses coined for those meanings, and the inner sense is those meanings that reveal themselves only to those adepts in demonstration.24 19 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 9:3–20. 20 See Alfred L. Ivry, “Ibn Rushd’s Use of Allegory,” in Averroës and the Enlightenment, ed. Mourad Wahba and Mona Abousenna (Amherst: Prometheus, 1996), 113: “In an allegory, the persons and events described stand for something else besides themselves, and are part of an extended narrative so construed.” 21 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 9:29–10:4. 22 Averroes, 10:5–12. 23 Averroes, 10:13–17. See Ivry, “Use of Allegory,” 117. 24 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 19:1–12. Cf. the parallel passage in Averroes’s Faith and Reason in Islam: Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments, trans. Ibrahim Y. Najjar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 16–17: “In a separate treatise, we have already dealt with the harmony of philosophy and religion, indicating how religion commands the study of

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Only scholars writing scientific books and using demonstrative methods are allowed to include interpretations of sacred scripture in their works. Any scholar using methods leading to assent rather than demonstrative methods (that is rhetoric, poetic, and so on) should not interpret sacred scripture at all, lest he falls into unbelief and leads others to it. Images and likenesses found in scripture are enough for them to understand God to the extent their nature allows.25 Thus far, we have explored Averroes’s description of the role of interpretation in sacred scripture and of the correct way to pursue it. 2

Maimonides’s Notion of Interpretation

In order to assess where Maimonides stands in relation to Averroes on the interpretation of sacred scriptures, I shall examine Maimonides’s explanation of the reasons for using allegorical language in sacred scriptures and the methodology that he employs for interpreting parables in the Guide of the Perplexed.26 I intend to support my conclusions about his particular exegetical approach by briefly examining the Account of Creation and the Account of the Chariot, two biblical passages that play a central role in the Guide.27 Maimonides’s stated purpose in the Guide of the Perplexed is to explain the puzzling language, both individual terms and full stories, found in the books of the prophets.28 He argues that these obscure biblical passages are in fact parables, and require interpretation in order to grasp their true meaning. Since one of the purposes of Biblical exegesis is to interpret images, likenesses, and philosophy. We maintained there that religion consists of two parts: external and interpreted, and that the external part is incumbent on the masses, whereas the interpreted is incumbent on the learned. With respect to that part, it is the duty of the masses to take it at its face value, without attempting to interpret it. As for the learned, it is not permissible to divulge their interpretations to the public.” 25 Averroes, Decisive Treatise, 21:19–30. 26 For an analysis of Maimonides’s exegetical work, see Arthur Hyman, “Maimonides as Biblical Exegete,” in Maimonides and His Heritage, ed. Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Lenn E. Goodman, and James Allen Grady (New York: State University of New York Press, 2009): 1–12. See especially page 3, where Hyman underlines the different approach to anthropomorphic language of God that Maimonides employs vis-à-vis Averroes. 27 For an extensive examination of the Account of the Chariot and its relation to Maimonides’s metaphysical views in both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah, see Daniel Davies, Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), particularly chapters 7 and 8. 28 Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, Trans. S. Pines (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1963), 1.5–6.

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parables found in sacred texts, we can legitimately consider the Guide an exegetical work.29 In the introduction to the “Instruction With Respect to This Treatise,” Maimonides describes seven causes for finding contradictions in any written work. According to him, contradictions found in the prophetic books are due to either the “Third Cause,” namely, that the text contains an external sense and an inner one,30 or to the “Fourth Cause”—that is, a pedagogical restriction needed to avoid explaining the matter in full if it is too difficult for the reader.31 So far, Maimonides seems to agree with Averroes. When describing the exegetical method that he will employ in the Guide, Maimonides warns: In some matters it will suffice you to gather from my remarks that a given story is a parable, even if we explain nothing more; for once you know it is a parable, it will immediately become clear to you what it is a parable of. My remarking that it is a parable will be like someone removing a screen from between the eye and a visible thing.32 That is, disclosure of the parable’s meaning will come from making the reader aware that a given passage is a parable, and then he will intuitively understand its hidden meaning. But if sacred scriptures are meant to teach truths about God and Maimonides is writing for an educated reader, why should he have to explain a parable or even point to it being a parable? Shouldn’t the text be easy enough for all—both learned and unlearned—to grasp its meaning? We find the answer to this question in that same introduction. When Maimonides announces that he will discuss the Account of Creation and the Account of the Chariot—two key biblical passages that he has also examined in his legal works—he discloses that the former is identical with natural science and the latter with divine science, namely, metaphysics.33 29 Various scholars have noted the exegetical character of the Guide; see, for example, Fraenkel, “Philosophy and Exegesis,” 108, and Hyman’s study cited above. 30 Maimonides, Guide 1.19. 31 Maimonides, 1.17. 32 Maimonides, 1.14. 33 Maimonides, 1.6. Significant research has been carried out on both of these passages. In addition to Davies’s research mentioned above, Aviezer Ravitzky examined these accounts in his “Aristotle’s Meteorology and the Maimonidean Modes of Interpreting the Account of Creation,” Aleph 8 (2008): 361–401. Ravitzky’s discussion of this passage includes an interesting exchange between Maimonideans and anti-Maimonideans; Samuel ibn Tibbon’s criticism in Ma‌ʾamar yiqqawu ha-mayim of Maimonides’s naturalistic interpretation of this biblical text is particularly relevant for our purpose: “Maimonides, according to Ibn

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In the face of this puzzling assertion, we should ask ourselves: is this what the vulgar among the people understand when they read these accounts? Clearly not. Those who consider a text sacred will expect it to teach authoritatively about God, not about human sciences. The only reason Maimonides needs to make this interpretation explicit is because this meaning is not obvious to the reader.34 We may assume that Maimonides is trying to justify the study of philosophy by proposing interpretations of scriptural texts that seem to support it, just as Averroes does in the introduction of his Decisive Treatise with the Qurʾan. If this is the case, this approach could have been elicited by certain powerful political and religious factions in the scholars’ milieu that were suspicious of those who studied philosophy. However, while Averroes finds in sacred scriptures references that are intuitively indicative of the Artisan, Maimonides finds terms that apparently conceal the truth about God and parables that point toward the study of human sciences. In his opinion, this knowledge is not for all but just for an elite, and the vulgar are being constantly misled by the same scriptures that are supposed to bring them knowledge about God. Now the question arises: if, according to Maimonides, these biblical texts point to the knowledge of matters proper to natural philosophy and to metaphysics, will the educated reader necessarily understand them too as signs pointing toward God? In addition, if biblical language just points to these natural phenomena and their related sciences, the unavoidable conclusion is that the works of the philosophers are more useful for grasping divine matters than the Bible. It would seem that, for Maimonides, sacred scriptures are just a starting point toward the true destination, which is scientific and philosophical knowledge. In this case, whoever starts from the scriptures and does not reach that destination should rightly doubt their validity. If the true reference is the philosophical text and not the biblical one, then the biblical text is subject to free interpretation, and turns out to be of lesser value. Revelation is at the service of philosophy and science, and not the other way around.

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Tibbon, read these verses as a philosophical and scientific text. As such it should include the totality of natural science, from the spheres and the stars down to all of the earthly elements” (p. 388). Harvey has pointed to this hidden message in the Guide’s interpretation of the Account of Creation, the instruction to read this biblical text midrashically, which is quite far from its literal meaning, in “On Maimonides’ Allegorical Readings,” 184.

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Is Maimonides’s Biblical Exegesis Averroistic?

As we have seen, both Averroes and Maimonides agree that demonstration is the most perfect form of rational thinking and that it should be applied to Qurʾanic and Biblical exegesis. They concur that logical analysis should be applied to scriptural texts, and that some of these passages reveal contradictions. This means that these texts require further interpretation, which enables readers to distinguish between a literal reading, also called external sense, and an allegorical one, also called inner sense. Both also believe in restricting these philosophical investigations to those qualified to pursue them and caution against presenting philosophical truths to the broad public. The masses are to be left with the scriptural narratives and remain uneducated as to their inner meaning, lest they lose their faith or accuse philosophers of infidelity. Beyond this point, the differences between Averroes and Maimonides begin. Averroes takes for granted that parables, images, and likenesses found in a sacred text are intended for all. The learned can grasp the meaning of these parables and likenesses and acquire certain knowledge of God through them in an intuitive way. Even those incapable of understanding the inner meaning of the text can grasp some knowledge, because these parables “point to the Artisan” without delving into further distinctions or subtleties. Therefore, the literal meaning of the text—which Maimonides dismisses in the case of biblical figurative speech, such as anthropomorphical language about God—is for Averroes relevant and necessary. Why this disagreement? As the Aristotelian commentator par excellence, Averroes is aware that demonstration is the paradigm of truth in the case of natural or exact sciences. But this type of syllogism doesn’t work as well when dealing with realities that are beyond sense apprehension and the limitations of conceptual knowledge, such as the proper object of theology, i.e., God. In fact, in the context of exegesis, Averroes uses demonstration merely as a tool to identify which scriptural passages should be interpreted. He knows that Aristotle pointed to the use of signs as another way to attain knowledge of difficult matters.35 Just like rational thinking built as a syllogism, a sign enables us to grasp the unknown through that which is known—only the kind of certitude it grants is not that of a demonstration, but that of an intuition. Signs are anything that “indicates” or

35 Aristotle, De interpretatione 1.16a4–9, trans. Harold P. Cook (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), 114; Aristotle, Prior Analytics 2.27.70a8–10, trans. Hugh Tredennick (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), 522–24.

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points to something else, and for Averroes both sacred scripture and the whole of creation point to the Artisan. Maimonides too is aware that matters beyond sense apprehension, like the existence and unity of God, cannot be demonstrated,36 but he falls short of applying the Aristotelian notion of sign to his exegetical reflection as an alternative. Unlike Averroes, he dismisses categorically the use of the literal meaning of a text that can be understood allegorically and even warns of the danger of following one’s own imagination (unless one be a prophet, connected with the active intellect, a connection that perfects the prophet’s imagination).37 But the nature of signs is such that they enable anyone to reach out to the unknown precisely from what is known—that is, from the literal meaning of a term or a given text. By discarding the literal meaning of human and physical terms applied to God, Maimonides discards an essential part of human language’s natural sign-function, an ability to grasp the truth which—as Aristotle discovered and Averroes rightly understands—pervades our cognoscitive structure. The fact that this type of language is found in sacred scriptures is not casual. Human beings instinctively turn to it as the only way to try and communicate the incommunicable. This natural sign-function of language is precisely what allows for speech about God while safeguarding his transcendence, and what turns sacred scripture into an effective vehicle for knowing him. Instead, Maimonides reinterprets scriptures as man-made signs—not pointing toward God, but pointing to Aristotle’s teachings on natural philosophy and metaphysics. The Bible’s message is to study nature; anything else is up to the reader. Human sciences have the upper hand. If we are to believe the textual traditions that have allegedly handed down to us Maimonides’s recommendations and praise of Averroes, Maimonides seems to have appreciated Averroes’s work as an Aristotelian commentator, whether from firsthand knowledge of some of his works or from hearsay. However, after collating both scholars’ perspectives on exegetical work it seems that 36 Warren Zev Harvey, “Maimonides’ First Commandment, Physics, and Doubt,” Hazon Nahum (1997): 154. See also Warren Zev Harvey, “The ‘Mishneh Torah’ as a Key to the Secrets of the Guide,” in Meʾah Sheʾarim: Studies in Medieval Jewish Spiritual Life, in Memory of Isadore Twersky, ed. Ezra Fleischer et al. (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2001), 16: “It thus emerges from the Mishneh Torah that Premise 26 is posited by Maimonides for not merely methodological reasons; that is, it is posited by him not only for the sake of recalcitrantly skeptical philosophers. In Hilekhot yesodei ha-Torah it is posited as necessary for everyone who would fulfill the commandments of knowing God and knowing His unity.” 37 Harvey, “The ‘Mishneh Torah’ as a Key,” 27.

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Maimonides’s letter to ibn Tibbon, with his detailed account of how busy he was working as a court and community physician, contains a veiled acknowledgement that he might have discovered too late in life that his desire to follow Aristotle had been greater than his actual understanding of the Philosopher’s writings, either directly or through the Commentator.38 Bibliography Aristotle. De interpretatione. Translated by Harold P. Cook. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962. Aristotle. Prior Analytics. Translated by Hugh Tredennick. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962. Aristotle. Posterior Analytics. Translated by Hugh Tredennick. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966. Averroes. Faith and Reason in Islam: Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments. Translated by Ibrahim Y. Najjar with an introduction by Majid Fakhry. Great Islamic Writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Black, Deborah L. “Ibn Rushd (Averroes).” In The Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 115, Medieval Philosophers, edited by Jeremiah Hackett, 184–95. Farmingon Hills: Gale Research, 1992. Butterworth, Charles E. Averroës, The Book of The Decisive Treatise: Determining the Connection Between the Law and Wisdom & Epistle Dedicatory. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2001. Davidson, Herbert A. “Maimonides, Aristotle, and Avicenna.” In De Zénon d’Élée à Poincaré, edited by Régis Morelon and Ahmad Hasnawi, 719–34. Louvain: Peeters, 2004. Davies, Daniel. Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Fakhry, Majid. Averroes: His Life, Works and Influence. Great Islamic Writings. London: Oneworld Publications, 2001. Forte, Doron. “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23, no. 1 (2016): 47–90.

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Warren Zev Harvey has also pointed to the striking inconsistency between Maimonides’s reservations regarding the study of Avicenna in that letter and the coincidences between Avicenna’s teachings and his own; see “Maimonides’ Avicennianism,” Maimonidean Studies 5 (2008): 107–19.

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Fraenkel, Carlos. “Philosophy and Exegesis in Al-Farabi, Averroes, and Maimonides.” Laval théologique et philosophique 64, no. 1 (February 2008): 105–25. Harvey, Steven. “Did Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon Determine Which Philosophers Would Be Studied by Later Jewish Thinkers?” The Jewish Quarterly Review 83, no. 1–2 (July–October, 1992): 51–70. Harvey, Steven. “On the Nature and Extent of Jewish Averroism: Renan’s Averroès et l’averroïsme Revisited.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 7 (2000): 100–119. Harvey, Warren Zev. “Maimonides’ First Commandment, Physics, and Doubt.” In Hazon Nahum: Studies in Honor of Dr. Norman Lamm on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, edited by Jeffrey S. Gurock and Yaakov Elman, 149–62. New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1997. Harvey, Warren Zev. “On Maimonides’ Allegorical Readings of Scripture.” In Interpretation and Allegory: Antiquity to the Modern Period, edited by John Whitman, 181–88. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Harvey, Warren Zev. “The ‘Mishneh Torah’ as a Key to the Secrets of the Guide.” In Meʾah Sheʾarim: Studies in Medieval Jewish Spiritual Life, in Memory of Isadore Twersky, edited by Ezra Fleischer, Gerald Blidstein, Carmi Horowitz, and Bernard Septimus, 11–28. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2001. Harvey, Warren Zev. “Maimonides’ Avicennianism.” Maimonidean Studies 5 (2008): 107–19. Hyman, Arthur. “Maimonides as Biblical Exegete.” In Maimonides and His Heritage, edited by Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Lenn E. Goodman, and James Allen Grady, 1–12. New York: State University of New York Press, 2009. Ivry, Alfred L. “Ibn Rushd’s Use of Allegory.” In Averroës and the Enlightenment, edited by Mourad Wahba and Mona Abousenna, 113–25. Amherst: Prometheus, 1996. Kleven, Terence J. “‘For Truth Does Not Oppose Truth’: The Agreement of Divine Law and Philosophy in Averroës’ ‘The Book of the Decisive Treatise’ (Kitab Fasl al-Maqal).” In Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad: Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions, edited by Joseph Morrison Skelly, 225–36. Santa Barbara: Praeger Security International, 2010. Maimonides, Moses. The Guide of the Perplexed. Translated by Shlomo Pines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. Marx, Alexander. “Texts by and about Maimonides.” The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 25, no. 4, In Commemoration of the Eight Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Maimonides (April 1935): 371–428. Pines, Shlomo. “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed.” In Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, vol. 1, translated by Shlomo Pines, cviii–cxxiii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.

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Ravitzky, Aviezer. “Aristotle’s Meteorology and the Maimonidean Modes of Interpreting the Account of Creation.” Aleph 8 (2008): 361–401. Renan, Ernest. Averroès et l’averroïsme: Essai historique. Paris: Auguste Durand, 1852. Tamer, Georges. “Zur Interpretation von Heiligen Schriften bei Averroes und Maimonides.” In Die Trias des Maimonides: Jüdische, Arabische und Antike Wissenskultur, edited by Georges Tamer, 237–255. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005. Taylor, Richard. “‘For Truth Does Not Contradict Truth’: Averroes and the Unity of Truth.” Topoi 19 (2000): 3–16. Teicher, J.L. “Maimonides’ Letters to Joseph ben Jehudah: A Literary Forgery.” Journal of Jewish Studies 1 (1948): 35–54.

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Chapter 4

Averroes and Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ among the Jews: New Interpretations for Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon’s Allegorical Correspondence with Maimonides Reimund Leicht Evidence for the first Jewish encounters with Averroes—the man and his works—is scarce, but there is some evidence that Jews may not only have been among the philosopher’s first readers, but that he might well have been in personal contact with Jews (even if they may have formally converted to Islam due to the Almohad persecutions). Some scholars even believe that Jews were among Averroes’s very first students (especially during his exile in Lucena),1 which might not be totally unconnected to the accusation found in some Muslim sources to the effect that he himself had had Jewish ancestors.2 Two interesting pieces of evidence for this discussion are preserved in the correspondence between Maimonides (1135 or 1138–1204) and his student, Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon of Ceuta (mid-twelfth-century–1226). One piece is found in a letter of the teacher to his student, in which Maimonides expresses familiarity with most of Averroes’s commentaries;3 the second is a brief allusion in the so-called Allegorical Correspondence, in which it appears that Joseph ibn Simon may have been Averroes’s direct student in astronomy while he was still in the Maghreb. In neither of the two sources does the person nor the thought of Averroes outwardly assume a very prominent role. He is mentioned more or less in passing, but the appearance of his name shows that his figure was somehow looming large in the background of intellectual discussions among Jews from the West at the turn of the thirteenth century.

1 See Dominique Urvoy, Penseurs d’Andalus: La vie intellectuelle à Cordoue et Séville au temps des empires berbères (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1990), 190. 2 Maribel Fierro, “Ibn Rushd al-Ḥafīd (Averroes) and His Exile to Lucena: Jewish Ancestry, Genealogy and Forced Conversion,” Al-Qantara 38, no. 2 (2017): 131–52. 3 This passage will be discussed more in detail further below; see D.H. Baneth, ed., Iggerot Ha-Rambam (Jerusalem: Meqiṣei Nirdamim, 1946; repr. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1985), 70, lines 10–15.

© Reimund Leicht, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_005

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The focus of the present chapter is an attempt to re-open the discussion about the proper interpretation of the Allegorical Correspondence between Maimonides and Joseph ibn Simon. This discussion, which will hopefully also help to contextualise the appearance of Averroes’s name in the text, will have to tackle intricate problems of the interpretation of what is basically an allegorical text. It will necessarily also touch on questions of authenticity. The correspondence is composed in Hebrew and in a poetic style (rhymed prose). The first of the two letters purports to stem from the pen of Joseph ibn Simon, while the second contains Maimonides’s reply to the first. These letters, which are presently attested in nine manuscripts, were not part of the early printed editions of Maimonides’s letters and responsa.4 The first (incomplete) modern edition and French translation of the texts is found in an appendix to Solomon Munk’s pioneering study on Joseph ibn Simon, published in 1842.5 A second complete edition was published more than a decade later by Hirsch Edelmann (1856).6 From there the letters also appeared in Abraham Lichtenberg’s widely used Qoveṣ Tešuvot ha-Rambam we-Igrotaw (1859).7 The first critical edition was produced in the middle of the twentieth century by David Baneth as part of his unfinished project for a new edition of Maimonides’s correspondence (1946).8 Modern research has not been unanimously affirmative regarding the authenticity of these epistles,9 but the majority of scholars in the nineteenth and twentieth century have tacitly accepted their reliability as historical documents. This observation notwithstanding, it is remarkable that some of the most important recent studies on Maimonides’s life and work do not refer to 4 For an analysis of the manuscript evidence and printed editions see the appendix below. 5 Solomon Munk, “Notice sur Joseph ben-Iehouda ou AboulʾHadjadj Yousouf Ben Ya‌ʾhya al-Sabti al-Maghrebi, Disciple de Maïmonide,” Journal Asiatique 2 (1842): 5–72 (also published separately, Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1842). A German translation and short interpretation of this text was published by Salomon Cohn, “Zwei Briefe aus Maimonides Correspondenz,” Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 14 (1865): 25–30 and 69–74. The article is signed “S.C.”; David Baneth (see his edition mentioned in note 4 above) believed that this was the Jewish convert Seelig Paulus Stephanus Cassel (1821–1892), while the editors of the digitised version of the Monatsschrift on Compact Memory housed at the Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main identified the author as Salomon Cohn (1822–1902). 6 Hirsch Edelmann, ed., Ḥemdah Genuzah (Königsberg: Gruber & Euphrat, 1856), 16a–18a. 7 Abraham Lichtenberg, ed., Kobez Teschubot Ha-Rambam we-Igrotav i.e. Epistolarum et Responsionum R. Mosis Maimonidis Collecti Ocompletissima [sic] Tripartita [Hebrew], 3 vols. (Leipzig 1859 = Berlin 1861), vol. 3, fol. 29a–b. 8 See Baneth, Iggerot, 17–30. 9 The letters are not reproduced in Yiṣḥaq Shailat’s edition, Iggerot ha-Rambam, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Jerusalem: Hoṣa‌ʾat Shailat, 1995), but see vol. 2:694–95.

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these letters at all.10 This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that, if used as historical documents, these two letters pose some serious problems: from a literary point of view, the correspondence belongs to the genre of the Arabic muʿātabah, a literary “rebuke” for a friend,11 and it contains various allegorical elements. Allegorical allusions, however, are generally hard to decipher and open to different, even contradicting interpretations, unless the reader possesses an unquestionable hermeneutical key for their interpretation. If there is none (and this seems to be the case here), it is difficult to use such letters as hard evidence in any kind of historical research. The leitmotiv developed in the letters is that of a certain young lady called Kimah (which stands in Hebrew for the Pleiades) who had become Joseph ibn Simon’s legal wife. Soon afterwards, however, she went astray and was kept unjustly by Maimonides, her father. Accordingly, Joseph asks his master to return the wife to her legal husband. In his reply Maimonides vigorously denies Joseph’s claims (he calls Joseph Kesil—Orion or “fool”) and blames him for his “foolishness,” but ultimately returns Kimah to Joseph—but not without rebuking him for his unfitting behaviour. Not surprisingly, this allegory has been deciphered in different ways. According to Solomon Munk (1805–1867), Kimah allegorically stands for philosophy, which somehow disappointed Joseph at a certain point in his life, so he complained about her and asked his teacher for help.12 A few years later this interpretation was slightly nuanced by Abraham Geiger (1810–1874), who thought that the text was speaking about the study of astronomy.13 This new interpretation was rejected by Moritz Steinschneider (1816–1907), who did not propose a new one of 10 One of the few exceptions is Joel Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 365–66, who mainly reproduces earlier interpretations. 11 See Baneth, Iggerot, 21. 12 Munk, “Notice,” 61n1: “La jeune épouse infidèle dont Joseph se plaint dans cette lettre allégorique est sans doute la philosophie, don’t il avait fait sa compagne, et qui ne lui donnait pas toute la satisfaction qu’il y avait cherchée. Dans un moment où le doute s’est emparé de son âme, Joseph fait part de son désappointement à son maître Maïmonide, et lui reproche l’infidélité de sa fille chérie, c’est-à-dire la fausseté de la doctrine que Maïmonide lui avait communiqué” (“The young infidel spouse Joseph complains about in this allegorical letter is without any doubt philosophy, which he had made his companion but had not given him the satisfaction he was searching for. At a moment when doubt filled his mind, Joseph gives expression to his disappointment in front of his master Maimonides, and complains about the infidelity of his dear daughter, i.e., the falsity of the doctrine that Maimonides had transmitted to him”). 13 Abraham Geiger, in a recension of Munk’s study published under the title “Haleb und die Provence in der ersten Hälfte des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts,” Literatur-Blatt zum Israeliten des 19: Jahrhunderts 1, no. 31 and 1, no. 32 (August 1846): 135n3.

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his own.14 Salomon Cohn (1822–1902), on the other hand, interprets Kimah as the “philosophical understanding of Judaism” and argues that Joseph intended no less than to criticise Maimonides for inserting elements from Averroes’s philosophy into his own thought.15 In a similar vein, Joseph Heller believes that Joseph ibn Simon’s letter deals with the (seemingly) unsolvable contradiction between philosophical and prophetic truth.16 All these interpretations were rejected by David Baneth (1893–1973), who favoured the assumption that the Allegorical Correspondence tells us about events connected to the dissemination of the Guide of the Perplexed which Maimonides initially promised to send to his faithful student, but then—to Joseph Ibn Shimʿon’s great chagrin—seems to have reached other readers before him.17 There are no textual or para-textual elements in the correspondence which could give us an unambiguous clue as to how this allegory has to be interpreted.18 The present article puts forward for consideration a new hermeneutical key for the interpretation of these letters: According to this suggestion the Allegorical Correspondence between Joseph Ibn Shimʿon and Maimonides mirrors neither a discussion about philosophy as such, nor about the philosophical interpretation of Judaism nor the study of astronomy, but rather refers to a dispute between Maimonides and his student about one specific book, i.e., a copy of the astronomical Kitāb al-hayʾah of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ (ca. 1000–ca. 1060). As we can learn from information provided by the Arab historiographer ibn al-Qifṭī (1172–1248), who befriended Joseph ibn Simon and thus can be seen as a fairly reliable source of information, Joseph ibn Simon possessed this book from his early lifetime in the Maghreb. He had apparently studied it and later wanted to revise it together with Maimonides.19 In a similar vein, Maimonides also 14 Moritz Steinschneider’s studies on Joseph ibn Simon (whom he identifies with Judah ibn ʿAqnin), from the years 1852–1888 were collected by Heinrich Malter and Alexander Marx, eds., Gesammelte Schriften von Moritz Steinschneider, I. Band: Gelehrten-Geschichte (Berlin: Poppelauer, 1925), 35–89 and 575–98; see also 39–40n10. 15 Cohn, “Zwei Briefe,” 70–71. 16 Joseph Heller, “Aknin, Josef ben Jehuda, Ibn,” in Jakob Klatzkin and Ismar Elbogen, eds., Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 2 (Berlin: Eschkol, 1928–1934), cols. 33–38. 17 Baneth, Iggerot, 18–21. 18 The later manuscript tradition of the Allegorical Correspondence, which will be discussed in the appendix to this article, often tries to unveil the meaning of the allegories and provides information about the historical background in titles and glosses added to the letters. All of these interpretations are totally conjectural and not based upon sound historical information. 19 Julius Lippert, ed., Ibn al-Qiftī’s Ta‌ʾriḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ: Auf Grund der Vorarbeiten Aug. Müller’s herausgegeben (Leipzig: Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1903), 393. The chapter was translated into French by Munk, “Notice,” 14–18, and into English in Joshua Blau, Paul Fenton, and Joseph Yahalom, eds., Judah Alharizi, Kitāb al-Durar: A Book in Praise

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reports in various places in the Guide of the Perplexed about Joseph ibn Simon’s study of astronomy. Judging by these two sources, it is clear that there existed quite different perceptions of what happened during Joseph ibn Simon’s stay with Maimonides and their study of astronomy. This disagreement can be seen as the background for the composition of the Allegorical Correspondence, which seems to tell us about a serious fight that broke out between the two men about the material and perhaps also intellectual ownership of a book containing ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy. If we are to believe the allegorical letters in this new interpretation, the fight ended—at least temporarily—in mutual violent verbal attacks. As I will try to show in the following pages, if the two letters are read in the light of this information, many details within them seem to fall into place, even if a number of allusions remain enigmatic to today’s readers. There are, however, two vexing questions that pose serious problems for the interpretation of what is basically a poetical text. First, the validity of the historical decipherment of an allegorical text receives its reconfirmation not only from the internal coherence of the interpretation itself, but also from its historical plausibility when contextualised with other sources and well-established events. This problem becomes especially urgent if we are talking about new information about a hitherto undocumented conflict between Maimonides and his most important student—indeed, the addressee of the Guide of the Perplexed. The second problem, which looms large in the study of the Allegorical Correspondence, is that of its authenticity. As mentioned above, Shailat rejects the authenticity of the letters and believes them to be a Spanish or Provençal forgery.20 The possibility that such texts were fabricated in Maimonides’s lifetime and after his death indeed cannot be ruled out, since both Maimonides and his student Joseph ibn Simon were highly controversial figures during their lifetimes and after their death.21 Despite the undeniable importance of the question of authenticity for a fully adequate understanding of the Allegorical Correspondence, I follow a slightly unusual methodological approach in this study. I would like to postpone the discussion of the authenticity of the correspondence until after of God and the Israelite Communities (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2009), 51*–53*, and in Alan Verskin, “A Muslim-Jewish Friendship in the Medieval Mediterranean: ʿAlī al-Qifṭī’s Biography of Rabbi Yūsuf Ibn Shamʿūn (Joseph ben Judah),” in The Idea of the Mediterranean, ed. Mario Mignone (Stony Brook: Forum Italicum/Center for Italian Studies, State University of New York, 2017), 193–95. 20 Shailat, Iggerot, 2:694–95. 21 See Reimund Leicht, “A Maimonidean Life: Joseph ben Judah Ibn Shimʿon’s Biography Reconstructed,” Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion 1, edited by Ze’ev Strauss (Leiden: Brill, 2022): 1–48. - 978-90-04-68568-0 Downloaded from Brill.com 04/07/2024 09:55:16PM via University of Wisconsin-Madison

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I have unpacked the new interpretation of the allegories suggested here in detail. Postponing the fundamental question of authenticity might seem hazardous. It seems to be possible to do so, however, because in my view there are two main options for the interpretation of the Allegorical Correspondence: in principle, the composition of an allegory does not seem to be a recommendable strategy for anybody who wishes to write a tendentious forgery, because it might be misinterpreted and thus fail to achieve the composer’s aim. Therefore, it seems at first sight more likely to assume that the Allegorical Correspondence should be authentic. The only option to interpret it as a literary forgery is to assume that it was produced by a well-informed author for an equally well-informed audience, who would be able to decipher all the hidden allusions. Otherwise, the allegory would not work very well. In other words, if the letters are a forgery, they must have been written in close geographical and chronological vicinity to their protagonists. This, however, leads to a situation in which the hermeneutical key proposed for the interpretation of the allegory can remain the same in either of the two cases, provided that there are sufficient reasons to assume that the information needed for the allegory’s decipherment was not only accessible to the two figures involved, but also to a wider group of people who might have been interested in producing and reading such a literary fabrication. For the Allegorical Correspondence I believe that this is the case. Accordingly, in this chapter I will first try to present a reconstruction of the content of the correspondence and of the allegory on which it is based. This reconstruction shows, I believe, that the decipherments of the allegory hitherto suggested in modern research meet with considerable obstacles and do not provide convincing explanations for important aspects of it. Therefore, the alternative decipherment of the allegory based upon a cross-reading with biographical information found in ibn al-Qifṭī’s account of the acquaintance of Joseph ibn Simon (and, for that matter, Maimonides) with Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy will be developed and unpacked with all its implications. Finally, the interpretation based upon this decipherment will be contextualised within what we know about the biographies of Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides, and the arguments for and against the authenticity of this Allegorical Correspondence will finally be discussed. 1

A Legal Dispute about Property and Possession: A Reconstruction of the Structure and Plot of the Allegorical Correspondence

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has been made to present a comprehensive interpretation and analysis of the two texts as a whole. Scholars dealing with the texts were mostly satisfied to point out specific aspects that seem to support their respective points of view (or that contradict those of their predecessors), but the letters were never seen in their integrity. This, however, seems to me to be an important prerequisite for a proper understanding of their meaning. To start with, it should be noted that the two letters are literary “rebukes” (muʿātabah), written in rhymed prose and replete with allegorical elements. They are also full of quotations from, or allusions to, biblical verses.22 On the other hand, the text written in this artistic “mosaic style” also tells the reader a whole story, with a real plot. This plot can best be called a controversy between two parties about legal and moral property and factual possession of a specific object. The object of dispute is allegorically called Kimah in both letters, which is the biblical name for the Pleiades in Job 9:9 (‫)ע ֶֹשה ָעׁש ְכ ִסיל וְ ִכ ָימה‬.23 Although the correspondence formally consists of two letters, it actually contains three parts: in the first letter Joseph ibn Simon addresses Maimonides and asks him to return Kimah, whom he considers to be his legal wife, to him. Maimonides’s reply consists of two parts. In the first part (p. 27, line 1–p. 29, line 1), he appeals to a larger public, a group of sages, who are supposed to function as imaginary judges between him and Joseph (p. 27, line 4: ‫ הטו אזנכם ולכו‬.‫שמעו חכמים מלי‬ ‫ ואם יש בי עון הנני ענו בי‬.‫ שפטו נא ביני ובין יריבי‬.‫)אלי‬.24 This passage concludes with a transitional sentence (p. 28, line 12–p. 29, line 1), and is followed by the second part of the letter, in which Maimonides addresses Joseph ibn Simon directly (p. 29, line 1–p. 30, line 11). The story told in these letters opens with Joseph ibn Simon’s description of the perfect harmony that initially prevailed between Maimonides the teacher and Joseph ibn Simon the student (p. 22, line 1–p. 23, line 1: ‫הן לב אחד ושפה‬ ‫ דבר כי חפצתי צדקך אם יש‬.‫ […] ואני הוא המדבר הנני‬.‫ ולא עבר זר בינינו‬.‫אחת לשנינו‬ .‫)מלין השיבני‬. This atmosphere is maintained in the following passage, where

Joseph ibn Simon talks metaphorically about Kimah (p. 23, line 2–line 7) and describes her as Maimonides’s beloved daughter (p. 23, line 2: ‫)בת אהביך כימה‬. 22

As Sarah Stroumsa has pointed out in her comments on a previous draft of this article, the constant usage of biblical quotations raises the hermeneutical problem as to which extent specific expressions should be taken in their literal sense. This leads to an important caveat in every step of textual interpretation. In general, however, I think that the virtuosity of an author finds its expression in his ability to spot and integrate exactly that biblical verse that fits from stylistic and thematic points of view. 23 See also Amos 5:8 and Job 38:31. 24 All parenthetical citations refer to Baneth’s edition, cited in note 4 above, and include page and line numbers.

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Joseph ibn Simon says that he became so fond of her that he legally betrothed her (p. 23, lines 3–6: ‫ בשלש אלה‬.‫ כדת וכהלכה הנתונה על הר סיני‬.‫וארשתיה לי באמוני‬ ‫ וכי יבעל בחור‬.‫ ושטר אהבים כתבתי לה כי אהבתיה‬.‫ כסף ידידות למהר נתתיה‬.‫קדשתיה‬ ‫ לחפת החשק הכנסתיה‬.‫ ואחר אשר בכל אלה קניתיה‬.‫)בתולה בעלתיה‬. He stresses

that this marriage was not only a legally valid one, but that it was also based upon mutual affection between the two partners, something that was witnessed by two “outstanding” witnesses, the ḥaverim25 ben ʿUbaid Allāh (that is, Maimonides) and ben Rušd (p. 23, lines 6–7: ‫ רק חשקה בי‬.‫לא פתיתיה ולא אנסתיה‬ ‫ בן עוביד אללה ובן‬.‫ וכל זה בפני שני עדים ברורים‬.‫ ונפשי בנפשה קשרתיה‬.‫כי חשקתיה‬ ‫)רשד חברים‬.26

But then this quite idyllic and romantic atmosphere suddenly changes. Joseph ibn Simon claims that while Kimah was still under the ḥuppah she began to go astray and to prostitute herself to others, although he had not given her any reason for doing so (p. 23, line 9: ‫)לא מצאה בי עול כי רחקה מעלי‬. This apparently happened while Kimah—his legal “property”—was no longer in his possession. But more than that, Joseph ibn Simon even goes so far as to claim that Maimonides, Kimah’s father, not only did not rebuke her for her behaviour (p. 23, line 10–11: ‫ לא החטאת‬.‫ואתה לא כהית בבתך ולא הכלמתה‬ ‫)אותה ולא האשמת‬, but that he perhaps even encouraged her to behave this way (p. 23, lines 11–12: ‫ וגם זו רעה רבה‬.‫)ואולי מאתך היתה נסבה‬. Not satisfied by uttering such a horrendous suspicion, Joseph ibn Simon even asks Maimonides directly to return his legal wife to him, claiming that he is a prophet or, at least, that he will become one (p. 24, line 1: ‫)ועתה השב אשת האיש כי נביא הוא או יהיה‬. The apparent aggressiveness of this reproach would be even more aggravated if one adds the second part of the biblical verse alluded to here, which says: “and if you do not give her back, you and all that belong to you will surely die” (Gen 20:7). Joseph ibn Simon concludes his letter by urging Maimonides to send a reply and appealing to the wider public—even including gentiles—to support him (p. 23, lines 6–7: ‫ וכל גוי וממלכה‬.‫והנני מחכה לתשובתך ובעדה אני מפגיע‬ ‫ אשרי המחכה ויגיע‬.‫ ובגוים ההם לא תרגיע‬.‫ ולמענה נפשי יום ליום תביע‬.‫)בעבורה אשביע‬. Only the final words of the letter sound slightly more amicable and reveal something of the supposed former, much more friendly, relationship between

25

The meaning of the term ḥaverim is not clear in this context. The term is somehow reminiscent of Judah Halevi’s usage of the word in the Sefer ha-Kuzari, where it designates the (Jewish) scholar, but this would not fit Averroes. Alternatively, the “Arabic” Maimonides (ben ʿUbaid Allāh) and Averroes may be meant to appear as philosophical “fellows,” which probably would have a polemical ring (see below). 26 Zev Harvey has drawn my attention to the fact that from a halakhic point of view the father cannot serve as a witness in his daughter’s marriage.

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master and student (p. 23, lines 8–9: ‫ הנכסף לראות פני‬.‫ נאמן בריתו‬.‫עבד אהבתו‬ ‫ המתאבק בעפר רגלי מעלתו‬.‫)הדרתו‬. The plot of the story to this point, insofar as it can be reconstructed, shows us that Joseph ibn Simon believes that something that legally belongs to him is in fact no longer with him, but is in the possession of Maimonides. More than that, he seems to believe that Maimonides shared this object with other people. But what is Maimonides’s reaction to these accusations and claims? In his response he first takes up Joseph ibn Simon’s appeal to the public and addresses the unnamed group of sages,27 who, according to the allegory, must have gotten knowledge of Joseph ibn Simon’s accusations and are supposed to judge and decide between the conflicting parties. In that passage Maimonides first defends his daughter Kimah against Joseph ibn Simon’s insults. Here taking up the astronomical imagery of Joseph ibn Simon’s letter, Maimonides calls him allegorically Kesil, which can be read (following Job 9:9) as a star-name for Orion, but also as “fool.” Maimonides says that it is true that he had given her as a wife to Joseph ibn Simon. Kimah, however, was totally faithful. What happened instead was that, the moment “her foot” was caught in Joseph ibn Simon’s “trap,” she started to “cover her face before him,” because his “steel” became “a shame”—that is, he became impotent (p. 27, line 6–7: ‫כי כסתה פניה ומיום‬ ‫ יען ההפך נחשתו לבשתו‬.‫)נלכדה רגלה ברשתו‬. With obvious allusions to sexual imagery (“cover,” “her foot,” “his steel,” “his shame”), Maimonides thus prepares the ground for his actual counterargument: what triggered Joseph ibn Simon’s unfounded accusations against Kimah was in fact his jealousy, which was ultimately caused by his incapability to satisfy Kimah’s desires. He even neglected her financially (p. 27, line 6–p. 28, line 2). All this explained why he started blaming her in front of her father. A summary of Joseph ibn Simon’s letter interwoven with Maimonides’s reply shows that he had stated that, in spite of her alleged transgressions, he was prepared to forgive his wife, because he was convinced that it was in fact her father who prevented Kimah from coming back to him (p. 28, line 5: ‫וי״י יסלח לה‬ ‫)כי הניא אביה אותה‬. Maimonides finds his psychological explanation of Joseph ibn Simon’s misbehaviour confirmed not only by Kesil’s haughtiness (p. 28, lines 6–7), but also by his claim for prophethood (p. 28, lines 7–8). According to Maimonides, his daughter was right in not following Joseph ibn Simon’s false claims, which are repeatedly presented in the letter in the garb of references to the prophet Samuel and Saul (p. 28, line 11: ‫)לבלתי לכת אחרי שאול ואחרי שמואל‬. 27

Some of the manuscripts have ‫ שמעו עמים‬instead of ‫שמעו חכמים‬, which is the variant reproduced in the main text of Baneth’s edition. On this passage see the discussion in the third section of the chapter below, on whether these letters are authentic or forgeries.

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In other words, although Maimonides does not deny that Joseph ibn Simon had married Kimah, he does claim that his rights have become null and void in view of his sexual impotence and his inappropriate behaviour. Therefore, Maimonides sees no legal basis for the restitution of the property, which is now in Maimonides’s possession. The second part of the reply, in which Maimonides addresses Kesil directly, focuses less on the “legal” aspects of the dispute than on the moral ones. He strongly rebukes Joseph ibn Simon for various things he claimed in his letter. First, Maimonides describes Joseph ibn Simon’s appeal to a Muslim and a Jewish witness for the marriage (ben ʿUbaid Allāh/Maimonides and ben Rušd) as sacrilege (p. 29, line 3: ‫)בין קדש לחול לא הבדלת‬, and then he alludes to Joseph ibn Simon’s claims for prophethood. What he seems to be most concerned about, however, is Kimah. In an interesting turn of his argument, Maimonides states that Joseph ibn Simon should not blame a “married wife,” and even less so the woman who “came to his house” and was his “fellow and the wife of [his] youth and of [his] covenant” (p. 29, lines 7–9: ‫והשמר לך פן‬ ‫ וכל שכן האשה הבאה‬.‫ להזנות עוד את אשה בעולת בעל‬.‫יהיה דבר עם לבבך בליעל‬ ‫ והיא חברתך ואשת נעוריך ובריתך‬.‫)אל ביתך‬. What suddenly becomes clear from

these words is that Kimah is not only Maimonides’s daughter, but that she was already Joseph ibn Simon’s wife from a very early period in his life. To prevent Joseph ibn Simon from being jealous, however, Maimonides finally declares that he should “take his wife and go away” (p. 29, line 11: ‫ואתה בני שמע בקולי הנה‬ ‫)אשתך קח ולך‬. If one takes these words at face value, it becomes clear that Maimonides tries to argue that the dispute between him and Joseph ibn Simon has no factual basis, because the marriage has in fact become null and void due to the latter’s impotence and misbehaviour. There is also no basis for the accusation of prostitution or any other misbehaviour on Kimah’s side. On the other hand, Maimonides is prepared to send Kimah back to her husband so that there should be no more reason for Joseph ibn Simon’s jealousy. The restitution of the woman to her husband is accompanied, however, by the demand “to go” and to reconsider the claims altogether (p. 29, line 11: ‫ בכל‬.‫ועל י״י יהבך השלך‬ ‫ ויכונו מחשבותיך‬.‫ והוא יישר אורחותיך‬.‫ כי נסתר איש מרעהו‬.‫)דרכיך דעהו‬. The final passage of the letter is again fully dedicated to Joseph ibn Simon’s claims for prophethood, which Maimonides totally rejects, and as in the first letter, only the last line is slightly more amicable (p. 30, line 11: ‫)בין כך וכין כך ירבו בישראל כמותך‬. If the reader looks at the plot as it is told in these two letters, one finds a complete story, although we do not hear much about the ultimate results of the dispute. We are neither informed about how the case was ultimately judged by the “sages” to whom Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides appealed, nor do we get

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any hint as to how the once-so-harmonious relationship between the two men later developed. However, at the end of the two texts the reader is left with the strong impression that Maimonides basically succeeds in solving the problem. He convincingly argues that all of Joseph ibn Simon’s accusations and claims had no factual basis at all, but with a generous gesture he sends Kimah back to her husband. All this does not happen, however, without Maimonides’s criticising and blaming Joseph ibn Simon for numerous faults, the most important ones being his “impotence,” his haughtiness, and his claim for prophethood. In sum, although Kesil (that is, Joseph ibn Simon) is ultimately successful in his request to get Kimah back from Maimonides, he leaves the stage at the end of the correspondence as morally defeated, and he is perhaps even expelled from Maimonides’s company and environment.28 2

An Unknown Episode in Maimonides’s Life? A Possible Biographical Context for the Allegorical Correspondence

The reconstruction of the underlying plot of this story as presented here cannot be reconciled with any of the interpretations of the Allegorical Correspondence hitherto formulated in modern research. Most studies seem to tacitly assume that the letters were written (or refer to) a relatively early period in Joseph ibn Simon’s life, probably during his stay in Egypt, although this question is rarely explicitly addressed. At first glance, then, the idea that Kimah could stand 28

Following the practice of earlier editions, Maimonides’s reply is preceded by two lines of a poem in Baneth, Iggerot, 27, lines 1–2. In the surviving manuscripts these lines appear after the text and are introduced by the words ‫על גב הכתב‬. Baneth does not report that most manuscripts add the abbreviation ‫ נרו‬or ]‫ נטריה רמנא [ופרקיה‬at the end of the two lines, both of which he interprets as referring to the addressee of the letters, i.e., Joseph ibn Simon. In agreement with the edition of Edelmann, Ḥemdah Genuzah, fol. 17a, Baneth believes that they were in fact copied from the outer side of the envelope of the letter, where they served as an address (Iggerot, 24–25). If so, it seems rather unlikely that this was a real address, because it is unlikely that the postal services in Fustat had special services for deciphering riddles on postal envelopes. Therefore, the two lines rather seem to be a kind of literary riddle in which both sender and addressee are described to the readers in an encrypted form. They are part of the literary fiction. The first line seems to refer to Maimonides (‫—עץ הדעת וחץ התבונה – יסוד הדת וסוד האמונה‬where the acrostichon in the second part YHWH is reminiscent of the opening words of the Mišneh Torah), whereas the second line (‫נעם בן קיש בן אלקנה‬-‫ )אחי עש ואיש כימה אבי‬refers to Joseph ibn Simon, who is designated as Kesil and as a pretender for prophecy (ben Kish = Saul; ben Elkana = Samuel). Baneth does not find a good explanation for the mention of Avinoam in this line (Iggerot, 25). It should be noted, however, that Ahinoam was King Saul’s wife, although the meaning of this reference remains unclear.

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for the study of philosophy, as put forth by Munk, is not unattractive;29 but it seems difficult to explain how philosophy could be the focus of a complicated “legal” dispute about the “ownership” of something that Joseph ibn Simon had acquired during his youth and was at the same time Maimonides’s beloved daughter; had been married to Joseph ibn Simon but went astray and was detained by her father because of the husband’s impotence and haughtiness; and was finally returned to Joseph ibn Simon. Philosophy can be present in more than one place, but Kimah obviously cannot. She can be either with Maimonides or with Joseph ibn Simon. Geiger’s interpretation that the text is speaking about the study of astronomy provides an interesting explanation for why the star-name Kimah was allegorically introduced in Joseph ibn Simon’s letter, but taken as a whole is barely more convincing.30 Apart from the star-names themselves there are very few allusions to astronomy in the texts.31 Cohn’s interpretation—that the philosophical understanding of Judaism could be at stake and that Joseph ibn Simon intended to criticise Maimonides for inserting Averroes’s philosophy into his own thought—and the interpretation suggested by Heller—that Joseph ibn Simon addresses the unsolvable contradiction between philosophical and prophetic truths—are similarly hard to find in the allegory and the story if taken as a whole.32 Averroes is mentioned next to Maimonides in the first letter, but it seems that Joseph ibn Simon is the one affirming this connection, whereas Maimonides’s reply refutes it. Only Baneth’s interpretation, which seems to speak about a physical object, which cannot be in more than one place at one time, seems to do more justice to the text. As we have seen, he argues that the Allegorical Correspondence speaks about the dissemination of the first copy of the Guide of the Perplexed, which was first promised to Joseph ibn Simon but then found its way into the hand of other people first. This would indeed match with a story about a conflict regarding legal or moral property and factual possession. On the other hand, Baneth’s explanation is still unable to explain other important details of the allegory, such as the statement that Joseph ibn Simon had acquired Kimah during his youth and that his happy marriage was witnessed by witnesses no less important than ben ʿUbaid Allāh and ben Rušd. This obviously cannot refer to the Guide as a physical book. Moreover, if the dedication of the Guide forms 29 See note 13 above. 30 See note 14 above. 31 See, however, the lines in Maimonides’s letter in Baneth, Iggerot, 27, line 5: ‫את בתי כימה‬ ‫ ויחשבה לזונה‬.‫ בגלגל אמונה‬.‫נתתי לכסיל חתני וישאנו והיתה אמונה‬. 32 See notes 16 and 17 above.

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the historical background to this story, the Allegorical Correspondence must have been composed long after Joseph ibn Simon had left Egypt, although the letters seem to be written by people who are living in the same place. Accordingly, there are good reasons to look for other understandings of the allegory, and I believe that a key for its understanding can perhaps be found in the biographical sketch of Joseph ibn Simon’s life found in ibn al-Qifṭī’s Ta‌ʾrīḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ. In that work ibn al-Qifṭī also writes about Joseph ibn Simon’s sojourn in Egypt:33 And he came together with Mūsā b. Maimūn al-Qurtubī, the Head of the Jews of Egypt, and he studied a bit with him (qara‌ʾa ʿalayhi šayʾan). And he stayed with him for a short time, and he asked him (wa-sa‌ʾalahu) to correct the Astronomy of ibn Aflaḥ al-Andalusī, which accompanied him (ṣaḥibathu) from Ceuta. So he came together with Mūsā for correcting (iṣlāḥ) and editing (taḥrīr) it. Thanks to this source, which stems from a friend of Joseph ibn Simon during his period in Aleppo, we know that the refugee from the Maghreb arrived in Egypt with an astronomical book (that is, Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s al-Hayʾah), which became an object of scholarly interest for both of them. It is not entirely clear precisely what Joseph ibn Simon asked Maimonides to do when he requested a “correction” of the book, but if we are to believe ibn al-Qifṭī, ultimately both of them seem to have joined forces in order to correct and edit the text. Interestingly, this is the last information ibn al-Qifṭī provides about Joseph ibn Simon’s years in Egypt before he left for Syria, without any reasons given for his departure. Now, by combining in a certain way Geiger’s intuition that the Allegorical Correspondence speaks about the study of astronomy and Baneth’s observation that the allegory better fits a dispute about a real book rather than an abstract field of study (that is, philosophy), I would like to put forward for consideration the idea that Joseph ibn Simon’s beloved Kimah stands in for a copy of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomical treatise, normally called in modern research Iṣlāḥ al-hayʾah (or: Iṣlāḥ al-mağisṭī). If this is the case, we can see that the Allegorical Correspondence portrays a conflict between master and student about the legal and moral ownership of this book (or the annotated or corrected version of ‫قأ‬ ‫ن‬ �‫ط�� رئ��ي��س ا �لي���هود ب����م���صر و� أر‬ ��‫وا ج�ت�����م ب����م أو��سى ب��ن �مي�����مو� ا �ل��ق‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ب‬ ‫أ‬ ‫أ‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ع‬ ‫ح��ت���ه �م��ن ��س��ت���ة‬ ‫ع� ي�ل��ه �ش���ي� ئ��ا و� ق��ا �م�ع ن���د ه �م�د �ة �قر�ب���ة و��س� �ل�ه � �ص�لا �هي��ئ����ة ا ب��ن � ف���ل�� ال� ن��د �ل��س ف�� ن���ه�ا �ص‬ ‫ب‬ ‫�ب‬ ‫�إ‬ ‫إ‬ � ‫ي‬ ‫ح‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ح‬ ‫ت‬ � ‫ ف��ا ج�ت�����م �هو و�مو��سى ع��ل إ� �ص�لا‬. In this translation I gratefully follow suggestions �‫�ح�ه�ا و‬ ‫حر�ير�ه�ا‬ ‫ى‬ ‫ع‬

33 Lippert, Ta‌ʾriḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ, 393:

made to me by Sarah Stroumsa.

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it). This interpretation, which is based upon a cross-reading of two different sources, may seem daring and unwarranted considering what is known about Maimonides’s and Joseph ibn Simon’s biographies and their mutual relationship, but it seems worthwhile to check where and how far it can lead us. If we start with ibn al-Qifṭī’s report, there does not seem to be any immediate hint about a conflict between Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides. It only seems to report offhandedly about a fruitful collaboration between two Jewish ḥukamāʾ on an astronomical text, which belongs to the so-called Andalusian school. But if it were only this that ibn al-Qifṭī wished to tell his readers, it would have been sufficient to state that the two men had produced a revised edition of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s work. At a closer look ibn al-Qifṭī seems to produce a more complex narrative: he stresses that the book had migrated from the West with Joseph ibn Simon, who then asked Maimonides for the iṣlāḥ of the book, although we are not told when, where, or how the “correction” of the book was supposed to take place and whether Maimonides really started to work on it. All we hear is that the two ultimately agreed to work on this project together. Without any obvious reason, ibn al-Qifṭī thus gives us information about the genesis of a “research project” on an astronomical book, which nobody merely interested in the history of two learned scholars would really wish to know. Now, one could argue that ibn al-Qifṭī simply wanted to explain to his readers that Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s work belonged to the intellectual culture of the Muslim West. But given the fact that ibn al-Qifṭī’s narrative is probably more or less aligned with Joseph ibn Simon’s version of the events that took place between the master and his student, one can be tempted to believe that the rather detailed information about the project on Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah alludes to aspects of the event that are not fully spelled out. This is speculative, but ibn al-Qifṭī’s narrative establishes two main things: first, that there cannot be any reasonable doubt that this scientific treasure originally belonged to Joseph ibn Simon, and second, that he and Maimonides eventually agreed upon a research project centred on this book. We hear nothing about the results of this project. The only information ibn al-Qifṭī gives the reader is that Joseph ibn Simon left for Syria afterwards. Now, if one uses the skeleton of information provided by ibn al-Qifṭī and further assumes that Kimah indeed stands for Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s book, the reader is presented with an interesting picture. It is not so clear to which “past” the words “yesterday” in the correspondence refer (p. 23, line 2: ‫)הלא אתמול‬, but similar to what we have read in ibn al-Qifṭī’s narrative, we hear about an initial period of harmonious cohabitation. Only then does Kimah enter the scene. She is, in a way, Maimonides’s “beloved daughter,” probably because the Andalusian astronomical traditions were dear to the master and he was a

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master in them. The first letter makes it clear, however, that Joseph ibn Simon is convinced that, at least from a material point of view, he is her legal owner. He had betrothed (that is, acquired) Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah in every possible respect (p. 23, lines 2–6): he had paid for it when he had acquired it in the West (‫)כסף ידידות למהר נתתיה‬, he had signed it (‫שטר אהבים כתבתי לה‬ ‫)כי אהבתיה‬, he had read it, and he had internalised its teachings in a primary manner (‫)וכי יבעל בחור בתולה בעלתיה‬. All this constituted his legal and moral ownership (‫)בכל אלה קניתיה‬. After this initial acquisition, he led the book to the ḥuppah. Here, I would like to argue that the ḥuppah probably can stand allegorically for some kind of study house. If so, it seems possible to decipher the allegory in the sense that under this ḥuppah he studied the book in front of two teachers, Maimonides (ben ʿUbaid Allāh) and none other than Averroes (ben Rušd).34 Both of these teachers can testify to Joseph ibn Simon’s “intellectual marriage” to Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy. It seems, however, that the letter attests that Joseph ibn Simon then left the book in Maimonides’s study house, because only this can explain how Kimah (at a time when she was still “under the ḥuppah”) started to go astray and to prostitute herself to others. In other words, since Joseph ibn Simon was no longer in possession of the book, and he apparently no longer had direct access to the book, Kimah misbehaved and withdrew herself from her husband (p. 23, line 10: ‫ וקולה‬.‫ ומראה הנאוה לא הראתני‬.‫וסרה מאהלי‬ ‫)הערב לא השמיעתני‬. Joseph ibn Simon writes that not only did Maimonides not prevent this behaviour, but he may have even encouraged others to read the book in his house. It must be noted that the reason for the transfer of the book to Maimonides’s house, which is provided by ibn al-Qifṭī (that is, that Joseph ibn Simon asked Maimonides for the correction of the book or that the two were planning to carry out a joint project on the correction and edition of ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy), is not alluded to in the Allegorical Correspondence. However, it is clear from the letters that Joseph ibn Simon already had quite an intimate relationship with the book (that is, a good, primary command of its teachings) from his former studies when he met his second master in Egypt, which apparently can be witnessed by Averroes. It is not surprising to see that Maimonides’s allegorical reply presents us with an entirely different narrative of the same events: all of his opponent’s 34

It is interesting to see that the procedure of studying a book seems to be described here as consisting of different stages. In the initial stage the student reads the book alone, and then he reads it again in front of a teacher, who “witnesses” the fact that he had successfully acquired the knowledge (“married” it). This is probably the meaning of the Arabic term qara‌ʾa ʿalayhi (“read in front of”) found in ibn al-Qifṭī’s biographical reports and in Maimonides’s dedicatory epistle discussed below.

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claims for ownership of the book are unfounded. It is true that Orion (Kesil) came to study astronomy with him, but he proved to be a “fool” (kesil) and intellectually impotent to carry out these studies, which he neglected. The verse from Exodus 21:10 even alludes to the economical neglect of Kimah—i.e., that he did not pay enough money for the study of the book. Accordingly, Maimonides refused to continue to “read” the book together with Joseph ibn Simon. However, since the book was located in the master’s schoolhouse (and Maimonides does not seem to deny this), and Joseph ibn Simon no longer had access to it, there was room for suspicion that Maimonides might have allowed others to read it. For that reason, Joseph ibn Simon asked for the book back. Maimonides, on the other hand, makes it clear that all these accusations are totally unfounded. Kimah never went astray and was never read by others, and all the accusations are fabricated by Joseph ibn Simon because of his intellectual impotence. In view of this situation, Maimonides is prepared to send the book back to its owner (p. 29, line 11: ‫ )ואתה בני שמע בקולי הנה אשתך קח ולך‬in order to solve the dispute. It is interesting to note that there is one formulation in Maimonides’s letter that seems to echo information found in ibn al-Qifṭī’s biographical report on Joseph ibn Simon: Maimonides describes the book as Joseph ibn Simon’s “companion and wife of [his] younger days and of [his] covenant” (p. 29, line 12: ‫)והיא חברתך ואשת נעוריך ובריתך‬. This intimate relationship resembles the imagery employed in ibn al-Qifṭī’s formulation that ibn al-Aflaḥ’s book “accompanied [Joseph ibn Simon] from Ceuta.”35 On the other hand, ibn al-Qifṭī does not mention anything about the restitution of the book to Joseph ibn Simon (in fact, he never explicitly says that it left his hands), although the fact that the plans for the correction and edition of the book are the very last of Joseph ibn Simon’s activities in Egypt may echo the fact that this happened late in his sojourn in that country and toward the very end of his short discipleship with Maimonides.36 As mentioned above, it is striking that unlike in the case of Joseph ibn Simon’s escape from Almohad Maghreb, which ibn al-Qifṭī explains in detail, he does not provide any explanation for Joseph ibn Simon’s departure from Egypt. 35 Lippert, Ta‌ʾriḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ, 393: fa-innahā ṣaḥibathu min Sabta. 36 From the earliest modern scholars onwards, it has generally been assumed that ibn al-Qifṭī says that Joseph ibn Simon was in Egypt for a short period of time only. It should be noted, however, that the historiographer actually does not say anything about the total period of time Joseph ibn Simon spent in Egypt, but rather says that the period of his discipleship with Maimonides was a short one. See Lippert, Ta‌ʾriḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ, 393: wa-aqāma ʿindahu muddatan qarībatan. It is, of course, not impossible that the two more or less coincide, but ibn al-Qifṭī provides no definite proof for that.

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If this reading of the allegory is basically correct, it is interesting to note that the dispute about the ownership of the astronomical book is intermingled in the correspondence with yet another dispute, which is not mentioned by ibn al-Qifṭī at all: that regarding Joseph ibn Simon’s alleged prophethood. This motif, which from a stylistic point of view is actually not part of the allegory, is only briefly alluded to in one sentence in Joseph ibn Simon’s initial letter, where he forcefully formulates his demand to get Kimah back (p. 24, line 1: ‫)ועתה השב אשת האיש כי נביא הוא או יהיה‬. Taken as such, this sentence perhaps does not seem to be very significant, in view of the fact that it is based upon a biblical quotation (Gen 20:7). But it clearly was not taken as a “slip of the pen” by the respondent, because Maimonides refers to this claim at various times in his response, and it receives a detailed refutation toward the end of the letter (p. 30, lines 1–9). In this section the allegorical style becomes somewhat less dominant and Maimonides enters into a kind of dialogical argumentation. He first explains that it is not because of the addressee’s deficiencies that he should not consider himself a prophet, but rather because the time is not ripe (p. 30, line 2: ‫)אלא שאין השעה ראויה לכך‬. He then refers to a possible counter-argument one could use to refute the latter point: that Samuel also became a prophet, apparently also at an inappropriate time. Moreover, surely Kesil’s wisdom is sound enough for prophethood (p. 30, line 2–3: ‫שמא תאמר הלא שמואל נבא כאשר ראוי‬ ‫ אעשה כן גם אני‬.‫)ואני בחכמתי האיתני‬. All these arguments, however, Maimonides again fully rejects. As mentioned above, there is no confirmation of such a dispute in ibn al-Qifṭī’s report, but the historical accuracy of the fact that there were claims about prophethood connected to Joseph ibn Simon find some confirmation in Judah al-Ḥarizi’s Sefer taḥkemoni, to be discussed below. To sum up, reading the Allegorical Correspondence according to the hermeneutical key proposed above produces the impression that at a certain stage in their lives, Maimonides and his “honourable” and “beloved” student had serious disagreements about at least two issues: Joseph ibn Simon’s ownership of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah and his claims for prophethood. If the structure of the plot as it appears in the two letters is taken as a historically reliable account, this seems to have been more than a private controversy. It must have become a public affair: both parties appeal in their letters to the wider audience in order to get some legal and moral support. In other words, the decipherment of the two letters proposed here leads us to the possibility that a major public scandal must have taken place in Cairo and Fustat, about which, it must be remembered, we hear nothing from other sources. In this alleged scandal Maimonides and his student Joseph ibn Simon appear as the major protagonists. Even if it is difficult to decide how the mutual accusations

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formulated in the two letters were perceived in their historical cultural environment, modern readers get the impression that the rupture between the two men must have been quite severe. If all this was true and authentic, it would not only significantly change our image of the relationship between the author of the Guide of the Perplexed and its purported addressee; it would also raise important chronological and biographical questions regarding the order of the events documented in this and other historical sources. Therefore, the question of whether or not the allegorical correspondence is authentic as a whole is unavoidable. 3

Authentic or Literary Forgery?

Interpreting the Allegorical Correspondence through a cross-reading with biographical information provided by ibn al-Qifṭī about Joseph ibn Simon’s ownership of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomical work seems to provide a new option for a more satisfactory and more comprehensive understanding of the Allegorical Correspondence. The most urgent question to be addressed now seems to be, however, whether and how these texts can fit into what we know about Maimonides’s and Joseph ibn Simon’s lives and the relationship between the two. For that reason, I will first present arguments in favour of the authenticity of the letters and then ponder the arguments for the second alternative—that is, that the Allegorical Correspondence is a literary fabrication written in close vicinity to the protagonists depicted in it. The first question that arises if one assumes that the Allegorical Correspondence is authentic is that of its presumed date. The most likely date for the composition of the Allegorical Correspondence—if read as a dispute about Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah—would be toward the end of Joseph ibn Simon’s stay in Egypt. It seems clear from the first letter that Joseph ibn Simon was in the same place as Maimonides and that he was hoping to meet him in person (p. 24, line 8: ‫)הנכסף לראות הדרתו‬. Since there is no evidence whatsoever that Joseph ibn Simon returned to Egypt at any time after he left for Aleppo, probably in the second half of the 1180s, the whole controversy would have taken place sometime within the years of his discipleship with Maimonides.37 If this was the case, the readers of the Allegorical Correspondence would become witnesses of a controversy that could explain why Joseph ibn Simon left Maimonides and Egypt after such a short period: the rupture between the 37

For a summary of the biographical data about this period see Leicht, “A Maimonidean Life.”

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Leicht

two could have been serious enough to convince him that Maimonides’s command “to take Kimah and to go away” (p. 29, line 11: ‫ )קח ולך‬was meant seriously and was to be taken literally. However, this dating presents at least one serious chronological problem. If the traditional dedication of the Guide to Maimonides’s famous student and the dating of the completion of that work to the year 1191 are accepted,38 this rupture, which had taken place in the middle of the 1180s, cannot have been as final as it seems. Maimonides’s dedicatory epistle does not mention the dispute at all. Thus, if the dispute took place prior to Joseph ibn Simon’s untimely departure from Egypt, either the harshness of the dispute appears more serious to modern readers than to contemporary readers, or the two men found a way to make peace again. All this is possible, but undocumented in any other source. The assumption that the Allegorical Correspondence is authentic and that it can be dated to this relatively early period in Joseph ibn Simon’s life leads to other interesting consequences: first of all, if authentic the Allegorical Correspondence seems to provide us with evidence that Joseph ibn Simon must have studied Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy not only with Maimonides in Fustat, but also with Averroes in the Maghreb (Ceuta). Such an assumption—again, not documented in any other historical source—is chronologically and historically not totally unconceivable given the fact that Joseph ibn Simon had lived as a (forced) Muslim convert in the West, that Averroes was an older contemporary of his, and that his interest in ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy (as part of the so-called “Andalusian astronomical revolution”) is well documented.39

38 See Zevi Diesendruck, “On the Date of the Completion of the Moreh Nebukim,” Hebrew Union College Annual 12/13 (1937–1938): 461–97 and Herbert A. Davidson, Moses Maimonides: The Man and his Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 322. 39 José Bellver Martínez, “El Lugar del Iṣlāḥ al-Maŷisṭī de Ŷābir b. Aflaḥ en la llamada ‘Rebellión Andalusí contra la Astronnomía Ptolemaica,’” Al-Qantara 30 (2009): 83–136; José Bellver Martínez, “The Arabic Versions of Jābir b. Aflaḥ’s al-Kitāb fī l-Hayʾa,” in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, ed. David Juste, Benno van Dalen, Dag Nicolaus Hasse, and Charles Burnett (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), 181–199 (this article came to my knowledge only after this chapter was completed); Emilia Calvo, “Jābir ibn Aflaḥ: Abū Muḥammad Jābir ibn Aflaḥ,” in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, ed. Thomas Hockey et al., 581–82 (New York: Springer, 2007); R.P. Lorch, “The Astronomy of Jābir ibn Aflah,” Centaurus 19 (1975): 99; A.I. Sabra, “The Andalusian Revolt against Ptolemaic Astronomy,” in Optics, Astronomy and Logic: Studies in Arabic Science and Philosophy (Aldershot: Variorum, 1994), 135. See also Juliane Lay, “Un Averroes habraicus inédit: L’Abrégé de l’Almageste,” in Averroès et l’averroïsme (XIIe–XVe siècle): Un intinéraire historique de Haut Atlas à Paris et à Padoue, ed. André Bazzana, Nicole Bériou, and Pierre Guichard (Lyon: Presses de l’Université de Lyon, 1991), 203–37. On the Andalusian astronomical revolution see George Saliba, “Arabic Planetary - 978-90-04-68568-0 Downloaded from Brill.com 04/07/2024 09:55:16PM via University of Wisconsin-Madison

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As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter,40 there are even scholars who believe that Jews were among Averroes’s very first students, and that this could explain the extensive evidence for the early circulation of Averroes’s works among Jews. Even though some of these arguments have not remained undisputed in subsequent scholarship,41 the possibility that the Muslim philosopher could have had Jewish (or converted) students cannot be ruled out. In that case the correspondence would unveil Joseph ibn Simon as an important link between the scientific schools in later twelfth-century Maghreb, Maimonides, and the Muslim East in general. If this is correct, the information provided by the Allegorical Correspondence does not stand totally isolated in the context of some other documents related to Maimonides and Joseph ibn Simon. A biographical connection of Maimonides’s student to Averroes is perhaps to be found in his other passing remark in one of his letters (generally dated to the year 1191), in which he says that “everything that Averroes had composed had reached me except for the commentary on De Sensu.”42 Maimonides does not say explicitly which of Averroes’s books and commentaries this refers to,43 but one could speculate that Joseph ibn Simon intuitively came to Maimonides’s mind whenever he was talking about Averroes. We cannot rule out the possibility that his student may even have been instrumental in supplying these texts to the master.44 Theories after the Eleventh Century AD,” in Encylopedia of the History of Arabic Science, vol. 1, ed. Roshdi Rashed (London: Routledge, 1996), 84–86. 40 See notes 2 and 3 above. 41 See Charles Burnett, “The ‘Sons of Averroes with the Emperor Frederick’ and the Transmission of the Philosophical Works by Ibn Rushd,” in Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition: Sources, Constitution and Reception of Ibn Rushd (1126–1198): Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Averroicum (Cologne, 1996), ed. Gerhard Endress and Jan A. Aertsen (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 259–60. 42 See Baneth, Iggerot, 70, 11–16: ‫ווצלני פי הדה אלמדה כל מה אלפה אבן רשד פי כתב ארסטו‬ ‫ ומא וגדת פרגה ללאן למטאלעה גמלה‬,‫ וראית צואבה צואבא חסנא‬,‫אלא אלחאס ואלמחסוס‬ ‫כתבה‬. 43 Warren Zev Harvey, “The Problem of Many Gods in al-Ghazālī, Averroes, Maimonides, Crescas, and Sforno,” in Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to Present, ed. Giueseppe Veltri et al. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019) 85–86n6, argues that this passage refers to Averroes’s Long Commentaries, completed only a few years before the letter was presumably written. 44 The question of whether and when Maimonides got familiar with Averroes is hotly debated in modern research; see, e.g., Davidson, Moses Maimonides, 109–10; Alfred Ivry, “Maimonides’ Relation to the Teachings of Averroes” [Hebrew], Ṣefunot 23 (N.S. 8) (2003): 61–74; Joel L. Kraemer, “Maimonides and the Spanish Aristotelian School,” in Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Medieval and Early Modern Spain: Interaction and Cultural Change, ed. Mark D. Meyerson and Edward D. English (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), 54–60; Shlomo Pines, “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed,” in Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, vol. 1, trans. - 978-90-04-68568-0 Downloaded from Brill.com 04/07/2024 09:55:16PM via University of Wisconsin-Madison

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We are on much firmer grounds, however, once we focus on the role that Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomical work seems to have played in Joseph ibn Simon’s life. As Lorch has shown in a study on Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy,45 there are three surviving manuscripts of the Arabic original of this relatively rare work. Two of these manuscripts were written in the West and are now housed in the Escurial Library (Escurial 910 and Escurial 930), whereas one manuscript (Berlin 5653) was written in Damascus in the year 1229—that is, three years after Joseph ibn Simon’s death in nearby Aleppo. Moreover, Lorch points out that the Berlin manuscript is the only one that bears the title Iṣlāḥ al-maǧisṭī (Correction of the Almagest, the title or activity alluded to in ibn al-Qifṭī’s biographical sketch), whereas the others are called Kitāb al-hayʾah. Accordingly, there is evidence that Joseph ibn Simon might have been instrumental in the transfer of astronomical knowledge from the Maghreb to Egypt and to Syria in the later twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.46 In view of this evidence, there are good reasons to assume that the information spread by ibn al-Qifṭī about Maimonides and Joseph ibn Simon working on a corrected and edited version of the work is, at least in some way, historically reliable. This, however, leads to questions as to how Maimonides got acquainted with ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomy in the first place, and how Joseph ibn Simon’s astronomical studies with Maimonides are related to this. As is well known, Maimonides mentions Joseph ibn Simon’s interest in astronomy several times

Shlomo Pines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), cviii–cxxiii; Sarah Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 67–70, 73–75. This discussion was recently fuelled by the observation that not all of the manuscripts of the famous letter to Samuel ibn Tibbon contain the name of Averroes; see Doron Forte, “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23 (2016): 47–90. A reply to this article defending the traditional opinio communis regarding the authenticity of Maimonides’s recommendation to study Averroes was recently published by Steven Harvey: “Did Maimonides Recommend Reading Averroes’ Commentaries on Aristotle?” Jewish Studies Quarterly 28 (2021): 159–90. A comprehensive analysis of the manuscript tradition of Maimonides’s Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon, which sheds additional light on the philologically problematic reference to Averroes, can be found in Reimund Leicht, “The Manuscript Tradition of Maimonides’s Letter to Samuel ibn Tibbon” Jewish Studies Quarterly 31 (2024). 45 Lorch, “The Astronomy of Jābir ibn Aflah,” 88–90. Now see also José Bellver Martínez, “The Arabic Versions of Jābir b. Aflaḥ’s al-Kitāb fī l-Hayʾa.” 46 It should be noted that the fact that there are no more manuscripts of the Iṣlāḥ al-maǧisṭī extant and that none of the manuscripts was copied in Egypt does not provide any substantiation for Joseph ibn Simon’s complaint that that Maimonides might have allowed other people to study and copy the book.

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in the Guide of the Perplexed.47 The first mention is in the dedicatory letter, where he recalls that Joseph ibn Simon had “read” before him (qara‌ʾta ʿalayyi) issues belonging to the science of astronomy (min ʿilm al-hayʾah), which he had read before (mā qad qara‌ʾtahu).48 This is the same wording used by ibn al-Qifṭī in his description of Joseph ibn Simon’s early studies with Maimonides (qara‌ʾa ʿalayhi šayʾan) and probably reflects a common practice in which the student read and prepared the text on his own beforehand and later “reproduced” it in front of his teacher. In the end, the latter would confirm that the student had indeed reached full proficiency in that subject. In our case, this means that Joseph ibn Simon arrived in Maimonides’s house with at least one astronomical book in his luggage, which he had studied before. Whether or not the book alluded to by Maimonides was Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah remains, of course, uncertain. In the Guide itself there are two additional passages that are also highly relevant for our question. As is well known, in chapter 2.24 of the Guide Maimonides deals with the epistemological status of competing astronomical theories, which were current and hotly debated in the Middle Ages. This is not the place to go into details regarding the theories themselves, but it is remarkable that Maimonides opens this chapter with the words: You have known of astronomical matters what you have read in front of me, and you have understood the contents of the Almagest. But there was not enough time to begin another speculative study with you.49 From this seemingly innocent opening phrase we learn that Joseph ibn Simon had studied nothing but the astronomical basics from Ptolemy’s Almagest together with Maimonides, due to an unexplained lack of time (a sudden departure?). This information contradicts to a certain degree the information provided by ibn al-Qifṭī to the effect that Maimonides and Joseph ibn Simon’s astronomical studies had gone much further and that the two men had developed a common research project: producing a corrected edition of ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah (or: Iṣlāḥ al-maǧisṭī). What we thus find in the two sources 47 All Judeo-Arabic quotations from the Guide of the Perplexed are taken from Mosheh ben Maimon: Dalālat al-Ḥāʾirīn, ed. Salomon Munk and Issachar Joel (Jerusalem: Junovitch, 1931). The English translations are taken, with minor changes, from Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, 2 vols., trans. Shlomo Pines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963). 48 Munk and Joel, Dalālat al-Ḥāʾirīn, 1. 49 Munk and Joel, 225: ‫קד עלמת מן אמור אלהיאה מא קראתה עלי ופהמתה ממא תצ׳מנה‬ ‫כתאב אלמג׳סטי ולם תפסח אלמדה ליוכ׳ד מעך פי נט׳ר אכ׳ר‬.

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are two competing narratives retelling, probably, the same event—one from Maimonides’s point of view and the other from Joseph ibn Simon’s (as it is preserved in ibn al-Qifṭī’s report). It is interesting to note that these two perspectives tally—mutatis mutandis—with the opposing viewpoints that found their expression in the two letters of the Allegorical Correspondence. While Joseph ibn Simon stresses his early “marriage” with Kimah, Maimonides’s letter downgrades the previous level and later progress of his student’s astronomical studies. A similar impression arises from a second passage in the Guide. Already in chapter 2.9 of the Guide Maimonides had addressed the problem of the competing astronomical systems current in different periods of history, and here he writes: Know that regarding the spheres of Venus and Mercury there exists a difference of opinions among the early mathematicians about whether they are above the sun or below the sun. For there is no demonstration proving to us what the position of these two spheres is. […] In fact, Ibn Aflaḥ of Sevilla, whose son I have met, has written a celebrated book about this. Thereupon the excellent philosopher Abū Bakr Ibn Ṣa‌ʾigh, under the guidance of one of whose pupils I have read texts, reflected upon this notion and showed various ways of argumentation—transcribed by us from him—by means of which the opinion that Venus and Mercury are above the sun may be shown to be improbable.50 At first glance, the whole section provides only some information about competing astronomical theories, but if read from the background of the reconstructed dispute about Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Iṣlāḥ al-Hayʾah, Maimonides’s short remark about his early studies of astronomy in the West and his personal contact with Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s son suddenly gains a new dimension: if Maimonides was in contact with a direct descendent of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ in the West, he definitely was not in need of anybody like Joseph ibn Simon to procure for himself the Kitāb al-hayʾah or of somebody to inform him about the former’s astronomical theories. If anything, the opposite must have been the case—that is, that Joseph ibn Simon must have visited Maimonides because he was known to be a specialist on these astronomical theories. If so, this narrative then again 50

Munk and Joel, 187: ‫אלזהרה ועטארד מכ۬תלף פיהמא בין אלאואיל מן עלם‬ ̈ ‫אעלם אן פלך‬ ‫רתבה‬ ̈ ‫אלתעאלים הל הומא פוק אלשמס או תחת אלשמס לאן ליס ת۬מא ברהאן דלנא עלי‬ ‫האתין אלכרתין […] וקד אלّף פי ד۬לך אבן אפלח אלאשבילי אלדי אג۬תמעת בולדה כתאבא‬ ‫משהורא תם תאמّל הד۬א אלמעני אלפילסוף אלפאצ۬ל אבו בכר אבן אלצאיג אלד۬י קראת‬ ‫אלזהרה‬ ̈ ‫עלי אחד תלאמיד۬ה ואט۬הר וג۬וה אסתדלאל קד נסכ۬נאהא ענה יבעד בהא אן תכון‬ ‫ועטארד פוק אלשמס‬.

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stands in stark contrast to ibn al-Qifṭī’s report, according to which Maimonides apparently got access to the Kitāb al-hayʾah through Joseph ibn Simon. Like ibn al-Qifṭī, Maimonides does not say anything explicit about a controversy about the book, but if one is prepared to read a bit between the lines one could again argue that Maimonides’s (actually quite superfluous) remark about his personal encounter with Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s son could be meant to support his own, not altogether uncontested, point of view regarding the arrival of Andalusian astronomy in Egypt.51 In other words, if the two chapters of the Guide were indeed written after a dispute between Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides took place (and after the two had found a way to reconcile), Maimonides must still have felt the need to publicly state his point of view. This strategy would be even more understandable if the dispute documented in the Allegorical Correspondence were not only a private affair but a public scandal. The question of where to place such an otherwise unattested rupture and reconciliation between Maimonides and Joseph ibn Simon in their respective biographies is a difficult one. It could be solved if it were possible to date the Allegorical Correspondence to a later date. This, however, is difficult to imagine, even if, theoretically, a date much later in Maimonides’s and Joseph ibn Simon’s lives (that is, after the completion and dedication of the Guide in the early 1190s, after the debate about resurrection, and after the extensive correspondence about the teaching of the Mišneh Torah when Joseph ibn Simon was not living in Egypt) is not totally inconceivable. Such a dating, however, does not seem to fit the atmosphere created by the letters, which give the impression of being written by a student and his master, who are living in the same place and have been or still are—at least, potentially—in direct personal contact. All the considerations discussed above are consequences and problems that arise from the assumption that the correspondence is authentic. However, some scholars doubt the authenticity of the letters. But is there good support for those doubts? Yiṣḥaq Shailat has argued that the Allegorical Correspondence should be seen as a Spanish or Provençal fabrication because, among other things, he considers it to be unconceivable that Joseph ibn Simon would call Maimonides by his Arabic name and that the student would call himself a prophet in a dispute with his admired teacher.52 The first argument is difficult to prove. The latter point, at least at first glance, seems to be a bad one because

51 52

Warren Zev Harvey has drawn my attention to the fact that Maimonides rarely mentions contemporary authors by name, so that the appearance of ibn al-Aflaḥ’s name cannot be accidental and must have served some definite purpose. See Shailat, Iggerot, 2:694–95.

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there is independent evidence that apparently confirms that Joseph ibn Simon indeed made such claims for prophethood—at least during his later years. Judah al-Ḥarizi, who met Joseph ibn Simon during his travels in the East after 1217, and settled in Aleppo, where he died in 1225, wrote at least five different poetic descriptions of Joseph ibn Simon, in two of which he also explicitly referred to his presumed prophethood.53 In the originally independent Maḥberet ha-nedivim (Maqāmah of the Patrons),54 which has been described in recent scholarship as “Alḥarīzī’s initial attempt to cope with patrons of the East,”55 Joseph ibn Simon is depicted as the first among the honourable leaders of the community of Aleppo and as a physician. In addition to that, and possibly again within the context of an allusion to Saul (1 Sam 10:1: ‫ֲהלֹוא‬ ‫נַ ֲח ָלתֹו ְלנָ גִ יד‬-‫מ ָׁש ֲחָך יְ הוָ ה ַעל‬-‫י‬ ְ ‫) ִּכ‬, he is designated as a person whom “God anointed as prophet in the East” (‫)והיית גביר ורב במערב \ ובמזרח משחך אל לנביא‬.56 Al-Ḥarizi paints a slightly different picture in the version B of the chapter Maḥberet moznei ha-dor of the Sefer taḥkemoni. In this text he again puts Joseph ibn Simon at the first place in the list of the elite of Aleppo57 and praises him again for his teaching not only of the sciences (ḥokhmot), but also of musar. He does not, however, repeat verbatim his statement about Joseph ibn Simon’s anointment as a prophet in the East, but says in a slightly more moderate tone that “if the generation was a generation of prophecy, God would have anointed him as a prophet” (‫)ולו הדור יהי דור הנבואה \ משחו אל בישראל לנביא‬.58 Strikingly, in 53

For a comparative discussion of these descriptions, see Leicht, “A Maimonidean Life.” The connection between the reference to Joseph ibn Simon’s prophethood alluded to in the Allegorical Correspondence and al-Ḥarizi’s descriptions was first made by Cohn, “Zwei Briefe,” 73–74. It is also mentioned by Baneth, Iggerot, 20. 54 The text is edited in in Joseph Yahalom and Joshua Blau, eds., The Wanderings of Judah Alharizi: Five Accounts of His Travels [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2002), 85–87, lines 159–95, and in Joseph Yahalom and Naoya Katsumata, eds., Taḥkemoni or The Tales of Heman the Ezraḥite by Judah Alharizi [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2010), 595–96, lines 32–62. The text was appended to chapter 50 of the Sefer taḥkemoni in the early printed editions Constantinople 1578 (fol. 75b–76a) and Amsterdam 1729 (fol. 74a–75a). 55 See Yahalom and Blau, Wanderings, vii (Hebrew introduction, 10). The text was first published by S.M. Stern, “An Unpublished Maqama by al-Harizi,” Papers of the Institute of Jewish Studies London 1 (1964): 186–210, who did not want to decide upon the relative chronology of the different Hebrew travel descriptions but predated them to the Arabic version (198–199). In Joshua Blau and Joseph Yahalom, “‘Kitab Aldurar’: An Unpublished Work by Judah Alharizi” [Hebrew], Peʿamim 108 (2006): 38, the authors express the assumption that this text was dedicated to “Joseph ha-Maʿaravi” (i.e., Joseph ibn Simon) upon their first encounter in Aleppo. 56 Yahalom and Blau, Wanderings, 86, line 173. 57 Yahalom and Blau, 67, lines 204–10; Yahalom and Katsumata, Taḥkemoni, 445, lines 303–12. 58 Yahalom and Blau, Wanderings, 67, lines 204–10.

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this last statement we encounter an idea that was also found in Maimonides’s letter: in his argument against Joseph ibn Simon’s claims for prophethood, Maimonides says that the time is not ripe for any kind of prophethood (p. 30, line 2: ‫)אלא שאין השעה ראויה לכך‬. Al-Ḥarizi visited the Jewish community and was thus an eyewitness to the things he describes, and the image of Joseph ibn Simon he draws is overwhelmingly positive. Therefore, there is no reason to assume that he wished to include false accusations about him in his poems. Accordingly, it is almost beyond any doubt that Joseph ibn Simon made some kind of a claim for prophethood and/or that such claims circulated within his environment. It must also be noted that within philosophical circles connected to Maimonides, the possibility of philosophers reaching the state of prophethood was much less outrageous than it might have appeared to some of his contemporaries and to modern readers alike.59 One may nevertheless wonder how likely it is that Joseph ibn Simon had already made such claims in Egypt (when he was almost thirty years younger) and whether it is likely that he would bring this issue up in a dispute with Maimonides, thus provoking a detailed critique by his teacher. Doubts about the letter’s authenticity are corroborated by other observations, as well: to give an example, Joseph ibn Simon mentions his prophethood only in passing in his initial letter, and at a place where he does not gain anything from it in his actual dispute with Maimonides. To state that Kimah legally belongs to him is one thing, but then to ask Maimonides to return her immediately because he (Joseph ibn Simon) “is a prophet or will be one” (p. 24, line 1: ‫ )כי נביא הוא או יהיה‬is actually nothing but an enormous chuzpeh. As we have seen above, the chuzpeh appears even bigger if the line is read as a biblical quotation, where the addressee is even threatened with death (Gen 20:7). Why should Joseph ibn Simon say this? It sounds like he was begging for a powerful response. At the same time, it seems interesting to see that this remark perfectly prepares the ground for Maimonides’s reply, in which he extensively

59 See Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Ha-heʾemin ha-Rambam še-zakhah li-nevuʾah?” in Sefer ha-yovel li-khevod Lewi Ginzburg (New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1946), 159–88; English translation in Abraham Joshua Heschel, Prophetic Inspiration After the Prophets: Maimonides and Other Medieval Authorities, ed. Morris M. Fairstein (Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, 1996), 69–126. For the renewal of prophethood in Abraham ben Maimon’s thought see Shahar Rubinstein, Ha-nevuʾah be-mišnato šel R. Avraham ben ha-Rambam (master’s thesis, Hebrew University Jerusalem, 2009) and Elisha Russ-Fishbane, Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 187–231.

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refers to Joseph ibn Simon’s haughtiness and refutes his claims for prophethood in great detail. A similar picture arises from yet another literary feature of the Allegorical Correspondence. The disputed object in the letter is called Kimah, which—being a female star name—can be interpreted as a nice allegory for philosophy, astronomy, or an astronomical book. This is not unconvincing, but how likely is it that an experienced poet like Joseph ibn Simon, who had composed an allegorical romance maqāmah entitled Sayeth Ṭuviyyah ben Ṣidqiyyah that was highly praised by his contemporaries,60 did not foresee that the choice of this biblical name taken from Job 9:9 (‫ )ע ֶֹשה ָעׁש ְכ ִסיל וְ ִכ ָימה‬would provoke a response in which he would be called Kesil (Orion) and accordingly would be blamed as a kesil (a fool)? In other words, there are at least two instances in which Joseph ibn Simon’s letter seems to be a bit too ready to help his literary antagonist score witty polemical goals. If one further takes into consideration that the maqāmah Sayeth Ṭuviyyah ben Ṣidqiyyah, which seems to have gained some fame in the early thirteenth century, is a love story between a certain lady called Yemimah and the protagonist Maśkil, one is tempted to believe that the Allegorical Correspondence, about the unhappy love story between Kimah and Kesil (one should note the phonetic similarity between the two pairs of names!), is nothing but a literary parody of Joseph ibn Simon’s famous romance.61 Finally, there are numerous minor details in the text that cannot be easily harmonised with a Maimonidean authorship of the second letter. As mentioned above, the second letter opens in Baneth’s printed text with the words ‫שמעו חכמים אלי‬, which are clearly taken from Job 34:2. However, many of the manuscripts have ‫ שמעו עמים‬instead of ‫שמעו חכמים‬. Despite Baneth’s decision 60 See Baneth, Iggerot, 5–6; Joseph Yahalom, “‘Sayeth Tuviyyah ben Ẓidkiyyah’: The Maqama of Joseph ben Simeon in Honor of Maimonides,” Tarbiz 66 (1997): 543–77; and Joseph Yahalom, “A Romance Maqāma: The Place of the ‘Speech of Tuvia Ben Zedeqiah’ in the History of the Hebrew Maqāma” [Hebrew], Hispania Judaica Bulletin 10 (2014): 113–28 (with additional fragments on 122–24). The maqāma is praised by Judah al-Ḥarizi in chapter 12 (on the poets) from the Sefer taḥkemoni; see Yahalom and Blau, Wanderings, 179, line 192 and Yahalom and Katsumata, Taḥkemoni, 222, line 282. On the reception history of Joseph ibn Simon’s poetry see Steinschneider, Gesammelte Schriften von Moritz Steinschneider, 47–48 and Yahalom, “‘Sayeth Ṭuviyyah ben Ẓidkiyyah,’” 553–55. 61 One may add that in the letter presumably sent to Maimonides from Cairo, together with the maqāmah, Joseph ibn Simon speaks about divorce from an unfit wife. See Benath, Iggerot, 5 and Yahalom, “‘Sayeth Ṭuviyyah ben Ẓidkiyyah,’” 574: ‫מי האיש אשר ארס אשת‬ ‫כסילות נכריה \ ויבעל בת פתיות סוררת והומיה \ ותהי לו לאשה בעודו \ ויחזק בה בכל‬ ‫מאודו \ מאת הגביר יקח ספר כריתותיה \ ובחרב לשונו ימיתיה \ וישגה ביעלת חן ואילת‬ ‫אהבים \ בחכמה ברה בת נדיבים \ ויביאיה האהלה אל נותו \ ונקי יהיה לביתו‬.

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in favour of the latter variant, it must be noted that precisely because the latter expression is directly reminiscent of the biblical verse, the former variant has to be considered to be the lectio difficilior and therefore has to be preferred. However, even thinking about Maimonides appealing to the judgement of “the peoples” (that is, the gentiles) in an internal private affair between Jews seems almost monstrous, so that it is hard to believe that this was a slip of the pen. Similarly, polemical (or at least satirical) overtones can perhaps also be heard in Maimonides’s accusation that Kesil had neglected Kimah economically. The letter alludes in that context to Ex 21:10 (p. 27, line 7: ‫)שארה כסותה ועונתה גרע‬, so the idea here might well be that Maimonides expected to be properly paid for the joint study of the astronomical book, which, of course, bluntly contradicts his ideals of scholarship and presents Maimonides as a greedy man. Observations like these, if correct, are prone to foster serious doubts about the authenticity of the letters and point to the direction of a polemical forgery.62 Prima facie one could argue that an allegory is not the ideal tool for polemical writing, and that the Allegorical Correspondence is too well-informed to be a literary forgery. Allegories in general, and this Allegorical Correspondence in particular, require too much previous knowledge on the readers’ side in order to be effective. This is correct as long as we are talking about forgeries written in remote places and after a distance of time. But this is no longer a problem if we are speaking of a contemporary forgery written in close historical and/or geographical vicinity to at least one of the protagonists. Indeed, it seems less likely that any author in Spain or Provence could have invented the Allegorical Correspondence as it stands (although this cannot be ruled out), but if we assume that the texts were written in the immediate surroundings of Joseph ibn Simon, there does not seem to be any reason to prevent us from reading the correspondence as a well-informed literary fabrication intended to be read in the contemporary disputes in Aleppo, Syria, and the whole East. As I have shown elsewhere, Joseph ibn Simon was a highly controversial figure in his time and perhaps also immediately after his death.63 In Aleppo he had achieved a very high status as a highly learned man, a famous student of Maimonides, a successful international trader, and as a physician. He held an

62 The opening sentences are also strongly reminiscent of Abraham ibn Ezra’s allegorical Ḥay ben Meqiṣ. See Israel Levin, ed., Iggeret Ḥay ben Meqiṣ by Abraham Ibn Ezra: A Critical Edition Supplemented with a Hebrew Translation of the Arabic Original Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān by Abī ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdalla Ibn Sīnā [Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1983), 49: ‫ בינו אישים וישישים והאזינו בוערים ונערים \ כי‬.‫שמעו חכמים מלי \ ויודעים הקשיבו אלי‬ ‫אמת יהגה חכי ומפתח שתי מישרים‬. 63 See Leicht, “A Maimonidean Life.”

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elevated social, economic, and political position inside and outside the Jewish community, but he also had many enemies. One of the sources of Joseph ibn Simon’s authority and prestige must have been his direct discipleship with Maimonides, and questioning the quality of this relationship through a witty parody of a literary muʿātabah could well have seemed to be a promising strategy for his opponents and competitors to inflict some damage upon him. Defamation often works with other people’s half-knowledge and partial information. As we learn from ibn al-Qifṭī, quite a few details about Joseph ibn Simon’s time with Maimonides in Egypt were publicly known and circulating—true facts, but probably also rumours and hearsay. If one of the pieces of information that was circulating among his contemporaries pointed to any kind of misunderstanding, dispute, or real fight over the study and ownership of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s Kitāb al-hayʾah—what could be a better idea than to try to cause damage to Joseph ibn Simon’s prestige by spreading the “news” that the relationship between the teacher and his honourable, beloved disciple was much less harmonious than everybody thought, and that he was in fact exiled from the master’s court? Instead of being a friendly “rebuke” in poetical garb, the parody presents Maimonides and his student as morally base and bitter enemies in general, and Joseph ibn Simon as an (at least intellectually) impotent, contentious, and disgraceful man.64 If read this way, the Allegorical Correspondence becomes an interesting piece of evidence for an early phase in the Maimonidean controversy in which opponents—not so much of Maimonides, but of people who pretended to be his privileged students—tried to put their enemies back in their place. The allegorical letters thus appear to be not so much a polemical forgery for or against Maimonides, but a forgery directed against Maimonideans such as Joseph ibn Simon and their claims for authority. In the latter’s case these claims even included some claims for prophethood, attested by al-Ḥarizi. If the Allegorical Correspondence was written as a parody, it was not even necessary for the author of the Allegorical Correspondence to have any hope of literally convincing his audience of the authenticity of the text. It could have been sufficient to ridicule Joseph ibn Simon with a literary artefact based upon well known “facts” and “fake news” in order to do some damage to his social prestige. If so, the most likely period and place of composition for the letter 64

It is remarkable that the manuscripts preserve interesting variant readings on the relevant sentence in Baneth, Iggerot, 27, line 6: ‫יען ההפך נחשתו לבשתו‬, where some manuscripts read: ‫יען השפך נחשתו לבשתו‬. Since the latter formulation is closer to the biblical Verse in Ez 16:36, it is again likely that the former is the correct reading. However, while both readings have sexual implications, the original variant ‫ ההפך‬may well allude to homosexuality and the correction simply refers to sexual impotence.

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is Syria (perhaps Aleppo) in the first decades of the thirteenth century, where author and readership had direct access to all the biographical information (and malevolent rumours) necessary to decipher—and enjoy—such a literary text, and where it still could develop some practical effect. 4 Conclusions There can be little doubt that the correspondence between Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides, even if it is partly styled as an allegory, abounds with allusions and concrete historical information. It is so well-informed that one can say: “si non è vero, è ben trovato.” There seems to be nothing that overtly contradicts well-established historical facts—at least at first sight. And more than that: the cross-reading with ibn al-Qifṭī’s report (and, to a certain extent, also with Maimonides’s Guide) has unveiled historical details that have been overlooked in modern research. Indeed, it does not seem unlikely that there was some kind of “Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ affair,” or at least different narratives about what happened when Joseph ibn Simon studied astronomy with Maimonides. It also seems very likely that Joseph ibn Simon saw himself as a prophet—or that he was seen as one by some of his contemporaries. Both facts must have provoked a divided echo. At the same time, there does not seem to be any information in the Allegorical Correspondence that an author of a forgery in early thirteenth-century Aleppo could not have found in the available sources around him. Scholars will probably remain divided upon the question of the authenticity of the Allegorical Correspondence, even if the general line of interpretation put forward for consideration here will be accepted by some of them. Scholars will remain divided even more because in both cases the texts attest to fascinating events and currents in the cultural and intellectual life of Jews in the Islamicate world in the Middle Ages. One of these currents is the early reception of Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ’s astronomical work Kitāb al-hayʾah and of Averroes among Jews. For those who adopt the—perhaps more daring—option that the correspondence is authentic, Joseph ibn Simon becomes first and foremost a direct link connecting Maimonides to the greatest Muslim philosopher of the twelfth century, which is unattested in any other source. On the other hand, for those who believe it to be a forgery, the mentioning of ben Rušd as a teacher of Joseph ibn Simon, teaching side-by-side with a Maimonides called by his Arabic/Muslim name ben ʿUbaid Allāh, will also provide evidence for an intellectual climate in which the intellectual lineage of the Jewish immigrants from the West and their broken biographies was

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suspect. Indeed, it was so suspect that their opponents could forge polemical weapons out of it. It seems not impossible that mentioning Maimonides with his Arabic name next to ben Rušd as ḥaverim was meant to arouse polemical overtones in view of the controversies regarding the forced conversion of the Jews under Almohad rule.65 A mere allusion to this in the correspondence attributed to two former anusim could thus become a polemical sting in a dispute that took place in the earliest phases of the Maimonidean Controversy. The collaboration of the Jewish master and the Arab philosopher, presented with certain nonchalance in the letter attributed to Joseph ibn Simon, might have sounded so abhorrent to others that they made Maimonides say to Joseph: “you have not made a difference between the sacred and the secular” (p. 29, line 3: ‫)בין קדש לחול לא הבדלת‬. At this point, different lines of conflict intersect: that of forced conversion, that of the Maimonidean Controversy, and that of prospering Averroism. If seen this way, it becomes clear that the Maimonidean Controversy may have had strong elements of a dispute about the anusim emigrants from the West who settled in the East, and that Averroes may have become an emblematic figure for the opposing camps. The identification of forgeries is always a difficult task. Historical research often transforms the available documents into a tightly knit web of interconnected information, where every decision about the inauthenticity of one text draws with it huge consequences in the evaluation of other documents. Moreover, bad forgeries are, perhaps, easily recognisable; but good ones, well-informed and carefully written, often appear as fully plausible continuations of real events and well-established facts. Such documents can eventually even become cornerstones for far-reaching interpretations. An example is Maimonides’s Epistle on Resurrection. Its authenticity has been questioned with important, but ultimately inconclusive, arguments by some scholars, whereas others have rendered it into a cornerstone for the understanding of Maimonides’s thought as a whole.66 65 66

See Menahem Ben-Sasson, “On the Jewish Identity of Forced Converts: A Study of Forced Conversion in the Almohad Period” [Hebrew], Peʿamim 42 (1990): 16–37. This is not the place to re-open the discussion about the Epistle on Resurrection. The first modern scholar to challenge its authenticity was J.L. Teicher, in his two articles “A Literary Forgery in the Thirteenth Century: Maimonides’ Epistle on Resurrection” [Hebrew], Melilah 1 (1944): 81–92, and “Maimonides’ Letter to Joseph b. Jehudah: A Literary Forgery,” Journal of Jewish Studies 1 (1948–1949): 35–54. He was followed by Lea Naomi Goldfield, in her monograph Moses Maimonides’ Treatise of Resurrection: An Inquiry into its Authenticity (New York: Ketav Publishing House, 1986). Although Teicher, who formulated other daring hypotheses about medieval Latin-into-Hebrew translations, which were not substantiated by subsequent scholarship (see, e.g., his “The Latin-Hebrew School of Translators in Spain in the Twelfth Century,” Hommenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa, vol. 2 [Barcelona: Consejo

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For the historian and interpreter of Maimonides’s thought the case of the Allegorical Correspondence with Joseph ibn Simon is probably a much less acute problem than that of the Epistle on Resurrection. But also, in this case, the question of authenticity cannot be avoided. From a methodological point of view, it becomes even more intricate than in other cases: since the letters form a correspondence construed from a set of allegorical motifs and there is no external source that provides the reader or researcher with an indubitable key for their decipherment, the interpretation of the correspondence is necessarily based upon a circular argument. The correct decipherment and interpretation cannot rely upon firmly established external evidence, but rather must receive their confirmation only within the process of interpretation. Internal coherence, external historical plausibility, and the extent to which an interpretation is able to provide explanations of textual phenomena are the criteria for acceptance or rejection of a specific hermeneutical approach. The search for the correct hermeneutical key for the Allegorical Correspondence thus cannot be disconnected from the question of authenticity, but in the present case I have argued that both problems must also not be intermingled more than necessary. As I think could be shown, the same hermeneutical key can be applied to the interpretation of the allegories in the letters irrespective of whether they are read as authentic documents or polemical forgeries. In a certain sense, the letters do not even lose much of their historical value as documents whether they are authentic or not. It is only the context and scope of discussion that shifts in different directions: If authentic, the allegorical letters can serve as a source for the biographies of Joseph ibn Simon and Maimonides, for understanding their mutual relationship, and also for the reception histories of the astronomer Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ and the philosopher Averroes among Andalusian Jews in the later twelfth century. If, on the other hand, the allegorical letters are read as a literary forgery (and I believe that this is more likely), they testify to a very early period of the Maimonidean Controversy in the East in which Joseph in Simon played a pivotal role. Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1956], 403–44), was an easy target for ridicule by other scholars (see, e.g., Isaiah Sonne, “A Scrutiny of the Charges of Forgery against Maimonides’ ‘Letter on Resurrection,’” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 21 [1952]: 101–17), many of his observations are too important to be dismissed without further discussion. On the other hand, for Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 1952), 73, the Epistle is “the most authentic commentary on the Guide”; its authenticity is accepted by many other Maimonidean scholars such as Kraemer, Maimonides, 407–25; Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World, 165–83; and Isadore Twersky, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah) (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), 43–45.

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Appendix: Manuscripts and Editions of the Allegorical Correspondence

The manuscript tradition and printing history of the Allegorical Correspondence has never been studied comprehensively.67 The early modern editions of Maimonides’s letters and responsa from the editio princeps (Constantinople 1516/17) onwards do not contain these texts at all. The letters were discovered by Solomon Munk, who published them in 1842 based on a single, defective fifteenth-century Hebrew manuscript from Byzantium (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds hébr. 188).68 The second edition, published about a decade later by Hirsch Edelmann (1856), used, in addition to Munk’s edition, a complete fifteenth-century Provençal manuscript from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Michael 155 (Neubauer 1984).69 From there the letters reached Abraham Lichtenberg’s Qoveṣ Tešuvot ha-Rambam we-Igerotaw (1859).70 This collection is characterised by its attempt to integrate texts recently discovered by the Wissenschaft des Judentums into a basically uncritical edition. The first critical edition was produced in the middle of the twentieth century by David Baneth as part of his unfinished project for a new edition of Maimonides’s correspondence (1946).71 Baneth had only photographs of one fifteenth-century manuscript in front of him when he produced his edition (siglum ‫ג‬, Cambridge, University Library, Add. 1499.3), but he also used a collation of the Leipzig edition with the Oxford manuscript (siglum ‫ )א‬produced by David Yellin, Munk’s edition of the Paris manuscript (siglum ‫)פ‬, and Edelmann’s collated text (siglum ‫)ח‬.72 In addition to that, he mentions a recent manuscript with a copy of the same defective text like the one found in the Paris manuscript. Circumstantial evidence seemed to indicate that this manuscript must have been a copy of a manuscript from Leiden (siglum ‫)ל‬. Since no manuscript from Leiden containing the Allegorical Correspondence has come to light since then, it seems likely that this was a copy made directly from the Paris manuscript—as Baneth ponders himself—or perhaps from the first printed edition. Nothing is known about the whereabouts of this last manuscript. Baneth has faithfully documented the variant readings in the textual witnesses as they were available to him (see above), but the direct consultation 67 68 69 70 71 72

See, however, Baneth’s detailed report in Iggerot, 21–22. Munk, “Notice,” 59–66 (with French translation). Edelmann, ed., Ḥemdah Genuzah, 16a–18a. Lichtenberg, ed., Koveṣ Tešuvot Ha-Rambam we-Iggerotaw, vol. 3, fol. 29a–b. See Baneth, Iggerot, 17–30. See the remarks in Baneth, 21–22.

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of the manuscripts has shown that the secondhand character of the sources accessible to Baneth has yielded numerous phantom readings and variants in his edition, which have no foundation whatsoever in the manuscript evidence. In addition to the three textual witnesses that were used by scholars until the middle of the twentieth century, the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the National Library of Israel houses microfilms and/or digitised versions of six more manuscripts. They are of Sephardic, Maghrebi, and Oriental origin. Except for one Spanish/Sephardic manuscript, which was also written during the fifteenth century, the new manuscripts are all later in date than the manuscripts that were previously known (see below). A preliminary collation of selected variant readings, paratextual elements (such as headings and scribal annotations), and transmission contexts show that it is relatively easy to build up a stemma of the relation between the different manuscripts. No single manuscript can be seen as an archetype or a direct descendent of a hypothetical archetype (‫)א‬. As variants discussed more in detail below show, the manuscript tradition has to be divided into two branches (A and B), which are then split up into six different families. These families largely coincide with their geographical origin (Provençal, Byzantine, Oriental, Sephardic, Maghrebi I, Maghrebi II). Branch A is represented by one family (Provençal), for which we possess one manuscript only. The eight manuscripts of branch B can be divided into two sub-branches (B1 and B2). Sub-branch B1 is represented by two families (Byzantine, Oriental) with two manuscripts each. The Sephardic/Maghrebi sub-branch B2 consists of three families. The Sephardic family is represented by one relatively old Sephardic manuscript. This manuscript is in many respects very similar to the second family of B2 (Maghrebi I), which consists of two younger manuscripts, which were annotated by the well known Moroccan rabbi Baruch Toledano from Meknès. The third family (Maghrebi II) consists of one manuscript only, which preserves some early readings that set it apart from the other two families of this branch. No contamination or mixed versions dependent on more than one manuscript branch or family seem to exist. In general, the textual variants are not very significant for the understanding of the text. Although all of the manuscripts reveal scribal mistakes and other textual problems, it seems that the Provençal manuscript (branch A) represents, in spite of numerous omissions, a relatively early stage in the development of the texts, regarding both textual variants and para-textual elements. Neither the contemporary members of the Byzantine and Sephardic manuscripts nor the later manuscripts from the Orient and Maghreb seem to preserve a substantial portion of earlier readings wherever they disagree with the Provençal manuscript.

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Archetype (lost)

branch B

branch B1

branch A

branch B2

Byzan�ne:

Oriental:

Cambridge 1499.3

New York 2274

Paris 188

New York 2407

Sephardic:

Maghrebi I:

New York 6317

Krupp 2173

Provençal: Oxford 1984

Maghrebi II: Modena New York 381

Figure 4.1 Stemma of manuscripts

Based upon a selective comparison of variant readings, the surviving manuscripts can thus be attributed to the following branches and families: Branch A: Provençal Family The Provençal family consists of one manuscript: – Oxford, Bodleian Library, Michael 155 (Neubauer 1984), fol. 257r–258v (Provence, fifteenth century) [IMHM F 19146, not digitised] This carefully written Provençal manuscript reveals textual variants that clearly set it apart from all the other manuscripts. One of the most significant variants is found in the first letter (p. 23, line 3), where the Provençal manuscript from Oxford reads ‫ וארשתיה לי באמוני כדת וכהלכה הנתונה על הר סני‬against the inverted version ‫ וארשתיה לי באמונה כדת וכהלכה על הר סני נתונה‬attested in all the other manuscripts. In this, like in many other cases (for example, ‫ ואל‬instead of ‫[ ואם‬p. 30, line 8]), and regarding the formulation of title (see below), the variants of the Provençal manuscript seem to represent an earlier stage of textual development. On the other hand, this manuscript reveals so many substantial lacunae (for example, see p. 2: ‫ ;ותיטב הנערה בעיני‬p. 24, lines 8–9: ‫ )לראות פני הדרתו המתאבק בעפר רגלי מעלתו‬that it can be seen neither as a faithful representative of any kind of archetype nor as the Vorlage for any of the other manuscripts. It should be noted that in this manuscript the poetic riddle about the author and the addressee of the second letter, which is found at the end and is said to be taken from the backside of the letter (‫על גב‬ ‫)בכתב‬, ends with the abbreviation ‫נרו‬. This abbreviation is not reproduced in

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Baneth’s edition, although it is found as ]‫ נטריה רחמנא [ופקריה‬in many of the other manuscripts (apart from the manuscripts of the Byzantine, Sephardic, and Maghrebi II families). Branch B1: Byzantine and Oriental Families The Byzantine family consists of two fifteenth-century manuscripts: – Cambridge, University Library, Add. 1499.3, fol. 4v–5r (Byzantium, fifteenth century) [IMHM F 17116, not digitised] – Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds hébr. 188 (Oratoire 24), fols. 284r–285v (Byzantium, fifteenth century) [IMHM F 4172, digitised] The similarity between the two manuscripts was already established by Baneth, and it finds its expression in that, among other things, they bear a similar heading and a considerable number of common variant readings. The large addition to the title found in the Cambridge manuscripts (see below), which is missing in the manuscript from Paris, make it likely that the latter represents an earlier stage in the development of the text. Most of the textual variants found in the Byzantine family are also shared by the Oriental family, which consists of two manuscripts: – New York, Jewish Theological Seminar, Ms. 2274, fol. 28v–29v (Orient, seventeenth century) [IMHM F 28527, digitised] – New York, Jewish Theological Seminar, Ms. 2407 (ENA 666), fol. 76v–78r (Aleppo, 1850) [IMHM F 28660, digitised] Among the common characteristics of both families are ‫ לדור‬instead of ‫לדוד‬ and ‫ תורתך‬instead of ‫( תבונתך‬p. 22, line 2), ‫ לבת‬instead of ‫( בת‬p. 23, line 2), ‫ מעדניה‬instead of ‫( מעדנותיה‬p. 27, line 8), and ‫ יהיה‬instead of ‫( יהיו‬p. 30, line 8). There are a few distinctive features in the Cambridge manuscript (for example, ‫ איש בריתו‬instead of ‫[ נאמן בריתו‬p. 24, line 8]), that separate it from the rest of the manuscripts of branch B1. However, a manuscript similar to the one housed in Paris could well have provided the Vorlage for the (chronologically) later Oriental manuscripts. Most of the characteristics found in the branch B1 seem to be later textual features. Branch B2: Sephardic and Maghrebi I and II Families The manuscripts of branch B2 reveal altogether many fewer distinctive textual variants that would set them apart from the rest of the manuscript tradition than those in branch B1. However, they share among themselves some features that set them apart from both the Provençal and the Byzantine/Oriental families of branch B1 (for example, ‫ יהיו‬instead of ‫ יהיה‬or Ø [p. 30, line 8]). On the other hand, the three families of branch B2 display different variants in

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different constellations, so that it is difficult to establish a precise relationship between them. The Sephardic family consists of one manuscript: – New York, Jewish Theological Seminar, Ms. 6317, fol. 20v–21v (Sephardic, fifteenth century) [IMHM F 39174, not digitised] Although the Sephardic manuscript is the oldest among these manuscripts, it seems to contain at least two variants of such kind that makes it impossible that it served as a Vorlage for the other families (‫ בשקרו‬instead of ‫[ בקשרו‬p. 27, line 8] and ‫ השפך‬instead of ‫ ההפך‬or ‫[ נהפך‬p. 27, line 6]; the latter variant is shared by the Maghrebi I family). The Maghrebi I family consists of one manuscript: – Jerusalem, Michael Krupp, Ms. 2173, fol. 51v–52v (Maghreb, 1753) [IMHM F 73499, digitised] This manuscript seems to be an independent witness for branch B2, since it contains numerous older variants. The Maghrebi II family consists of two manuscripts: – Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, g.Z.2.52, fol. 4v–5r (Maghreb, eighteenth century) [IMHM F 27783, not digitised] – New York, Jewish Theological Seminar, Ms. 381 (Benaim 130), fol. 7r–7v (Maghreb, 1715) [IMHM F 24408, digitised] These two manuscripts contain essentially the same text regarding the textual variants in the letter, the title, and the context of transmission. As becomes clear from a remark at the end of the letter, this text was originally produced by the rabbi Barukh Toledano, who is perhaps also responsible for an interesting gloss on the expression ‫( יען נהפך נחשתו לבשתו‬p. 27, line 6), which is explained as ‫לשון ערוה‬. In the manuscript from New York this gloss on the side of the page is torn out. It must be noted that in various places in the manuscripts there are ad hoc adjustments of the text to the underlying biblical verses, although the nonbiblical form is probably to be preferred as lectio difficilior (‫ שמעו חכמים‬instead of ‫ שמעו עמים‬because of Job 34:2 [p. 27, line 3]; ‫ יען השפך נחשתו‬instead of ‫ יען ההפך‬or ‫ יען נהפך נחשתו‬because of Ez 16:36 [p. 27, line 6]). These variants of course cannot be taken fully into consideration for the construction of a stemma. Contexts of Transmission. The transmission contexts contain interesting additional information about the reception history of the texts. It is remarkable that the Provençal manuscript (branch A) transmits the letter within a larger collection of Hebrew poetry and poetical letters, which was apparently assembled

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in Provence. The contexts of transmission in branch B are diverse, and it seems difficult to discover a unified pattern behind them. Generally speaking, the two attested contexts for transmission are either poetical texts or more or less comprehensive collections of Maimonides’s letters. The Allegorical Correspondence is also found in poetical contexts in branch B1, in the two Byzantine manuscripts, where the letters follow two anonymous poems and Qalonimos ben Qalonimos’s Even boḥan respectively. On the other hand, the two largely identical Oriental manuscripts, which also belong to this branch, place the letters within a collection of letters and epistles of Maimonides (the directly preceding text is the Iggeret Teman). The contexts of transmission for all the manuscripts belonging to the three families of branch B2 are either Maimonidean letters or (apparently unsystematic) collections of various minor texts. In the Sephardic manuscript the Allegorical Correspondence follows Maimonides’s pseudepigraphic Ethical Testament for his son Abraham and it precedes a couple of halakhic responsa. In the two manuscripts of the Maghrebi I family the Allegorical Correspondence forms part of a rather unsystematic collection and stands between a fragment from Abraham ibn Ezra’s Iggeret ha-šabbat and some ha­ lakhic texts. Maimonides’s Letter to Jonathan of Lunel precedes the Allegorical Correspondence in the manuscript representing the Maghrebi II family. The changing transmission contexts apparently influenced some paratextual features of the letters, especially their headings. Reconstruction of the development of the titles corroborates to a large degree the observations made on the basis of the textual variants. In all likelihood the short titles given to the letters in the Provençal manuscript (branch A) represent the earliest recoverable stage in the development of the title, from which the other titles can be derived (letter 1: ‫ ;כתב שלוח מאת התלמיד החשוב לר״מ ב״מזל‬letter 2: ‫תשובת הרב‬ ‫)הגדול משה במז״ל לתלמיד החשוב‬. Although this title does not explicitly disclose the identity of the author, it cannot be interpreted as an attempt to eradicate Joseph ibn Simon’s name, because he is mentioned by name at the end of the first letter. However, all the manuscripts belonging to branch B felt the need to supplement the seemingly missing information about the author in the title of the first letter. Accordingly, the Maghrebi II family supplements the name of the author in the title, although the structure of the (probably earlier) title is still recognizable (letter 1: ‫זה נוסח הכתב השלוח מהתלמיד החשוב הר״ יוסף בר‬ ‫ ;יהודה ב״ר שמעון להר״מ במ״זל‬letter 2: ‫)זאת תשובת הר״מ במ״זל על האגרת הנז״ל‬. The Sephardic and Maghrebi I families systematically replace ‫ כתב‬with ‫אגרת‬, and we find there the addition that Joseph ibn Simon was roš ha-seder. The order of the author and addressee of the first letter is inverted in the Sephardic

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manuscript (letter 1: ‫נסח אגרת שלוחה להר״ם במז״ל מתלמידו החשוב הר׳ שמעון ז״ל‬ ‫ ;ראש הסדר‬letter 2: ‫)וזאת תשובת הרמבמזל על האגרת הנז״ל‬, a feature which is

also kept in the two manuscripts of the Maghrebi I family. Here we find even more extensive titles, which provide additional information about the circumstances for the composition of the letters (letter 1: ‫אגרת שלוחה למאור הגולה‬ ‫ברמב״ם ז״ל מתלמידו החשוב ההר׳ יוסף בן שמעון ראש הסדר כששלח לו ספר מורה‬ ‫ ;הנבוכים‬letter 2: ‫)וזאת היתה תשובתו לתלמידו בן תורתו אשרי עין ראתה אותו‬. On the

other hand, in the Byzantine and Oriental manuscripts, the letters are consistently designated in the title as a piece belonging to Maimonides’s Šeʾelot u-tešuvot (letter 1: ‫שאלה ששאל הרב ר׳ יוסף ב״ר שמעון זצ״ל להרמב״ם זצ״ל והוא‬ ‫ ;מתלמידיו ראש הסדר‬letter 2: ‫)וזאת תשובת הרמב״ם זצ״ל לתלמיד הנז׳ על השאלה הנז״ל‬. It is remarkable that the apparently growing interest in the texts of the Allegorical Correspondence as historical documents rather than pieces of poetry also finds its expression in a number of scribal additions, which try to provide further information about the historical background of the letters. In that respect, one of the two Byzantine manuscripts reports in the title that the letters were written in Arabic and were later translated by Samuel ibn Tibbon (‫אגרת זאת כתבה הרמ״ במז״ל בלשון קדר והעתיקה ר׳ שמואל בן תבון אל לשון קדש‬ .‫)יהי יוי׳ אלהיו עמו ויעל‬. Another scribe or glossator has added to the title of the Sephardic manuscript a remark to the effect that the true addressee of the letter was Samuel ibn Tibbon (‫האמת שהיתה שלוחה להר׳ שמואל ן׳ תבון שהיה שמו‬ ‫)??? שאול ושינו את שמו וקראהו שמואל‬. Accordingly, he also added Samuel ibn Tibbon’s name in the title for the second letter. Perhaps the most interesting remark is found, however, at the end of the letter in the manuscripts of the Maghrebi II family, where Barukh Toledano expresses the assumption that the difficult letters are perhaps dealing with the study of philosophy (‫פי׳ זאת האגרת‬ ‫ ברוך טולידנו‬.‫)נעלה ממנו ואולי על חכמת הפילוסופיה הם רומזים‬. This overview of the manuscript tradition of the Allegorical Correspondence does not solve the question of its authenticity, although the early attestation in a Provençal and in a Sephardic manuscript may have motivated Shailat to formulate his assumption73 that it must have been a later forgery produced in one of these countries. It does become clear, however, that the Allegorical Correspondence was added to collections of Maimonides’s letters only sporadically and at a relatively late stage in the textual history. This may explain why the correspondence did not find its way into the early editions of Maimonides’s epistles and responsa. 73 Shailat, Iggerot, 2:695.

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Acknowledgments Earlier drafts of this chapter were read by other scholars—my teachers and colleagues—in different stages of its writing. I am very grateful to Sarah Stroumsa, who read an early draft of this chapter, for her critical remarks on the argument presented here. Her challenging comments regarding issues connected to the general hermeneutical approach and on various interpretations put forward for discussion here, and her other observations, were, as always, very helpful to me. I am also very much indebted to Warren Zev Harvey and Gad Freudenthal, both of whom made numerous valuable comments, additions, and suggestions for the improvement of this chapter. Bibliography Baneth, David Hirsch. Ed. Iggerot Ha-Rambam. Jerusalem: Mekiṣei Nirdamim, 1946. Reprinted Jerusalem: Magnes, 1985. Bellver Martínez, José. “El Lugar del Iṣlāḥ al-Maŷisṭī de Ŷābir b. Aflaḥ en la llamada ‘Rebellión Andalusí contra la Astronnomía Ptolemaica.’” Al-Qantara 30 (2009): 83–136. Bellver Martínez, José. “The Arabic Versions of Jābir b. Aflaḥ’s al-Kitāb fī l-Hayʾa,” in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, ed. David Juste, Benno van Dalen, Dag Nicolaus Hasse, and Charles Burnett (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020), 181–199. Ben-Sasson, Menahem. “On the Jewish Identity of Forced Converts: A Study of Forced Conversion in the Almohad Period” [Hebrew]. Peʿamim 42 (1990): 16–37. Blau, Joshua, Paul Fenton, and Joseph Yahalom, eds. Judah Alharizi, Kitāb al-Durar: A Book in Praise of God and the Israelite Communities [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2009. Blau, Joshua and Joseph Yahalom. “‘Kitab Aldurar’: An Unpublished Work by Judah Alharizi” [Hebrew]. Peʿamim 108 (2006): 19–51. Burnett, Charles. “The ‘Sons of Averroes with the Emperor Frederick’ and the Transmission of the Philosophical Works by Ibn Rushd.” In Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition: Sources, Constitution and Reception of Ibn Rushd (1126–1198): Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Averroicum (Cologne, 1996), edited by Gerhard Endress and Jan A. Aertsen, 259–99. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Calvo, Emilia. “Jābir ibn Aflaḥ: Abū Muḥammad Jābir ibn Aflaḥ.” In The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, edited by Thomas A. Hockey, Virginia Louise Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Jordan D. Marché, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt, F.J. Ragep, and Richard A. Jarrell, 581–82. New York: Springer, 2007.

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Cohn, Salomon. “Zwei Briefe aus Maimonides Correspondenz.” Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 14 (1865): 25–30 and 69–74. Davidson, Herbert A. Moses Maimonides: The Man and his Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Diesendruck, Zevi. “On the Date of the Completion of the Moreh Nebukim.” Hebrew Union College Annual 12/13 (1937–1938): 461–97. Edelmann, Hirsch, ed. Ḥemdah Genuzah. Königsberg: Gruber & Euphrat, 1856. Fierro, Maribel. “Ibn Rushd al-Ḥafīd (Averroes) and His Exile to Lucena: Jewish Ancestry, Genealogy and Forced Conversion.” Al-Qantara 38, no. 2 (2017): 131–52. Forte, Doron. “Back to the Sources: Alternative Versions of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Their Neglected Significance.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23 (2016): 47–90. Geiger, Abraham. “Haleb und die Provence in der ersten Hälfte des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts.” Literatur-Blatt zum Israeliten des 19: Jahrhunderts 1, no. 31 and 1, no. 32 (August 1846): 133–39. Goldfield, Lea Naomi. Moses Maimonides’ Treatise of Resurrection: An Inquiry into its Authenticity. New York: Ketav Publishing House, 1986. Harvey, Steven. “Did Maimonides Recommend Reading Averroes’ Commentaries on Aristotle?” Jewish Studies Quarterly 28 (2021): 159–90. Harvey, Warren Zev. “The Problem of Many Gods in al-Ghazālī, Averroes, Maimonides, Crescas, and Sforno.” In Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to Present, edited by Giuseppe Veltri, Racheli Haliva, Stephan Schmid, and Emidio Spinelli, 83–96. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019. Heller, Joseph. “Aknin, Josef ben Jehuda, Ibn.” In Jacob Klatzkin and Ismar Elbogen, eds., Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 2., cols. 33–38. Berlin: Eschkol, 1928–1934. Heschel, Abraham Joshua. “Ha-heʾemin ha-Rambam še-zakhah li-nevuʾah?” In Sefer ha-yovel li-khevod Lewi Ginzburg, 159–88. New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1946. Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Prophetic Inspiration After the Prophets: Maimonides and Other Medieval Authorities, edited by Morris M. Fairstein, 69–126. Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, 1996. Ivry, Alfred. “Maimonides’ Relation to the Teachings of Averroes” [Hebrew]. Sefunot 23 (N.S. 8) (2003): 61–74. Kraemer, Joel L. “Maimonides and the Spanish Aristotelian School.” In Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Medieval and Early Modern Spain: Interaction and Cultural Change, edited by Mark D. Meyerson and Edward D. English, 40–68. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999. Kraemer, Joel. Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds. New York: Doubleday, 2008.

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Lay, Juliane. “Un Averroes habraicus inédit: L’Abrégé de l’Almageste.” In Averroès et l’averroïsme (XIIe–XVe siècle): Un intinéraire historique de Haut Atlas à Paris et à Padoue, edited by André Bazzana, Nicole Bériou, and Pierre Guichard, 203–37. Lyon: Presses de l’Université de Lyon, 1991. Leicht, Reimund. “A Maimonidean Life: Joseph ben Judah Ibn Shimʿon’s Biography Reconstructed.” In Maimonides Review of Philosophy and Religion 1, edited by Ze’ev Strauss, 1–48. Leiden: Brill, 2022. Leicht, Reimund. “The Manuscript Tradition of Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 31 (2024). Levin, Israel, ed. Iggeret Ḥay ben Meqiṣ by Abraham ibn Ezra: A Critical Edition Supplemented with a Hebrew Translation of the Arabic Original Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān by Abū ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdalla ibn Sīnā [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1983. Lichtenberg, Abraham, ed. Kobez Teschubot ha-Rambam we-Igrotav i.e. Epistolarum et Responsionum R. Mosis Maimonidis Collecti Ocompletissima [sic] Tripartita [Hebrew]. 3 vols. Leipzig 1859 = Berlin 1861. Lippert, Julius, ed. Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Ta‌ʾrīḫ al-Ḥukamāʾ: Auf Grund der Vorarbeiten Aug. Müller’s herausgegeben. Leipzig: Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1903. Lorch, R.P. “The Astronomy of Jābir ibn Aflah.” Centaurus 19 (1975): 85–107. Maimonides, Moses. Dalālat al-ḥāʾirīn. Edited by Salomon Munk and Issachar Joel. Jerusalem: Junovitch, 1931. Munk, Solomon. “Notice sur Joseph ben-Iehouda ou AboulʾHadjadj Yousouf Ben Ya‌ʾhya al-Sabti al-Maghrebi, Disciple de Maïmonide.” Journal Asiatique 2 (1842): 5–72. Pines, Shlomo. “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed.” In Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, translated by Shlomo Pines, cviii–cxxiii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. Rubinstein, Shahar. Ha-Nevuʾah be-mišnato šel R. Avraham ben ha-Rambam. Master’s thesis, Hebrew University Jerusalem, 2009. Russ-Fishbane, Elisha. Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Times. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Sabra, A.I. “The Andalusian Revolt against Ptolemaic Astronomy.” In Optics, Astronomy and Logic: Studies in Arabic Science and Philosophy, 133–53. Aldershot: Variorum, 1994. Saliba, George. “Arabic Planetary Theories after the Eleventh Century AD.” In Encylopedia of the History of Arabic Science, vol. 1, edited by Roshdi Rashed, 58–127. London: Routledge, 1996. Shailat, Yiṣḥaq, ed. Iggerot ha-RaMBaM. 2 vols. 3rd ed. Jerusalem: Hoṣa‌ʾat Shailat, 1995. Sonne, Isaiah. “A Scrutiny of the Charges of Forgery against Maimonides’ ‘Letter on Resurrection.’” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 21 (1952): 101–17.

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Steinschneider, Moritz. Gesammelte Schriften von Moritz Steinschneider, I. Band: Gelehrten-Geschichte, edited by Heinrich Malter and Alexander Marx. Berlin: Poppelauer, 1925. Stern, S.M. “An Unpublished Maqama by al-Harizi.” Papers of the Institute of Jewish Studies London 1 (1964): 186–210. Strauss, Leo. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 1952. Stroumsa, Sarah. Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker. Prince­ ton: Princeton University Press, 2009. Teicher, J.L. “The Latin-Hebrew School of Translators in Spain in the Twelfth Century.” In Hommenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa, vol. 2, 403–44. Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1956. Teicher, J.L. “A Literary Forgery in the Thirteenth Century: Maimonides’ Epistle on Resurrection” [Hebrew]. Melilah 1 (1944): 81–92. Teicher, J.L. “Maimonides’ Letter to Joseph b. Jehudah: A Literary Forgery.” Journal of Jewish Studies 1 (1948–1949): 35–54. Twersky, Isadore. Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah). New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Urvoy, Dominique. Penseurs d’Andalus: La vie intellectuelle à Cordoue et Séville au temps des empires berbères. Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1990. Verskin, Alan. “A Muslim-Jewish Friendship in the Medieval Mediterranean: ʿAlī al-Qifṭī’s Biography of Rabbi Yūsuf Ibn Shamʿūn (Joseph ben Judah).” In The Idea of the Mediterranean, edited by Mario Mignone, 184–99. Stony Brook: Forum Italicum/Center for Italian Studies, State University of New York, 2017. Yahalom, Joseph. “A Romance Maqāma: The Place of the ‘Speech of Tuvia Ben Zedeqiah’ in the History of the Hebrew Maqāma” [Hebrew]. Hispania Judaica Bulletin 10 (2014): 113–28. Yahalom, Joseph. “‘Sayeth Tuviyyah ben Ẓidkiyyah’: The Maqama of Joseph ben Simeon in Honor of Maimonides” [Hebrew]. Tarbiz 66 (1997): 543–77. Yahalom, Joseph and Joshua Blau, eds. The Wanderings of Judah Alharizi: Five Accounts of His Travels [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2002. Yahalom, Joseph and Naoya Katsumata, eds. Taḥkemoni or The Tales of Heman the Ezraḥite by Judah Alharizi [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2010.

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Chapter 5

The Garden of Eden and the Scope of Human Knowledge: Maimonides, Falaquera, and Nissim of Marseille David Lemler There is a long tradition of Jewish philosophical allegorical interpretation of the story of the Garden of Eden.1 Philo interpreted this episode in terms of processes involving the different parts of the human soul in the first century BCE.2 This interpretative framework is found again, centuries later, among Jewish Neoplatonists, among which are Solomon ibn Gabirol and Abraham ibn Ezra.3 Maimonides’s general line of interpretation of the story is therefore not original per se. He takes up the general scheme of previous interpreters: the story is a representation of how the human intellect, represented by Adam, turns away from its specific objects under the influence of the bodily faculties, represented by Eve and the serpent. Maimonides’s interpretation does stand out, however, in some aspects—notably, in the interpretation of the tree of knowledge as referring to dialectical reasoning—and by the complexity of its mode of exposition. The interpretation is scattered mainly in two distant chapters of the Guide (1:2 and 2:30), requiring the reader to “connect chapters one with the other.”4 And since each of these chapters is written in a partly cryptic fashion, different manners of understanding Maimonides’s interpretation were proposed. In this chapter these interpretations are placed against the backdrop of the ongoing debate about Maimonides’s position on the scope of human knowledge, since they imply divergent views regarding what kind of knowledge 1 Many thanks to the editors of the volume, who helped to improve this chapter from a previous version in several aspects. 2 See notably, Philo, De Cherubim, in Philo: In Ten Volumes (and Two Supplementary Volumes), vol. 2, trans. Francis Henry Colson and George Herbert Whitaker (London: W. Heinemann; New York: G.P. Putnam, 1929), 42–43, §57; Philo, De Opificio Mundi, in Philo: In Ten Volumes, vol. 1, 118–19,  §150–51; and Philo, On the Creation of the Cosmos According to Moses, trans. David T. Runia (Leiden: Brill, 2001), esp. chap. 19–24. 3 See Abraham ibn Ezra, Long Commentary on Gen 3:21, where he refers to ibn Gabirol’s lost commentary on the passage: Abraham ibn Ezra, Perušei ha-Torah, ed. Asher Weiser (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1976), 169. 4 Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, vol. 1., trans. Shlomo Pines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), 15.

© David Lemler, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_006

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man can access and, in turn, what kind of ideal life Maimonides promotes.5 After examining these modern contrasting readings of Maimonides, we will find their respective medieval counterparts in the writings of two Jewish philosophers, who for different reasons may be linked to the Averroistic tradition: Shem Tov Falaquera and Nissim of Marseille. 1

Modern Intellectualist and Sceptical Interpretations of Maimonides on the Garden of Eden

Sara Klein-Braslavy dedicated a whole monograph to the reconstruction of Maimonides’s reading of the narrative of the Garden of Eden.6 This reconstruction is based on a detailed analysis of the scattered passages through the Guide on the diverse terms used in the story of the Garden (“Adam,” “man,” “woman,” “to eat,” “tree,” etc.). For our purpose in this paper, the salient points of her interpretation follow. The whole story is a parable: Adam’s situation in Eden before the sin represents the human ideal, as compared to the current situation of man, represented by Adam after the sin. Before the sin, man was exclusively engaged in theoretical intellectual knowledge, which granted him eternal life. After the sin, man is rendered comparable to the other animals—as Maimonides seems to imply at the end of Guide 1:2, quoting Ps 49:13: “Adam, unable to dwell in dignity, is like the beasts that speak not”7—in that he lost his specific form when he abandoned the intellectual contemplation to turn to his political and bodily life. The consumption of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a representation of this shift. Through the influence of his bodily part, man left the domain of the true and false for that of the good and evil. He left demonstrative knowledge for a dialectical kind of thought, based on merely 5 This debate started with the groundbreaking studies of Shlomo Pines at the end of the 1970s, notably Shlomo Pines, “The Limitations of Human Knowledge According to Al-Fārābī, Ibn Bājja and Maimonides,” in Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, ed. Isadore Twersky (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 82–109. See also notably Alexander Altmann, “Maimonides on the Intellect and the Scope of Metaphysics,” in Von Der Mittelalterlichen Zur Modernen Aufklärung: Texts and Studies in Early Modern Judaism (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1987), 60–129 and Herbert Davidson, “Maimonides on Metaphysical Knowledge,” in Maimonidean Studies, vol. 1, ed. Arthur Hyman (New York: Yeshivah University, 1995), 49–103. 6 Sara Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides’ Interpretation of the Adam Stories in Genesis: A Study in Maimonides’ Anthropology (Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 1986); see also Sara Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides as Biblical Interpreter [Hebrew] (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2011), 51–69. 7 Guide 1:2, trans. Pines, 26. All references to the Guide of the Perplexed are to the Pines translation, cited in note 3 above. See Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides’ Interpretation, 122–29.

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admitted premises. This shift was occasioned by the appearance of a conflict between body and soul, which is represented according to Klein-Braslavy by the creation of Eve as an entity placed in front of man (in Gen 2).8 Originally, male and female were one (“Male and female He created them,” Gen 1:27)9—man in his perfect state, contented with what is strictly necessary as far as bodily needs are concerned. But at some stage, because of natural necessity (hunger, tiredness, sexual needs, etc.), the body followed its own purpose and dragged the intellect away from the intelligibles, causing the loss of the specific human form. The aim of human life after the sin is to strive to go back to this initial state, in a situation in which accomplishing this aim has become more difficult because of the habituation to this beastly condition. The angel guarding the Garden is an allegorical representation of the imagination, which blocks access to the tree of life—that is, to the intelligible knowledge granting an eternal life. Grasping some intelligible knowledge across the angel’s “fiery ever-turning sword” (Gen 3:24)10 involves submitting the body to the soul, by adopting an ethics of moderation. But this ethics, as well as all the practical and bodily parts of human life, are only instruments to grant the conditions in which one could access human perfection. They are not in themselves part of human perfection.11 Indeed, the welfare of the body appears constantly in Maimonides’s writings as granting the necessary conditions to grasp intellectual knowledge for those who are capable of it. The absence of an individual’s bodily impediments is a condition of prophecy, defined as intellectual perfection, while on a political level, the perfection of the body politic (peace and the absence of violence) is one of the aims of the divine law, subjected to the second aim, the perfection of the soul (through teaching metaphysical truths).12

8

Klein-Braslavy, 197: “Gn 2 does not tell about the creation of Eve but rather her opposition to Adam (haʿamadatah ke-neged Adam).” 9 See Maimonides, Guide 2:30, 355. 10 Quoted in Pines, “Translator’s Introduction,” 7, in the context of the description of intellectual knowledge as flashlights in the night. See Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides’ Interpretation, 247–48. 11 Klein-Braslavy summarises her reading in Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides’ Interpretation, 254–61. 12 See, notably, Maimonides, Guide 2:32, 361, for the conditions of prophecy, and Guide 2:40, trans. Pines, 384, and 3:27, trans. Pines, 510, for the definition of divine law. See also, Maimonides’s conception of the Messianic era in Tešuvah, 9:2 in Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, ed. Mordechai Rabinowitz, vol. 2 (Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook, 1985), 252–53.

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In his book The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ Guide,13 Josef Stern proposed, through a close reading of Guide 1:2, a very different understanding of Maimonides’s interpretation. According to him, Guide 1:2 is written as a parable and the promotion of pure and exclusive intellectual contemplation as human perfection is only “the external meaning of the parable.”14 It is useful from a political perspective to promote this ideal, because the intellectual life is neglected by the vulgar masses. But this external meaning is counterbalanced by the assertion found in Guide 3:8 that it is impossible for the specific form of the human being to exist without matter,15 without a bodily existence, which necessarily limits the scope of human intellectual apprehension. For Stern, the real human perfection promoted by Maimonides corresponds to the true initial state of Adam, “who was originally directed by his intellect to act and live in moderation”—a “moderation” he defines as “a non-ideal ideal [or] an accommodation of the ‘ideal’ ideal to material necessity.”16 In other terms, given the bodily condition of the human being, human perfection is not to be found in the intellectual theoretical life (limited by this very condition), but rather in a political life driven by the intellect. As we see from Stern’s sceptical reading and from Klein-Braslavy’s opposite interpretation, the story of the Garden of Eden involves the determination of the human ideal, which depends on the weight one confers on the material part of the human being. These two interpretations had counterparts among medieval Maimonidean-Averroistic philosophers. 2

Two Diverging Interpretations of the Garden of Eden in the Maimonidean-Averroistic Tradition

2.1 Shem Tov Falaquera: The Union with the Woman as Sin A late thirteenth-century commentator of Maimonides’s Guide,17 Shem Tov Falaquera put forth an interpretation of the story of the Garden of Eden that reflects a confidence in the ability of the human being in his perfect state to completely detach from his bodily condition.

13 Josef Stern, The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ Guide (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), chap. 3. 14 Stern, Matter and Form, 81. 15 Maimonides, Guide 3:8, 430. 16 Stern, Matter and Form, 19. 17 See Igor H. de Souza, Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018).

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In his commentary on Guide 1:2, Falaquera includes “sort of a note in order to understand” (ki-demut heʿarah le-havanat ha-ʿinyan)18 Maimonides’s interpretation of the sin of the Garden of Eden. Falaquera opposes the objects of the theoretical intellect (śekhel ʿiyyuni), which are necessary (hekhreḥiyim), intrinsically true or false, to those of the practical intellect (śekhel maʿaśi), the knowledge based on admitted premises (mefursamim), which can alternatively be right or wrong. He adds: At the beginning (ba-teḥillah), Adam conceived of these necessary objects, since he was an intellect in actuality (śekhel be-poʿal). But, when he associated (hitḥabber) with the woman, he acquired the knowledge of objects of a different kind, in that they are only admitted by men, and their truth is based on their admission and not on themselves (mi-ṣad ha-pirsum we-loʾ mi-ṣad ʿaṣmam). […] Therefore, when Adam associated with the woman he abandoned the necessary objects which […] are the cause of the life of his soul and turned to objects based on admitted premises. […] As a result, he was punished and sanctioned by death. [emphasis added]19 Before the sin, Adam was an intellect in actu. After the sin, he is not. The sin is the very association with the woman, identified with the practical intellect, as opposed to the theoretical intellect. Practical and bodily life as such is a curse, one that causes the intellect to turn away from its perfection. Man is meant to be a pure intellect, which he was originally and which he should strive to become again. His bodily situation is an unfortunate accident that derives from the very nature of existence, involving matter. Falaquera’s position echoes Klein-Braslavy’s reading, in that both attribute a strictly intellectualist ideal to Maimonides.20 Unlike Klein-Braslavy though, Falaquera does not 18 19

20

Shem Tov Falaquera, Moreh ha-moreh, ed. Yair Shiffman (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 2001), 124, lines 30–125, line 46. Falaquera, Moreh ha-moreh, 125, lines 37–44: ‫והדברים ההכרחיים היה משיג האדם בתחלה‬ ‫ וכשהתחבר עם האשה ידע דברים אחרים מצד שהם מפורסמים לבני‬.‫כי היה שכל בפועל‬ ‫ ועל כן פעמים ישתנה חיובם‬,‫אדם ואמתתם מצד הפרסום לא מצד עצמם כמו הראשונים‬ ‫ לא שקר‬,‫ ואין באלה הדברים אלא נאה ומגונה שהוא טוב ורע‬,‫לשלילה ושלילתם לחיוב‬ ‫ ועל כן כשהתחבר האדם לאשה עזב הדברים‬.‫ כי הם דברים מפורסמים לא הכרחיים‬,‫ואמת‬ ,‫ההכרחיים שלא ישתנו לעולם שידיעתם אמתת מציאותו והיא מסוגלת בו וסבת חי נפשו‬ ‫ ועל כן נענש‬,‫והתעסק בדברים המפורסמים כלומ׳ שהם נאים או מכוערים מצד הפרסום‬ ‫ונגזרה עליו מיתה‬. As a matter of fact, Klein-Braslavy’s reconstruction of Maimonides’s view on the narrative of the Garden of Eden relies heavily on Falaquera’s and medieval radical readings; see

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differentiate between a harmonious and a disharmonious association between intellect and body.21 Strictly intellectualist interpretations can also be found among major Averroist commentators of the Guide. Thus, in his fourteenth-century esoteric commentary on Maimonides’s Guide, Maśkiyot kesef, Josef Kaspi writes as he comments on Guide 1:2: The Master [Maimonides] continued saying that, in the way of truth, God did not prevent in actu eating the tree of good and evil to whom does not have an intellect in actu. Therefore, this Adam was then (az) a complete intellect in actu, as he himself states: “it [the intellect] was found in [Adam] in its perfection and integrity.”22 In Kaspi’s view, Maimonides clearly states that Adam had a perfect intellect before his sin. That is why he received the command not to eat the tree of good and evil—a command to be understood as a reflection of the initial, prelapsarian human state, when Adam’s intellect was integrally focused on the apprehension of intellectual objects (true and false, not good and evil). Moses Narboni offers a similar view in his fourteenth-century commentary on Guide 1:2. Narboni comments on the praise with which Maimonides ends the chapter—“Praise be to the Master of the will whose aims and wisdom cannot be apprehended!”23—in those terms: This refers to the human creature which He created as a composite of contraries, an association between the intelligible and the sensible world. It follows that they [humans] must grasp Him, whose will in the nature of beings is that they imitate Him and place their desire in Him. This is Klein-Braslavy, Maimonides’ Interpretation, 334–35, index nominum, s.v., Falaquera, Kaspi, and Narboni. 21 This has to do with Falaquera’s extreme misogyny. See Raphael Jospe, Torah and Sophia: The Life and Thought of Shem Tov Ibn Falaquera (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1988), 143–46. 22 Josef Kaspi, ʿAmudei kesef u-maśkiyot kesef, ed. Shlomo Zalman Werbluner (Frankfurt, 1848), 13, emphasis mine (corrected with mss. NY JTS 2341, 122a and Bavarian State Library Munich Germany Cod. hebr. 264, 268a): ‫הפליג המורה לומר בזה כי האל על דרך האמת לא‬ ‫ אם כן אדם זה היה אז שכל‬,‫מנע אכילת עץ הדעת טוב ורע בפועל למי שאין לו שכל בפועל‬ ‫( שלם בפועל כמו שיאמר עליו שזה היה נמצא בו על שלמותו ותמותו‬quote from Guide 1:2, 24); see also 111–112 on Guide 2:30. On Kaspi as a commentator of the Guide, see Adrian Sackson, Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence (Leiden: Brill, 2017), chap. 3. 23 Maimonides, Guide 1:2, 26.

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the ultimate capacity of the hyle: to generate a composite able to unite in Him, since from Him they come and to Him they return.24 According to Narboni, the mystery Maimonides alludes to in the final words of his chapter on the Garden of Eden is that of the double nature of mankind. While the human being’s perfection lies in its intellect, its material nature is a hindrance to its full actualisation. Significantly, Narboni takes his comment on Guide 1:2 as an opportunity to articulate his own view of human nature and ideal, which culminates in human intellect’s conjunction with the Active Intellect.25 2.2 Nissim of Marseille: Body and Politics as Part of the Human Ideal One interpretation stands out in the landscape of the Maimonidean-Averroistic school of philosophy: that of Nissim of Marseille. Almost nothing is known about the life of this scholar and only his exegetical treatise, Maʿaśeh Nissim, written at the beginning of the fourteenth century, is extant.26 A few words are needed regarding Nissim’s inclusion among Averroistic philosophers. A look at the index of explicit references found in Maʿaśeh Nissim, in Howard Kreisel’s edition, shows the major influence of both Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra on Nissim. Averroes is quoted not a few times, notably in the short commentaries on Physics, Metaphysics, On the Soul, and Parva Naturalia.27 And while “refraining from entering any philosophic discussions,” 24

Moses Narboni, Beʾur le-sefer moreh nevukhim, ed. Jakob Goldenthal (Vienna: K. K. Hofund Staatsdruckerei, 1852); repr. in Šelošah qadmonei mefaršei ha-moreh, ed. Shlomo Z. Werbluner [Jerusalem: Ortsel, 1960/61]), 3a (corrected with Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS héb. 699, fols. 4v–5r and Bibliothèque nationale de France MS héb. 696, fol. 2v), on Guide 1:2: ‫ בבריאה‬.‫׳ישתבח בעל הרצון אשר לא תושג תכלית כונתו וחכמתו׳‬ ‫האנושית שיבראהו מורכבים מהפכים משתתף בין העולם המושכל והמורגש עד שיתחייב‬ ‫ והוא תכלית יכולת‬.‫שישיגו זה ית׳ הרוצה בטבע הנמצאות להדמות בו ומשתוקקות אליו‬ .‫ כי מאתו הם יוצאים ואליו הם שבים‬.‫ההיולי ר״ל להמציא המשתתף עד שיתיחד בו‬. See also 40v–41r on Guide 2:30. 25 On Narboni’s psychology and doctrine of the conjunction, see Maurice-Ruben Hayoun, La Philosophie et la théologie de Moïse de Narbonne, 1300–1362 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989), 197–214. 26 On Nissim and his commentary, see Howard Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille and His Radical Philosophic Commentary on the Torah,” in Judaism as Philosophy: Studies in Maimonides and the Medieval Jewish Philosophers of Provence (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2015), 161–206, based on Howard Kreisel, “Philosophical-Allegorical Interpretation of the Torah in the Middle Ages: ‘Maʿaseh Nissim’ by R. Nissim of Marseille” [Hebrew], in Meʾah Šeʿarim: Studies in Medieval Jewish Spiritual Life in Memory of Isadore Twersky, ed. Ezra Fleischer et al. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2001), 297–316. For a discussion on the date of composition of the treatise, see Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, ed. Howard Kreisel (Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 2000), 3. 27 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 513.

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on one occasion he parts with Avicenna against Averroes’s critique on the problem of contingency.28 Though not strictly speaking an “Averroan,” Nissim is much influenced by the exegetical works of Moses ibn Tibbon, who played a major role in the Hebrew translation of Averroes. He undoubtedly meets at least one of the criteria to qualify as a Jewish Averroist listed by Giovanni Licata in his chapter in this volume: “using Averroistic theses in the realm of Biblical exegesis.”29 He defends radical theses on a number of issues, such as an extreme naturalisation of miracles or the barely veiled claim that Moses is the genuine legislator of the Torah, a law that was mainly necessary to rule the masses and filled with necessary though false beliefs.30 Lastly, he occasionally uses an esoteric art of writing: pretending at some points to defend a moderate position on a subject before disclosing in a quite explicit way a heterodox position on the same subject.31 We now turn to an original reading of the story of the Garden of Eden that coheres with Nissim’s general view of human beings and their final goal. The ultimate perfection lies in the intellectual life, but this life can in no way be envisaged without taking into account the bodily and political condition of human beings. Therefore, the perfection of the body is a part of the human perfection and not its mere extrinsic instrument. To end these preliminary remarks, it should be added that Nissim does not propose an interpretation of Maimonides’s account of the story of the Garden per se. But he offers his own detailed interpretation of the Biblical narrative, clearly though not explicitly as an alternative to Maimonides’s reading. In his interpretation, Nissim draws a radical conclusion from the dual nature of man—as body and soul—before the sin (as mentioned in the previously quoted verse, Gen 1:27: “Male and female He created them”). It follows that the human ideal is that of a creature that takes care of both parts of its nature. Indeed, the neglect of the bodily part of man and the exclusive concern for one’s intellect is also an imperfection. 28 Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 165–66. 29 Giovanni Licata, “How a Rehabilitated Notion of Latin Averroism Could Help in Understanding Jewish Averroism,” 28–44, in this volume. 30 On miracles, see Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 190–98; on political philosophy and on Moses as a legislator, see Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille” 166–76 and Howard Kreisel, “The Prophecy of Moses in Medieval Jewish Provençal Philosophy: Natural or Supernatural,” in Judaism as Philosophy, 330–32; on necessary beliefs according to Nissim of Marseille, see Charles Touati, “Croyances vraies et croyances nécessaires: Platon, Averroès, philosophie juive [Maïmonide, Nissim de Marseille, Moïse Narboni] et Spinoza,” in Hommage à Georges Vajda, ed. Charles Touati and Gérard Nahon (Louvain: Peeters, 1980), 169–82. 31 Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 163 evokes a “barely concealed radical Aristotelian approach.”

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Right from the start man was placed in the Garden of Eden—which represents the whole reality (bodies = garden and intellects = Eden)—with the mission to “work it and keep it” (Gen 3:15). Nissim quotes a midrash, according to which to work it refers to study (talmud) and to keep it to the miṣwot,32 which he rephrases: talmud is the quest for intellectual knowledge, while miṣwot is the pursuit of the “good and adequate in every action” (ha-ṭov we-ha-na‌ʾot be-khol peʿulotaw).33 In other terms, human perfection includes both a theoretical and practical dimension. The sin consists in leaving the intellect for bodily concerns. But this sin, which led to the expulsion from the Garden, is only the reverse of a previous (though less serious) mistake: the fact that, when he was created, man had turned exclusively to his intellectual part—exactly what Falaquera considers to be human perfection. The crux of Nissim’s commentary lies in his interpretation of the creation of Eve. At first, human desire was entirely oriented toward intellectual perfection, to the detriment of the body. This is why God came to say, “It is not good that the man (ha-adam) should be alone” (Gen 2:18), which Nissim takes to mean that a purely intellectual life (Adam) does not correspond to human perfection (good). This interpretation is extremely original: Maimonides does not comment explicitly on this verse, but he seems to agree with most of his Averroistic disciples, according to whom the verse means that, in order to grant an intellectual life, the woman is necessary to take care of all human material needs.34 While most Maimonideans understand the verse to mean “it is not good for the intellect to be left alone,” Nissim reads: “the intellect alone is not good.”35 The creation of Eve—that is, the second creation of the female—is described by Nissim in terms of a purely natural process (in line with his interpretation of miracles as a whole).36 “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall (wa-yappel

32 Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliʿezer, 12, 3 (Constantinople, 1514), 8b. 33 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 255. 34 See, typically, Gersonides’s commentary on the verse in Gersonides, Commentary on the Torah, ed. Baruch Braner and Eli Freiman (Jerusalem: Maaliyot, 1993), 106, in Beʾur divrei ha-sippur [explanation of the passage] of Gen 2:2–3:24: “Since God’s intention was that man’s effort should be exclusively in perfecting the human intellect […], He created the woman to be a support (le-ʿezer) for man (Adam) in accomplishing the tasks necessary to the arrangement of his body (tiqqun gufo), so that he would be free (pena‌ʾy) to focus on the intelligibles.” ‫ולהיות כוונת ה׳ יתעלה שיהיה השתדלות האדם בהשלמת השכל האנושי‬ ‫ להיות לעזר לאדם בעשותה המלאכות הצריכות לאדם‬,‫ […] ברא ה׳ יתעלה האשה‬,‫לבד‬ ‫ ובזה יהיה לו פנאי להשתדל במושכלות‬,‫לתיקון גופו‬. 35 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 257. 36 On Nissim’s conception of miracles, see Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 190–92, and Aviezer Ravitzky, “The Anthropological Theory of Miracles in Medieval Jewish Philosophy,” in

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tardemah) upon the man” (Gen 2:21) does not mean that God acted in any manner on Adam; it means that Adam had ended up falling asleep, since: The intellect is not constantly in actu; it is affected by tiredness and fatigue (la‌ʾut we-tardemah). And this is the door through which it [the intellect] accesses the love of the body (zeh ha-petaḥ še-yikkanes bo el ahavat ha-guf ).37 This positive perspective on the “love of the body” gains its full flavour when compared with Moses Narboni’s words on the same verse in his commentary on Guide 2:30: On that subject [the union between man and woman], Scripture said “the Lord [God] caused a deep sleep to fall” (Gen 2:21): he fell asleep because the form [that is the intellect, Adam] resides in her [that is matter, Eve] only in potentiality, in virtue of the hyle which drives it [the form] towards corporeality and leads him [Adam] to doze off, preventing him from intellecting the spiritual realm. The philosopher was right when he said: men established their world (yaševu ʿolamam) on the ruins (ḥurban) of their intellect.38 In this view, the dual nature of man appears as a curse: man’s material needs (yiššuv ʿolam) lead to a destruction of his true intellectual nature. Only exceptional dispositions paired with tremendous efforts can lead man to meet his genuine nature again. If they were asked what kind of dream Adam had during this first sleep, Narboni would certainly answer a nightmare, but we can wonder what Nissim’s answer would be … In reference to a midrash,39 Nissim explains that, by experiencing its limits (necessitated by its existence in a living body), the intellect discovers a love for the body and recognises that the human is also constituted by a body. Consequently, the verse “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, vol. 2, ed. Isadore Twersky (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984), 247n44. 37 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 257: ‫ אך ישיגהו לאות‬.‫כי השכל איננו בפועל תמיד‬ ‫ וזהו הפתח שיכנס בו אל אהבת הגוף‬.‫ותרדימה‬. 38 Narboni, Beʾur le-sefer moreh nevukhim, 40v, corrected with Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS héb. 699, fol. 98r: ‫ ויישן כי הצורה שבה בכח מצד‬.‫אמרו על זה ויפל וכו׳‬ ‫ההיולי והוא מטה אותה אל הגשמות ומרדימו מההשתכלות ברוחניות וצדק הפילוסוף שאמר‬ ‫האנשים ישבו עולמם בחרבן שכלם‬. 39 Gen Rabbah 18, 1.

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and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 3:24) is taken to mean that man shall leave the intellectual domain in order to take care also of the life of his body (še-yaʿazov ha-muśkal le-haḥayot gufo gam ken).40 As was noted by Kreisel, Nissim’s commentary relies heavily on many exegetical comments by the thirteenth-century Provençal Maimonidean scholar, Levi ben Abraham of Villefranche.41 On our present matter, similar ideas can indeed be found in the exegetical part of his encyclopedia of sciences Liwyat Ḥen. About the verse “It is not good that the man (ha-adam) should be alone” (Gen 2:18), Levi ben Abraham writes: If man was in his perfection, a spiritual being (ruḥani) and in actu constantly, he would not take care of the preservation of the world (yiššuvo šel ʿolam). [Therefore] “It is not good that the Adam should be alone”—that is why it was necessary that he should also be vulgar (hamoni) […] and that his intellect should be in potency.42 Levi ben Abraham does express the idea that the human intellect cannot be in actuality constantly, since the very preservation of the world requires man to also be vulgar (ignorant), which means that he ought to take care of his bodily needs. But his formulations, contrary to Nissim’s, present this necessity as an imperfection, as reflected by his reading of Gen 3:24: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 3:24): this means that most of the time the human intellect follows (or is attracted by) “its wife” (yimmašekh aḥar išto), and follows the terrestrial part that rules over it (ha-gover bo).43

40 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 258. 41 Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 165. 42 Levi ben Abraham ben Ḥayyim, Liwyat Ḥen: Book Six, Part Three: The Work of Creation, ed. Howard Kreisel (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, Rabbi David Moses and Amalia Rosen Foundation, 2004), chap. 4, 112–13: ‫אלו היה האדם על שלימותו והיה רוחני‬ ‫ על כן חויב‬.‫ ו׳לא טוב היות האדם לבדו׳‬,‫ לא היה מתעסק ביישובו של עולם‬,‫בפועל תמיד‬ ‫ ויהיה שכלו בכח‬,‫ ושיהיה לו שכל מעשי להמציא בו צרכיו‬,‫שיהיה המוני‬, quoted in Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 257n292. 43 Levi ben Abraham, The Work of Creation, 113: ‫ ר״ל כי‬,‫׳על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו׳‬ ‫ וימשך אחר החלק העפרי הגובר בו‬,‫על הרוב ימשך השכל האנושי אחר ׳אשתו׳‬.

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While the human ideal promoted by Nissim is the intellectual life, political and practical issues are fully part of human perfection, in that they are the condition of an intellectual contemplation. This is reflected in Nissim’s discussion of the three kinds of trees found in the Garden, which he takes to represent three types of men, who differ in the aim they pursue (ʿeṣ, tree, being a metaphor for ʿeṣah, guidance).44 The tree of life stands for intelligible knowledge. In reference to men who eat only its fruits and abandon completely their bodily life, Nissim quotes verse 7:16 of Qoholet: “Do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? (al titḥakkam yoter lamah tiššomem).” The tree of knowledge of good and evil does not refer, like in Maimonides in Guide 1:2, to the “things generally accepted” (mašhūrāt in Arabic, mefursamot in S. ibn Tibbon’s translation)—that is, to the premises of practical maxims, or in other terms to the practical and political life as such.45 It refers to the superfluous of the corporeal pleasures (motar ha-hana‌ʾot ha-gašmiyot). Eating such fruits is forbidden. But one should not forget the third kind of tree found in the Garden: those that are “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (neḥmad le-marʾeh we-ṭov le-ma‌ʾakhal, Gen 2:9). This refers either to those men who do not eat too much from both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge—that is, the people who keep the middle path in both intellectual and political and practical life—or to men who do not eat at all from either the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, whom Nissim calls the political man (ha-adam ha-medini).46 And Nissim insists that this kind of life is perfectly legitimate. God did forbid man to eat from the tree of knowledge. He did not command man to eat from the tree of life. Nissim would later refer to the adam medini as the important political man (ha-adam ha-medini he-ḥašuv), who is perfect in his morality: a perfection that both is necessary for the permanence of the world (qiyyum ha-ʿolam) and may lead such a man to the other (intellectual) perfection.47 Such a man, who does not (at least initially) take care of his intellect, is not at all dismissed by Nissim, while he considers the vulgar to be lower than animals. Of course, given the esoteric style of writing used by Nissim, one ought to be careful when reading a specific passage of Maʿaśeh Nissim. But this positive valuation of the “political man” coheres with his original position in political

44 45 46 47

Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 253. Maimonides, Guide 1:2, 24. Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 253–54. Nissim of Marseille, 262.

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philosophy, which bestows considerable importance on the figure of the political leader.48 Finally, Nissim takes as a motto for his own conception of human perfection a sentence inspired by verse 7:18 of Qohelet: “It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand,” which he takes to mean: “Grasp the intellectual and from material do not withhold your hand.”49 A man who would leave aside any of his parts (Nissim insists ei zeh ḥeleq še-yihyeh),50 chooses the way of death, even though he eats exclusively of the so-called tree of life—that is, dedicates himself exclusively to intelligible knowledge. In such a case, he would cause the death of his own body. If, on the other hand, he eats the tree of knowledge (that is, leaves the path of the middle in his moral life) he would bring about the eternal death of his soul. The human ideal is the combination of the tree of life (intellectual life) and the trees that are pleasant to the sight and good for food (moral temperance). After the sin, there was no essential change in man—he did not become beastly, as in Klein-Braslavy’s reading of Maimonides—but, due to the habituation to excesses in corporeal matters, access to the tree of life has become more difficult. To sum up Nissim’s position, one can propose a paraphrase of Gen 2:22, according to his interpretation. In the classic King James translation, the verse reads “And the Lord God said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us (ke-eḥad mimmenu), to know good and evil: and now, lest (pen) he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’” In Nissim’s reading, it would read: “And the Lord God said: ‘[In eating the tree of knowledge,] man has taken care of only one of his parts (eḥad mimmenu), and now it will be rare (pen) that he shall grasp the tree of life [because the access to intellectual knowledge has become more difficult].’” Two exegetical operations totally reverse the usual reading of the verse. The comparative form ke-eḥad mimmenu does not apply to God, but to man: he is only as one (part) of himself. The preposition pen does not introduce something that ought to be feared, an unfortunate possibility, but rather a rare potentiality: since he is only one part of himself, he will hardly eat the tree of intelligible knowledge.51

48 On Nissim’s political philosophy, see Kreisel, “Nissim of Marseille,” 166–76 and Colette Sirat, “The Political Ideas of Nissim ben Moses of Marseille” [Hebrew], Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 9, no. 2 (1990): 53–76. 49 Nissim of Marseille, Maʿaśeh Nissim, 269. 50 Nissim of Marseille, 267. 51 Nissim of Marseille, 269–70.

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3 Conclusion Clearly, Klein-Braslavy’s interpretation of Maimonides has medieval counterparts among Averroist commentators of the Guide, who gave a strictly intellectualist interpretation of the story of the Garden of Eden. On this subject, Falaquera belongs among the radical Averroistic commentators, such as Moses Narboni and Josef Kaspi, even though he generally expresses less heterodox doctrines than theirs.52 It is more difficult to find something that echoes Stern’s sceptical reading among the medieval corpus of commentaries of the Guide. The absence of a genuine tradition of sceptical reading, as opposed to the long history of the radical reading of the Guide, has been one of the main objections to the sceptical approach to Maimonides that was developed in the last decades, following the lead of the late Shlomo Pines.53 Yet, even though he was not a commentator of the Guide but of the Bible, Nissim’s position on the issue of human perfection as reflected by his interpretation of the Garden of Eden is strikingly close to Stern’s interpretation of Maimonides. Therefore, for all the differences between their views—the first of them being that Nissim’s interpretation does not stem from an epistemological sceptical position but from a consideration of the ineluctably bodily and political human condition—one of the most radical medieval Averroistic Biblical commentators meets a modern proponent of a sceptical reading of the Guide! Bibliography Altmann, Alexander. “Maimonides on the Intellect and the Scope of Metaphysics.” In Von Der Mittelalterlichen Zur Modernen Aufklärung: Texts and Studies in Early Modern Judaism, 60–129. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1987. Bouretz, Pierre. Lumières du Moyen Âge: Maïmonide philosophe. Paris: Gallimard, 2015. Colson, Francis Henry and George Herbert Whitaker, trans. Philo: In Ten Volumes (and Two Supplementary Volumes). 12 vols. London: W. Heinemann; New York: G.P. Putnam, 1929. Davidson, Herbert. “Maimonides on Metaphysical Knowledge.” In Maimonidean Studies, vol. 1, edited by Arthur Hyman, 49–103. New York: Yeshivah University, 1995. 52 53

See above, Steven Harvey, “Was al-Ġazālī an Avicennist? Some Provocative Reflections on Jewish Averroism,” 3–27, in this volume. See Dov Schwartz, Contradiction and Concealment in Medieval Jewish Thought [Hebrew] (Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 2002), 266–67 and Pierre Bouretz, Lumières du Moyen Âge: Maïmonide philosophe (Paris: Gallimard, 2015), 343–44.

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Falaquera, Shem Tov. Moreh ha-moreh. Edited by Yair Shiffman. Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 2001. Gersonides. Commentary on the Torah. Edited by Baruch Braner and Eli Freiman. Jerusalem: Maaliyot, 1993. Hayoun, Maurice-Ruben. La Philosophie et la théologie de Moïse de Narbonne, 1300–1362. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989. Ibn Ezra, Abraham. Perušei ha-Torah. Edited by Asher Weiser. Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1976. Jospe, Raphael. Torah and Sophia: The Life and Thought of Shem Tov Ibn Falaquera. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1988. Kaspi, Josef. ʿAmudei kesef u-maśkiot kesef. Edited by Shlomo Zalman Werbluner. Frankfurt, 1848. Klein-Braslavy, Sara. Maimonides as Biblical Interpreter [Hebrew]. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2011. Klein-Braslavy, Sara. Maimonides’ Interpretation of the Adam Stories in Genesis: A Study in Maimonides’ Anthropology [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 1986. Kreisel, Howard. “Nissim of Marseille and His Radical Philosophic Commentary on the Torah.” In Judaism as Philosophy: Studies in Maimonides and the Medieval Jewish Philosophers of Provence, 161–206. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2015. Kreisel, Howard. “Philosophical-Allegorical Interpretation of the Torah in the Middle Ages: ‘Maʿaseh Nissim’ by R. Nissim of Marseille” [Hebrew]. In Meʾah Šeʿarim: Studies in Medieval Jewish Spiritual Life in Memory of Isadore Twersky, edited by Ezra Fleischer, Gerald Blidstein, Carmi Horowitz, and Bernard Septimus, 297–316. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2001. Kreisel, Howard. “The Prophecy of Moses in Medieval Jewish Provençal Philosophy: Natural or Supernatural.” In Judaism as Philosophy: Studies in Maimonides and the Medieval Jewish Philosophers of Provence, 315–60. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2015. Levi ben Abraham ben Ḥayyim. Liwyat Ḥen: Book Six, Part Three: The Work of Creation, edited by Howard Kreisel. Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, Rabbi David Moses and Amalia Rosen Foundation, 2004. Maimonides, Moses. Tešuvah. In Mishneh Torah, vol. 2, edited by Mordechai Rabinowitz, 207–57. Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook, 1985. Narboni, Moses. Beʾur le-sefer moreh nevukhim. Edited by Jakob Goldenthal. Vienna: K. K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1852. Reprinted in Šelošah qadmonei mefaršei ha-moreh, edited by Shlomo Z. Werbluner, Jerusalem: Ortsel, 1960/61. Philo. De Cherubim. In Colson and Whitaker, Philo: In Ten Volumes (and Two Supplementary Volumes), vol. 2, 1–85. Philo. De Opificio Mundi. In Colson and Whitaker, Philo: In Ten Volumes (and Two Supplementary Volumes), vol. 1, 1–137.

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Philo. On the Creation of the Cosmos According to Moses, translated by David T. Runia. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Pines, Shlomo. “The Limitations of Human Knowledge According to Al-Fārābī, Ibn Bājja and Maimonides.” In Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, edited by Isadore Twersky, 82–109. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Pines, Shlomo. “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed.” In Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, vol. 1, translated by Shlomo Pines, cviii–cxxiii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. Ravitzky, Aviezer. “The Anthropological Theory of Miracles in Medieval Jewish Philosophy.” In Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, vol. 2, edited by Isadore Twersky, 231–72. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1985. Sackson, Adrian. Joseph Ibn Kaspi: Portrait of a Hebrew Philosopher in Medieval Provence. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Schwartz, Dov. Contradiction and Concealment in Medieval Jewish Thought [Hebrew]. Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 2002. Sirat, Colette. “The Political Ideas of Nissim ben Moses of Marseille” [Hebrew]. Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 9, no. 2 (1990): 53–76. de Souza, Igor H. Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018. Stern, Josef. The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ Guide. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. Touati, Charles. “Croyances vraies et croyances nécessaires: Platon, Averroès, philosophie juive [Maïmonide, Nissim de Marseille, Moïse Narboni] et Spinoza.” In Hommage à Georges Vajda, edited by Charles Touati and Gérard Nahon, 169–82. Louvain: Peeters, 1980.

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Chapter 6

The Role of Averroes’s Tahāfut in Narboni’s Commentary on the Guide Yonatan Shemesh 1

Introduction

The philosophical sources of Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed have been the subject of extensive research for the last half-century.1 When it comes to the Islamic philosophical background of the Guide, we have a relatively clear sense of which Muslim philosophers exerted the strongest influence on Maimonides and his intellectual world. Al-Fārābī, Avicenna, ibn Bāǧǧah, and al-Ġazālī are the central (though by no means the only) Muslim thinkers who left distinct marks on the book that gave birth to a full-fledged Jewish philosophical tradition.2 There has been some debate and speculation among scholars as 1 I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to Jim Robinson, Caterina Rigo, and Josef Stern for their comments on earlier versions of this essay. 2 The most comprehensive and field-defining study of Maimonides’s philosophical sources is Shlomo Pines’s introduction to his 1963 English translation of the Guide: Shlomo Pines, “Translator’s Introduction: The Philosophic Sources of the Guide of the Perplexed,” in Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, trans. Shlomo Pines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), 1:cviii–cxxiii. For a thematic survey of the philosophical background, see Alfred L. Ivry, “The Guide and Maimonides’ Philosophical Sources,” in The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, ed. Kenneth Seeskin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 58–81. In recent decades there have been a number of efforts to demonstrate that Maimonides studied al-Ġazālī, even though Maimonides never mentions him by name. Frank Griffel has made what is perhaps the strongest argument, going so far as to suggest that “the whole project of writing the Guide owes its inspiration to al-Ghazālī.” See Frank Griffel, “Maimonides as a Student of Islamic Religious Thought: Revisiting Shlomo Pines’s ‘Translator’s Introduction’ and Its Comments on al-Ghazālī,” in Maimonides’ “Guide of the Perplexed” in Translation: A History from the Thirteenth Century to the Twentieth, ed. Josef Stern, James T. Robinson, and Yonatan Shemesh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), 418. For a critique of the growing consensus, published just prior to Griffel’s study, see Y. Tzvi Langermann, “Al-Ghazālī’s Purported ‘Influence’ on Maimonides: A Dissenting Voice in Trending Scholarship,” in Interpreting Maimonides: Critical Essays, ed. Charles H. Manekin and Daniel Davies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 26–45. For contributions to the growing consensus since Langermann’s critique, see Josef Stern, “Maimonides, the Falasifa, and Al-Ghazali in the Guide I:69,” Iyyun 68 (2020): 245–79; Mark Steiner, “A Note on Maimonides and Al-Ghazali, Leibniz and Clarke,” Iyyun 67 (2019): 253–60; Mark Steiner,

© Yonatan Shemesh, 2024 | doi:10.1163/9789004685680_007

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to whether Averroes, who was Maimonides’s near contemporary, ought to be added to that list. We know that Maimonides read Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle, but probably not until after he finished the Guide. In recent years, Sarah Stroumsa and Warren Zev Harvey have argued that the Guide contains evidence that Maimonides read Averroes’s independent treatises.3 Still, the evidence does not point to any influence significant enough to suggest that we should count Averroes among Maimonides’s main philosophical sources. If Maimonides did study Averroes before completing the Guide, then he deliberately chose to ignore Averroes’s criticisms of their predecessors and not to side with Averroes on key philosophical issues. Yet in the Jewish philosophical tradition that developed in Hebrew in the following centuries, the most important and influential Muslim philosopher— and, for many, the highest philosophical authority after Aristotle—was none other than Averroes. Whereas the Guide contains at most a few traces of Averroes, much of Jewish philosophy from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries revolves around him. The translation of the Guide into Hebrew at the “Alghazali and Maimonides: Four Passages,” Iyyun 69 (2021): 3–16; and Tanja Werthmann, “You Know the Difference between a Lover (Oheb) and a Passionate Lover (Ḥosheq): Degrees of Love in Maimonides and His Source in al-Ghazālī” [Hebrew], Tarbiz 87 (2019): 37–66. The fact that al-Ġazālī had a major impact on the intellectual world of the twelfth century is clear; the debate concerns whether we have textual proof that Maimonides actually read al-Ġazālī’s works. For our purposes, what matters most is that Narboni was convinced that Maimonides had not only studied al-Ġazālī but also relied on him when composing the Guide; see further below under the heading “Creation versus Eternity and the Philosophers’ Proof Based on Divine Will.” 3 See Pines, “Translator’s Introduction,” cviii–cxxiii; Joel L. Kraemer, “Maimonides and the Spanish Aristotelian School,” in Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Medieval and Early Modern Spain: Interaction and Cultural Change, ed. Mark D. Meyerson and Edward D. English (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), 54–60; Alfred L. Ivry, “Maimonides’ Relation to the Teachings of Averroes,” Sefunot n.s. 8 (2003): 62; Ivry, “The Guide and Maimonides’ Philosophical Sources,” 70–71; Sarah Stroumsa, “The Literary Corpus of Maimonides and of Averroes,” Maimonidean Studies 5 (2008): 234–37; Sarah Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World: A Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 73–79; Warren Zev Harvey, “Averroes and Maimonides on the Obligation of Philosophical Contemplation (iʿitibār)” [Hebrew], Tarbiz 58 (1989): 75–83; Warren Zev Harvey, “The Problem of Many Gods in al-Ghazālī, Averroes, Maimonides, Crescas, and Sforno,” in Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to the Present, ed. Giuseppe Veltri et al. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019), 83–96. See also Barry S. Kogan, “Two Gentlemen of Cordova: Averroes and Maimonides on the Transcendence and Immanence of God,” in Adaptations and Innovations: Studies on the Interaction between Jewish and Islamic Thought and Literature from the Early Middle Ages to the Late Twentieth Century, Dedicated to Professor Joel L. Kraemer, ed. Y. Tzvi Langermann and Josef Stern (Peeters: Paris-Louvain, 2007), 217–27, and Steiner, “Alghazali and Maimonides: Four Passages.”

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beginning of the thirteenth century helped spur an Arabic-to-Hebrew translation movement that introduced Aristotelian philosophy and science into the Jewish communities of Christian Europe, and it was Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle that became authoritative sources for learning Aristotle. By the early fourteenth century, most of Averroes’s writings, including both commentaries on Aristotle and independent treatises, had been translated into Hebrew.4 Whereas Averroes was hardly read in the Islamic world, his influence among Jews in Christian Europe was far-reaching. In addition to defining the study of philosophy and science, Averroes’s ideas made inroads into other literary genres and fields of learning in Jewish intellectual life. As Isadore Twersky observed, philosophers like Averroes became “household names.”5 4 For a concise overview of the translation movement with a focus on Averroes, see Steven Harvey, “Arabic into Hebrew: The Hebrew Translation Movement and the Influence of Averroes upon Medieval Jewish Thought,” in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy, ed. Daniel H. Frank and Oliver Leaman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 258–80. For further background on the transmission of Arabic science and philosophy, see Steven Harvey, “Did Maimonides’ Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon Determine Which Philosophers Would Be Studied by Later Jewish Thinkers?” Jewish Quarterly Review 83 (1992): 51–70; Alfred L. Ivry, “Philosophical Translations from the Arabic in Hebrew during the Middle Ages,” in Rencontres de cultures dans la philosophie médiévale: Traductions et traducteurs de l’Antiquité tardive au XIVe siècle, ed. Jacqueline Hamesse and Marta Fattori (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut d’études médiévales de l’Université catholique de Louvain, 1990), 167–86; James T. Robinson, “Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes in Hebrew: Remarks on the Indirect Transmission of Arabic-Islamic Philosophy in Medieval Judaism,” in The JudeoChristian-Islamic Heritage: Philosophical and Theological Perspectives, ed. Richard C. Taylor and Irfan A. Omar (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2012), 59–87; James T. Robinson, “Translations,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 6, The Middle Ages: The Christian World, ed. Robert Chazan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 506–34; Mauro Zonta, La filosofia antica nel Medioevo ebraico (Brescia: Paideia, 1996); and Mauro Zonta, “Medieval Hebrew Translations of Philosophical and Scientific Texts: A Chronological Table,” in Science in Medieval Jewish Cultures, ed. Gad Freudenthal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 17–73. For an inventory of Averroes’s works and their translations, see Gerhard Endress, “Averrois Opera: A Bibliography of Editions and Contributions to the Text,” in Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition: Sources, Constitution and Reception of the Philosophy of Ibn Rushd (1126–1198), ed. Gerhard Endress and Jan A. Aertsen (Leiden: Brill, 1991) 339–81. For an inventory of the Hebrew translations of Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle, see Giuliano Tamani and Mauro Zonta, Aristoteles hebraicus: Versioni, commenti e compendi del Corpus Aristotelicum nei manoscritti ebraici delle biblioteche italiane (Venice: Supernova, 1997), 31–49. 5 Isadore Twersky, “Aspects of the Social and Cultural History of Provençal Jewry,” Journal of World History 11 (1968): 202. On the philosophical and scientific Jewish cultures that developed in the thirteenth century, see also Bernard Septimus, Hispano-Jewish Culture in Transition: The Career and Controversies of Ramah (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982); Gad Freudenthal, “Les sciences dans les communautés juives médiévales de Provence: Leur appropriation, leur rôle,” Revue des études juives 152 (1993): 29–136; and Gad Freudenthal,

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In fact, since Averroes’s works mediated the study of Aristotle, it turns out that most citations of Aristotle in Hebrew philosophical texts are really citations of Averroes.6 Thus, while Averroes’s philosophy did not play a major role in the composition of the Guide, it certainly did shape the intellectual world of the Guide’s medieval Jewish readers. In philosophical commentaries on the Guide that were written in the following centuries, Averroes is the most frequently cited philosophical authority. Averroes’s works became especially important for those Maimonidean commentators who believed that the Guide contains exoteric and esoteric layers and that studying Aristotelian sources provides the keys to Maimonides’s true teachings. For such commentators, unlocking the Guide’s secrets meant interpreting the text in light of Averroes’s accounts of Aristotelian philosophy and science.7 Yet these commentators were also aware that Maimonides and Averroes did not subscribe to all of the same philosophical and theological doctrines, and that Maimonides espoused certain ideas that Averroes worked hard to discredit, so interpreting Maimonides in light of Averroes required that they navigate the tensions between them. “Science in the Medieval Jewish Culture of Southern France,” History of Science 33 (1995): 23–58. 6 Steven Harvey, “When Did Jews Begin to Consider Averroes the Commentator?” in Florilegium mediaevale: Études offertes à Jacqueline Hamesse à l’occasion de son éméritat, ed. José Meirinhos and Olga Weijers (Louvain-la-Neuve: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médievales, 2009), 296; James T. Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon’s Commentary on Ecclesiastes, The Book of the Soul of Man (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), 99. As the contributions to this volume show, the influence of Averroes on some post-Maimonidean thinkers was so pronounced that we can justifiably speak of a movement of “Jewish Averroism” and identify certain individuals as “Jewish Averroists.” For short introductions to the movement and the individuals most associated with it, see Oliver Leaman, “Jewish Averroism,” in History of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 1996), 1:769–80, and Alfred L. Ivry, “Jewish Averroism,” in The Columbia History of Western Philosophy, ed. Richard H. Popkin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999). Leaman observes that Narboni was the most “orthodox” Averroist (“Jewish Averroism,” 775), and Ivry notes that Narboni “fully adopted the Averroian political and metaphysical philosophies” (“Jewish Averroism,” 199). It should be stressed that the individuals whom we label “Jewish Averroists” did not all follow Averroes to the same degree or in the same ways; on this issue, see Steven Harvey’s contribution to this volume. 7 See Aviezer Ravitzky, “The Secrets of the Guide of the Perplexed: Between the Thirteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” in Studies in Maimonides, ed. Isadore Twersky (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 160–61; Seymour Feldman, “Maimonides: A Guide for Posterity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, ed. Kenneth Seeskin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 327–32; and Igor H. de Souza, “Philosophical Commentaries on the Preface to the Guide of the Perplexed, c. 1250–1362” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2014), 161–65.

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Of all the philosophical commentaries on the Guide, Moses Narboni’s midfourteenth-century commentary (ca. 1355–62) stands out as both the most influential and the most Averroist.8 Narboni’s commentary circulated widely and quickly, serving as a primary source for the most important subsequent commentaries, and the text is extant in more manuscripts than any other commentary on the Guide.9 It is clear that many later Maimonideans considered him to be the leading authority on the interpretation of the Guide. While others regarded him as a heretic who distorted the text of the Guide in order to advance his own views, even his critics read the commentary closely and at

8 For an introduction to Narboni’s commentary, focusing on his basic interpretive methods and the debate over the creation versus eternity of the world, see Gitit Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary to Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed” [Hebrew], Daat 74/75 (2013): 197–236. For a short survey of Narboni’s views on select topics in the Guide, see Maurice R. Hayoun, L’exégèse philosophique dans le judaïsme medieval (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992), 264–89. And for general background on Narboni’s life and works, see Gitit Holzman, “The Theory of the Intellect and Soul in the Thought of Rabbi Moshe Narboni, Based on His Commentaries on the Writings of Ibn Rushd, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Bajja, and al-Ghazali” [Hebrew] (PhD diss., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1996), 1–21; Maurice R. Hayoun, La philosophie et la théologie de Moïse de Narbonne (1300–1362) (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989), 61–84; de Souza, “Philosophical Commentaries,” 97–105; and Alfred L. Ivry, “Moses ben Joshua (ben Mar David) of Narbonne,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., ed. Fred Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum (Detroit: Macmillan Reference in association with Keter Publishing, 2007), 14:552. 9 Narboni’s influence was extensive, but it has not been studied systematically. For evidence of his influence on the most important later Guide commentators, see Maurice R. Hayoun, Moshe Narboni (Tübingen: Mohr, 1986), 81–116; de Souza, “Philosophical Commentaries,” 139–42; Igor H. de Souza, “Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed: A Brief Literary History,” in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Its Literary Forms, ed. Aaron W. Hughes and James T. Robinson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019), 82–87; Maud Kozodoy, The Secret Faith of Maestre Honoratus: Profayt Duran and Jewish Identity in Late Medieval Iberia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), 53–54, 233n9; Doron Forte, “‘One Who Understands This Book … Is Assured a Place in the World to Come’: R. Shem Tov b. Joseph Ibn Shem Tov and His Commentary on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed” [Hebrew] (PhD diss., Ben-Gurion University, 2018), 97–100; Eric Lawee, “‘The Good We Accept and the Bad We Do Not’: Aspects of Isaac Abarbanel’s Stance Toward Maimonides,” in Beʾerot Yitzhak: Studies in Memory of Isadore Twersky, ed. Jay M. Harris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 133–46; and Dov Schwartz, “Understanding in Context: R. Mordekhai Comtiano’s Commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed” [Hebrew], Peʿamim 133/134 (2012): 130–41. Narboni’s commentary is extant in more than thirty manuscripts, which is far more than most others. There are twenty-three manuscripts of Abraham Abulafia’s Sitrei Torah, but to my knowledge no other Guide commentary is extant in more than eleven manuscripts. See de Souza, “Philosophical Commentaries,” 57n180; Moshe Idel, Abraham Abulafia’s Esotericism: Secrets and Doubts (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020), 73.

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times even relied on it for their own interpretations.10 As for Averroes’s influence on Narboni, no other commentary on the Guide seems as grounded in and supportive of Averroes’s philosophy as Narboni’s. Readers of the commentary can easily recognise that Narboni takes on a strongly Averroist orientation toward the text on which he is commenting, not least because he cites Averroes by name more than eighty times. Narboni occasionally cites other philosophers as well, but Averroes is clearly his primary source and leading authority. Narboni’s Averroist orientation also comes with a distinctly anti-Avicennan edge. In his preface to the commentary, Narboni informs readers that along the way he will have to address certain philosophical debates because Maimonides occasionally espouses (what Narboni and Averroes consider to be) Avicenna’s faulty views, and that promise certainly bears out.11 Moreover, as other scholars have noted, when Averroes and Maimonides disagree on a given issue—which is sometimes due to Avicenna’s influence, but not always—Narboni typically sides with Averroes.12 While Narboni’s Averroist, anti-Avicennan approach to the Guide is readily apparent, there has been very little research into which sources Narboni cites and the various ways in which he uses those sources for his own commentarial purposes. Narboni rarely tells us which source he is citing, and there is also much more Averroes in the commentary than just those instances in which Narboni cites the philosopher by name. In addition to his many explicit citations, Narboni sometimes draws from Averroes’s works without attribution. And even when Narboni does mention Averroes, he often deploys the source far more extensively than he lets on. Narboni will also make significant 10

For example, Isaac Abravanel routinely attacks Narboni for perverting Maimonides’s views but is still willing to incorporate Narboni’s readings on a selective basis. See Lawee, “‘The Good We Accept,’” 137–38, 142–43n89. 11 Moses Narboni, Beʾur le-sefer Moreh nevukhim, ed. Jakob Goldenthal (Vienna: K. K. Hofund Staatsdruckerei, 1852; repr. in Šelošah qadmone mefarše ha-Moreh, Jerusalem: Ortsel, 1960/61), preface, 1a. Citations of Narboni’s commentary on the Guide, henceforth cited as CG, refer to Jakob Goldenthal’s 1852 edition, but all citations have been corrected against the manuscripts that I am using for my critical edition of the text. Some of the passages discussed in this chapter, however, are missing in Goldenthal’s edition; that is because they are missing in the manuscript on which his edition is based. On Goldenthal’s edition (and its flaws), see Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 233–34, as well as the appendix to my doctoral dissertation, which describes the extant manuscripts of the commentary, assesses previous editions, and explains my method for editing the text: Yonatan Shemesh, “Averroes as Intertext: Moses Narboni’s Commentary on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2021). 12 See, e.g., Ivry, “Moses ben Joshua”; Hayoun, La philosophie, 80; Hayoun, L’exégèse philosophique, 264–67; Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 210–11; and de Souza, “Philosophical Commentaries,” 200–201.

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changes to his sources: he omits lines, adds others, rearranges passages, and weaves between the text of the Guide, the text of Averroes, and his own comments.13 Moreover, while Narboni is alert to the influence of Avicenna, the Averroist elements of the commentary extend far beyond targeted critiques of Maimonides’s Avicennan tendencies. Narboni frequently cites Averroes when he wants to elaborate upon Maimonides’s arguments or when he wants to provide the reader with relevant philosophical background. Still more interesting is when Narboni draws from Averroes to deal with ambiguous or problematic passages, to subvert Maimonides’s arguments, or to decode the Guide’s secrets. In making these interventions through citation, Narboni draws from many of Averroes’s works, but the text he cites far more than any other is Tahāfut al-tahāfut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence), the rebuttal to al-Ġazālī’s Tahāfut al-falāsifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers). Al-Ġazālī’s Tahāfut (ca. 1095) methodically attacks twenty teachings of the philosophers, principally those of al-Fārābī and Avicenna. He concludes by charging them with “unbelief,” a crime punishable by death, for the teachings that he found not only defective but heretical.14 In Tahāfut al-tahāfut (ca. 1180–85), Averroes comes to the defence of philosophy by laying out a detailed, point-by-point 13

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This free citational style is a hallmark of Narboni’s oeuvre. As Ivry explains with regard to Ma‌ʾamar bi-šelemut ha-nefeš (Treatise on the Perfection of the Soul), Narboni curates his philosophical sources, especially Averroes, and tends to rework sources for his own purposes, often transposing passages and weaving in his own comments in ways that make the text something of a commentary (or a supercommentary) on those passages. Therefore much of Narboni’s originality lies in the particular ways in which he uses sources. Ivry also explains why we should not simply write off Narboni’s style as plagiarism: “[Narboni] apparently felt that a few general references to Averroes, or references at the very beginning of a mixed selection of commentary and supercommentary, was sufficient […] This need not be regarded as plagiarism; having named the author (though not usually the work) from whom he is quoting, Narboni then identified himself with the quoted author and handled the material freely. Scholars at that period did not see the need to confirm and disclose their sources at every stage, and quotation marks were unknown.” See Alfred L. Ivry, “Moses of Narbonne’s ‘Treatise on the Perfection of the Soul’: A Methodological and Conceptual Analysis,” Jewish Quarterly Review 57 (1967): 273–74; cf. Alfred L. Ivry, introduction to Ma‌ʾamar bi-šelemut ha-nefeš (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1977), 17–18. For a recent overview of al-Ġazālī’s work, see Frank Griffel, “Al-Ghazālī’s (d. 1111) Incoherence of the Philosophers,” in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Khaled El-Rouayheb and Sabine Schmidtke (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 191–209. As far as I know, there is no similarly concise and accessible introduction to Averroes’s Tahāfut. For short introductions to Averroes’s philosophy, including his Tahāfut, see Alfred L. Ivry, “Averroes,” in Routledge History of Philosophy, vol. 3, Medieval Philosophy, ed. John Marenbon (London: Routledge, 1998), 54–63, and Richard C. Taylor, “Averroes: Religious Dialectic and Aristotelian Philosophical Thought,” in The Cambridge

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counter-refutation of al-Ġazālī’s arguments. Averroes’s Tahāfut, which takes the form of an extended commentary on al-Ġazālī’s, serves as Narboni’s main source and intertext for his commentary on the Guide. There are dozens of instances in which Narboni makes use of quotations, near-quotations, and paraphrastic adaptations of the anonymous Hebrew translation, Happalat ha-happalah, which Narboni elsewhere dubs Sefer ha-berit (The Book of the Covenant).15 We find the highest concentration of these citations, some of Companion to Arabic Philosophy, ed. Peter Adamson and Richard C. Taylor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 180–200. 15 In his commentary on al-Ġazālī’s Maqāṣid, Narboni remarks that “we have called [Averroes’s Tahāfut] Sefer ha-berit because with it he [Averroes] made a covenant with the philosophers” (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS héb. 908, fol. 69v). In his commentary on Averroes’s Questions in Physics, Narboni says that “with this book [the Tahāfut] he [Averroes] made a covenant with the philosophers against the externals of the religions” (Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Urb. ebr. 41, fol. 99v). See also Moses Narboni, Ma‌ʾamar bi-šelemut ha-nefeš, 41, where Narboni cites Averroes’s text as Sefer ha-berit. On the Hebrew translations of Averroes’s Tahāfut, see Julia Schwartzmann, “Ha-targum ha-ʿivri le-sefer Happalat ha-happalah le-Abū Walīd ibn Rušd” (master’s thesis, Hebrew University, 1983). There were two translations, one anonymous and the other by Qalonimos ben David ben Ṭodros. As Schwartzmann notes, it is possible that the two translations are related to each other, though this question requires further investigation (“Ha-targum ha-ʿivri,” 41–42). The anonymous version is extant in three manuscripts, one of which—Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, MS Or. 4753—is linked to Narboni himself. This manuscript contains Hebrew versions of five texts, all in a single hand: Averroes’s Tahāfut (fols. 1r–104r), Averroes’s Faṣl al-maqāl (fols. 104r–110v), Averroes’s Kašf (fols. 110v–135v), Joseph ben Judah’s Treatise on the Necessary Existent (135v–141v), and the Aǧwibah attributed to al-Ġazālī (142r–147v). The manuscript’s colophon (147v) bears Narboni’s name and indicates that the manuscript was completed in Cervera in 1348, which accords with our knowledge of Narboni’s whereabouts. (He finished the commentary on ibn Ṭufayl’s Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān in Cervera in 1349; see p. 649 of that work, as well as Holzman, “The Theory of the Intellect,” 6–7.) Moreover, at the end of Happalat ha-happalah—which is the first text in the manuscript—the scribe notes that “while others have called it Sefer ha-tequmah, I have called it Sefer ha-berit because he [Averroes] made a covenant with the truth and the philosophers who love it” (fol. 104r). While Narboni evidently copied these texts, it seems to me that the Leiden manuscript is probably a copy of the manuscript that Narboni himself copied, because the quotations from the Tahāfut in Narboni’s commentary do not always match the Leiden manuscript and the Leiden manuscript appears to have more obvious scribal errors than Narboni’s quotations do. See Mortiz Steinschneider, Die hebräischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher (Berlin, 1893), 334, and Silvia Di Donato, “Le Kitāb al-kašf ʿan manāhiğ al-adilla d’Averroès,” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 25 (2015): 108 and note 11. My citations of Happalat ha-happalah refer to the Leiden manuscript, and my English translations of Happalat ha-happalah (as well as Narboni’s citations of it) are based on Simon van den Bergh’s English translation of the Arabic (Simon van den Bergh, trans., Averroes’ Tahafut al-tahafut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence), 2 vols. [London: E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 1954; repr. as one volume,

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which span multiple pages, in Narboni’s commentary on those sections of the Guide that are devoted to issues that are also central in the debates between al-Ġazālī and Averroes: God’s existence and attributes, the doctrines of the mutakallimūn, creation versus eternity of the world, and the nature of God’s knowledge. Averroes’s Tahāfut is particularly useful to Narboni not only because there is so much thematic overlap between the two works but also because Averroes’s text contains layers from the same intellectual traditions that shaped the Guide. Averroes’s text reproduces most of al-Ġazālī’s Tahāfut, including its accounts of the philosophers’ doctrines. And when responding to al-Ġazālī’s arguments against those doctrines, Averroes interrogates the doctrines themselves, especially those of Avicenna, and he often refutes al-Ġazālī by dismissing Avicenna’s ideas as deviations from the genuine philosophy of Aristotle. Averroes’s text thus provides plenty of material for Narboni to use against Maimonides’s Avicennism. Moreover, Maimonides engages with doctrines that derive from Ashʿarite kalām, and these doctrines generally coincide with those that al-Ġazālī promotes and Averroes contests.16 Narboni takes full advantage of these connections. But Narboni does more than simply mine his source for relevant passages. He strategically uses Averroes’s arguments against al-Ġazālī as keys to interpreting Maimonides’s arguments in the Guide and establishing what he considers to be—or at least what he wishes to present as—Maimonides’s true intentions. Averroes’s arguments against al-Ġazālī inform both Narboni’s approach to philosophical doctrines and his interpretive methods.17

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1978]), but modified in light of the Hebrew. For readers who wish to consult the Arabic, van den Bergh’s translation indicates the pagination of Bouyges’s edition. On Averroes’s main objectives in his Tahāfut and the layers of the philosophical tradition contained within the text, see Barry S. Kogan, Averroes and the Metaphysics of Causation (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), 5–9. See also George F. Hourani, “The Dialogue between al-Ghazālī and the Philosophers on the Origin of the World,” Muslim World 48 (1958): 183–84. It is important to acknowledge that Narboni was not the first to cite Averroes’s Tahāfut in a commentary on the Guide. Shem Tov Falaquera translates a number of passages from the Tahāfut in his Moreh ha-moreh (1280), and Joseph Kaspi includes some of the same passages in his commentaries (completed after 1331), clearly lifting them directly from Falaquera’s work. For a few examples, see Shem Tov Falaquera, Moreh ha-moreh, ed. Yair Shiffman (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 2001), 185–86, 195–96; Joseph Kaspi, ʿAmmudei kesef u-maśkiyot kesef, ed. Solomon Z. Werbluner (Frankfurt, 1848), 74, 78. But while Narboni’s predecessors quote from the Tahāfut, they do not engage the text as extensively or as strategically as Narboni does, and the Tahāfut does not stand out as their main philosophical source and intertext (though it is clearly a major source for Falaquera). Narboni was also preceded by Isaac Albalag, who borrowed from the Tahāfut

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The purpose of this chapter is to show how Narboni uses Averroes’s Tahāfut as his interpretive key. It will focus on three examples, drawn from different parts of the commentary, that display a range of ways in which the Tahāfut figures into Narboni’s interpretations of the Guide. After analysing and contextualising these interpretations, the chapter concludes by considering what Narboni’s extensive use of the Tahāfut reveals about his broader understanding of the methods and arguments of the Guide, and what it is about these books that may have inspired his citational strategy. 2

Divine Attributes and the Meaning of Necessary Existence

One of Maimonides’s central aims, both in the Guide and in other writings, is to purify the idea of God. He considers God’s existence, oneness, and incorporeality to be fundamental truths, and he seeks to teach these truths to everyone, regardless of intellectual ability. Yet Maimonides’s particular conception of God is much more difficult to pin down. In the Guide, he puts forth various ideas, some of which seem incompatible with one another. For example, we find different Aristotelian definitions of God, a strongly Neoplatonic God, a version of Avicenna’s necessary existent, as well as a creator God with a voluntary will. Modern scholarship has been especially drawn to the section of the Guide on divine attributes (1.50–70) because it contains two strikingly different and apparently incongruous conceptions of God. In much of this section, particularly 1.50–63, Maimonides develops a Neoplatonic approach: he argues that God is beyond all positive predications, insists that all terms applied to God and other things are purely equivocal, and elaborates a strict negative theology that underscores God’s total otherness. Yet in 1.68, Maimonides articulates an Aristotelian conception of God that appears to clash with the earlier chapters: here he presents God as a pure, fully actualised intellect, likens the divine intellect to other intellects, and describes the divine intellect positively—the very kinds of affirmative predications that the earlier chapters seem to rule out.18

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when composing Tiqqun ha-deʿot, the annotations to his Hebrew translation of al-Ġazālī’s Maqāṣid al-falāsifah (Deʿot ha-filosofim). See Isaac Albalag, Sefer tiqqun ha-deʿot, ed. Georges Vajda (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1973). In the notes below, I will point to some of the parallels between passages in Narboni’s commentary and passages in these earlier works. The extent to which these works influenced Narboni, as well as the wider influence of Averroes’s Tahāfut on late medieval Jewish philosophy, are topics that require further research. See Pines, “Translator’s Introduction,” xciv–xcviii, and Shlomo Pines, “The Philosophical Purport of Maimonides’ Halachic Works and the Purport of the Guide of the Perplexed,” in

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In his commentary on this section, Narboni takes a strongly unitary approach to Maimonides’s account of divine attributes. For Narboni as for Averroes, God is a fully actualised intellect, and Narboni presents this as Maimonides’s basic understanding of God as well.19 When Maimonides’s account of divine attributes is read with Narboni’s commentary, the apparent tension within this section fades away. In fact, it is not even clear that Narboni would acknowledge any contradiction or incongruity in the first place. Even though Maimonides does not explicitly mention the idea that God is pure Maimonides and Philosophy, ed. Shlomo Pines and Yirmiyahu Yovel (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1986), 13n12. Pines’s “Translator’s Introduction” ignited a debate that continues among scholars today. For the background of this debate, see Kenneth Seeskin, “Shlomo Pines and the Rediscovery of Maimonides in Contemporary Philosophy,” in Maimonides’ “Guide of the Perplexed” in Translation: A History from the Thirteenth Century to the Twentieth, ed. Josef Stern, James T. Robinson, and Yonatan Shemesh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), 389–92. Josef Stern’s The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ “Guide” (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 232–40 offers the most recent effort to resolve the apparent contradiction. Since Pines’s introduction, most readers of the Guide have taken for granted that Maimonides presents two contradictory conceptions of God, but others have questioned that assumption; see, e.g., Daniel Davies, “Silence, Skepticism, and Vulgar Theology: On Stern’s Maimonides,” Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 3 (2015): 177–81. 19 However, Narboni will also point out toward the end of this section that Maimonides and Averroes do not actually have the same divine intellect in mind. According to Narboni, whereas Averroes identifies God with the first intellect that moves the outermost sphere (Aristotle’s prime mover), Maimonides’s God transcends the supernal hierarchy. As expected, Narboni emphatically sides with Averroes on this issue and chalks up Maimonides’s position to his Avicennism. See CG 1.69, 14a–b; 2, introduction, 22b–23a; 2.4, 27b; cf. Moses Narboni, Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect by Ibn Rushd with the Commentary of Moses Narboni, ed. and trans. Kalman P. Bland (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982), 125 (trans. 95), 129n14; Narboni, Ma‌ʾamar bi-šelemut ha-nefeš, 158; and Moses Narboni, Commentary on Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, ed. Yair Shiffman (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2018), 549–50. We should note, however, that Maimonides’s position on this issue is not entirely clear, for there are passages in the Guide suggesting that God is in fact the prime mover. Narboni cites these passages in his commentary and even acknowledges the apparent ambiguity, but he still maintains that Maimonides followed Avicenna’s lead. See CG 1.72, 16b–17a; 2, introduction, premise 8 (citing Guide 2.1), 22b; cf. Pines, “Translator’s Introduction,” cxiii–cxv, and Warren Zev Harvey, “Maimonides’ Monotheism: Between the Bible and Aristotle,” CISMOR Conference on Jewish Studies 7 (2013): 62–63, 67n15. In this context we should also note that Averroes’s own position on the issue changed over time. He initially subscribed to Avicenna’s distinction between God and the first intellect but later rejected it and identified God with the prime mover. See Herbert A. Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of Human Intellect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 220–31, 254–57, and Barry S. Kogan, “Averroes and the Theory of Emanation,” Mediaeval Studies 43 (1981): 386–89, 395–97.

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intellect until 1.68, Narboni integrates it into his commentary on the earlier chapters and interprets Maimonides’s statements in light of it. In addition to Narboni’s own explications that factor in the divine intellect, this conception of God emerges as the primary one through Narboni’s citations of Averroes’s Tahāfut. At least one third of Narboni’s commentary on this section (1.50–70) derives from Averroes’s works, and mostly from the Tahāfut, which Narboni uses to explain, support, or otherwise modify Maimonides’s account of divine attributes. Moreover, Narboni’s many quotations of Averroes indicate that he is less concerned with discrepancies within Maimonides’s discussion than he is with the extent to which Maimonides’s account as a whole coheres with that of the philosophers as presented by Averroes. And according to Narboni’s interpretation, Maimonides and the philosophers agree on some of the essential points—namely, that God is pure intellect and that the only types of attributes that may be predicated of God are actions, negations, and relations of a certain kind.20 Narboni also slips in a few points that gently alter Maimonides’s account, even if Narboni does not acknowledge it explicitly. For instance, with the help of a quotation from the Tahāfut, Narboni incorporates Averroes’s claim that “intellect” is an exceptional term for God and a positive predication, even though Maimonides himself makes no such exception.21 Narboni also uses a 20 On a straightforward reading of Guide 1.52, Maimonides rejects attributes of relation, even if he also acknowledges that they are less problematic than other types. Narboni, however, interprets the text in a way that has Maimonides allowing relational attributes insofar as they are understood to have an “intellectual meaning” (ʿinyan śikhli). It is immediately after interpreting Maimonides’s account of relational attributes in 1.52 that Narboni explicitly emphasises that Maimonides permits the same types of attributes that the philosophers do (CG 1.52, 6a–b). For further discussion of Maimonides’s account and its Graeco-Arabic philosophical background, see Harry A. Wolfson, “The Aristotelian Predicables and Maimonides’ Division of Attributes,” in Essays and Studies in Memory of Linda R. Miller, ed. Israel Davidson (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1938), 201–34; Harry A. Wolfson, “Maimonides on Negative Attributes,” in Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volume, ed. Alexander Marx (New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1945), 411–46; Harry A. Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” Jewish Quarterly Review n.s. 7 (1916): chap. 1 (1–44); Harry A. Wolfson, “Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes on Divine Attributes,” in Homenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa (Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científica, 1956), 2:545–71; Herbert A. Davidson, “Maimonides on Divine Attributes as Equivocal Terms,” in Tribute to Michael: Studies in Jewish and Muslim Thought Presented to Professor Michael Schwarz, ed. Sara Klein-Braslavy, Binyamin Abrahamov, and Joseph Sadan (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2009), 37–51; and Alexander Altmann, “Divine Attributes: A Historical Survey of the Jewish Discussion,” Judaism 15 (1966): 40–60. 21 CG 1.52, 7a; cf. Happalat ha-happalah, 53r; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:185–86. See also Narboni’s commentary on Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, 450–51, where he cites the same lines from Averroes’s Tahāfut together with Maimonides’s statement in Guide 1.68 that “the

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quotation of the Tahāfut to carve out space for amphibolous terms—which in effect help explain how intellect can be predicated positively of God without compromising God’s oneness—even though Maimonides explicitly rejects such terms just a few chapters later.22 These interventions through quotation suggest that Narboni recognises the ways in which Maimonides’s account differs from that of the Muslim philosophers but chooses not to stress them, instead opting to interpret the text in light of Averroes to the greatest extent possible. Narboni does openly correct Maimonides on a few significant points, particularly toward the end of the commentary on this section of the Guide,23 but when it comes to Maimonides’s basic conception of God as pure intellect and the meaning of attributes predicated of God, Narboni uses the Tahāfut to underscore the similarities between Maimonides and the philosophers whom Averroes represents. But there is one aspect of Maimonides’s discussion of divine attributes that Narboni criticises openly and forcefully. In Guide 1.57, Maimonides— without mentioning Avicenna by name—embraces the Avicennan distinction between essence and existence and, based on this distinction, describes God as the necessary existent, the only existent in which essence and existence are inseparable.24 In his preface to the commentary, Narboni informed readers true reality and quiddity of the intellect is apprehension” (Pines, 164). On Averroes’s qualification regarding the term “intellect,” see Wolfson, “Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes,” 567; Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” 33–35; and Kogan, Averroes and the Metaphysics of Causation, 229ff. 22 CG 1.52, 6a; cf. Happalat ha-happalah, 63v; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:222. In 1.56, when Maimonides rejects the view that terms are used amphibolously when applied to God, Narboni passes over that passage in silence. On amphibolous predication, see Harry A. Wolfson, “The Amphibolous Terms in Aristotle, Arabic Philosophy and Maimonides,” Harvard Theological Review 31 (1938): 151–73; Harry A. Wolfson, “Maimonides and Gersonides on Divine Attributes as Ambiguous Terms,” in Mordecai M. Kaplan Jubilee Volume, ed. Moshe Davis (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1953), 515–30; and Wolfson, “Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes.” In the latter two articles, on pp. 519 and 568 respectively, Wolfson discusses the passage from Averroes’s Tahāfut that Narboni cites in his commentary on 1.52. 23 Narboni interrogates Maimonides’s statement that God is the “form” of the world and asserts, contra Maimonides and Avicenna, that God is the prime mover (CG 1.69, 14a–b; see note 19 above); he takes issue with Maimonides’s Avicennan understanding of the active intellect as the “giver of forms” (CG 1.62, 11b); and he objects to the way in which Maimonides likens divine intellection to human intellection (CG 1.68, 13b–14a). 24 These central concepts of Avicenna’s metaphysics, which Averroes regarded as distortions of Aristotle’s philosophy, have been the subject of extensive scholarly analysis. Helpful contributions include Fazlur Rahman, “Essence and Existence in Avicenna,” Medieval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1958): 1–16; Fazlur Rahman, “Essence and Existence in Ibn Sīnā: The Myth and the Reality,” Hamdard Islamicus 4 (1981): 3–14; Catarina Belo,

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that he would have to address certain issues on which philosophers disagree because Maimonides was misled by Avicenna’s views; Narboni’s commentary on 1.57 is the first instance in which he directly confronts Maimonides’s Avicennism, and he does not hold back. Averroes had assailed Avicenna’s metaphysical doctrines as deviations from Aristotelian truth, and Narboni follows Averroes’s lead. The sharp criticism begins at the very outset of the chapter. Narboni first quotes Maimonides’s statement, “It is known that existence is an accident attaching to what exists (miqreh qarah la-nimṣa‌ʾ),” and then, with a cheeky pun, adds, “This attached to the Master (zeh qarah la-Rav) because he followed Avicenna’s discussions in the Šifāʾ, and for this reason he is exposed to criticism.”25 Whereas earlier commentators on the Guide had simply reproduced Averroes’s arguments against Avicenna, Narboni explicitly embraces those arguments, unequivocally siding with Averroes.26 As Alexander Altmann points out, Narboni contests Maimonides’s Avicennan distinction between essence and existence with the same kind of argument that Averroes presents “Essence and Existence in Avicenna and Averroes,” Al-Qanṭara 30 (2009): 403–26; Amos Bertolacci, “The Distinction of Essence and Existence in Avicenna’s Metaphysics: The Text and Its Context,” in Islamic Philosophy, Science, Culture, and Religion: Studies in Honor of Dimitri Gutas, ed. Felicitas Opwis and David Reisman (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 257–88; Taneli Kukkonen, “Divided Being: Before and After Avicenna,” in Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic, ed. Leila Haaparanta and Heikki J. Koskinen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 36–61; George F. Hourani, “Ibn Sīnā on Necessary and Possible Existence,” Philosophical Forum 4 (1972): 74–86; and Robert Wisnovsky, “Avicenna and the Avicennian Tradition,” in The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, ed. Peter Adamson and Richard C. Taylor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 92–136. For the reception of these concepts among Maimonides and his interpreters, see Alexander Altmann, “Essence and Existence in Maimonides,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 35 (1953): 294–315, and Aviezer Ravitzky, “Necessary and Possible Existence: Maimonides’ Ontology according to His Commentators” [Hebrew], in Maimonidean Essays: Society, Philosophy and Nature in Maimonides and His Disciples (Tel Aviv: Schocken, 2006), 205–38. See also Falaquera, Moreh ha-moreh, 150–51, 220; Kaspi, ʿAmmudei kesef u-maśkiyot kesef, 87–88; and Albalag, Tiqqun ha-deʿot, 5–9, 20–21, 26–27, 54. 25 CG 1.57, 9a: ‫ידוע כי המציאות הוא מקרה קרה לנמצא זה קרה לרב להמשכו אחר דברי בן‬ ‫סינא באלשפא ולזה השיגו התפישה מזה הצד‬. In his commentary on al-Ġazālī’s Maqāṣid, Narboni similarly bemoans Maimonides’s Avicennism and targets this chapter of the Guide in particular, and with a similarly cheeky pun: “I have explained this at length because I saw that the sage, our Master Moses, followed the opinion of al-Ġazālī and Avicenna with regard to this matter, even beginning one of the chapters of his book by stating that ‘existence is an accident attaching to what exists.’ Would that it did not exist (mi yiten ve-loʾ nimṣa‌ʾ).” Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS héb. 908, fol. 52v. See Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” 193n88, and Georges Vajda, “La question dispute de l’essence et de l’existence vue par Juda Cohen, philosophe juif de Provence,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge 44 (1977): 131–32. 26 See Altmann, “Essence and Existence in Maimonides,” 294, 307.

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in his epitome of Aristotle’s Metaphysics.27 Narboni, citing Averroes by name and basing himself on Averroes, argues that Maimonides and Avicenna confused the different meanings of the term “being” and, as a result, failed to understand that being and essence are inseparable, not only in God but in all existents, even if we can separate these concepts in our minds when we judge whether a thing exists or not.28 I have also traced much of Narboni’s language in this chapter to Averroes’s Middle Commentary on the Metaphysics, which Narboni uses to help dismantle the related Avicennan distinction between oneness and the thing that becomes one.29 While Narboni devotes most of his commentary on this chapter to undercutting Maimonides’s Avicennism, there is one passage that stands out. In this passage, which appears immediately after Narboni’s opening rebuke, he explains Maimonides’s conception of necessary and possible existence in a way that implies agreement with Maimonides’s understanding of these ideas. What makes the passage particularly strange is that Narboni presents this explanation as Maimonides’s intended meaning even though it clashes with his Avicennan conceptual distinctions, which Narboni will go on to assail by drawing from Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. As it turns out, most of this passage comes from the third discussion of the Tahāfut, from a section of the text in which Averroes rebuts one of al-Ġazālī’s several objections to the philosophers’ claims about God’s agency and their theory of divine 27 Altmann, “Essence and Existence in Maimonides,” 308–9. See Averroes, On Aristotle’s “Metaphysics”: An Annotated Translation of the So-called “Epitome,” trans. Rüdiger Arnzen (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010), 27–30. 28 As Stephen Menn has shown in detail, Averroes’s arguments against Avicenna’s analyses of being and unity—which Narboni and other commentators recapitulate—derive from al-Fārābī, who carefully distinguished between the different senses of these concepts and warned against the very approach that Avicenna would take. See Stephen Menn, “Al-Fārābī’s Kitāb al-Ḥurūf and His Analysis of the Senses of Being,” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 18 (2008): 59–97, and Stephen Menn, “Fārābī in the Reception of Avicenna’s Metaphysics: Averroes against Avicenna on Being and Unity,” in The Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Avicenna’s Metaphysics, ed. Dag Nikolaus Hasse and Amos Bertolacci (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011), 51–96. 29 There were two medieval Hebrew translations of Averroes’s Middle Commentary on the Metaphysics; Narboni uses that of Qalonimos ben Qalonimos. See Averroes, Il Commento medio di Averroè alla Metafisica di Aristotele nella tradizione ebraica: Edizione delle rbiteri ebraiche medievali di Zeraḥyah Ḥen e di Qalonymos ben Qalonymos con introduzione storica e filologica, 2 vols., ed. Mauro Zonta (Pavia: Pavia University Press, 2011); for the passage that Narboni integrates into his commentary on 1.57, see book 9, 196–97. Some of the language and arguments that Narboni directs against Maimonides can also be found in Averroes’s Tahāfut and his Long Commentary on the Metaphysics. Narboni might be weaving between multiple works by Averroes or simply rewriting the argument with the help of Averroes’s language and formulations.

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emanation.30 Narboni does not mention Averroes, al-Ġazālī, the Tahāfut, or the larger issues at stake in that discussion; instead, he takes the passage out of context and lets it appear as his own commentary, though with a few modifications. When we look at the context of the passage in the original source, we will see what Narboni is doing here. First I cite the passage from the commentary, with text from Maimonides in bold and Narboni’s modifications and additions to Averroes’s text in angled brackets: As for that which has no cause for its existence, there is only God, may He be magnified and glorified, who is like that. For this is the meaning of our saying about Him, may He be exalted, that His existence is necessary. His existence is His essence and His true reality, and His essence is His existence. the necessity of existence is not something added to existence outside the soul ;31 and it is as though it refers to the denial of a cause, that is, His being the effect of something else, and as though that which is affirmed of other things is denied of Him, just as when we say that an existent is one, the oneness is not understood to be something added to its essence existing outside the soul, as is the case when we speak of a white existent; rather, what is understood is only a negative meaning, namely, indivisibility. The same applies to the necessary existent; what is understood by the necessity of His existence is a negative meaning that refers to His essence, namely, that His existence is necessary through Himself, not through something else32 Similarly, when we speak of the existent that is possible through itself, it cannot be understood to mean an attribute added to the essence outside the soul—as is the case with the real possible—but merely that its essence determines that its existence can become necessary only through a cause; thus it indicates an essence that will not be by itself necessary in its existence when its cause is removed and therefore is not a necessary existent, that is, it is denied the quality of necessary existence. 33 These differences are neither substantial differences—that is, dividing the essence—nor additions to the essence; rather, they are merely negations and relations.34 32

This interpolated gloss is a near-verbatim quotation from the end of the eighth discussion of the Tahāfut: ‫ואולם אמרו שענין מחויב המציאות שאין לו עלה פועלת בלתי אמתי אבל‬ ‫אמרנו בו מחויב המציאות הוא תאר חיובי מחויב מטבע אין לו עלה כלל לא פועלת מחוץ ולא‬ ‫( היא חלק ממנו‬Happalat ha-happalah, 69v; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:240–41). Narboni slightly alters the language so that it suits the new context and adds the word “intellectual” (śikhli), apparently basing himself on Averroes’s statement, just a few lines later, that the word “existence”—like “necessity” and “eternal”—is not an attribute added to the essence but, rather, an “intellectual attribute” (toʾar śikhli; ṣifah ḏihnīyah; van den Bergh, “mental attribute”). See note 40 below. The same sentence from the eighth discussion also serves as Narboni’s commentary on the twentieth Aristotelian premise at the beginning of the second part of the Guide: ‫ההקדמה העשרימיה היא שכל מחויב המציאות‬ ‫בבחינת עצמו אין סבה למציאותו כלל ולא בשום עניין אך אין ענין מחויב המציאות שאין לו‬ ‫עלה פועלת אבל אמרנו בו מחויב המציאות הוא תאר חיובי מחויב מטבע אין לו עלה כלל לא‬ ‫( פועלת מחוץ ולא בעצמותו ממה שבו עמידתו וחלק ממנו ודע זה‬CG 2, introduction, 24a). 33 Narboni slightly alters the text. The source reads: ‫וכאלו אמר שהמחויב המציאות ממנו מה‬ ‫שהוא מחויב בעצמו וממנו מה שמחויב לעלה ומה שהוא מחויב לעלה אינו מחויב לעצמו ולא‬ ‫יספק אחד שאלה ההבדלים‬. On this sentence, see van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 2:80n: “[Averroes] seems to mean that if, through the necessity in it, there were a duality in the necessary existent, the necessary existent would be necessary by itself and at the same time its necessity would be caused by the necessity in it; but then the necessary existent would not be necessary by itself.” Whereas Averroes targets al-Ġazālī’s reasoning, Narboni removes the reference to al-Ġazālī (keʾilu amar) and mutes Averroes’s objection by making it into a general statement about the two types of necessary existence. Narboni also quotes this line in his commentary on al-Ġazālī’s Maqāṣid, but there he does not make any alterations (see note 35 below). 34 CG 1.57, 9a; cf. Happalat ha-happalah, 33r; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:117–18. ‫אמנם מי שאין סבה למציאותו והוא השם ית׳ ויתרומם לבדו כי זה הוא ענין אמרנו עליו ית׳‬ ‫שהוא מחוייב המציאות תהיה מציאותו עצמו ואמתתו ועצמו מציאותו ירצה כי ענין מחויב‬ ‫המציאות אינו ענין נוסף על המציאות חוץ לנפש אבל מציאותו הוא עצמו וחיוב מציאותו‬ ‫מחויב מטבעו על שאין לו עלה וכאלו הוא שב אל סלוק העלה רצוני שיהיה במציאותו עלול‬ ‫מזולתו וכאלו מה שקיים לזולתו שלל ממנו כמדרגת אמרנו בנמצא שהוא אחד וזה שהאחדות‬ ‫לא יבין בנמצא ענין נוסף על עצמותו חוץ לנפש במציאות כמו מה שיובן מן מאמרנו נמצא‬ ‫לבן ואמנם יובן ממנו ענין העדרי והוא העדר החלוק וכן מחויב המציאות אמנם יובן מחיוב‬

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By beginning his comment with “he means that” (yirṣeh ki), Narboni offers this highly technical explanation of necessary and possible existence as Maimonides’s intended meaning. Yet philosophically attuned readers would realise that this explanation is probably not what Maimonides had in mind. For example, Narboni (channelling Averroes) asserts that existence is not an attribute added to an essence, yet Maimonides’s opening statement, which Narboni just quoted, asserts that existence is an accident in things that are caused to exist, and hence it is something added. The passage also has Maimonides maintaining that oneness is not something added to an essence existing outside the soul, but Maimonides goes on to say that oneness and multiplicity are likewise accidents—a point that Narboni subsequently works to refute. Furthermore, the passage concludes with the point that “necessity” and “possibility” do not refer to actual divisions within the thing that exists, and yet Maimonides clearly makes the Avicennan point that the duality of essence and existence holds for everything other than God.35 When we look at the original context in the Tahāfut, it becomes clear that Narboni, with Averroes’s help, offers this explanation not so much as what Maimonides “means,” but, rather, as what Narboni thinks Maimonides really should have meant. This account of necessary and possible existence is part of Averroes’s effort to present a philosophically and theologically defensible understanding of these concepts—that is, an understanding that can withstand al-Ġazālī’s criticisms. In the sentences immediately preceding this passage, Averroes summarises al-Ġazālī’s argument before offering a rebuttal,

‫המציאות ענין העדרי שפטו עצמותו והוא שיהיה חיוב מציאותו בעצמו לא בזולתו ר״ל‬ ‫שאמרנו מחויב המציאות אינו שאין לו עלה פועלת אבל אמרנו בו מחויב הוא תאר חיובי‬ ‫שכלי לא נוסף מחויב מטבע אין לו עלה כלל לא פועלת מחוץ ולא היא חלק ממנו וכן אמרנו‬ ‫אפשר המציאות מעצמותו אי אפשר שיובן ממנו תאר נוסף על העצמות חוץ לנפש כמו מה‬ ‫שיובן מן האפשר האמתי ואמנם יובן ממנו שעצמותו יגזור שלא יהיה המציאות מחויב אלא‬ ‫בעלה והוא יורה על עצמות כאשר נשללה ממנו עלתו לא יהיה מחויב המציאות לעצמותו‬ ‫אבל בלתי מחויב ר״ל שלול ממנו חיוב המציאות ובכלל שהמחויב המציאות ממנו מה שהוא‬ ‫מחויב בעצמו וממנו מה שהוא מחויב בעלה אינו מחויב לעצמו ואלה ההבדלים אינם הבדלים‬ .‫עצמיים ר״ל חולקים לעצמות ולא נוספים על העצמות ואמנם הם ענינים שלוליים וצרופיים‬ 35 Narboni adduces most of the same passage in his commentary on al-Ġazālī’s Maqāṣid, but there he cites Averroes by name and quotes the text nearly verbatim, without the modifications we find in the commentary on 1.57. See Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS héb. 908, fol. 65r–v; and cf. fols. 49v–50r, where Narboni cites lines from this passage and the lines that follow it. Narboni’s predecessors drew from this section of the Tahāfut as well: Albalag used it to correct al-Ġazālī at the very same point in the Maqāṣid where Narboni does (see Tiqqun ha-deʿot, 26–27), and Falaquera, in his commentary on Guide 1.57, quotes the lines in Averroes’s Tahāfut that immediately follow this passage (see Moreh ha-moreh, 150).

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which is the passage that Narboni quotes. The preceding sentences, not quoted by Narboni, read as follows: I say: He [al-Ġazālī] says that when we say of a thing that it is possible in its existence, this must mean that it is either identical with its existence or different from it, that is, something added to its existence. If it is identical, there is no plurality, and so the philosophers’ statement that there is a plurality in the possible existent has no sense. And if it is not identical, then you will have to make the same admission about the necessary existent, that is, that there is a plurality in the necessary existent, but this is in contradiction with what they assume. This reasoning, however, is not valid, for he [al-Ġazālī] has overlooked a third case, namely, that necessity of existence is not…36 To show that the philosophers’ concepts fall apart, al-Ġazālī makes a disjunctive argument. If saying something is possible in its existence means that its being possible is identical with its existence, the philosophers make no sense, since they claim the opposite in order to explain emanation and the multiplicity in existence. And if possibility and existence are in fact separable from one another, then the same must apply to the necessary existent, which means that the philosophers’ God is not absolutely one and simple.37 According to 36 Happalat ha-happalah, 33r; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:117–18. ‫אמרתי אולם אמרו אמרנו בדבר שהוא איפשר המציאות לא ימנע אם שיהיה עין המציאות‬ ‫או זולתו ר״ל ענין נוסף על המציאות ואם היה עינו או [צ״ל ״אין״] רבוי ואין ענין למאמרם‬ ‫שאפשר המציאות הוא אשר בו רבוי ואם היה זולתו חויב לכם זה במחויב המציאות ויהיה‬ ‫מחויב המציאות בו רבוי וזה חלוף מה שהניחו הנה הוא דבור בלתי אמתי וכבר עזב חלק‬ …‫שלישי וזה שמחויב המציאות אינו‬ 37 See Kogan, “Averroes and the Theory of Emanation,” especially 392–93 and note 31, and Michael E. Marmura, “The Conflict over the World’s Pre-Eternity in the Tahāfuts of al-Ghazālī and Ibn Rushd” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1959), 22–23. This argument is part of the wider debate concerning the coherence of the philosophers’ theory of emanation. As Kogan explains, al-Ġazālī argues that if “possibility” and “existence” are identical in the first intellect, which is the first effect emanating from God, then the first intellect cannot generate three effects, as the philosophers claim, because it would contradict their principle that from one thing only one thing can proceed. Also, according to al-Ġazālī, their principle must also apply in the opposite direction, from the effect back to the cause, which means that if the philosophers maintain that the first intellect is not one, as they indeed do, then neither is God. The wider debate in the Tahāfut over the philosophers’ theory of emanation is also a major thread in Narboni’s commentary on the Guide’s chapters on creation. Averroes, in response to al-Ġazālī’s attack on the principle that from one thing only one thing can proceed, rejects the way in which the later philosophers of Islam applied this principle to God. Narboni draws extensively from this response in his commentary on Guide 2.22, a chapter in which Maimonides criticises

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Averroes, however, al-Ġazālī has neglected a third option for understanding these concepts, and this option does not involve the Avicennan meanings of “possible” and “necessary” that the argument presupposes, which means it is impervious to al-Ġazālī’s critique. After explaining the correct approach to these concepts, Averroes goes on to emphasise, as he does on many occasions, that the underlying problem is that Avicenna erred. Whereas Avicenna’s “wicked theory” is exposed to criticism and crumbles under scrutiny, “he who has understood our explanation will not be concerned about the difficulty that al-Ġazālī adduces against him.”38 Narboni pulls Averroes’s explanation out of its original context and inserts it into his commentary so as to teach Averroes’s understanding of the concepts that Maimonides uses, regardless of what Maimonides really meant. Moreover, Narboni modifies the passage in order to explain further what it means to call God the “necessary existent,” and Narboni’s modifications show that he is mindful of both al-Ġazālī’s broader argument against Avicenna and how Averroes responds to it.39 By interpolating a statement that Averroes makes in the eighth discussion of the Tahāfut, Narboni emphasises that “necessary existence” does not just mean that God has no efficient cause but that God has no cause whatsoever.40 Indeed, one of al-Ġazālī’s main claims the theory of emanation in much the same way that al-Ġazālī does. See CG 2.22, 34b–36a (Goldenthal is missing the second half of 2.20, all of 2.21, and the beginning of 2.22; in his edition, the commentary on 2.22 picks up ten lines into 2.20). For further discussion of the principle in question, including Maimonides’s debt to al-Ġazālī’s arguments as well as Albalag’s, Falaquera’s, and Narboni’s respective debts to Averroes’s counterarguments, see Hyman, “From What Is One.” 38 Happalat ha-happalah, 33r–v; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:118–19. ‫ומהנה טעה אבן סינא וחשב שהאחד ענין נוסף על העצמות וכן המציאות על הדבר כאמרנו‬ ‫שהדבר נמצא […] וראשון מי שבדה זאת המליצה הוא אבן סינא רצוני אמרו אפשר המציאות‬ ‫מעצמותו מחויב מזולתו וזה שהאפשרות שהוא תאר בדבר בלתי הדבר אשר בו האפשרות‬ ‫[…] והיא מליצה רעה ואבל כאשר הובן ממנו הענין אשר אמרנוהו לא יושג לו הספק אשר‬ .‫חייבו אבוחאמד‬ 39 For a concise summary of al-Ġazālī’s criticism of Avicenna’s necessary existent and of Averroes’s response, see Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” 25–31. For Avicenna’s understanding of the necessary existent and an explanation of how he establishes the requisite divine attributes based on it, see Peter Adamson, “From the Necessary Existent to God,” in Interpreting Avicenna: Critical Essays, ed. Peter Adamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 170–89. 40 See note 32 above. See Catarina Belo, Chance and Determinism in Avicenna and Averroes (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 183–84. Belo analyses the same two passages of Averroes’s Tahāfut that Narboni combines through citation in his commentary on Guide 1.57. It is also worth noting that Falaquera, in his commentary on 1.57, quotes lines from the eighth discussion that appear a few paragraphs before the line that Narboni includes, so he, too, brings together these two sections of the Tahāfut (see Moreh ha-moreh, 151).

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against the philosophers is that their conception of necessary existence really means only that there is no external efficient cause, and therefore they have not established a God who is entirely one and incorporeal because the necessary existent may still have internal causes.41 In response, Averroes concedes that al-Ġazālī’s criticism is valid, but only insofar as it presupposes Avicenna’s understanding of necessary and possible existence.42 For Averroes, a proper understanding of these concepts leads to a necessary existent that has no cause whatsoever—which is the precise point that Narboni adds to this passage. Thus, Narboni not only transmits Averroes’s understanding of necessary and possible existence but also takes the wider context of the debate into account when providing further explanation. This first example shows just how nuanced Narboni’s anti-Avicennism can be. More than simply criticising Maimonides’s doctrines by embracing Averroes’s critiques, Narboni incorporates passages from the Tahāfut in ways that take into account Avicenna’s doctrines, al-Ġazālī’s criticisms of those doctrines, and Averroes’s responses to both. What is especially striking is that Narboni offers Averroes’s explanation as if it were Maimonides’s intended meaning, even though it is not. At least in this example, Narboni seems more concerned with promoting what he considers an acceptable conception of necessary existence than he is with faithfully representing Maimonides’s apparent intentions. Teaching the truth takes precedence, and Narboni uses Maimonides’s text to do so, even if the text plainly goes in a different direction.43 Narboni knows the arguments that Avicenna, al-Ġazālī, and Averroes 41

For further discussion and relevant citations to the Tahāfut, see Wolfson, “Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes,” 560–63, and Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” 26–29 and note 38. As Wolfson notes in both articles, this argument recurs several times in the text. He also asserts that it is al-Ġazālī’s “central argument” (26n38). 42 See Wolfson, “Crescas on the Problem of Divine Attributes,” 29–30 and notes 46–47. 43 This is one of the strongest examples of the way in which Narboni prioritises teaching Averroes’s philosophy at the expense of explaining Maimonides’s intended meaning, which he clearly knows. In assessing this deliberate misinterpretation, we should keep in mind that Narboni is quite open, at least elsewhere in the commentary, about his willingness to interpret the Guide in light of philosophy even when that interpretation seems doubtful. In his commentary on 3.13 (52a), he asserts that “it is the rule of every commentator to interpret the statements of the sage in a way that accords with the truth whenever it is potentially in his statements, and all the more so when one finds in some of his statements an apparent meaning that accords with the truth” (‫וממשפט כל מפרש לפרש‬ ‫דברי החכם באופן מסכים לאמת כל עת שיהיה בכח בדבריו כל שכן במה שימצא בקצת‬ ‫)דבריו נגלה שיסכים לאמת‬. But since Narboni tends to point out when Maimonides falls for Avicenna’s ideas, the crafty Averroist revision in 1.57 still stands out. On the interpretive principle that Narboni outlines in 3.13, see Ravitzky, “The Secrets of the Guide of the Perplexed,” 166–67, and Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 209–10.

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make, and he interprets Maimonides in light of those arguments. And since he believes that Maimonides’s faulty Avicennan ideas are exposed to al-Ġazālī’s criticisms, Narboni uses Averroes’s counterarguments to explain necessary and possible existence in a way that is not exposed to those criticisms. For Narboni, Avicenna’s necessary existent cannot withstand critical scrutiny, whereas Averroes offers a coherent account. In the rest of his commentary on 1.57, Narboni underscores ways in which Maimonides erred, but first he shows the reader what the text could mean, if only Avicenna had not led Maimonides astray. 3

Creation versus Eternity and the Philosophers’ Proof Based on Divine Will

Maimonides’s position on whether the world is created or eternal is one of the most contested issues among interpreters of the Guide. There are two main approaches to Maimonides’s discussion. For those who take Maimonides at his word, his position is relatively straightforward: he sides with his coreligionists who believe in creation and opposes the Aristotelian philosophers who profess eternity. Maimonides insists that neither side has a decisive demonstration for their position, but still contends that the arguments in favour of creation are stronger and aims to tilt the scales in its favour. For other readers, however, Maimonides conceals his true position: he exoterically supports creation because it is a foundation of the Law, but esoterically agrees with the philosophers. These readers detect intentional contradictions in the text and other clues through which Maimonides points qualified readers toward the truth.44 44 These two approaches are the most prevalent, but they are not the only ones. Some interpreters argue that Maimonides in fact favors the Platonic position that God created the world out of some kind of pre-existing matter, and some argue that he ultimately suspends judgment because there is no decisive proof for any position. For a few significant and representative contributions to the scholarship on this central issue of the Guide, see Kenneth Seeskin, Maimonides on the Origin of the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Kenneth Seeskin, “Maimonides on Creation,” in Jewish Philosophy: Perspectives and Retrospectives, ed. Raphael Jospe and Dov Schwartz (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012), 185–99; Avraham Nuriel, “The Question of a Created or Primordial World in the Philosophy of Maimonides” [Hebrew], Tarbiz 33 (1964): 372–87; Lawrence Kaplan, “Maimonides on the Miraculous Element in Prophecy,” Harvard Theological Review 70 (1977): 233–56; Herbert A. Davidson, “Maimonides’ Secret Position on Creation,” in Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, ed. Isadore Twersky (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), 1:16–40; Warren Zev Harvey, “A Third Approach to Maimonides’ Cosmogony-Prophetology Puzzle,” Harvard Theological Review 74 (1981):

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Narboni is among the most vocal medieval proponents of the esoteric interpretation. According to his reading, while Maimonides may argue in favour of creation and against eternity, he does so as a concession to the conventional beliefs of his time. Yet that concession was necessary in Maimonides’s time—not in all times, according to Narboni.45 He explains that since times have changed and conventional beliefs have progressed, it is now possible to reveal Maimonides’s secret and to publicise the truth more widely.46 Narboni himself certainly subscribes to the Aristotelian doctrine, for he makes clear that eternity, or “eternal creation,” follows necessarily from the idea that God is the prime mover who continuously brings the world into being.47 Sometimes he even draws this doctrine out of the text of the Guide, even though he also

287–301; Sara Klein-Braslavy, “The Creation of the World and Maimonides’ Interpretation of Gen. i–v,” in Maimonides and Philosophy, ed. Shlomo Pines and Yirmiyahu Yovel (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1986), 65–78; Alfred L. Ivry, “Maimonides on Creation” [Hebrew], in Shlomo Pines Jubilee Volume on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, pt. 2, ed. Moshe Idel, Warren Zev Harvey, and Eliezer Schweid, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 9 (1990): 115–37; and Howard Kreisel, “Maimonides on the Eternity of the World,” in Jewish Philosophy: Perspectives and Retrospectives, ed. Raphael Jospe and Dov Schwartz (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012), 157–84. 45 Albalag expresses a similar idea; see Tiqqun ha-deʿot, 51. 46 CG 2.19, 34a. ‫״טבע״ או ״הטבע״ בכמה כה״י] אופן‬+[ ‫וכבר נעתק הזמן ואנשי הדורות אל‬ ‫נוכל להרחיב נקבי המשכיות באמתות יותר מאשר היה בעובר למה שאיננו חולק בזה‬ ‫העת המפורסם על המושכל בשיעור אשר היה חולק בעובר‬. It is significant that references to al-Ġazālī and Averroes bookend this passage of the commentary. Just before it, Narboni says that al-Ġazālī made arguments similar to those of Maimonides and that Maimonides borrowed arguments from al-Ġazālī that aligned with his exoteric intention (see note 50 below), and then after it Narboni quotes Averroes’s Tahāfut in order to rebut those arguments. This is another good example of how Narboni uses the Tahāfut as the key to revealing the secrets of the Guide. For further discussion of Narboni’s comment about revealing secrets over time, see Aviezer Ravitzky, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon and the Esoteric Character of the Guide of the Perplexed,” AJS Review 6 (1981): 114–15; Ravitzky, “The Secrets of the Guide of the Perplexed,” 167; Aviezer Ravitzky, “Maimonides: Esotericism and Educational Philosophy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, ed. Kenneth Seeskin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 310–12; and Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 207–8, 231–32. 47 See Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 221–29. For more on Averroes’s doctrine of “eternal creation” and his argument that this kind of creation is more truly “creation” than the temporal kind that al-Ġazālī defends, see Kogan, Averroes and the Metaphysics of Causation, 48–53, 203ff. For “eternal creation” in Albalag and Polqar, see Seymour Feldman, “An Averroist Solution to a Maimonidean Perplexity,” Maimonidean Studies 4 (2000): 15–30, and Racheli Haliva, “The Origin of the World: An Anti-Sceptical Approach in Medieval Jewish Averroism,” in Scepticism and Anti-Scepticism in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Thought, ed. Racheli Haliva (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 130–45.

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recognises that Maimonides’s God is not the prime mover.48 And in order to show that, truth be told, Maimonides himself sides with the philosophers, Narboni finds various hints and allusions within the text. He identifies incongruities between passages, he infers eternity from particular statements, and he discerns Aristotelian implications in Maimonides’s biblical prooftexts.49 When it comes to dealing with Maimonides’s forceful arguments against the Aristotelian position—the force of which Narboni must soften if he wants to persuade readers that they do not represent Maimonides’s considered position—Narboni works to tilt the scales in favour of eternity by bringing Averroes into the debate, and once again the Tahāfut serves as Narboni’s primary interpretive key. In his commentary on the section of the Guide devoted to creation versus eternity, Narboni uses Averroes’s and al-Ġazālī’s arguments as intertexts with which to upend Maimonides’s exoteric stance and to promote the Aristotelian doctrine as his secret teaching. And Narboni realises that the Tahāfut is an ideal source for this purpose; in a few instances, he tells his readers that Maimonides borrowed arguments from al-Ġazālī or from the mutakallimūn more generally.50 Recognising the parallels between points in 48

For example, when Maimonides says in 1.69 that “God is the agent of the world, its form, and its end,” Narboni relies on Averroes’s conception of the prime mover to interpret the text to his advantage (CG 1.69, 14a): “He means the principle that the heavens are among the existents whose existence and essential differences consist in motion, so the giver of motion is their agent. And since their creation is eternal, they are more suited to the term ‘created’ than that which is created at a particular time” (‫ירצה והשרש בזה שהשמים מן‬ ‫הנמצאות אשר מציאותם והבדליהם העצמיים בתנועה הנה נותן התנועה הוא פועלם ואחר‬ ‫)שחדושם נצחי הנה הם יותר ראויים בשם המחודש מן המחודש בעת מה‬. This line and the lines that follow it come from the third discussion of Averroes’s Tahāfut (Happalat ha-happalah, 27v, 28v; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:100, 103). See note 19 above. 49 For an example of incongruities between chapters, see CG 1.74, sixth method, 19b; 2, introduction, premise 18, 23b; 2.17 (missing in Goldenthal; see note 54 below). For an example where Narboni finds eternity implied in a particular statement, see CG 1.58, 9b (ʿod gillah sod nifla‌ʾ…). For a few examples of esoteric biblical exegesis, see Holzman, “R. Moshe Narboni’s Commentary,” 229–30. 50 See, e.g., CG 2.19, 34a: “Know that Abū Ḥāmid already made arguments similar to the arguments that the Master makes here. It seems to me that the Master selected what suited him according to his intention from those arguments, or from what he found in the statements of the mutakallimūn, but the truth did not elude him with respect to these issues. For as one of the philosophers said about one of those who study true reality, he is among the intelligent who have sundered the gate by thinking about the intelligibles” (‫ודע כי‬ ‫בדומה אלה השאלות אשר עשה הרב כבר עשאם אבוחמד יראה אצלי שבחר הרב מהם‬ ‫או במה שמצאם בדברי המדברים מה שנאות אליו כפי כונתו ולא נעלם מהרב האמת באלה‬ ‫הדרושים כי הרב כמו שאמר אחד מן הפילוסופים על אחד מן המאמתים הוא מן המשכילים‬ ‫)אשר יבקעו השער במחשבתם במושכלות‬. In this context it is worth noting that Albalag, in a comment on al-Ġazālī’s introduction to the Maqāṣid, similarly recognises an affinity

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Maimonides’s discussion and points in the debates between al-Ġazālī and Averroes, Narboni draws from Averroes to strengthen arguments for eternity and poke holes in arguments against it. We will look closely at one of many instances in which Narboni leverages connections between the Tahāfut and the Guide in order to advance the Aristotelian doctrine. In Guide 2.18, Maimonides contests the philosophers’ proofs for eternity that are based on premises about the nature of God.51 According to the second proof that Maimonides describes, eternity is necessary because God has no incentives or impediments that cause God to create the world at one time and not another; since nothing alters God’s will or obstructs it, God’s action is eternal. Maimonides’s rebuttal is that, whereas human actions depend on factors external to the will, God’s action is “consequent upon the will alone.” As such, nothing requires that God act always. When the will is entirely independent, the agent can choose to act at one time and not another. Thus, God can create the world when God chooses to do so. And it does not matter, Maimonides continues, that God acts at one time and not another—which would normally imply some kind of change within the agent—because “the true reality and the quiddity of will means: to will and not to will.” He explains that in the case of a corporeal agent, its will undergoes change because of the external factors on which it depends; but in the case of an incorporeal agent, willing at one point and not another does not reflect a change in the essence of the will. Maimonides affirms that there is no likeness between the two kinds of will.52

between al-Ġazālī and Maimonides; he also makes the point that Averroes’s response to al-Ġazālī’s criticisms of philosophy can serve as a response to Maimonides’s criticisms in the Guide. See Albalag, Tiqqun ha-deʿot, 5. 51 Maimonides first summarises their arguments for eternity in 2.14, including both proofs from the nature of the world and proofs from the nature of God. In 2.17 he responds to the former, and in 2.18 he responds to the latter. For the philosophical background on the arguments from the nature of God, see Herbert A. Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, Creation, and the Existence of God in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 49–85. 52 Guide 2.18, second method (Pines, 300–301). See also Davidson, Proofs for Eternity, 53–54, 73, 77; Seeskin, Maimonides on the Origin of the World, 79, 82–86; Seeskin, “Maimonides on Creation,” 188–89; Ivry, “The Guide and Maimonides’ Philosophical Sources,” 78; Alfred L. Ivry, “Maimonides on Possibility,” in Mystics, Philosophers, and Politicians: Essays in Jewish Intellectual History in Honor of Alexander Altmann, edited by Jehuda Reinharz and Daniel Swetschinsky, with the collaboration of Kalman P. Bland (Durham: Duke University Press, 1982), 79–82; Charles H. Manekin, “Divine Will in Maimonides’ Later Writings,” Maimonidean Studies 5 (2008): 198–200; and Arthur Hyman, “Maimonides on Creation and Emanation,” in Studies in Medieval Philosophy, ed. John F. Wippel (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1987), 54–57.

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Narboni’s goal in his commentary on this passage, which reflects his goal in this section of the Guide more generally, is to advance the view that Maimonides contests and to undermine the view that he defends. Averroes’s Tahāfut serves Narboni particularly well here because the second proof in 2.18 resembles the first proof in the Tahāfut, with Maimonides’s stated position corresponding to that of al-Ġazālī. As Shlomo Pines notes in the introduction to his translation of the Guide, Maimonides’s response to this proof for eternity reflects al-Ġazālī’s conception of the will; Pines also observes that “the defense of this conception of the will, which is traditional in the kalām, is one of the main objects of al-Ġazālī’s Tahāfut.”53 Narboni recognises the similarity as well. When Maimonides states that God’s action “is consequent upon the will alone,” Narboni notes that Maimonides borrowed this opinion from the mutakallimūn, according to whom the creation of the world was delayed until the time that God intended for it to exist.54 And to help overturn Maimonides’s exoteric position, Narboni draws from al-Ġazālī’s and Averroes’s opening arguments of the first discussion, which is devoted to proofs for eternity.55 Narboni uses his intertext in two ways here. First, he relies on the Tahāfut to amplify Maimonides’s account of the philosophers’ proof, but without citing his source. Maimonides’s account of the proof is not especially detailed, and he sets it up in order to refute it. Narboni explicates the proof and makes it much more sophisticated by integrating material from the Tahāfut. The passage from the commentary, with text from the Guide in bold and text from the Tahāfut italicised, reads as follows:

53 Pines, “Translator’s Introduction,” cxxviii. Cf. Griffel, “Maimonides as a Student,” 414–16. 54 CG 2.18. ‫כי הפועל הוא נמשך לרצון לבד זה דעת לקחו מן המדברים ויתאחר נפילת העולם מן‬ ‫הבורא ית׳ עד הגעת התנאי אשר נתלה בו הוא העת אשר כוון בו מציאותו‬. Goldenthal’s edition of the commentary is missing the second half of 2.17 and almost all of 2.18, including Narboni’s commentary on the second proof. 55 Happalat ha-happalah, 1r–2r; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:1–4. Cf. Narboni’s commentary on Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, 418, 422. When Ḥayy considers a version of this argument for eternity, Narboni notes that al-Ġazālī and Averroes already discussed it at length at the beginning of the Tahāfut. For analyses of al-Ġazālī’s and Averroes’s arguments in the first discussion, see Hourani, “The Dialogue between al-Ghazālī and the Philosophers”; Marmura, “The Conflict over the World’s Pre-Eternity”; Oliver Leaman, Averroes and His Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 15–41; Oliver Leaman, An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 55–77; Taneli Kukkonen, “Possible Worlds in the Tahāfut al-tahāfut: Averroes on Plenitude and Possibility,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000): 329–47; and Taneli Kukkonen, “Possible Worlds in the Tahāfut al-falāsifa: Al-Ghazālī on Creation and Contingency,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000): 479–502.

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The second method is the one in which the eternity of the world is shown to be necessary because there do not subsist for Him, may He be exalted, any incentives, supervening accidents, and impediments, for the creator, may His name be blessed, has no incentives that would necessitate a change of will and no impediments that would obstruct the will. If there were to arise an incentive to act or a determinant of existence over privation—existence that was possible before—the question then shifts to that incentive or determinant: Why determine now and not before? Either there is an infinite regress, which is impossible, or there is necessarily an agent that does not cease from acting, a determinant that does not cease from determining, does not change, and lacks anything that changes it or its will. And just as it is impossible that there should be something produced without something that produces and necessitates it, so, too, it is impossible that there should exist something that necessitates—and through which the conditions of its necessitating and its relation to that which is necessary are fulfilled—while that which is necessitated does not exist. For when there is an agent whose conditions do not cease, it is necessary that its action follows without delay.56 With the help of his source, Narboni explains that if the world were created after not having existed, there must have been an incentive or determining principle that brought it about. The question “Why at this time and not another?” then shifts to that incentive or determining principle, which must have its own incentive or determining principle. An infinite regress is impossible, so there must be an eternal cause with an unchanging will—that is, God. And when the eternal cause exists, its effect necessarily does so as well; hence the world is eternal.57 What is especially interesting here is that Narboni’s elaboration of the proof includes lines that are quotations not of Averroes but of al-Ġazālī. These 56 CG 2.18 (missing in Goldenthal). ‫הדרך השני הוא אשר יחייב בו קדמות העולם להעלות המביאים והמתחדשים והמונעים בחקו‬ ‫ית׳ כי הבורא ית׳ שמו אין מביאים לו שיחיבו שנוי רצון ולא מונעים יעמדו כנגד הרצון ואם‬ ‫חודש מביא לפעול או מכריע המציאות על ההעדר אשר היה אפשר קודם הועתק הדבור אל‬ ‫אותו המביא או המכריע למה הכריע עתה ולא הכריע קודם הנה אם שילך הענין אל בלתי‬ ‫תכלית והוא שקר או שם בהכרח פועל לא סר מלפעול ומכריע לא סר מכריע לא ישתנה ואין‬ ‫לו משנה לא הוא ולא רצונו וכמו שהוא מן השקר מחודש בלתי מחדש ומחייב כן יהיה מן‬ ‫השקר מציאות מחייב נשלמו בו תנאי חיובו ויחסו אל המחויב ולא ימצא המתחייב כי כאשר‬ .‫היה פועל לא סר תנאי הפועל מחויב שלא יתאחר ממנו פעלו‬ 57 See Hourani, “The Dialogue between al-Ghazālī and the Philosophers,” 184–85; Marmura, “The Conflict over the World’s Pre-Eternity,” 39–40; and Leaman, Averroes and His Philosophy, 15.

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lines are from passages that Averroes quotes in which al-Ġazālī summarises the philosophers’ first proof for eternity. There are two sentences in Narboni’s expanded account of the proof that contain lines from al-Ġazālī, and these lines come from different passages at the beginning of the Tahāfut. The first is taken from Averroes’s first quotation of al-Ġazālī, which is also the very first paragraph of Averroes’s entire work. Narboni expands the sentence with interpolated glosses that add pertinent details and reinforce the argument. al-Ġazālī: If there were to arise a determinant, the question then shifts to that determinant: Why determine now and not before? Either there is an infinite regress, or it ends with a determinant that does not cease from determining.58 Narboni: If there were to arise a determinant the question then shifts to that determinant: Why determine now and not before? Either there is an infinite regress, or a determinant that does not cease from determining .59 The other sentence that derives from al-Ġazālī immediately follows this one, and it is based on Averroes’s third quotation of al-Ġazālī, which contains the philosophers’ hypothetical rebuttal to al-Ġazālī’s opening objection to their proof. In this objection—which is Averroes’s second quotation from al-Ġazālī’s Tahāfut—al-Ġazālī questions the philosophers’ reasoning and offers his 58 Happalat ha-happalah, 1r; van den Bergh, Tahāfut al-tahāfut, 1:1. ‫ואם חודש מכריע הועתק הדבור אל אותו המכריע למה הכריע עתה ולא הכריע קודם הנה‬ .‫אם שילך הענין אל בלתי תכלית או יכלה הענין אל מכריע לא יסור אל מכריע‬ 59 CG 2.18 (missing in Goldenthal). ‫ואם חודש מכריע הועתק‬ ‫הדבור אל אותו המכריע למה הכריע עתה ולא הכריע קודם הנה אם שילך‬ ‫הענין אל בלתי תכלית או מכריע לא סר‬ .>‫מכריע scilicet quod est possibilis. Illud igitur de anima quod dicitur intellectus {et dico intellectum illud per quod distinguimus et cogitamus) non est in actu aliquod entium antequam intelligat. 11 Non est in actu aliquod entium antequam intelligant in Scot’s translation, which parallels the word-for-word Arabic translation of Aristotle’s Greek οὐθέν ἐστιν ἐνεργείᾳ τῶν ὄντων πρὶν νοεῖν.

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hierarchy of celestial intellects, directly below the agent intellect.12 In short, in his attempt to make sense of Aristotle’s claim concerning potential existence, Averroes has established an ontological gulf between the human intellect and particular human beings. This interpretation was criticised by Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, the latter of whom famously concentrated his attack on Averroes’s position in the De unitate intellectus by claiming that it is anti-Christian in as much as it is anti-Aristotelian. Aquinas’s sharp criticism was echoed by generations of professors of theology—mainly Dominican—from Paris to Padua, who criticised this “unicity thesis.” The thesis was publicly condemned by Church officials in Paris in 1277 as well as in Padua in 1489.13 The LCDA 3.5 was therefore the focal point of one of the fiercest debates in the history of scholastic philosophy and received particular attention by both premodern authors as well as modern scholars. The other digression under discussion, 3.36, refers again to the third book of On the Soul, where Aristotle states (431b19): As a separate thing is thought when [the intellect] understands those things (for what is in act universally is the intellect which is in act), our cognition later will concern whether or not it can understand any of the separate things while it is separate from magnitude.14 The passage, which also had decisive influence on subsequent discussions in the Latin West, asks whether we are able to cognise a separate intellect while ourselves being clothed in flesh. Averroes’s solution (at least as he was understood by his Jewish interpreter Elijah Del Medigo) is that we can, indeed, comprehend the separate intellects during our lifetime, and that this involves a

12 See Herbert A. Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of Human Intellect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 295. 13 The literature on Aquinas’s critique of the unicity thesis, as well as on the Renaissance unicity controversy, is vast. For references concerning editions and relevant studies see Michael Engel, “Elijah Del Medigo’s Critique of the Paduan Thomists,” Medioevo: Rivista di storia della filosofia medievale (2013): 295–316 and Michael Engel, Elijah Del Medigo and Paduan Aristotelianism: Investigating the Human Intellect (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). See also Giovanni Licata’s contribution to this volume. 14 Averroes, Long commentary, 303–4. Et sicut res abstracta intelligitur cum intelligit istas res (illud enim quod est in actu universaliter est intellectus qui est in actu), et cogitatio nostra in postremo erit utrum possit intelligere aliquam rerum abstractarum, cum hoc quod ipse est abstractus a magnitudine, aut non (Commentarium magnum, 479.1–5).

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casual transformation whereby the agent intellect becomes not only the agent cause of the intelligibles but the formal cause of human intellection as well.15 In both editions of the Giunta, the editio princeps of 1552–1550 and that of 1562, we find a new translation of these two digressions, printed alongside Scot’s translation, as it was often the practice of the Giunta editors to print alternative translations side by side, at times more than two. Scot’s translation is referred to as antiqua translatio by the Giunta editors, the other explicitly attributed to Mantino:16

Figure 20.1 Layout of the two translations in the Giunta edition, Venice 1562, 140a

In what follows I try to give a fresh account of the translation attributed to Mantino and the mechanism underlying its production. My conclusion would be that, while we may associate Mantino with the second version of the text, it is, without doubt, a revision and not a fresh translation from the Hebrew. Moreover, I will argue that we cannot even be sure that Mantino employed a Hebrew version in his act of revision.

15

16

For a discussion concerning a fifteenth-century commentary on this digression, see Michael Engel, “Reconstructing Averroes’s Theory of Conjunction and Immortality in 15th-Century Padua: A Possible Source for Pico’s 900 Theses” in Giovanni Licata and Pasquale Terracciano (eds.), La lama del sapiente. Saggi sulla filosofia di Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2022), 179–216. The editors of the Giunta introduce the translation thus: Commentum hoc Quintum a viro illo doctissimo Iacob Mantino translatum (138vd).

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Possible Hebrew Sources

If Mantino did indeed translate the two digressions afresh from the Hebrew, what could his sources have been? The LCDA did not enjoy wide circulation among Jews, as is evident from the paucity of Hebrew manuscripts that have reached us.17 However, four manuscripts of the commentary did survive which, according to Harry Wolfson, were translated from the Latin by Baruch ibn Yaʿiš.18 Was the version contained in these manuscripts the Hebrew source that served Mantino in his new translation of digressions 3.5 and 3.36? While scholars disagree on this point, they all acknowledge that the Hebrew version represented by the four manuscripts was made primarily from the Latin, with or without consultation with an Arabic version. This was most recently asserted by Dag Hasse and previously by Harry Wolfson and Mauro Zonta.19 Therefore, if we take these manuscripts to be the Hebrew source from which Mantino translated his text, then the translation would have gone full circle, Latin-Hebrew-Latin. This was the description given by Mauro Zonta in a 1994 article (see more below). This possibility however had already been rejected more than thirty years prior to Zonta’s article by Harry Wolfson, who argued 17 According to Steinschneider, the supercommentary of Joseph ben Shem Tov serves as evidence that an Arabic-into-Hebrew translation was in circulation. Wolfson, however, has shown that Shem Tov here refers not to the long but to the middle commentary. 18 The manuscripts are (1) Budapest, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Ms. Kaufmann A 283; (2) Naples, Victor Emmanuel III National Library, Ms. F 5; (3) Moscow, The Russian State Library, Ms. Guenzburg 506; and (4)  Berlin, State Library of Berlin, Ms. Or. fol. 1387. To the best of my knowledge, the only analysis of these manuscripts and the relation between them is in Mauro Zonta’s “Osservazioni sulla tradizione ebraica del Commento grande di Averroè al De anima di Aristotele,” Annali di Ca’ Foscari 33, no. 25 (1994): 15–28; my conclusions are by and large similar to his, with some differences. Among the four manuscripts, Budapest seems to stand out, and it may have gone through some process of revision. This is apparent in the content of Averroes’s commentary, as well as the translation of Aristotle’s lemmas. Among the other manuscripts, Naples seems to be closest to Budapest, and Moscow and Berlin form a different subgroup. Budapest and Naples also seem to reflect a superior copy of the original translation, and Budapest, despite the fact that it was probably revised, seems to contain better readings among the two (in 139D for instance, we have evidence that Budapest follows the Latin text more faithfully than the other versions). I intend to dedicate a study to the textual history of the Hebrew LCDA as it finds expression in these four manuscripts. On ibn Yaʿiš, see Wolfson’s discussion in “Revised Plan,” and see also Yehuda Halper, “Philosophical Commentary and Supercommentary: The Hebrew Aristotelean Commentaries of the 14th through 16th Centuries,” in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and its Literary Forms, ed. Aaron Hughes and James Robinson (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2019), 114. 19 Hasse, Success and Suppression, 84.

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that “Mantino’s translation of Comments 5 and 36 are not made from the Hebrew translation from the Latin long commentary on On the Soul [i.e., ibn Yaʿiš’s translation].”20 Instead, Wolfson suggested two possible scenarios. The first was that—given their prominent role in scholastic discussions—an Arabic-into-Hebrew translation of digressions 3.5 and 3.36 circulated during the Middle Ages as independent textual units, serving Mantino in his work of translation. The second option put forward by Wolfson was that there existed another translation of the entire LCDA, Arabic-into-Hebrew, employed by Mantino. As mentioned above, Zonta held the seemingly more straightforward option—that is, that Mantino had translated the two digressions from ibn Yaʿiš’s Hebrew translation (though Zonta did not point to any one of the manuscripts in particular). Zonta, however, acknowledged that Mantino had also consulted Scot’s translation.21 A fourth possibility was put forward by Herbert Davidson, who merely suggested, without any supporting evidence, the possibility that “Mantino simply rephrased and fleshed out the two critical sections in Michael Scot’s translation in order to render them more readable.”22 My own conclusion is a qualified acceptance of Davidson’s suggestion. Mantino’s work is to be assessed first and foremost as an act of revision, while—taking into account the findings of Dag Hasse, Roland Hissette, Giovanni Licata, and myself with regard to other translations by Mantino—we cannot rule out that he employed in his revision a Hebrew source, although this seems uncertain. Moreover, returning to Davidson’s appreciation of Mantino’s output; whatever Mantino’s motives were, he certainly did not make the text more readable. Even a superficial examination of the two versions reveals that Scot’s version is far more comprehensible—from the perspectives of both vocabulary and syntax—to a reader familiar with scholastic texts. As I will suggest, Mantino’s motivation may have been simply to distinguish his own translation from that of Scot. 20 Wolfson, “Revised Plan,” 99. 21 “[U]n attento confronto lunguistico e terminologico tra la versione di Mantino, la traduzione ebraica e la translatio antiqua di Scoto consente di concludere che, con buona verosimiglianza, fu invece proprio la versione di Baruk Ibn Yaʿīš la fonte impiegata da Mantino, anche se quest’ultimo non mancò di confrontare poi la propria versione con la traduzione latina già esistente” (Zonta, “Osservazioni sulla tradizione ebraica,” 23). As I will show, the procedure that took place is most likely a reversed one: the source primarily employed by Mantino was Scot’s translation, which the former revised, while, if a consultation was made, it was with a Hebrew source, which may or may not have been the version contained in the four surviving manuscripts. 22 Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, 263n24.

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Yet let us return now to Zonta’s hypothesis, which, as I mentioned above, seems more economical than Wolfson’s, as he associates Mantino’s translation with the surviving Hebrew text. Zonta agrees with Wolfson that ibn Yaʿiš’s translation was made from the Latin, and therefore refers to Mantino’s version as a “retroversion” (retroversione) of the text back into Latin.23 Zonta demonstrates his claim with fourteen examples from the beginning of digression 3.5 which, according to Zonta, demonstrate that Mantino’s version relies primarily on the Hebrew, followed by a consultation with Scot’s existing Latin. One example cited by Zonta could indeed suggest that Mantino’s translation is relying—or is at least related—to the Hebrew version of ibn Yaʿiš, as the words ‫אותו החלק‬/eam partem are not represented in Scot’s translation: 11.1 Idest, illud igitur ex anima quod dicitur intellectus materialis 11.2 ‫ירצה ואמנם אותו החלק מהנפש אשר יאמר שכל חמרי‬ 11.3 intelligit eam partem animae, quae intellectus materialis nuncupatur The word pars—in the accusative partem, as used by Mantino, or in any other grammatical form, for that matter—is missing from Scot’s translation in the editio princeps of the Giunta, as well as from the 1562 edition. It is missing in all other Renaissance editions available to me, as well as in Crawford’s critical apparatus. The word, however, appears in all four Hebrew manuscripts of the work. Yet this example alone does not compel us to accept that Mantino is here relying on the Hebrew. The word pars, while indeed missing from Scot’s translation, is implied by Scot’s ex anima, and it is definitely conceivable that both Mantino and the Hebrew translator, independent of each other as well as of the Arabic, have added the word. This, in fact, is exactly what we find in the modern English translation, where Taylor has rendered “illud igitur ex anima” as “that part of the soul.”24 Even so, this example may indeed be a case where Mantino employed the Hebrew in addition to the Latin, as the following example could also suggest (not cited by Zonta). In the following case a fragment of the original Arabic version have survived, which is closer to the Hebrew and to Mantino than to Scot’s translation: 23 Hasse is also using the term “retroversion” in his text (Hasse, Success and Suppression, 74), explicitly referring to Zonta. Wirmer reiterates Zonta’s assertion in his notes to his German translation of digressions 5 and 36 of the LCDA; see Wirmer, Über den Intellekt, 357n287. Zonta, nevertheless, acknowledged that Mantino may have made use of Scot’s translation as well (Zonta, “Osservazioni sulla tradizione ebraica,” 25). As will be seen, this is beyond doubt. 24 Wirmer and de Libera here follow Scot in their respective translations more closely; the former translates illud igitur ex anima as “dass dasjenige der Seele”; the latter as “ce qui, de l‘ame.” - 978-90-04-68568-0 Downloaded from Brill.com 04/07/2024 09:55:16PM via University of Wisconsin-Madison

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‫�ذ‬ ‫�غ‬ ‫�غ‬ ‫ة‬ ‫خ‬ ‫ة ت‬ ‫ف����ه��ذا �هو ا �ل� �ي� ح‬ ‫�رك ا ر��س��طو الى ا د ��ا ل �ه��ذه ا �ل��ط ب��ي���ع�� ا �ل�ي� �ه�ي ي��ر ط ب��ي���ع�� ا ��ل�ه��يو ل�ي و ي��ر‬ ‫ة �غ‬ ‫ة‬ ‫ة‬ .‫ط ب��ي���ع�� ا �ل���صور� و ي��رط ب��ي���ع�� ا �ل���م�� ج����مو �م ن����ه�ا‬ ‫ع‬ Arabic fragment:25

Ibn Yaʿiš:

‫הנה זהו אשר יניע ארסטו להניח זה הטבע שהוא זולתי לטבע החומר ולטבע הצורה‬ ‫ומטבע המקובץ מהם‬

Scot: Hoc igitur movit Aristotelem ad imponendum hanc naturam, quae est alia a natura materiae, et a natura formae et a natura congregati. Mantino: Hoc igitur coegit Aristotelem ponere hanc naturam distinctam a natura materiae, atque a natura formae, atque a natura compositi ex ipsis.

In the example above, the expression “of them” (‫�م ن����ه�ا‬/‫מהם‬/ex ipsis) is testified in the Arabic, in the Hebrew and in Mantino’s version, yet is missing from all remaining Latin sources: it is missing from Scot’s translation as it appears in the Giunta, from Crawford’s text and apparatus, and from all the Renaissance editions available to me. This may indicate some influence exerted by the Hebrew version on Mantino’s translation. However, as in the previous example, the words “of them” may have been added independently by the Hebrew author and by Mantino as means of clarification. Another possibility is that ex ipsis appeared in a Latin source other than the Giunta containing Scot’s translation—be it manuscript or print—which was available to Mantino, and where the words did appear. This, in fact, is exactly what took place in the case below (not referred to by Zonta): Scot (Giunta, 1562): sed iam demonstratum est quod iste non est hoc neque forma in corpore (139E) ‫שאין השכל דבר רמוז ולא גשם ולא צורה בגשם‬

Mantino:. sed neminem latet ipsum intellectum non esse quid individuum et singulare et neque corpus neque potentia in corpore

As can be seen above, Scot’s translation, in both the editio princeps and the 1562 Giunta edition, has an omission due to homoeuteleuton. However, this omission does not appear in either Mantino or in the Hebrew, as both contain 25

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‫ולא גשם‬/neque corpus. Here the textual discrepancy is more significant than

in the cases cited above, as it appears much less likely that both Mantino and the Hebrew author amended the text independently and in exactly the same manner. In short, if we examine Scot’s translation only as it appears in the Giunta, it may appear that Mantino had consulted the Hebrew version, which here offers a more accurate reading. However, a consultation with an earlier, fifteenth-century printed edition explains what actually happened; the erroneous formulation is the fault of the Giunta edition editors (both in the editio princeps and in the 1562 edition). In Vernia’s edition from 1483, we find the following: sed iam demonstratum est quod iste non est hoc neque corpus neque forma in corpore.26 A comparison with Vernia’s edition shows that Mantino has relied on the formula as it appears there and revised it; additionally, his mistaken potentia for forma cannot be explained against the Hebrew, as all manuscripts have ‫צורה‬. To conclude this point, while the first two examples may indeed suggest that Mantino consulted a Hebrew version, I have only come accross these two examples, and, as mentioned, not only are they too few, but they are also inconclusive. The other examples cited by Zonta—I wish to argue—do not lead to the conclusion that Mantino’s version is based on the Hebrew of ibn Yaʿiš. In all these examples, as throughout the LCDA in general, the Hebrew sentences in ibn Yaʿiš’s translation are very close to the formulation in Scot’s Latin translation, a proximity that renders it practically impossible to determine on which of the two Mantino relied. See for instance the following examples put forward by Zonta: 1. Hebrew: ‫זולת זה‬ Scot: nisi istam Mantino: nisi hanc

26 Mantino’s potentia for forma, which is a clear mistake in the given context, is not recorded in any of the Hebrew manuscripts, which all have ‫צורה‬. It is also missing from the Vernia edition and from the critical apparatus in Crawford. On the production of the Renaissance editions and the importance of studying their printing history as means for a full comprehension of the philosophical activity in the Italian Renaissance, see Jill Kraye, “The Printing History of Aristotle in the Fifteenth Century: A Bibliographical Approach to Renaissance Philosophy,” Renaissance Studies 9, no. 2 (1995): 189–211.

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2. Hebrew: ‫בזה האופן‬ Scot: hoc modo Mantino: eo pacto 13. Hebrew: ‫כי אם טבע הכחיות‬ Scot: nisi naturam possibilitatis Mantino: nisi naturam potentialitatis (seu promptitudinis, ut ita loquor) In other cases, we do detect a discrepancy, only that in these cases the Hebrew is far closer to Scot’s formulations, which again renders the attempt to discern which of the two versions Mantino relied on methodologically problematic: 1. Hebrew: ‫אשר יאמר שכל‬ Scot: quod dicitur intellectus Mantino: intellectus vocatus 5. Hebrew: ‫דבר מהנמצאות‬ Scot: aliquod entium Mantino: ipsorum entium In short, we mostly encounter cases where (1) there is agreement among all three versions—Hebrew, Scot and Mantino, or (2) the Hebrew and Scot agree against Mantino. Cases that would support Zonta’s hypothesis—that is, (3), where Mantino agrees with the Hebrew and where the two contain different readings from Scot are, as I have shown, quite rare, and at least in one case the apparent ‘agreement’ between Mantino and the Hebrew can be explained by pointing to omissions that are particular to some witnesses of the Latin textual tradition. The following example sheds further light on the nature of Mantino’s activity as a reviser: 138vf 2. Scot: Et sic nullam habet naturam secundum hoc nisi naturam pssibibilitatis [sic] ad recipiendum formas intellectas materiales Mantino: Sic ergo nullam habet naturam, nisi naturam possibilitatis, ut posit recipere formas intelligibiles materiales Heb: (Budapest fol. 318 ad recipiendum/recipere/‫)לקבל‬

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140ve: Scot: Et, cum viderunt hanc actionem quae est creare intellecta intellecta et generare ea Mantino: Et, cum viderint huiuscemodi actionem videlicet creandi, ac generandi ipsa intelligibilia Heb: (Budapest fol. 321. Creare intellecta et generare ea / creandi ac generandi ipsa intelligibilia/‫לברוא המושכלות ולהוות אותן‬ Let us turn first to the second example. Here we again see a case where Scot’s translation and the Hebrew are in fact closer to each other than either of them to Mantino, as both may be translated “to create the intelligibles and generate them,” while Mantino has “creating and generating the intelligibles.” Therefore, it is again practically impossible to determine which of the two is closer to Mantino. Yet when reading more closely, the examples above reveal a significant pattern. In the examples, where Scot has a gerundium, Mantino employs an infinitive, and vice versa (ad recipiendum vs recipere in the first example, creare intellecta intellecta et generare vs creandi, ac generandi ipsa intelligibilia in the second example). The Hebrew, however, has the same underlying grammatical form in all cases and in all four manuscripts, employing the infinitive verb form (In the first ‫לקבל‬, in the second ‫)לברוא ולהוות‬. I suggest that here Mantino juggles between different grammatical formulations enabled by the context with the primary aim of distinguishing his own translation from that of Scot, i.e. neither to be faithful to a Hebrew source (Zonta) nor to render the text more comprehensible (Davidson). A strong indication in support of this hypothesis is in the following example. In Mantino’s translation of Averroes’s epitome of the Metaphysics we find the following formula at the beginning of the text: Dixit Averrois intentio nostra in hoc libro est colligere dicta scientialia universalia ex dictis Aristotelis. When we examine Mantino’s translation of another work, however—Averroes’s middle commentary on the Categories—we find that here Mantino chooses to translate the Hebrew sentence differently, revising the translation of William of Luna. The latter, however, employed the very same formulation that Mantino used in his translation to the epitome on the Metaphysics!

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Hebrew

William of Luna’s translation

Mantino’s translation

‫הכונה במאמר זה באור‬ ‫הענינים שכללו אותם‬ ‫ספרי ארסטו׳ במלאכת‬ ‫הדבר והשלמתם כפי‬ ‫כחנו וזה כפי מנהגנו‬ ‫בשאר ספריו‬

Intentio in hoc sermone est explanare sententias contentas in libris Aristotelis in arte loyce et acquirere eas secundum posse et usum nostrum in reliquis libris eius

Propositum huius tractatus est exponere ea, quae in libris Aristotelis continentur de arte Logica, ac perficere ipsa pro virbus nostris, et ut nostri moris est in reliquis eius libris

I claim that in the example above, Mantino’s choice of translation had little to do with adherence to a Hebrew source. This is most likely the case in many sections of digressions 3.5 and 3.36, if not in the entire translation. So, was there a Hebrew-into-Latin translation of On the Soul 3.5 and 3.36? Most probably not. Instead, we should refer to Mantino’s version primarily as an act of revision. This conclusion is based on the following: 1. No scholar has ever established what Mantino’s Hebrew source was, if indeed there was one. The evidence provided by Zonta is not decisive, and at best, one could say that some consultation with a Hebrew version took place. 2. If we nonetheless assume that ibn Yaʿiš was Mantino’s source, then either (1) Mantino was unaware of the fact that it was based on the Latin, which is unlikely, or (2) he was aware and decided to compose what is ultimately a Latin-into-Hebrew-into-Latin translation, which seems pointless. 3. Cases where the Hebrew of ibn Yaʿiš and the Latin of Mantino agree with each other but disagree with Scot are rare, and in at least one case may be explained by pointing to a particular error in Scot’s version in the Giunta edition, an error not found in an earlier Renaissance edition. 4. Mantino’s version is often identical with Scot’s, and no scholar has doubted that Mantino employed, at least to an extent, the older translation by Scot.27 In cases they disagree, and judging from the fact that the 27

In his analysis of the different translations of Averroes’s introduction to his Metaphysics commentary, Hasse writes that “Some of del Medigo’s sentences are hardly altered at all. In others, Mantino introduces minor changes” (Success and Suppression, 87). Hasse cites Hissette, who determined that they were made with a Latin copy and a Hebrew source in hand. While the employment of Scot’s translation in the present case is beyond doubt, the question of employing a Hebrew source here remains open, and it is indeed possible that Mantino occasionally made recourse to such translation.

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discrepancies are often stylistic, it appears that in many of these cases Mantino’s choice of translation was mainly guided by a wish to distinguish his own translation from that of his predecessor, rather than wishing to supply a Latin version of an assumed Hebrew source. 3 Conclusion From all the above it would seem that Mantino revised an existing Latin version, with little use of the Hebrew translation, if at all. However, an even more radical option suggests itself, drawing on Giovanni Licata’s recent discovery in a Modena manuscript. According to Licata, the manuscript shows that Mantino was operating as a middleman, retranslating or revising Del Medigo’s existing translation of Averroes’s commentary on Plato’s Republic, and that Mantino’s version was then refined by a professional—probably Christian—author.28 To this we may add Mantino’s own admission, cited recently by Dag Hasse: “At the same time, he [Mantino] admits that his own translations are not characterised by latina eloquentia, because ‘I have not attained it’ ( fateor enim me eam non esse assecutum). He promises, however, to avoid the old style and to translate clearly and reliably.”29 Drawing on Hasse and on Licata’s discovery, we may suggest that something similar happened here as well. Mantino “retranslated,” or, more likely, rephrased Scot’s translation, with or without a Hebrew source, and this version was rendered into Renaissance classical Latin by a professional author. While this hypothesis is plausible, the following one, though more radical, seems to be plausible as well: Jacob Mantino—one may suggest—was not involved in the translation of the LCDA digressions. The text was merely revised by a professional scribe, and Mantino’s name was introduced as a way of “sales 28 “Se mettiamo in parallelo la versione di Del Medigo con M1 e M2, ci accorgiamo che M1 riproduce sostanzialmente la versione di Del Medigo, con alcune variazioni stilistiche e contenutistiche giustificate anche sulla base del testo ebraico, mentre M2 è il frutto di un ulteriore rimaneggiamento stilistico, che tende ad un latino decisamente più umanistico. Da questo fatto è lecito sospettare che M2 sia il frutto di un umanista (probabilmente cristiano) che aveva una padronanza maggiore della lingua latina rispetto a Mantino” (Licata, forthcoming, bold mine). The versions of 3.5 and 3.36 attributed to Mantino in the Giunta correspond to Licata’s M2, i.e., to a version which has already gone through “Humanist rendering.” The fact that, according to Licata, M1 is also based on consultation with the Hebrew is very interesting and also pertinent when assessing the case of the LCDA. However, it should not compel us to accept that consultation with the Hebrew was part of the process here as well. 29 Hasse, Success and Suppression, 80.

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Jacob Mantino and the Alleged Second Latin Translation

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promotion,” suggesting that the text was translated anew from the Hebrew. While I do not claim that this is what happened, I do wish to posit it as the extreme point of a spectrum of possible scenarios, the other extreme point being that Mantino revised Scot’s text by himself, while consulting the Hebrew. The possibility of a newly translated version from the Hebrew is, I suggest, untenable. Bibliography Averroes. Averrois Cordubensis commentarium magnum in Aristotelis De anima libros. Edited by Frederick Francis Crawford. Cambridge: The Medieval Academy of America, 1953. English translation in Averroes (Ibn Rushd) of Cordoba: Long Commentary on the De anima of Aristotle. Translated by Richard Taylor. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Burnett, Charles. “Revisiting the 1552–1550 and 1562 Aristotle-Averroes Edition.” In Renaissance Averroism and its Aftermath, edited by Anna Akasoy and Guido Giglioni, 55–64. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013. Davidson, Herbert A. Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of Human Intellect. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Engel, Michael. Elijah Del Medigo and Paduan Aristotelianism: Investigating the Human Intellect. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Engel, Michael. “Elijah Del Medigo’s Critique of the Paduan Thomists.” Medioevo: Rivista di storia della filosofia medievale (2013): 295–316. Engel, Michael. “Reconstructing Averroes’s Theory of Conjunction and Immortality in 15th-Century Padua: A Possible Source for Pico’s 900 Theses.” In La lama del sapiente. Saggi sulla filosofia di Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, edited by Giovanni Licata and Pasquale Terracciano, 179–216. Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2022. Halper, Yehuda. “Philosophical Commentary and Supercommentary: The Hebrew Aristotelean Commentaries of the 14th through 16th Centuries.” In Medieval Jewish Philosophy and its Literary Forms, edited by Aaron Hughes and James Robinson, 104–132. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2019. Hasse, Dag Nikolaus. Success and Suppression. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Hissette, Roland. “Guillaume de Luna—Jacob Anatoli—Jacob Mantinus: Propos du commentaire moyen d’Averroès sur le De interpretation.” Bulletin de philosophie médiévale 32 (1990): 142–58. Kaufmann, David. “Jacob Mantino: Une page de l’histoire de la Renaissance.” Revue des études juives 26 (1893).

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Kraye, Jill. “The Printing History of Aristotle in the Fifteenth Century: A Bibliographical Approach to Renaissance Philosophy” Renaissance Studies 9, no. 2 (1995): 189–211. Sirat, Colette and Marc Geoffroy. L’original arabe du grand commentaire d’Averroès au “De anima” d’Aristote: Prémices de l’édition. Preface by Alain de Libera. Paris: Vrin, 2005. Wirmer, David. Über den Intellekt. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2008. Wolfson, Harry A. “Revised Plan for the Publication of a Corpus Commentariorum Averrois in Aristotelem.” Speculum 38 (1963): 100–104. Zonta, Mauro. “Osservazioni sulla tradizione ebraica del Commento grande di Averroè al De anima di Aristotele.” Annali di Ca’ Foscari 33, no. 25 (1994): 15–28.

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Index Abner of Burgos 17 Abraham 226 Abraham ibn Daud 252, 351 Abraham ibn Ezra 99, 105, 111, 268, 273, 279–80 Abravanel, Don Isaac 17–18, 219, 361–78 Crown of the Ancients (ʿAṭeret zeqenim) 377 Deeds of God (Mifʿalot Elohim) 378 Forms of the Elements (Ṣurot ha-yesodot) 361–78 New Heavens (Šamayim ḥadašim) 378 accessus ad auctores 398–402 Adam 105–18, 226 Afifi al-Akiti, Muhammad 6 Akasoy, Anna 10 Alain de Lille 410 Albert the Great 11, 39, 400, 424 De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas 11, 12n28 Albo, Joseph 190–95, 201, 219–28, 402 Book of Principles (Sefer ha-ʿiqqarim) 191, 219–28 Alemanno, Yohannan 402 Aleppo 74–93 Alexander of Aphrodisias 239, 251, 254, 281–83, 335, 351, 359, 364, 373–77 Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories 373 Commentary on Aristotle’s Meteorology 253 allegory 3, 49, 53, 62–93 See also sense “Alphonso” (probably Abner of Burgos) 235 The Straightening of the Curve (Meyaššerʿaqov) 235 Altmann, Alexander 134 Anatoli, Jacob 15, 253, 258, 397 Andalusia 47 Al-Anṣārī, Muḥammad 393 Anzulewicz, Henryk 12, 12n28 Aristotle 15–23, 122–24, 236–58, 261–84, 287–97, 328–330, 385–92, 407–15 On Generation and Corruption 251, 255, 363, 366, 369, 376 Generation of Animals 251

Metaphysics 238–41, 266, 279, 290, 330–38 Meteorology (Heb. Otot ha-šamayim) 251–52 Nicomachean Ethics 317–18, 384–87, 406 On the Heavens 251, 376 On the Parts of Animals 251 On the Soul 421–35 Organon 409, 411 Parva Naturalia 251, 387 Physics 238–41, 250–51, 318, 330–38, 350–58 Poetics 397–411 Posterior Analytics 52 Prior Analytics 52 Rhetoric 389, 397–411 Sense and Sensibilia 330 Aristotelianism 5–23, 31–39, 123–124, 142–45, 164, 249–57, 283–289, 290–305, 350–358, 363–377 cosmology 236, 363–78 doctrines 31–39, 143–54, 256, 358, 374–78 naturalism 226 Aristotelian prologue 398–402 artes praedicandi 400 Artisan 51–58 Ashʿarite 129, 273 astronomy 62–91, 258, 267–68 Andalusian astronomy 75–93, 257–59 Athens 388, 391 authenticity 63–67, 79–93, 191–92, 220–28 Averroes Appendix (al-Ḍamīmah) 269 Decisive Treatise (Faṣl al-maqāl) 37, 220–28, 255, 269, 383–93 Epistle on the Possibility of Conjunction with the Active Intellect 39, 330 Epitome of Aristotle’s Generation and Corruption 330 Epitome of Aristotle’s Metaphysics 111, 135 Epitome of Aristotle’s Meteorology 252 Epitome of Aristotle’s On the Soul 111, 253 Epitome/Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia 111, 330, 390–91

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438 Averroes (cont.) Epitome of Aristotle’s Physics 111 Exposition of the Methods of Proof Concerning the Religious Beliefs (al-Kašf ) 269 Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahāfut al-tahāfut; Heb. Happalat hahappalah) 37–38, 127–71, 243, 255, 266, 269, 287–305, 352 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics 330 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Soul 420–35 Long Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics 330–32, 372–74 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories 373–75, 432 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Heavens 256 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics 135, 251 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Meteorology 330 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 387, 390–91 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s On the Soul 39, 81, 330, 357 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics 351–53, 355 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics (Heb. Beʾur sefer ha-šir) 397–98 Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric (Heb. Beʾur sefer hahalaṣah) 389–91, 397–98 Middle Commentary on Plato’s Republic 37, 390 On the First Mover (ʿAlā al-muḥarrik al-awwal) 236–37 On the Substance of the Sphere (Lat. De substantia orbis) 330, 355 Questions on Physics 37 Averroism Christian 198, 329 Jewish 3–40, 249–59, 310, 324, 328–47 Latin 28–40, 259 Averroist 8–24, 34–40, 48n4, 110–27, 198–215, 254–59, 261–84, 328–47 Averroistae 11–12 Averroistic tradition 30–59, 106–18

Index Avicenna 3–9, 112–42, 163–71, 234–35, 252, 262, 290–305, 330–47, 351–58 Canon of Medicine 235, 330 Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics 290 Dāneš-Nāmeh (Book of Science) 4, 368–71 Kitāb al-Šifāʾ 368 Avicennism 28–31, 129–41, 235 Avicennist 3–24, 235 anti-Avicennist 126, 288 Jewish Avicennist 235 Avignon 400, 410–11 Bacon, Roger 408–9 Opus maius: Moralis philosophia 409 Baer, Yitzhak 186–87, 189 Baneth, David 63, 65, 73–74, 88, 94–97 Baruch b. Isaac ibn Yaʿiš 426–33 Bibago, Abraham 195, 219 al-Biṭrūǧī 258 Bland, Kalman 21 body 238–44, 254–255, 264–83, 294–305, 332–37 Boethius of Dacia 29, 199 Bologna 30 Bonaventure 400 Briggs, Charles F. 408 Bruno, Giordano 33 Burley, Walter 400 Expositio super artem veterem Porphyrii et Aristotelis 400 Cairo 78, 80 cause Aristotelian four causes 398–402 causation 293–303 divine causation 302–5 causality 340, 399 eternal cause 147, 239 first cause 236–45, 300–303 See also First Mover Cohen-Skalli, Cedric 400–401 Cohn, Salomon 65, 73 contingency 112, 276, 290–305, 334 contradiction between philosophical and prophetic truth 48–49, 65, 189, 198, 204–5 between religion and philosophy 36, 261, 342–47

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Index conversion 92 mass conversion 185–95 Cordova 47 Crawford, Frederick Stuart 422 creation 54–58, 142–144, 205–208, 281, 346–47 See also world creator God 130, 302–4 Crescas, Ḥasdai 190, 195, 219–34, 350–59 Light of the Lord (Or ha-Šem) 191n14, 234, 350–51 Refutation of the Christian Principles (Biṭṭul ʿiqqarei ha-Noṣrim) 190 Damascus 82 David bar Yom Tov ben Bila 220 Davidson, Herbert 427–32 Dāwud al-Muqammaṣ 194 de Libera, Alain 215 deity 293–305 Del Medigo, Elijah 33–40, 424 Two Investigations on the Nature of the Human Soul 29 demonstration 4, 51–57, 205–14, 270n46, 270–77, 384–414 dialectic 106–7, 168–71, 405–12 Disputation of Tortosa 187, 220 divine attributes 129–71, 193, 237, 269–77 divine intellect 130–33, 131n19, 163 divine will 142–54 God’s essence 133–38, 149, 154–63, 269 God’s existence 57–59, 129, 220–28, 293 God’s unity 57–59, 227–28, 240, 269, 293 incorporeality 112, 228, 270–76, 287–305 omniscience 129, 154 See also knowledge, divine simplicity 287–305 doctrines, Christian 190–95, 227–28 dogma, Jewish 219–28 Edelmann, Hirsch 63, 94 Eden, Garden of 105–18 Egypt 47, 72–93 Egyptian Enlightenment Movement 50 elements 262–63, 303, 314 forms of the elements 331–37, 363–78 quality, change of quality 333, 369–72 Epicurus 273

439 essence and existence 133–42, 275, 292–305, 331–39, 356–58 necessary existence 130–42, 275–77, 290–305, 339, 357 See also divine attributes esoteric 49, 112, 124, 142–143, 154–155, 198–215 esoteric method 198–215 ethics 404–08 Euclid 235 geometry 249 Eve 105–18 exegesis 40, 50, 55–59, 400 exile 213–14 exoteric 49, 124, 142–155, 200, 281–83 Fakhry, Majid 47 Al-Fārābī, Abū Naṣr 3–20, 121, 127, 239–41, 252, 262, 351–59, 409–10 Book of Demonstration (Kitāb al-burhān) 388 Classification of Sciences (Iḥṣāʾ al- ulūm) 409 Al-Farāhīdī The Book of the ʿAyn 414 Fez 47 First Mover 30, 38, 133n23, 143, 237–55, 263, 290–305, 357–58 See also Necessary Existent form, corporeal 331–33, 355 Fraenkel, Carlos 49 Frederick II 49, 253 Fustat See Cairo Ğābir ibn Aflaḥ 62–101 Iṣlāḥ al-Hayʾah 74, 84 Kitāb al-hayʾah 65, 74–101 Galen 251, 254, 314 Gannagé, Emma 374 Gauthier, René-Antoine 31 Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid 3–24, 121, 203, 144–54, 161–71, 243, 252, 292–305, 328–59, 361–77 Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahāfut alfalāsifah) 5, 5n8, 127, 144–54, 243, 299 Intellectual Cognitions (Al-Maʿārif al-ʿaqlīyah) 235

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440 Al-Ġazālī, Abū Ḥāmid (cont.) Intentions of the Philosophers (Maqāṣid al-falāsifah) 4, 203, 288–89, 305, 330, 358, 363, 366–72 Geiger, Abraham 64, 73–4 Gersonides 16, 155, 309–24, 350–58 Commentary on Job 319–20 Supercommentary on Averroes’s Middle Commentary on the Physics 351 Wars of the Lord (Milḥamot ha-Šem)  309, 318 Giglioni, Guido 10 Giles of Rome 29, 400, 408 Gilson, Étienne 33, 35 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 39 Goldenthal, Jacob 398 Gonzaga, Ercole 420 Griffel, Frank 5 Grosseteste, Robert 408 Guttmann, Julius 22, 36, 204, 221 Harvey, Steven 37, 252, 310, 397–398 Hasse, Dag Nikolaus 11, 13, 258, 420, 427 Hayoun, Maurice-Ruben 215 Heller, Joseph 65, 73 heresy, heretic 214, 220–28, 345, 389 Herman the German 408 heterodox 5, 11–24, 31–36, 112–18 Hissette, Roland 427 Hugh of St. Victor 400 human human freedom 30, 274–75, 313 human perfection 107–8, 112–18, 204, 238, 241–242, 275, 281 humanist 401–11 Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq 393 Morals of the Philosophers (Ādāb al-falāsifah; Heb. Musarei ha-filosofim) 393 hylomorphism 299, 375 Iberia 185–95 Iberian Peninsula 47 Ibn Bāǧǧah 121, 262, 267, 283–84, 336–37, 353–54 Ibn Ṭufayl 333 Ibn Tūmart, Abū ʿAbdʾallah 270 imitation 403–14

Index infidel, infidelity 3, 17, 38, 57 intellect acquired intellect 281–83 active intellect 111, 133n23, 263, 278–84, 312–13, 341–42, 388 first intellect 139n37, 302–3 human intellect 63, 263n12, 278–79, 423–24 hylic intellect 282–83, 337–38, 341–342, 423 intellect in actuality 109–11 potential intellect 282 practical intellect 109–11, 317–23 separate intellect 236n14, 264, 278–79, 340, 424 unity of the intellect 11–12, 17, 30–40, 255, 278–280, 424 interpretation 53–59, 64–67 demonstrative 54 dialectical 19 See also exegesis Isaac Albalag 17–23, 36–37, 202–9, 288–291, 296–305 Correction of the Opinions (Tiqqun ha-Deʿot) 19, 39, 203, 288 Isaac ʿAramah 402 Isaac Polqar 37, 209–14 Support of Law (ʿEzer ha-Dat) 209–15 Isocrates 389 Italy 249, 253 Ivry, Alfred 21, 23 Jedaiah ha-Penini 16 John of Jandun 36, 408 Joseph ben Judah ibn Simon of Ceuta 62–101 Allegorical Correspondence 62–101 Joseph ben Šem Ṭov 195 Joseph ibn Kaspi 17–23, 37, 110, 118, 309–24 ʿAmudei kesef 311 Geviʿa kesef 316 Maśkiyot kesef 311 Maṣref la-kesef 322 Tam ha-kesef 313 Terumat kesef 309 Joseph ibn Simon 62–99 Sayeth Ṭuviyyah ben Ṣidqiyyah 88

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441

Index Joseph ibn Waqar 234, 243 Treatise about the Harmony between Philosophy and the Revealed Law (Maqālat al-ǧāmīʿah bayn al-falsafah wa-l-šarīʿah) 234 Joshua Lorki (Gerónimo de Sante Fe) 187 Judah al-Ḥarizi 86–87, 262 Maqāmah of the Patrons (Maḥberet ha-nedivim) 86 Sefer taḥkemoni 86 Judah ben Josef al-Fakar 257 Judah ben Solomon ha-Cohen 249–59 Midraš ha-ḥokhmah 249–59, 249n2 Judah Halevi 193, 393 Book of the Kuzari 193, 393 Judah ibn Tibbon 393 Judah Messer Leon 400 Judah Romano 401 Kalām, mutakallimūn 129, 144–46, 165–66, 271–76, 344 Kasher, Hannah 20 Kellner, Menachem 224–25 Klein-Braslavy, Sara 106–8, 118 Kleven, Terence J. 50 knowledge 56 demonstrative knowledge 106, 271 divine knowledge 154–71, 272–77, 312–13, 340 of particulars 3, 154–71, 273, 312–13, 357 human knowledge 36, 105–18, 154, 363n8 intellectual knowledge 106–8, 112–18, 159 prophetic knowledge 206 scientific knowledge 268 tree of knowledge 105–18 virtue as knowledge 390–93 Kreisel, Howard 111, 115 Kristeller, Paul Oskar 13 Landucci, Sergio 35 Langermann, Tzvi 7 Lasker, Daniel 228 law, divine 191, 220–28 Mosaic law 222–28 Lawee, Eric 400

Lelli, Fabrizio 400 Lesley, Arthur M. 400 Levi b. Abraham b. Ḥayyim of Villefranche 15, 115 Liwyat Ḥen 115 Licata, Giovanni 328–29, 427, 434 Lichtenberg, Abraham 63, 94 Llull, Ramon 12 logic 4, 40, 402–4 Lorch, Richard P. 82 Louvain 32 Madelung, Wilferd 4 Maghreb 62, 74, 80–82 Maimonidean, Maimonideanism  8, 20, 108–18, 124–25, 257, 305 Maimonides, Moses 16–22, 47–171, 193–94, 201, 207–28, 252, 261–84, 311, 351–58 Allegorical Correspondence 62–94, 99–100 Commentary on the Mishnah 220–22 Epistle on Resurrection 92–93 Guide of the Perplexed (Moreh nevokhim) 39, 47, 54, 65–171, 193–94, 220, 261 Mišneh Torah 85, 194, 210, 271 Responsa (Še’elot u-tešuvot) 63, 94, 99–100 Mandonnet, Pierre 29 Manekin, Charles H. 4, 158 Mantino, Jacob 420–35 Marenbon, John 34 matter 266–67, 277 matter and form 265–66, 299, 332–333, 355 prime matter 30, 332–333, 355, 363–66 Meir Abulafia (Ramah) 256 metaphysics 55–59, 240–41, 290–91, 295–305, 332 Minnis, Alastair 399 miracles 38, 112–113, 194, 213, 225–28 monopsychism 13, 33–34 moral philosophy 402–11 Moses 192, 212, 227 Moses Halevi 233–43 Metaphysical Treatise 233–43 Moses ben Judah (Rambi) 328–47 Ahavah ba-taʿanugim 329

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442 Moses ha-Kohen of Tordesillas 195 Moses ibn Tibbon 15, 112, 253 Moses Narboni 17–22, 37, 110, 118, 125–30, 128n15, 143n46, 143–71 Commentary on Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed 125–30, 352 motion 238–245, 262–68, 290–91, 297–305, 320–23, 334–37, 353 Munk, Solomon 63, 94 Murphy, James J. 408 Muʿtazilah 273 Nahmanides 214 Naples 253 Nardi, Bruno 32 Necessary Existent 130–42, 236, 275, 290–305, 358 effect of 136, 236–41, 302–5 See also First Mover first cause of the world 236–41, 302–5 Neo-scholasticism 32 Neoplatonism 31, 376 neoplatonic God 130 theory of emanation 302 Nifo, Agostino 33 Nissim of Marseille 111–18 Maʿaśeh Nissim 111–18 Pablo de Santa Maria (Solomon Halevi)  187 Padua 30, 424 parable 55, 105–8 Paris 253, 424 Parisian Condemnations 12, 199, 208 Paul III (Pope) 420 Peripatetics 263, 280 persecution Almohad persecutions 62, 77, 92, 270n47 Christian persecutions 219 persuasion 403–8 Philo of Alexandria 105 Pines, Shlomo 47, 118, 146, 387 Plato 387 Apology 388 Republic 407 Pleiades (Kimah) 67–79 poetic 402–4

Index polemic, polemical writing 88–93, 186 anti-Christian 185–95, 424 Pomponazzi, Pietro 33 Prime Mover. See First Mover Profiat Duran 188, 195 proof of God 304, 351 prophecy, prophetic predictions 194, 226–227, 312–317, 341–42 human experience 315–17 contingent prophecies 316 prophethood 86–91 astrology 313–15 heavenly bodies 312–15, 334 Provence 89, 252–53, 287 providence 30, 38, 154, 204–5, 223, 273–75, 318–19 See also divine attributes pseudo-Avicenna 372 On the Heaven and the World (Liber celi et mundi) 366 pseudo-Ǧābir 374 pseudo-philosophers (philosophists) 17, 163 pseudo-Thomas Aquinas (Thomas of Sutton) 11 Ptolemy 83 Almagest 83 astronomy and astrology 83, 249, 267–68 Puig, Josef 253 Qafiḥ, Yosef 193 Qalonimos ben Qalonimos 16, 411 Al-Qifṭī 65, 67, 74–91 History of the Sages (Ta’rīḫ al-Ḥukamā’) 74 Rashed, Marwan 374 reductio ad absurdum 351–54 Renan, Ernest 14, 17, 28–40, 215 Renaissance 33, 213–14, 361–62, 420 rhetoric 402–4 Robert of Anjou 410 Ross, Jacob Joshua 40 Rothschild, Jean-Pierre 398 Saadia Gaon 194 Sackson, Adrian 21

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443

Index Sadik, Shalom 187 Samuel ben Judah of Marseille 406 Samuel ibn Tibbon 252–53, 262, 401 Commentary on Ecclesiastes 258 scepticism 200n6, 219–28 non-sceptics 200–215 sceptical reading 105–18 Scholasticism 22–24, 358, 364, 411, 420–27 Scot, Michael 15, 258, 422–33 self-preservation 319–24 Šem Ṭov Falaquera 15–23, 105–18, 252, 261–84 Beginning of Wisdom (Rešit Ḥokhmah) 393 Epistle of the Debate 18 Guide to the Guide (Moreh hamoreh) 261–48, 393 Opinions of the Philosophers (Deʿot hafilosofim) 15, 288 Šem Ṭov ibn Šapruṭ 195 sense 53–58 Septimus, Bernard 257 Sermoneta, Giuseppe 400 Shailat, Yiṣḥaq 85 Siger of Brabant 29–40, 199 Simon b. Ṣemaḥ Duran 195, 219–28 Magen Avot 221 Ohev Mišpaṭ 221 Socrates 385–93 Solomon ibn Gabirol 105 Solomon ibn Yaʿiš 234–35 soul 277–84, 342 body and soul 106–8, 112–18, 277–84 disembodied soul 335–36 eternal soul 281 immortality 331–58 perception 277–78, 372 rational soul 355 Spain 37, 89, 219, 252–53, 287 spheres 262–68, 275, 301–5, 363 celestial spheres 300–303, 355 heavens 301 souls of the spheres 340–41 stars 265, 268, 313–15, 319 Steinschneider, Moritz 32, 64, 411 Stern, Josef 108 Stroumsa, Sarah 122

superiority, rational 189–90, 227 syllogism 4, 49, 51–59, 206, 211, 403–404 demonstrative 52 dialectical 52, 270 reasoning 52, 190–95, 255 rhetorical 52, 165–67, 270, 403 sophistical 52 Syria 74–93 Al-Tabrīzī 354–55 Commentary on Maimonides’s 25 Premises 354 Taylor, Richard 428–30 Tempier, Étienne 29, 198, 208 Themistius 239, 282–84 Thomas Aquinas 11, 28, 193, 199, 424 On the Unity of the Intellect against the Averroists (De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas) 11, 28, 358, 424 Thomas of Sutton. See pseudo-Thomas Aquinas Thomism 28–31 Tigris River 194 time 335 Ṭodros Ṭodrosi 397–415 Toledo 249, 256–59 Touati, Charles 204 truth 52 dialectical truth 106–7 double truth 20, 30–36, 198–215, 199n2, 289n13 love of truth 242 Twersky, Isadore 9, 123 vacuum, void 336, 351, 353 Vajda, Georges 19, 36, 235 van Steenberghen, Fernand 13, 31–32 Vernia, Nicoletto 428–30 virtues, ethical 404–8 William of Alnwick 12 William of Luna 258, 433 Wolfson, Harry A. 32, 426 world created world 276 creation 190, 223 creation versus eternity 129, 142–54, 198, 206–9

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444 world (cont.) ex nihilo 283 eternal creation 143, 255, 302 eternal world 3, 30, 33, 38, 255–56, 345–47 eternal universe 205, 301–5 proofs for eternity 142–54 sensible world 274 sublunary world 255, 262–68, 363

Index Yellin, David 94 Al-Zahrāwī Book of the Transformation (Kitāb al-taṣrīf ) 374 Zonta, Mauro 411, 426–33

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