Linee del pensiero islamico nella storia della filosofia ebraica medievale
Zonta, Mauro (1999) Linee del pensiero islamico nella storia della filosofia ebraica medievale. Annali dell’Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Rivista del Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici e del Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi Arabi, 1997 (57/3-4). pp. 450-483. ISSN 0393-3180
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The history of medieval Jewish philosophy can be seen as an ideal continuation of some aspects and trends of medieval Islamic philosophy and thought. This is due to the structural similarities between Judaism and Islam as religions, but also to the fact that, during the first period of development of Jewish philosophy (ninth-twelfth centuries AD), Jewish philosophers lived mostly in Islamic countries (Iraq, Egypt, Spain), read Arabic texts and wrote in Arabic; moreover, many of the Islamic texts they used were translated into Hebrew after 1150 AD, in order to make them available to European Jews. The article is divided into four parts. Part I tries to give a general sketch of the fortune of Islamic religious, philosophical and scientific thought among the Jews from 800 to 1500 AD. It stresses first the existence of a Jewish kalam, which is parallel to Islamic kalam and partly reflects the evolution of the latter and then the development of a Jewish Neoplatonism (mostly al-Kindi and the so-called Theology of Aristotle). It stresses as well the dependence of Jewish Aristotelism on Maimonides and on the various trends of Islamic Aristotelism ( in particular that of Averroes, seen as Aristotle’s most reliable interpreter), and finally the existence of such phenomena as a ‘Jewish Ismailism’, a ‘Jewish Sufism’, and so on. Parts II-IV examine the case of three Islamic philosophers (the Brethren of Purity, Avicenna and Averroes), whose writings and doctrines won a noteworthy success in Medieval Jewish philosophy. The Epistles of the Brethren were never entirely translated into Hebrew, but their influence on the late Jewish Neoplatonism (after 1100 AD), was rather important, especially as for its doctrine of emanation. During the thirteenth century, the Brethren were also much considered as a scientific source, especially for such sciences as mineralogy, botany and zoology, where to they contributed to the creation of Jewish alchemy. Avicenna was probably the first Islamic source for the knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy among Jews, and in fourteenth century Provence and Spain his doctrines were used in order to reconcile Aristotle’s rationalism and religious revelation. Averroes’ original works were not widely read by Jewish philosophers: they preferred to resort to his commentaries on Aristotle (the so-called Epitomes, the Middle Commentaries and the Long Commentaries), which were almost completely translated into Hebrew between 1240 and 1320 AD, thus providing Jewish philosophers with a good ‘guide-book’ to Aristotle’s thought.
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