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Arabic Writings in Hebrew Manuscripts: A Preliminary Relisting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Y. Tzvi Langermann
Affiliation:
Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jewish National and University Library, P.O.B. 34165, Jerusalem 91341, Israel

Abstract

For many centuries Jews in Arabic-speaking lands have transcribed books written by non-Jews into the Hebrew alphabet; the language remains Arabic, but the writing is Hebrew. This was done mainly for the benefit of those who knew the Arabic language but not the script. The majority of these transcriptions are scientific or philosophical texts. Transcriptions are of value to scholars for two reasons. Some entire texts, or more complete or accurate versions of texts, are preserved only in transcription. In addition, the choice of texts transcribed is very instructive concerning the cultural and intellectual interests of Jews. A century ago the great bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider published a description of the transcriptions known to him. We have undertaken to prepare a full catalogue. In this article we offer a preliminary relisting of those manuscripts that we have examined recently.

Pendant plusieurs siècles, des juifs des pays arabophones transcrivaient en caractères hébraïques des ouvrages rédigés par des savants non juifs: la langue restait l'arabe, mais l'écriture était hébraïque. Ces transcriptions étaient faites à l'intention des juifs qui connaissaient la langue arabe mais pas son écriture. La plupart des textes ainsi transcrits sont scientifiques ou philosophiques. Ils présentent un intérêt pour la recherche pour deux raisons. Il y a des textes qui ne sont préservés qu'en transcription, et d'autres dont les manuscrits en caractères hébraïques renferment des versions plus complètes ou plus exactes que les manuscrits connus en caractères arabes. De plus, le choix des textes ayant été transcrits en caractères hébraïques est très instructif quant aux intérêts culturels et intellectuels des juifs. Il y a un siècle, le grand bibliographe Moritz Steinschneider avait publié une liste descriptive des manuscrits renfermant des transcriptions qui lui étaient connus. Nous-même avons entrepris d'en rédiger un catalogue complet. Dans le présent article nous proposons une liste préliminaire des manuscrits que nous avons examinés récemment.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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References

1 Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 47 (1893): 335–84. Steinschneider listed a very few additions and corrections in his “Introduction to the Arabic literature of the Jews,” Jewish Quarterly Review, 12 (1890): 499–501.Google Scholar

2 The biggest lacuna at present is the material at St. Petersburg (formerly Leiingrad), where a great deal of material of interest to the present study is known to exist. As of now (early 1993) there are plans to film some of those manuscripts in about six months’ time. [By the time this article was in proofs, films from St. Petersburg had begun to arrive at the Institute, and I have added a few additional entries on the basis of these films.]Google Scholar;

3 The late Shlomo Pines published a number of important studies on this independently-minded thinker, which are now available in one volume: The Collected Works of Shlomo Pines, vol. I: Studies in Abū'l;Barakāt al-Baghdādī. Physics and Metaphysics (Jerusalem/Leiden 1979).Google Scholar

4 See the study of Pines, S., “Towards the investigation of the commentary of Abū al-Barakāt al-Baġdādī on Ecclesiastes: Four texts,” [in Hebrew] Tarbiz, 33 (1964): 198213; repr. inGoogle ScholarPines, S., Ben Maḥshevet Yisrael le-Maḥshevet ha-'Amim (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 6883.Google Scholar

5 See Langermann, Y. T., “A fragment of Abū al-Barakāt al-Baġdādī's al-Mu'tabar,” [in Hebrew] Kiryat Sefer, 61 (1986/1987): 361–62.Google Scholar

6 Langermann, Y. T., “The commentary of Shlomo ben Ya'īsh to the Qānūn of Ibn Sīnā,” [in Hebrew] Kiryat Sefer, 63 (1990/1991, appeared 1992): 1331–3, esp. p. 1331.Google Scholar

7 Concerning these authors see Steinschneider's Die arabische Literatur der Juden, index.Google Scholar

8 She'elot u-Teshuvot ha-Ro''sh, fifth edition (repr. Jerusalem, 1971), p. 104. In other editions this is listed as responsum 55 or 56, paragraph 9.Google Scholar

9 A Mediterranean Society, vol. II: The Community (Berkely, 1971), p. 254.Google Scholar

10 Die hebraeischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher (Berlin, 1893), p. 698.Google Scholar

11 Andalusian-Arabic manuscripts from Christian Spain,” Israel Oriental Studies, 12 (1992): 75110.Google Scholar

12 For now I can add one additional tidbit, which I came across by chance. MS London, British Library, Arundel Oriental 17, a collection of abridgements of Galenic works said to be work of Yahyā al-Nahwī (John Philoponus), displays an owner's mark in Hebrew script, ‘Eli ha-Kohen; in Arabic letters one finds ‘Alī ibn…(?) al-Tabīb, which probably refers to the same person. There is also a short medical note in Hebrew on the flyleaf.Google Scholar

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