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SAMUEL IBN TIBBON AS THE AUTHOR OF MELAḴAH QEṬANAH, THE HEBREW TRANSLATION FROM ARABIC OF GALEN'S TEGNI: PROBES INTO THE EVOLUTION OF HIS PHILOSOPHICAL TERMINOLOGY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2016

Gad Freudenthal*
Affiliation:
Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Laboratoire SPHERE, UMR 7219, CNRS, 5 rue Thomas Mann, Bâtiment Condorcet, Case 7093, F-75205 Paris Cedex 13, France

Abstract

Samuel Ibn Tibbon (d. c. 1231) is best known as the translator of Maimonides's Guide of the Perplexed and as the author of the bold and ambitious cosmogonic work of Avicennian inspiration Ma'amar Yiqqawu ha-mayim (A treatise on ‘Let the water gather’; 1231). His authorship (in 1199) of the Arabic-into-Hebrew translation of Galen's Tegni with Ibn Riḍwān's commentary, known as al-Ṣināʿa al-ṣaġīra (= Small Art), is attested by the colophons of two manuscripts, but has recently been denied. The question is not unimportant, because if Ibn Tibbon indeed is the author of this translation then, as Steinschneider observed, ʿAlī Ibn Riḍwān's commentary is the first Arabic-into-Hebrew translation of a work by a Muslim writer. In this article I invalidate the arguments against Ibn Tibbon's authorship of the translation and, on the contrary, I positively show that a systematic consideration of the evidence unambiguously confirms it. The inquiry is notably based on probes into the evolution of Ibn Tibbon's philosophical vocabulary, whose results, it is hoped, will be useful beyond the immediate aim that has triggered them. This article accompanies Gad Freudenthal and Resianne Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine in Jewish Provence, Anno 1199: Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Doeg the Edomite translating Galen's Tegni,” published in this issue of ASP, 26 (2016), pp. 1–26.

Résumé

Samuel Ibn Tibbon (m. c. 1231) est connu surtout comme le traducteur du Guide des Égarés de Maïmonide et comme l'auteur de l’œuvre cosmogonique audacieuse d'inspiration avicennienne Ma'amar Yiqqawu ha-mayim (traité sur “Que les eaux se rassemblent”; 1231). Le fait que Samuel Ibn Tibbon soit également l'auteur (en 1199) de la traduction d'arabe en hébreu du Tegni de Galien avec le commentaire d'Ibn Riḍwān, connu sous le titre d’al-Ṣināʿa al-ṣaġīra (= Petit art), est attesté par les colophons de deux manuscrits, mais a récemment été nié. La question n'est pas sans importance, car, si Ibn Tibbon est bien l'auteur de cette traduction, alors, comme l'avait observé Steinschneider, le commentaire de ʿAlī Ibn Riḍwān est la première traduction d'arabe en hébreu d'une œuvre d'un auteur musulman. Dans cet article je réfute les arguments contre l'attribution de la traduction à Ibn Tibbon, et, au contraire, je montre positivement qu'un examen systématique des données confirme qu'il en est bien l'auteur. Je procède notamment par un examen de l’évolution du vocabulaire philosophique d'Ibn Tibbon, espérant que ses résultats seront utiles au-delà de l'objectif immédiat qui l'a déclenché. Cet article accompagne l'article: Gad Freudenthal et Resianne Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine in Jewish Provence, Anno 1199: Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Doeg the Edomite translating Galen's Tegni”, publié dans ce numéro d’ASP, 26 (2016), pp. 1–26.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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References

1 This article accompanies Freudenthal, Gad and Fontaine, Resianne, “Philosophy and medicine in Jewish Provence, Anno 1199: Samuel Ibn Tibbon and Doeg the Edomite translating Galen's Tegni,” published in this issue of ASP, 26 (2016), pp. 126CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In what follows: Freudenthal & Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine.”

Six manuscripts contain the complete text of MQ (all consulted in microfilms at the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew manuscripts [IMHM], National Library of Israel, Jerusalem), namely:

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France (= BNF), héb. 1114 (= IMHM F 32614), fols. 1–124

Paris, BNF, héb. 1115 (= IMHM F 15062), fols. 1–149

Moscow, Russian State Library, Guenzburg 116/2 (= IMHM F 6796), fols. 85r–187r

London, British Library (= BL), Add 18689 (= IMHM F 4984), fols. 2r–104

Parma, Pal. 2280/1 (= IMHM F 13188), fols. 28r–58r

Leiden, Scaliger 4719/14 (= IMHM F 31926), fols. 170r–191v

Five manuscripts are incomplete:

Jerusalem, Mosad ha-Rav Kook 755/1 (= IMHM F 26519), fols. 1–4; 27–28

Moscow, Russian State Library, Guenzburg 115 (= IMHM F 6795), fols. 175r–184r

Paris, BNF, héb. 1120 (= IMHM F 30897), fols. 77r–131r

New York, Jewish Theological Seminary 2723 (= IMHM F 28976), fols. 1r–45r

Moscow, Russian State Library, Guenzburg 1122/1 (= IMHM F 48323), fols. 1r–2r.

The transmission of the text and the relations between the manuscripts call for more research. My preliminary impression is that the manuscripts fall into two main groups. Characteristic to one group is the fact that its three manuscripts (MSS BNF, héb. 1115; Leiden, Scaliger 4719; New York, JTS 2723) carry a passage describing a certain view of Averroes as well as explanations about the illness saqta: since both are missing from the other manuscripts, they are obviously a later interpolation (possibly by Samuel Ibn Tibbon himself during a revision).

2 James T. Robinson, “The Ibn Tibbon family: a dynasty of translators in medieval Provence,” in Jay Harris (ed.), Be'erot Yitzhak: Studies in Memory of Isadore Twersky (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 193–224, on p. 206, n. 48; id., Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, The Book of the Soul of Man (Tübingen, 2007), pp. 11–12; id., “Samuel Ibn Tibbon,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2010/entries/tibbon/> (viewed 30 November 2013); modified argumentation in: id., “Samuel Ibn Tibbon,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2014/entries/tibbon/> (viewed 10 July 2014). Robinson follows up on a doubt already raised (on other grounds) in Aviezer Ravitzky, “The thought of R. Zerahiah b. Isaac Shealtiel Hen and the Maimonidian-Tibbonian philosophy in the 13th century,” Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1977 (Hebrew), p. 21, n. 5. Ravitzky briefly adduces a single argument: the colophon of MS London, BL, names the translator as Samuel Ibn Tibbon “the physician” (infra, p. 32) a claim Ravitzky believed to be wrong. As shown in Freudenthal & Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine,” Ibn Tibbon was in fact a practicing physician at least during the first four decades of his life, so that Ravitzky's argument is invalid.

3 Moritz Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters (Berlin, 1893), § 471, p. 734.

4 Quoted from Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon” (2010). In different wordings the same argument appears in all publications listed above, n. 2 (except the last).

5 Quoted from Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon” (2010); slightly different translation in Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, § 31 (pp. 173–4).

6 Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, pp. 11–12, 174, n. 194.

7 Ibid., p. 25.

8 The phrase is ואחד אן יצחח הדא אלראי באסתקרא הדה אלבלאיא […] (Dalālat al-Haīrin, ed. Salomon Munk and I. Joel [Jerusalem, 1931], p. 318, 18–19), which Ibn Tibbon translates as: והתחיל לאמת זה הדעת במנותו אלה הרעות אחת אחת […] (ed. Yehudah Even-Shmuel [Jerusalem, 1987], p. 398). Almost all other translations also avoided a technical translation of istiqrāʾ. For example:

  • Al-Ḥarizi (ed. Tel-Aviv 1953, p. 637) : והחל לבאר כי זאת הסברה אמת בזכרו כל אלה התלאות […].

  • Munk (p. 3:68): Il cherche à avérer cette opinion en passant en revue toutes les infortunes […].

  • Michael Schwartz (p. 2:454): הוא התחיל לאמת דעה זאת על-ידי שסקר ובדק את כל הפגעים האלה […].

  • Only Pines (2:442) uses a derivative of the term “induction,” but the sentence is perceptibly strained: “He began to establish this opinion by inductively examining these misfortunes […].” The bottom line is that Samuel Ibn Tibbon was on firm ground when he translated the single occurrence of istiqrāʾ in the Guide as he did, without using the term ḥippus.

9 Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon” (2014).

10 Robinson is unaware that (as we shall see) where some manuscripts carry nirdafim, others have another term (nimšakim); he uncritically assumes again that the text he saw (we again are not told in which manuscript[s]) is identical to the text as it left the translator's desk. Nor does he establish that the term was “not part of Ibn Tibbon's translation lexicon.” See the discussion infra, pp. 36–8.

11 The Hebrew date in MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1114 corresponds to 3 September 1199. In MS London, BL Add 1868, the abbreviation בנל“ך means: ברוך נותן ליעף כח, after Isa 40:29.

12 In MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, the colophon is written on the recto of the last folio of the last quire. The possibility (raised while preparing this article) that it is a late addition can be safely ruled out. The manuscript, most of whose quires are of seven sheets, is a single codicological unit, all of it copied by the same hand. The watermarks suggest that the manuscript was produced around 1360, in northern Italy or the Low Countries. I am very grateful to Dr. Cristina Ciucu (CNRS, Paris) for inspecting it and providing the paleographical and codicological information.

13 Ed. Yehudah Even-Shmuel (Jerusalem, 1946 with many reprints). In what follows I refer to this edition, abbreviated: PMZ.

14 PMZ, pp. 17, 20–21; 18, 4. Similarly in the “Translator's preface” to his Hebrew translation of the Guide (ed. Even-Shmuel, pp. 119, 15; 120, 15–16, 30–31).

15 See Carlos Fraenkel, From Maimonides to Samuel Ibn Tibbon: The Transformation of the Dalālat al-Ḥāʾirīn into the Moreh ha-Nevukhim (Jerusalem, 2007) (Heb.), pp. 110–24.

16 Dag Nikolaus Hasse, Latin Averroes Translations of the First Half of the Thirteenth Century (Hildesheim, 2010) applies similar considerations, and for the same reasons. For the text of PMZ and the Guide I used Even-Shmuel's edition; for MQ I used MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, which (where useful) I checked against other manuscripts.

17 PMZ, p. 17, 21–p. 18, 7; p. 73, 7–11.

18 PMZ, pp. 18, 5–7; 73, 12–17.

19 PMZ, p. 48, 7–12.

20 Letters and Essays of Moses Maimonides (Heb.), ed. Isaac Shailat (Ma‘aleh Adumim, 5748 [1988]), 2, pp. 511–54, on p. 533. Cf. Baneth, David H., “Maimonides translating his own writings as compared with his translators,” Tarbiz, 23 (1952): 170–91Google Scholar, on pp. 172–4 (Heb.).

21 The verb appears several times in the Guide (see Baneth, “Maimonides translating his own writings” for references) and is also used in the Commentary on Ecclesiastes [text in James T. Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes” (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 2002), § 716, p. 796; § 721, p. 798; English translation: Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, § 695, p. 569; § 701, p. 572, respectively] and in Maamar yiqqawu ha-mayim [ed. Mordecai L. Bisliches (Pressurg, 1837), pp. 95, -3; 105, 18].

22 MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 30r.

23 PMZ, p. 88, 1–7. English translation in Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, p. 243, n. 368.

24 PMZ, p. 88, 6–7:

וכבר הסכמתי להעתיקו ”שמות תכופים“ שייקרא באחד תיכף שקראו בשם האחר לטעם הזה.

As will be seen later (n. 36), it seems that despite this clear declaration, Ibn Tibbon in fact nowhere used שמות תכופים. It is perhaps this puzzling situation that inspired Robinson to translate הסכמתי להעתיקו here as: “I considered translating it as …” (see previous note). However, the meaning of הסכמתי is definitely “agreed with myself,” i.e., “resolved,” and Ibn Tibbon uses it in this meaning also elsewhere in PMZ (e.g. pp. 38, 3; 73, 9) and in other writings (e.g. Maamar yiqqawu ha-mayim, ed. Bisliches, pp. 9, -9; 13, -3; 22, 16; 66, 13). The term שמות תכופים will not interfere in the following discussion.

25 In the Arabic Vorlage, the term is asmā’ mutarādifa (MS Escorial árabe 883, fol. 5v).

26 MSS Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, fol. 3v; Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 2r; Moscow, Guenzburg, fol. 86v.

27 MS London, BL, Add 18689, fol. 2v. The manuscripts are far from being consistent in their terminology. For example, šemot nimšaḵim also appears in MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1115 (fol. 112r).

28 It will be recalled that the occurrence of šem nirdaf in MQ is the basis for the new, 2014 version of Robinson's argument against the attribution of the translation to Samuel Ibn Tibbon; see supra, n. 9 and the text there.

29 At one spot (Guide 3:22), Maimonides writes that “the three names denote the very same notion” (ed. Munk-Joel, p. 354, 16), but does not use any term signifying “synonym” and Ibn Tibbon naturally follows him (ed. Even Yehudah, p. 446, 11–12). The fact that in PMZ Ibn Tibbon introduces terms that do not appear in his translation of the Guide is not surprising. As already noted, although he wrote PMZ in connection with his translation of the Guide, it was not intended to explain exclusively such terms that he used in this translation. Rather, its more general purpose was to introduce readers to some terms – and ideas – that were until then “unfamiliar” in Jewish thought.

30 Sefer Shemonah peraqim le-ha-Rambam, ‘im be'ur. Be-ṣeruf haqdamat R”S Ibn Tibbon z”l (Berlin, [5]687 [= 1927), p. 1v. On p. 18 it is stated that this publication reproduces the text of the Warsaw [5]624 (= 1864) edition which I did not see.

31 Sefer Shemonah peraqim le-ha-Rambam, p. 1v.

32 Text: Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes” (Ph.D. dissertation), § 164, p. 593 (no textual variants are recorded in the apparatus, p. 830); English translation: Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, §147, p. 243 (see n. 368 ad loc).

33 Text: Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary,” § 302, p. 637 (the apparatus, p. 840, records a single insignificant textual variant: instead of רודפים one MS has בפרדים רודפים, i.e., the scribe first wrote the erroneous בפרדים and then added the correct רודפים, without, as it seems, crossing out the former); English translation: Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, § 277, p. 311.

34 Supra, at n. 15.

35 There seem to be no variations among the manuscripts, according to the critical edition given in Rebecca Kneller-Rowe, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Maamar yiqqawu ha-mayim. a philosophical and exegetical treatise,” Ph.D. dissertation, Tel Aviv University, 2011, vol. 2. In parenthesis I give Kneller's paragraph numbers, to which the critical apparatus is keyed. Ibn Tibbon, Maamar yiqqawu ha-mayim, ed. Bisliches, p. 34, 12 (= ed. Kneller, § 180); p. 66, 4 (= ed. Kneller, § 435); p. 135, 16 (= ed. Kneller, § 1001); p. 140, -2 (= ed. Kneller, § 1042); p. 164, 5–6 (= ed. Kneller, § 1217).

36 In PMZ Ibn Tibbon indeed does not say that he replaced “šemot ba'im zeh aḥar zeh,” by “šemot tekufim” as he did with other terms.

37 The term šemot nimšakim seems to be late and rare. It is used in Sicily in the late thirteenth century by Abraham Abulafia, in his Oṣar Gan Eden ganuz, ed. Amnon Gross (Jerusalem, 2000), part IX, p. 182, and by his student Aḥiṭuv ha-Rofe, in his translation of Millot ha-higgayon: see Israel Efros (ed.), Maimonides’ Treatise on Logic (New York, 1938), Hebrew part, pp. 93, 19–94, 4. On Aḥiṭuv, see Mandala, Giuseppe, “Aḥiṭuv ben Yiṣḥaq da Palermo. Medico, filosofo e traduttore del secolo XIII,” Materia Judaica, 13 (2008): 3561Google Scholar.

38 Otot ha-Shamayim. Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Hebrew Version of Aristotle's Meteorology, ed. and trans. Resianne Fontaine (Leiden, 1995), IV, 283–7 (p. 220); 338–42 (p. 226); 349–52, 358–9 (p. 228).

39 Text in Robinson, “Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes”, § 204, p. 606; English translation: Robinson, Samuel Ibn Tibbon's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, § 185, p. 264.

40 The notion itself is explained in Mishneh Torah, “Laws of the Foundations of the Torah,” 4:2, but without a noun to denote it.

41 PMZ, p. 63.

42 PMZ, pp. 24, 10-25, 8. The two passages seem to contradict one another on the origin of the terminological innovation (ואלו השני שמות חידשום המחברים והמעתיקים מבני עמנו, as against ואמנם מלת ’חוק‘ איני זוכר שראיתיה לאחד לפני באלו העניינים), but this need not concern us here.

43 חכמי הדברים is a term that has not entered wide usage; here it seems to denote the scholars of logic. See Jacob Klatzkin, Thesaurus philosophicus linguae Hebraicae et veteris et recentioris, 4 vols. (1926–1933; repr. Hildesheim, 2004), vol. 1, p. 129. Later Ibn Tibbon was to use the expression חכמת הדברים to denote the doctrine of the Kalām (PMZ, p. 42, 6–9; see also p. 43, 16, and Guide 1:71, ed. Even-Shmuel, p. 153, 11).

44 MS Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 4r, with variants from Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, fol. 5r, London, BL, Add 18689, fol. 4v, Moscow, Russian State Library, Guenzburg 116/2, fol. 88r. Compare B Ia:4, p. 275; K, p. 306 (for the sigla, see Freudenthal & Fontaine, “Philosophy and medicine,” n. 1).

45 Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, fol. 5r–v. BNF, héb. 1115 (fol. 4r) gives essentially the same text, except that one occurrence of ḥuqim is replaced by rešamim:

אמר עלי: הגדר העצמי הוא מה שיבאר עצם הדבר הגדור בדברים עצמיים. והגדרים הנקראים התארים הם הרשמים. וההפרש בין הגדר והחוק כי הגדר יונח בו סוג הדבר ויסמך [בשוליים נוסף: בהבדל או בהבדלים אשר יבדילו עצם הדבר הגדור מזולתם. והחוק יונח בו סוג הדבר ויסמך] בסגולה או במקרים יבדילו החוק [צ“ל: החקוק] מזולתו לא בדבר עצמי.

46 PMZ, p. 90, 5–6.

47 Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, H. Yesodey ha-Torah 4:8.

48 PMZ, p. 43, 13–16; the entire passage is translated in Robinson, “The Ibn Tibbon family,” p. 209, n. 59.

49 MSS Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, fol. 82r; London, BL, Add 18689, fol. 85r; BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 100v (where it has מנטק). MS Moscow, RSL, Guenzburg 116, fol. 153r, has a “modernized” terminology: והחקירה על זה בהגיון יותר ראוי מאשר הוא בחכמת הרפואות, צריך שנפריד אלו דברים בפני עצמו (also in the immediate following quotation). Galen's text corresponds to B XXVII,2, p. 360; K p. 379.

50 MSS Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 101r; Paris, BNF, héb. 1114, fols. 82v–83r; London, BL, Add 18689, fol. 85v; BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 100v (where it has מנטק). MS Moscow, RSL, Guenzburg 116, fol. 153v (again with הגיון replacing מנטיק, but only in one of its two occurrences).

51 PMZ, p. 66, 2: מחלוקת הניצוח; Guide 1:71: מחלוקת הניצחון (ed. Even-Shmuel, p. 155, 20), מחלוקת הניצוח (Guide 1:51, ed. Even-Shmuel, p. 96, 19).

52 See also n. 49.

53 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 2v.

54 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 100v.

55 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 147v.

56 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 2r–v.

57 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 4r-v.

58 Paris, BNF, héb. 1115, fol. 4v.

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SAMUEL IBN TIBBON AS THE AUTHOR OF MELAḴAH QEṬANAH, THE HEBREW TRANSLATION FROM ARABIC OF GALEN'S TEGNI: PROBES INTO THE EVOLUTION OF HIS PHILOSOPHICAL TERMINOLOGY
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SAMUEL IBN TIBBON AS THE AUTHOR OF MELAḴAH QEṬANAH, THE HEBREW TRANSLATION FROM ARABIC OF GALEN'S TEGNI: PROBES INTO THE EVOLUTION OF HIS PHILOSOPHICAL TERMINOLOGY
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