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Stoic Physics in the Writings of R. Saadia Ga'on al-Fayyumi and its Aftermath in Medieval Jewish Mysticism*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Gad Freudenthal
Affiliation:
Institut d'histoire des sciences, C.N.R.S., 13 rue du Four, 75006 Paris, France

Abstract

R. Saadia Ga'on (882–942) of Baghdad sought to avoid anthropomorphism by arguing that scriptural phrases which seem to ascribe materiality to the Deity in fact refer not to God Himself, but rather to a created entity, God's Glory, which he described as a very tenuous “air.” This paper argues that Saadia's conception of a quasi-divine “air” through which God accomplishes His acts in the material world is heavily indebted to the Stoic theory of pneuma. It follows that the immanentist theology of Ḥasidey Ashkenaz (German Pietists), which is known to have been substantially influenced by Saadia, in fine is also indebted to Stoic philosophy and physics.

R. Saadia Ga'on (882–942) de Baghdad tâchait d'éviter l'anthropomorphisme en avançant que les versets bibliques qui semblent attribuer des traits matériels à Dieu portent non sur Dieu Lui-même, mais sur une entité créée, la Gloire de Dieu, que Saadia décrivait comme un “air” extrêmement subtil. Cet article s'efforce de montrer que la conception saadienne d'un air quasi divin, par lequel Dieu accomplit Ses actes dans le monde matériel, est redevable à la doctrine stoïcienne du pneuma. Il s'ensuit que la théologie immanentiste des Ḥasidey Ashkenaz (Piétistes allemands), que l'on sait avoir été trés influencée par Saadia, est un prolongement lointain de la philosophic et de la physique stoïciennes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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References

1 The best general account is still Malter, Henry, Saadia Gaon. His Life and Works (Philadelphia, 5702–1942).Google Scholar

2 I follow the translation of the title proposed by the late Alexander Altmann. Cf. his Saadya Gaon, Book of Doctrines and Beliefs in: Three Jewish Philosophers (New York, 1969). The justification for this choice is given in theGoogle Scholar“Translator's Introduction,” pp. 1920.Google Scholar

3 Text in Diels, H. and Kranz, W., Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th edn (Berlin, 1952), fr. 13B2. Translation quoted from:Google ScholarKirk, G.S., Raven, J.E.R., and Schofield, M., The Presocratic Philosophers, 2nd edn (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 158–9.Google ScholarCf. also Guthrie, W.K.C., A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. I: The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans (Cambridge, 1962), pp. 115–40.Google Scholar

4 Cf. Kirk, Presocratic Philosophers, pp. 434–42; Guthrie, W.K.C., A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. II: The Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 362–81.Google Scholar

5 This is the relationship between the celestial matter and the vital heat, or the pneuma, contained in the semen. Cf. Aristotle, , De generatione animalium 2.3, 736b37. This statement is unique in the Aristotelian corpus. I discuss it in my Aristotle's Theory of Material Substance (Oxford, 1995), pp. 114–19.Google Scholar

6 Cf. Todd, Robert B., “Monism and immanence: The foundations of Stoic physics,” in Rist, John M. (ed.), The Stoics (Berkeley, 1978), pp. 137–60. Out of the rich literature devoted to early Stoicism I mention only the following:Google ScholarPohlenz, Max, Die Stoa, 6th edn, 2 vols. (Göttingen, 1984)Google Scholar; Verbeke, G[érard], L'évolution de la doctrine du pneuma du stoïcisme à S. Augustin (Paris / Louvain, 1945)Google Scholar; Sambursky, Shmuel, The Physics of the Stoics (London, 1957; repr. Princeton, 1987)Google Scholar; Hahm, David E., The Origins of Stoic Cosmology (Columbus, Ohio, 1977)Google Scholar; Longrigg, James, “Elementary physics in the Lyceum and Stoa,” Isis, 66 (1975): 211–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lapidge, Michael, “Archai and stoicheia: A problem in Stoic cosmology,” Phronesis, 18 (1973): 240–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar; id., “Stoic cosmology,” in Rist, (ed.), The Stoics, pp. 161–85Google Scholar; Hager, Paul, “Chrysippus' theory of pneuma,” Prudentia, 14 (1982): 97108Google Scholar; Long, A.A. and Sedley, D.N., The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol. I (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 266343Google Scholar; Sorabji, Richard, Matter, Space, and Motion (New York, 1988), especially pp. 79–105.Google Scholar

7 For a detailed discussion cf. Sorabji, Matter, Space, and Motion, pp. 79105.Google Scholar

8 For an exhaustive overview cf. Davidson, Herbert A., Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of the Human Intellect (New York, 1992).Google Scholar

9 Cf. Sorabji, Matter, Space and Motion, pp. 85–9.Google Scholar

10 Before Saadia, SY was hardly mentioned by Jewish scholars. Joseph Dan has noted that the abrupt rise to prominence of SY in the work of Saadia Gaon in the tenth century involves a change of attitude and is an intriguing cultural phenomenon that calls for an explanation. Cf. Dan, J., “R. Yehuda ben Barzilai ha-Barẓeloni's Commentary on Sefer Yeẓira: Its character and purposes” (Hebrew), in Oron, M. and Goldreich, A. (eds.), Massu'ot. Studies in Kabbalistic Literature and Jewish Philosophy in Memory of Prof. Ephraim Gottlieb (Jerusalem, 1994), pp. 99119, andGoogle Scholar“The religious significance of Sefer Yeẓira” (Hebrew), Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, 11 (1993): 7–35.Google Scholar

11 Ben-Shammai, Haggai, “Sa‘adya’s goal in his Commentary on Sefer Yeẓira,” in Link-Salinger, Ruth et al. (eds.), A Straight Path. Studies in Medieval Philosophy and Culture. Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman (Washington, D.C., 1988), pp. 19Google Scholar; Jospe, Raphael, “Early philosophical commentaries on the Sefer Yeẓirah: Some comments,” Revue des études juives, 146 (1990): 369415, esp. pp. 370–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 The work is available in two editions: Commentaire sur le Séfer Yesira ou Livre de la création, par le Gaon Saadya de Fayyoum, publié et traduit par Lambert, Mayer (Paris, 1891)Google Scholar; Qafih, Yosef (ed.) Sefer Yeẓira [Kitāb al-Mabādi']: im Perush ha-Gaon Rabbenu Sa'adiah b. R. Yosef Fayyumī z. l. (Jerusalem, 1972). A French translation is included in the former, a translation into modern Hebrew in the latter. In what follows the references to the Arabic text of Saadia's Commentary on SY are given according to both Lambert's (L) and Qafih's (Q) editions, indicating page and line numbers; these are followed by the page number of Lambert's translation into French (T).Google Scholar

13 Altmann, Alexander, “Saadya's theory of revelation: Its origin and background,” in his Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism (London, 1969), pp. 140–60, on pp. 145–7.Google Scholar

14 L 72:6–7, 73:5; Q 108:13–15, 109:18; T 94–5. Cf. also Doctrines and Beliefs 2:10, in: Landauer, S., Kitāb al-Amānāt wa'l-I'tiqādāt von Sa'adja b. Jūsuf al-Fajjūmī (Leiden, 1880), pp. 99100, also in Sefer ha-Nivhar be-Emunot u-ve-De'ot, ed. and trans. (into modern Hebrew)Google ScholarQafih, Y. (Jerusalem, 1970), pp. 103–4. On the three traditional notions cf. e.g.Google ScholarEncyclopedia Judaica, 16 vols. (Jerusalem, 1972), vol. XIV, coll. 364–8 and 1349–54.Google Scholar

15 L 72:5 f.; Q 108:12 f.; T 94.Google Scholar

16 L 72:8; Q 108:17; T 94.Google Scholar

17 L 72:11; Q 108:22 f.; T 94.Google Scholar

18 L 72:14 ff.; Q 108:26 ff.; T 94 f. Similarly Doctrines and Beliefs 2:5; ed. Landauer, 87 f.; ed. Qafih, 92.Google Scholar

19 Altmann, “Saadya's theory of revelation” (n. 13); Vajda, Georges, “Sa'adyā commentateur du Livre de la Création”, Annuaire de l'Ecole pratique des hautes études (Sciences religieuses) 19591960, pp. 335, reprinted in Weil, G. E. (ed.), Mélanges Georges Vajda. Études de pensée, de philosophie et de littérature juives et arabes (Hildesheim, 1982), pp. 37–69, on pp. 53–7. To dissipate possible misunderstandings, it may be useful to observe that Saadia's theory of divine visions as being brought about through the second air does not seem to have anything in common with the well-known Neoplatonist doctrine of ochēma-pneuma (the equivalence of the terms pneuma = air notwithstanding). On this latter theoryGoogle Scholarcf. Kissling, Robert Christian, “The ochema-pneuma of the Neo-Platonists and the De insomniis of Synesius of Cyrene,” American Journal of Philology, 43 (1922): 318–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dodds, E.R., “The astral body in Neoplatonism,” Appendix II to his Proclus, The Elements of Theology, 2nd edn (Oxford, 1963), pp. 313–21.Google Scholar

20 bi-hādhihi al-amthāl”: L 71:12–13; Q 107:23–24; T 93.Google Scholar

21 L 70:5–6; Q 106:4–7; T 91.Google Scholar

22 L 70:7; Q 106:7; T 91.Google Scholar

23 L 70:8–10; Q 106:9–11; T 92.Google Scholar

24 L 70:10 Q 106:12; T 92.Google Scholar

25 L 70:10–11, 18; Q 106:12–13, 24; T 92.Google Scholar

26 L 70:12; Q 106:14–5; T 92.Google Scholar

27 Œuvres complètes de R. Saadia Josef al-Fayyoūmī, publiées sous la direction Derenbourg, de J.. Volume premier: Version arabe du Pentateuque (Paris, 1893), Arabic part, 7:9–10Google Scholar; French translation on p. 4. In his Tafsīr Saadia explicitly comments on this shift of meaning: translating “life” literally, he argues, would imply making Eve, of whom it is said that she was em kol hay (literally: “the mother of every living creature”Google Scholar; Gen. 3:20), into the mother of the lion, the ox, the ass, etc. Since experience disproves this, “we say that there is a hidden word in this phrase.”Google Scholar; Cf. Saadya's Commentary on Genesis, edited with Introduction, Translation and Notes by Zucker, Moshe (New York, 1984), p. 18 (original), p. 191 (Hebrew translation); see also p. 296. This topic was taken up by later authorsGoogle Scholar; cf. Perez, M., “A further fragment from the Kitāb al-Tarjih by R. Yehuda Ibn Bileam,” Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research, 57 (19901991), Hebrew Section, p. 10, nn. 51–52. (I am grateful to Prof. H. Ben-Shammai for the last two references.) It should be noted that although Saadia here uses the distinctive philosophical term nàtiqa, his translation doubtless echoes an ancient tradition going back to Onqelos' translation of the Bible, where our phrase is translated as wahawat be-adam le-ruah memalelā (= speaking spirit). (The last observation was communicated to me independently by Dr. Y. Tzvi Langermann and by Prof. Moshe Hallamish, to both of whom I am very grateful. As I belatedly discovered, this observation had already been made inGoogle ScholarSchmiedel, A., “Parallelen zwischen Onkelos und Saadja,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, 46 (1902): 358–63, on p. 361; elsewhere Schmiedel makes the general observation that “Saadja im Grossen und Ganzen in Onkelos seinen kundigen Wegweiser erblickte”Google Scholar; cf. id., “Saadja und Onkelos,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, 46 (1902): 84–8, on p. 88.) Interestingly, Onqelos' rendering may itself reflect Stoic influenceGoogle Scholar; cf. [Jacob Immanuel] Neubürger, “Onkelos und die Stoa,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, 22 (1873), 566–8, on p. 567.Google Scholar

28 L 70:15; Q 106:19; T 92.Google Scholar

29 Cf. Abelson, J., The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature (London, 1912).Google Scholar

30 Cf. on this the late Shlomo Pines' remarks in his “Quotations from Saadya's Commentary on Sefer Yeẓira in Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed,” Appendix III to his “Points of similarity between the exposition of the doctrine of the Sefirot in the Sefer Yeẓira and a text of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. The implications of this resemblance,” Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, vol. VII, no. 3 (Jerusalem, 1989), pp. 63142, on pp. 127–32, esp. pp. 129–31. Pines does not consider the role of the air in the triad nor, consequently, the possibility that Saadia integrated Stoic elements in his scheme; cf. also n. 43 below.Google Scholar

31 L 72:21 f.; Q 109:9–11; T 95.Google Scholar

32 L 70:15–16; Q 106:18–21; T 92.Google ScholarCf. also L 74:2; Q 110, sharḥ of the second halakhah; T 96.Google Scholar

33 So reads a medieval Hebrew translation preserved in ha-Barẓeloni's, Judah b. BarzilaiCommentary on “Sefer Yeẓira”Google Scholar; cf. Commentar zum Sepher Jezira von R. Jehuda b. Barsilai aus Barcelona, hrsg. Halberstram, von S. J. nebst ergänzenden Kaufmann, Noten von D. (Berlin, 1885), 177:37. Another medieval Hebrew translation confirms the rendering “cartilage”:Google Scholar cf. ibid., 340:33.

34 L 71:1–4; Q 107:3–8; T 92. To be sure, the allusion to sea as an instance of something gross (or dense; kathīf) is somewhat surprising; this however is the reading carried by both printed editions (bahr), and it is confirmed by the medieval Hebrew translations (cf. also n. 37).Google Scholar

35 Cf. Lapidge, “Stoic cosmology,” p. 171; Long and Sedley, Hellenistic Philosophers, p. 284.Google Scholar

36 L 71:5–7; Q 107:8–15; L 92 f.Google Scholar

37 This idea may also underlie the allusion to the sea in the argument quoted in the preceding paragraph (cf. n. 34).Google Scholar

38 Cf. Sambursky, Physics of the Stoics, pp. 35, 119–20.Google Scholar

39 Ibid., pp. 35, 120–21; and Todd, Robert B., Alexander of Aphrodisias on Stoic Physics. A study of the De mixtione with Preliminary Essays, Text, Translation and Commentary (= Philosophia antiqua, vol. XXVIII) (Leiden, 1976), pp. 135, 217.Google Scholar

40 L 73:9–10; Q 109:25–6; T 95. As Qafih notes ad loc., the same phrase - now applied to the Deity - occurs in Doctrines and Beliefs, Treatise 2, Introduction (ed. Landauer 77:16–17; ed. Qafih, 80:27–29); it is discussed at some length also at 2:8 (ed. Landauer 91:17–92:10; ed. Qafih, 95:32–96:21). Cf. below p. 125.Google Scholar

41 L 71:6; Q 107:11; T 92.Google Scholar

42 This has been brilliantly shown by H.A Davidson apropos of Saadia's synopsis of theories of soul; cf. his “Saadia's list of theories of soul,” in Altmann, Alexander (ed.), Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), pp. 7594, especially pp. 8894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

43 That Saadia's views derive from Stoicism has been perceived and briefly noted by Horovitz, S. in his “Ueber den Einfluss der griechischen Philosophic auf die Entwicklung des Kalam,” Jahres-Bericht des jüdisch-theologischen Seminars Fraenckel'scher Stiftung [1909] (Breslau, 1909), pp. 191, on pp. 42–3. His opinion has been endorsed inGoogle ScholarMalter, , Saadia Gaon, pp. 188–9. The late Professor Shlomo Pines pointed to distinctive Neoplatonic elements in Saadia's thought, but did not discuss the origin of the notion of “second air.” Cf. Pines, “Points of similarity between the exposition of the doctrine of the Sefirot in the Sefer Yeẓira and a text of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies,” Appendices I and II on pp. 115–32. As far as I can see, there is no conflict between Prof. Pines' theses and those presented here (cf. n. 30).Google Scholar

44 Zucker, M. (ed.), Saadya's Commentary on Genesis, p. 29 (original), p. 214 (Hebrew translation).Google Scholar

45 In fact, Saadia maintains that it is the circular motion of the “great orb” of the air (or fire) that holds together the world, or at least that keeps the Earth at its place in the center; cf. infra at nn. 54, 56–57.Google Scholar

46 Cf. Malter, Saadia Gaon, p. 188 (n. 440). In Doctrines and Beliefs 2:8, especially, Saadia draws a comparison between the relationship of the soul and the body to God's relationship to the world.Google Scholar

47 Doctrines and Beliefs 2:8, ed. Landauer 91:21–92:3; ed. Qafih, 96:5–9.Google Scholar

48 Doctrines and Beliefs 2:5, ed. Landauer 88:3; ed. Qafih, 92:8.Google Scholar

49 Doctrines and Beliefs 1:3, “eighth theory”; ed. Landauer, 59:2–6, 14–17; ed. Qafih, 61:27–33, 62:11–15. Translation (slightly modified) quoted after Samuel Rosenblatt, Saadia GaonGoogle Scholar, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (New Haven / London, 1948), pp. 70–1. We are not here concerned with the fact that Saadia's argument involves a petitio principii.Google Scholar

50 An anonymous referee for this journal perspicaciously suggested the following possibility (for which I am very grateful): “For Plato too there are only four elements, and Philoponus agreed. Could they be the sources, rather than the Stoics?” Now although in different works Philoponus is inconsistent on the nature of the celestial matter and of its natural motion, in his lost De aeternitate mundi contra Aristotelem, notably, he indeed seems to have developed the idea that when fire is at its natural place it rotates naturally (cf. Wildberg, Christian, John Philoponus’ Criticism of Aristotle's Theory of Aether (Peripatoi, Bd. 16) [Berlin/New York, 1988], pp. 130–1). Philoponus was known to Arab philosophers, and some of his ideas found acceptance among them (for a recent statementCrossRefGoogle Scholarcf. Hasnawi, Ahmad, “Alexandre d'Aphrodise vs Jean Philopon: Notes sur quelques traitées d'Alexandre ‘perdus’ en grec, conserves en arabe”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 4 (1994): 53109). Prima facie, therefore, it seems possible that in rejecting Aristotle's fifth element, Saadia followed a tradition going back to Philoponus no less than to Stoicism. Although this possibility cannot be ruled out, it yet seems that the evidence does not warrant it. For one thing, in his Contra Aristotelem Philoponus apparently held the celestial region to consist of a mixture of fire and all the other elements. (This assumption was crucial in order to rebut Aristotle's argument that an overwhelming quantity of celestial fire would overpower all other elements, transforming the substance of the entire cosmos into itself.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Cf. Wildberg, Ibid., p. 174.) Saadia, by contrast, in the passage just quoted, considers heaven to consist of “pure fire” only. Further, Philoponus consistently holds that like all other substances the heavens possess heaviness and lightness (Wildberg, Ibid., pp. 147 if., 159; Paul Moraux, “Quinta essentia”, in Pauly-Wissowa, , Realencyclopadie, XXIV(1) [Stuttgart, 1963], coll. 1171– 1263, on col. 1244), an assumption obviously not shared by Saadia. Moreover, to buttress his four-element cosmology, Philoponus argues that the circular motion of the heavenly bodies does not entail that their matter must be of a fifth kind, unlike the sublunar four elements, for air and fire, too, have a natural circular motionGoogle Scholar(cf. Wildberg, , John Philoponus' Criticism, pp. 132–4, 161–3, 183; Moraux, “Quinta essentia”, col. 1244). Now, although this argument indeed recalls the one we saw was adduced by Saadia, it should be noticed that, like the Stoics, Saadia ascribes a circular motion to fire alone, and not to the air as well. (Admittedly at some places Philoponus too ascribes a circular movement to fire onlyGoogle Scholar; cf. Wildberg, John Philoponus' Criticism, pp. 129–31. On the circular motion of fire in Stoic physicsGoogle Scholarcf. Longrigg, “Elementary physics” p. 222Google Scholar; Wolff, Michael, “Hipparchus and the Stoic theory of motion” in Barnes, Jonathan and Mignucci, Mario (eds.), Matter and Metaphysics [Napoli, 1988], pp. 473545, esp. pp. 504–6, 540–2.) It may be added that Philoponus at times considered that the heavens' circular motion is both natural and caused by soulGoogle Scholar(Wildberg, , John Philoponus' Criticism, pp. 161–3), a conception of which there seems to be no trace in Saadia. In view of these discrepancies between Philoponus' and Saadia's views, and considering that Saadia's argument of the “second air” which penetrates everything is undoubtedly of Stoic origin, it seems plausible to suppose that his view of the heavenly matter derives from the same source. But perhaps Saadia integrated a vaguely-defined anti-Aristotelian position on the issue of the heavenly matter, one that grew out of the views of both the Stoics and Philoponus (who anyway was indebted to the former); arguably Saadia's pronouncements on the subject are too brief to allow us to decide the matter. For a concise history of views on the fifth element cf. Paul Moraux, “Quinta essentia”. esp. coll. 1231 ff. and Longrigg, “Elementary physics”; the medieval debate is discussed inGoogle ScholarVajda, Georges, “La philosophie et la théologie de Joseph Ibn Caddiq,” Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge, 17 (1949): 93181Google Scholar(reprinted in Weil, G.E., Mélanges Georges Vajda [Hildesheim, 1982], pp. 423511), on pp. 110–11 (= 440–1). The rejection of Aristotle's fifth element may go back to Theophrastus. For a recent assessment of his viewGoogle Scholarcf. Sharpies, R.W., “Theophrastus on the heavens,” in Wiesner, J. (ed.), Aristoteles Werk und Wirkung Paul Moraux Gewidmet, vol. I (Berlin/New York, 1985), pp. 577–93.Google Scholar

51 Commentary on SY, Introduction, “Sixth method”:Q 29:3–4; L 9:15–16; T 24. Saadia here argues against those who posited fire as the archē, out of which the world was created. His argument is based on the premise (which he adopts) that “fire is twofold – celestial [lit. belonging to the orbs; al-falakiyya] and terrestrial [al-arḍiyya].” A similar distinction is admittedly adduced by Philoponus, but his view in turn “no doubt shows influence of the Stoic distinction between pur phusikon and pur atechnon” (Wildberg, John Philoponus' Criticism, p. 168; cf. also pp. 177, 179; Moraux, “Quinta essentia,” col. 1243). Moreover, for Philoponus the two types of fire are at bottom “merely instances of one and the same element” (Wildberg, John Philoponus' Criticism, pp. 168–9; cf. also p. 134), a view that is consistent with his stance that the other three elements are also present in the celestial region (Ibid., p. 172). Saadia's view on the fiery nature of the supralunar realm is quoted with approval (albeit without ascribing it to Saadia) in R. Bahya Ibn Paqūda's The Duties of the Hearts (composed in Arabic between 1050 and 1150): “Some philosophers were of the opinion that the heavenly orbs and the upper beings [i.e. the heavenly bodies] are of the element fire. This is similar to what David said: “Who makest winds Thy messengers, the flaming fire Thy minister” (Ps. 104:4) – which is confirmatory evidence for that view; there is no fifth element as Aristotle held.” Cf. Ḥovot ha-Levavot 1:6, in:Google ScholarPaqūda, Rabbenu-Bahyay ben Yosef Ibn, Sefer Ḥovot ha-Levavot, trans, by Tibbon, Juda ibn, ed. Zifroni, A. (Tel Aviv, 1954), p. 118; English translation (modified) quoted afterGoogle ScholarHyamson, Moses (ed. and trans.), Duties of the Heart by Paquda, R.Bachya ben Joseph ibn (19251947), 2 vols. (Jerusalem, 1978), vol. I, pp. 75–7.Google ScholarDrZonta, M. (University of Pavia) kindly informed me that in his Kitāb al-Ḥadīqa, building upon a summary of Aristotle's theory of elements as exposed in De caelo, Moshe ibn Ezra (ca. 1055 - after 1135) writes that “in his book Beliefs and Opinions R. Saadia Gaon, may his memory be blessed, rejected this [Aristotle's] view”: cf. Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library, MS 8° 5701, fol. 50b.Google Scholar

52 Doctrines and Beliefs 2:8, ed. Landauer 92:6–7; ed. Qafih, 96:14–15. Saadia also rejects the Aristotelian doctrine of natural motions. For him, the natural motion of an element, the one belonging to it essentially, is that which it has at its origin (the term here is ma'din): thus, rest is the natural state of a stone which has reached its origin, just as circular motion is the natural motion of fire at its own origin, i.e., in the heavens. In contrast, the rectilinear motion which the stone and fire acquire when removed from their respective origins is accidental.Google Scholar Cf. Ibid.. 1:3, “Eighth Theory”: ed. Landauer, 59:6–14; ed. Qafih, 61:33–62:10. This position is, of course, non-Aristotelian, but it is also not Stoic; cf.Longrigg, “Elementary physics,” on pp. 223–7.

53 Commentary on SY, Introduction, Q 27:24–5; L 8:15–16; T. 23.Google Scholar

54 Zucker, (ed. and trans.), Saadya's Commentary on Genesis, p. 29 (Arabic), pp. 214–5 (Hebrew). A few lines further on Saadia says that it is “the motion of the [heavenly] sphere” that keeps the Earth at the centerGoogle Scholar (ibid.. pp. 30 and 216, respectively). This view was held also by the Karaite Yefet ben 'Elī (second half of the tenth century); cf. Ben-Shammai, Haggai, The Doctrines of Religious Thought of Abū Yūsuf Ya'qūb al-Qirqisāni and Yefet ben 'Elī, Ph.D. thesis, The Hebrew University (Jerusalem, 1977), vol. I, pp. 158–61, 163.Google Scholar

55 Cf. above p. 117 and Verbeke, , L'évolution de la doctrine du pneuma, pp. 68–71, 82, 89–90 (Chrysippus) and 91, 93, 99 (Panaetius).Google Scholar

56 De caelo 2.13, esp. 295a17 ff. It is reported by Averroes in his epitome of De caelo. I consulted the Hebrew translation in Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, MS Orient 10s55, fol. 77 r.Google Scholar

57 Cf.Wolff, , “Hipparchus and the Stoic theory of motion”, esp. pp. 523–33 and 541–2.Google Scholar

58 Doctrines and Beliefs 6:3, ed. Landauer 193:17–19, 194:4–7; ed. Qafih, 199:9–13, 19–22; translation quoted after Altmann, Saadya Gaon, Book of Doctrines and Beliefs, pp. 145–6; partially quoted in Davidson, “Saadia's list,” p. 85, n. 44.Google Scholar

59 Cf.Davidson, , “Saadia's list,” p. 85, n. 44, who also gives a succinct overview of previous scholarly opinions on the question.Google Scholar

60 On this interpretation, Saadia's rejection of the theory that the soul is fire (Doctrines and Beliefs 6:1, “Third theory,” ed. Landauer 190:4–6; ed. Qafih 195:11–15) is directed against the view that the substance of the soul is terrestrial fire.Google Scholar

61 al-Safā', Ikhwān, Rasā'il (Cairo, 1928), vol. II, pp. 124 ff.Google Scholar; translation in Dieterici, F., Die Naturanschuung und Naturphilosophie der Araber im zehnten Jahrhundert. Aus den Schriften der lautern Brüder (Berlin, 1861), p. 155; translated and discussed byGoogle ScholarPines, Shlomo in his “On the term ruhaniyyot and its origin, and on Judah Halevi's doctrine” (Hebrew), Tarbiẓ, 57 (1988): 511–40, on p. 515.Google Scholar

62 Pines, , “On the term ruhaniyyot,” pp. 521 ff.Google Scholar

63 Cf. e.g. Long and Sedley, , The Hellenistic Philosophers, p. 284.Google Scholar

64 A somewhat related suggestion has been put forward in Ben-Shammai, H., “Al-Qirqisānī's theory of the generation of fire and related theories concerning the change of the elements into one another”, in his “Studies in Karaite atomism,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 6 (1985): 243–93, on pp. 287–90: Ben-Shammai relates Saadia's views to some Presocratics, especially Anaximenes, whereas I suggest a Stoic ascendency.Google Scholar

65 Guttmann, Jacob [Die Religionsphilosophie des Saadia (Göttingen, 1882), pp. 26, 49, 75–6] believed that when Saadia wrote the Commentary on “Sefer Yeẓira,” two years before composing his Doctrines and Beliefs, he had not yet acquired the extensive philosophical knowledge displayed in the latter. Our conclusions concerning the consistent drawing on Stoic ideas in both works seem to disconfirm that contention.Google Scholar

66 R. Moshe ben Ḥasdai (Taku), Ketav Tamim, ed. R. Kirchheim in Oẓar Nechmad, 3 (1860): 58–99, on p. 96. Similarly, he ascribes to Saadia the view that “the Creator … is an Air which is subtler than anything subtle …” (Ibid., p. 64). This, of course, is not Saadia's true position, but it is significant that R. Moshe thought it was.

67 Horovitz's, S. pioneering study “Ueber den Einfluss des Stoicismus auf die Entwickelung der Philosophie bei den Arabern,” Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 57 (1903): 177–98 has been subjected to severe criticism:Google Scholarcf. e.g Pines, Shlomo, “Etudes sur Awhad al-Zamān Abu'l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī,” reprinted in The Collected Works of Shlomo Pines, vol. I: Studies on Abu'l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī. Physics and Metaphysics (Jerusalem/Leiden, 1979), pp. 195, on p. 47, n. 188. The monographic study devoted to the subject is far from exhausting it:Google ScholarJadaane, Fehmi, L'influence du stoïcisme sur la pensée musulmane (Beirut, 1968)Google Scholar. Cf. also Kraus, Paul, Jābir ibn Hayyān: Contribution à l'histoire des idées scientifiques dans l'Islam, vol. II: Jābir et la science grecque (= Mémoires présentés à l'Institut d'Égypte, vol. 45) [Cairo, 1945; repr. Paris, 1986 and Hildesheim, 1989], pp. 168 ff.Google Scholar; van Riet, S., “Stoicorum veterum fragmenta arabica. À propos de Nemesius d'Émèse,” in Salmon, P. (ed.), Mélanges d'Islamologie (Leiden, 1974), pp. 254–63Google Scholar; Freudenthal, Gad, “Clandestine Stoic concepts in mechanical philosophy: The problem of electrical attraction,” in Field, J.V. and James, Frank A. J. L. (eds.), Renaissance and Revolution: Humanists, Scholars, Craftsmen and Natural Philosophers in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 161–72.Google Scholar Some further bibliographical references are given in van Ess, Josef, “The logical structure of Islamic theology,’ in von Grunebaum, G. E. (ed.), Logic in Classical Islamic Culture (Wiesbaden, 1970), pp. 2150, on p. 31 f. (n. 55; for calling this reference to my attention I am grateful to Dr. Sarah Stroumsa). In contrast, the reception given to Stoic thought within Latin medieval thought has been the subject of increasing attention.Google Scholar Cf. the masterly overview given in Lapidge, Michael, “The Stoic inheritance,” in Dronke, P. (ed.), A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 81112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarCf. also id., “A Stoic metaphor in late Latin poetry: the binding of the cosmos,” Latomus, 39 (1980): 817–37Google Scholar and several of the papers included in Osler, Margaret J. (ed.), Atoms, Pneuma, and Tranquility (Cambridge, 1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

68 Notably the examination of the Arabic translation of Pseudo-Plutarch's, Placita philosophorum, ed. by Badawi, A. in his Arisṯūṯālīs fi l-nafs, 2nd edn (Kuwait/Beirut, 1980)Google Scholar as well as by Daiber, H. in his Aetius Arabus. Die Vorsokratiker in arabischer Überlieferung (Wiesbaden, 1980), which was the source for Saadia's exposition of the theories of soul (cf. above, n. 42). I thank Dr. Y. Tzvi Langermann and Dr. M. Zonta for their suggestions on this subject.Google Scholar

69 Guttmann, E.g., Die Religionsphilosophie des Saadia, pp. 30–1.Google Scholar

70 I am grateful to Prof. Menachem Kellner for having drawn my attention to this point.Google Scholar

71 The mystics' indebtedness to Saadia has already been pointed out by scholars in the nineteenth century and has been highlighted particularly by Scholem, Gershom and Dan, Joseph: cf.Scholem, Gershom G., Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York, 1961)Google Scholar; Dan, Joseph, The Esoteric Theology of Ashkenazi Hasidism (Hebrew) (Jerusalem, 1968).Google Scholar

72 Dan, , Esoteric Theology, pp. 48, 85–7, 100–13, 140–2, 164–70, 171 ff.Google Scholar

73 Quoted after Scholem, Major Trends, p. 108.Google Scholar

74 Eleazar, of Worms, , Perush 'al Sefer Yeẓirah (Przemyal, 1883), 2a, 3a–b.Google Scholar

75 London, British Library, MS Heb. 1055. A transcription of this manuscript was published by the Department of Hebrew Literature, The Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University (Jerusalem, 1973).Google Scholar

76 Scholem, , Major Trends, pp. 111–13.Google Scholar

77 Pines, , “Quotations from Saadya's Commentary on the Sefer Yeẓira in a poem by Ibn Gabirol and in the Fons vitae,” Appendix II to his “Points of similarity between the exposition of the doctrine of the Sefirot in the Sefer Yeẓira and a text of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies,” pp. 122–6.Google Scholar

78 Moscow, State Library, MS Günzburg 508. I consulted the microfilm no. 16881 of the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem.Google Scholar

79 Ta-Shma, I., “Sefer ha-Maskil: An unknown Hebrew book from the thirteenth century,” (Hebrew), Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, 3 (1982/1983): 416–38Google Scholar(English summary on pp. XIII–XIV)Google Scholar; Freudenthal, Gad, “‘The air blessed be He and blessed be His name’ in Sefer ha-Maskil by R. Shlomo Simha of Troyes: Some characteristics of a Stoically-inspired midrashic-scientific cosmology of the thirteenth century,” Part One: Da'at (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) no. 32–33 (1994): 187234Google Scholar (in Hebrew; English abstract, pp. LXVII-LXVIII); Part Two:Ibid., no. 34 (1995): 87–129.

80 The following précis is given on the basis of my paper cited in the previous note.Google Scholar

81 Sefer ha-Maskil, MS Günzburg 508, fol. 14a: 40 f.

82 Ibid., fol. 13b:19–21.

83 Ibid., fol. 9b:36–7.

84 Ibid., fol. 10a:42–4.

85 Barker, Peter and Goldstein, Bernard R., “Is seventeenth-century physics indebted to the Stoics?”, Centaurus, 27 (1984): 148–64; Osler, Atoms, Pneuma, and Tranquility.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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