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  • Gad Freudenthal (a1) and Mauro Zonta (a2)

The reception of Avicenna by medieval Jewish readers presents an underappreciated enigma. Despite the philosophical and scientific stature of Avicenna, his philosophical writings were relatively little studied in Jewish milieus, be it in Arabic or in Hebrew. In particular, Avicenna's philosophical writings are not among the “Hebräische Übersetzungen des Mittelalters” – only very few of them were translated into Hebrew. As an author associated with a definite corpus of writings, Avicenna hardly existed in Jewish philosophy in Hebrew (contrary to Averroes). Paradoxically, however, some of Avicenna's most distinctive ideas were widely known and embraced by Jewish philosophers. This is the phenomenon that we dub Avicennian knowledge without Avicenna. In contrast with the philosophical treatises, Avicenna's medical writings were widely and intensively studied by Jews, especially in Hebrew, and remained influential until at least the seventeenth century. The present article presents a comprehensive picture of Avicenna's reception within medieval Jewish cultures in both Arabic and Hebrew and tries to explain the Jews’ complex attitude to Avicenna.


La réception d'Avicenne par les érudits juifs médiévaux présente une énigme dont on n'a pas encore pris toute la mesure. Malgré la grande stature scientifique et philosophique d'Avicenne, ses écrits philosophiques ont été peu connus des savants juifs, que ce soit en arabe ou en hébreu. Ils n'ont guère fait partie des “Hebräische Übersetzungen des Mittelalters” – peu seulement ont été traduits en hébreu. En tant qu’auteur associé à un corpus de textes, Avicenne n'existe presque pas dans la philosophie juive en hébreu (contrairement à Averroès). Paradoxalement cependant, certaines des idées les plus caractéristiques d'Avicenne étaient bien connues et acceptées par des philosophes juifs. Nous appelons ce phénomène savoir avicennien sans Avicenne. Contrairement aux écrits philosophiques, les ouvrages médicaux d'Avicenne, eux, étaient lus et utilisés par les juifs, notamment en traductions hébraïques, et ce jusqu'au xviie siècle. Cet article présente un tableau général de la réception d'Avicenne, en arabe et en hébreu, dans les différentes cultures juives et il tente d'expliquer l'attitude complexe des savants juifs vis-à-vis d'Avicenne.

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Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0957-4239
  • EISSN: 1474-0524
  • URL: /core/journals/arabic-sciences-and-philosophy
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