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Title: Judah ha-Cohen and the Emporer's philosopher : dynamics of transmission at cultural crossroads
Author: Arndt, Sabine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 7356
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In his Hebrew encyclopaedic compendium Midrash ha-Ḥokhmah, the thirteenth-century Toledan scholar Judah ben Solomon ha-Cohen reports of a correspondence, held in Arabic, that he had with an unnamed philosopher who belonged to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in Italy. The present work investigates the different ways in which this correspondence helped transmit knowledge between scholars from different cultural and geographical settings. First, a critical edition, translation, and analysis are rendered of the two problems discussed in the text, which concern the construction of the five regular polyhedra and the calculation of oblique ascensions. The correspondence is then placed within the framework of other accounts of scholars who reportedly received imperial inquiries. It is shown that its subject matter was of interest to both the court and the scholarly community, and can be linked to the work of Frederick's correspondents Leonardo Fibonacci in Italy and the school of Ibn Yunus in Mosul, and to the work of later scholars - Campanus of Novara and Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Maghribī. The unnamed philosopher, who is proved wrong in the correspondence, is in all likelihood Theodore of Antioch. An analysis of the terminology used in the Hebrew translation of the lost Arabic original shows that Judah created a unique mathematical and astronomical vocabulary, which changed during his working life. It is influenced by that of Jacob Anatoli, but Judah's terminology is generally much closer to that of his predecessor Ibn Ezra. It is then shown that the interreligious collaboration recorded in the correspondence is typical for the appropriation of Greek learning in the Middle Ages, but its placement within the framework of the Midrash ha-Ḥokhmah is influenced by interreligious polemics. Here, it serves to prove the superiority of the Jewish religion.
Supervisor: Weinberg, Joanna ; Savage-Smith, Emilie Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Scatcherd European Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Transmission of texts--Europe--History--To 1500 ; Europe--Intellectual life--Arab influences