Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Reconciling philosophy and scripture in Renaissance Italy : Obadiah Sforno's Hebrew and Latin versions of the Light of the Nations
Author: Foren, Symon Lee
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 8682
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This dissertation is a study of Obadiah Sforno's (c. 1475-c. 1550) philosophical-theological treatise, Light of the Nations, entitled in Hebrew Or ammim (1537), and in Latin, Lumen gentium (1548). The purpose is to provide an in-depth examination of the author's response to a particular variety of Aristotelian-Averroan philosophy-such a study has not yet been undertaken. The dissertation maintains that the key to understanding the author's approach to this work is to examine which sources he used and how he read them. Three aspects of the treatise are discussed. The first is the author's heavy reliance on Averroes' interpretation of Aristotle's conceptual framework even as he sought to undermine its central theses from within. This study argues that Sforno's seemingly negative attitude toward philosophy should be viewed in terms of his reading strategies by which he made every effort to ensure that his examination of philosophy agreed with his religious beliefs. For this, the twelfth inquiry-proving the intellective soul's immortality-is taken as a case study to look at how Sforno interpreted and modified Averroes' mature noetic doctrine. The second aspect is the author's relationship to the medieval Judeo-Arabic philosophical tradition. Using his discussions on epistemology and moral philosophy, his system is evaluated in terms of certain positions advocated by Maimonides and Samuel Ibn Tibbon-the only Jewish philosophical authorities cited in the Hebrew text of the treatise. The third aspect is scriptural exegesis. The dissertation explores how Sforno attempted to achieve a reason-based assent to the tenets of religion through an allegorical reading of Scripture. It argues that the author's approach to the interpretation of biblical passages is determined by his desire to resolve the contradictions between philosophy and religion so that his reader could draw from both systems of thought. It analyses how Sforno followed in the footsteps of his medieval forebears in imposing the concepts and terminology of Greco-Arabic philosophy onto the biblical text in order to achieve a reconciliation of the Peripatetic and scriptural traditions. Throughout the study, the author's appreciation of his disparate readerships is evaluated by examining the differences between the Hebrew and Latin texts.
Supervisor: Weinberg, Joanna Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hebrew/Latin Averroism ; Reconciliation of Philosophy and Scripture ; Light of the Nations ; Philosophy, Renaissance