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Philosophy

Maimonides,Moses,Mosheh Ibn Tibon, and SebastianMünster. Be’ur milot ha-Higayon shel he-hakham Rabi Shimʻon. Basileae, 1527.

Moses Maimonides, 1135-1204.

This is a first edition of a rather specialized yet popular handbook of Aristotle’s terminology. Maimonides, also known as Moses ben Maimon and by the acronym Rambam, is considered medieval Judaism’s foremost philosopher and among the greatest figures of Jewish scholarship.

Until the 12th century, European scholars only had seen parts of Aristotle’s classic works on logic. However, Arabian-born Jewish scholars like Maimonides had long been familiar with the complete original.

Maimonides’ influence on post-Talmudic Judaism’s development is incalculable. He saw his philosophy as a practical, Jewish-oriented adaptation of Aristotle. At first, contemporary medieval Jewish philosophers saw it as radical and opposed it vehemently. Eventually, it was accepted as part of mainstream rabbinical thought.

Higayon appeared in over 80 extant manuscripts and printed editions. This edition stems from an Arabic manuscript, translated into Hebrew in 1256 by Moses Ibn Tibbon. Its numerous translation errors are blamed on defects in the Arabic text. Consequently, similar errors mar the parallel Latin translation by Sebastian Münster, a 16th century German Christian Hebraist scholar.