SGA 9 (2019)

Studia graeco-arabica 9 (2019) – Available in print: please contact

    Affiliations and addresses of the Authors of this Volume

    Dr. Sami Aydin
    University of Uppsala
    Box 635, 751 26 Uppsala (Sweden)

    Dr. Rüdiger Arnzen
    Ruhr University Bochum
    Faculty of Philology, Seminar für Orientalistik und Islamwissenschaft
    Universitätsstraße 150, 44801 Bochum (Germany)

    Prof. Dr. Najib George Awad
    Hartford Seminary, Connecticut
    77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105 (USA)

    Dr. Yury Arzhanov
    Division of Byzantine Research
    Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    Hollandstrasse 11-13, 1020 Wien (Austria)

    Dr. Nicolás Bamballi
    Division of Byzantine Research
    Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    Hollandstrasse 11-13, 1020 Wien (Austria)

    Dr. Francesco Celia
    Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Center for the Study of Christianity
    Room 6823, Faculty of Humanities
    Mt. Scopus Campus
    Jerusalem 9190501 (Israel)

    Dr. Slavomír Čéplö
    Division of Byzantine Research
    Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    Hollandstrasse 11-13, 1020 Wien (Austria)

    Dr. Elisa Coda
    Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere
    Università di Pisa, v. P. Paoli 15, 56126 Pisa (Italy)

    Prof. Cristina D’Ancona
    Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere
    Università di Pisa, v. P. Paoli 15, 56126 Pisa (Italy)

    Prof. Marco Di Branco
    Università di Roma ‘La Sapienza’
    Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma (Italy)

    Prof. Tiziano Dorandi
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
    (UMR 8230, Centre Jean Pépin)
    7, rue Guy Môquet BP N°8
    94801 Villejuif Cedex, Paris (France)

    Dr. Biancamaria Giommoni
    Università di Pisa
    Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere
    via P. Paoli 15, 56126 Pisa (Italy)

    Dr. Yehuda Halper
    Bar-Ilan University
    Department of Jewish Thought
    Ramat-Gan, 5290002 (Israel)


    Paul Hullmeine
    Bavarian Academy of Sciences
    Project “Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus”
    Alfons-Goppel-Str. 11, 80539 Munich (Germany)

    Dr. Grigory Kessel
    Division of Byzantine Research
    Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    Hollandstrasse 11-13, 1020 Wien (Austria)

    Dr. Concetta Luna
    Scuola Normale Superiore
    Piazza dei Cavalieri 1, 56126 Pisa (Italy)

    Dr. Issam Marjani
    Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale
    Università di Pisa, via S. Maria 36, 56126 Pisa (Italy)

    Prof. Cecilia Martini Bonadeo
    Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche Geografiche
    e dell’Antichità, Università di Padova
    Via del Vescovado 6, 35141 Padova (Italy)

    Prof. Dr. Matthias Perkams
    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
    Institut für Philosophie
    Zwätzengasse 9, E 04, Jena (Germany)

    Dr. Andrea Pintimalli
    Università di Roma ‘La Sapienza’
    Dipartimento di Storia, Antropologia, Religoni, Arte, Spettacolo
    Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma (Italy)

    Prof. Sir Richard Sorabji
    Wolfson College, University of Oxford
    Linton Road OX2 6UD, Oxford (UK)


    1. Giulia Guidara, The Celestial Bodies in Enn. II 9 [33] Implications of Plotinus’ Criticism of Gnostic Astrology
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 1-14

    Affiliation: Università di Trento (Italy)
    Keywords: Plotinus, Gnostic Astrology, Enn. II 9[33]

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    In his treatise Against the Gnostics, II 9[33], Plotinus claims that those who challenge the perfection of the celestial bodies cannot be virtuous, least of all can be the self-proclaimed elite of the mankind as in the Gnostics’ narrative. Not only the heavenly bodies are perfect, as their movement in circle shows: they also instance the highest ‘virtue’. What on earth can this mean? II 9[33] is the only treatise of the Enneads where the heavens are described in such terms. This article contends that Plotinus establishes a connection between ‘virtue’ and the celestial bodies in order to refute incisively the astrological beliefs of that kind of would-be Platonists that are the Gnostics in his eyes. He also includes the celestial order in his vision of the structure of reality and of the mankind’s role within the visible world.

    2. Concetta Luna, Addenda et corrigenda à l’édition de la Théologie platonicienne de Proclus
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 15-46

    Affiliation: Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (Italy)
    Keywords: Proclus, Proclus’ Platonic Theology, Proclus’ commentary on the Parmenides

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Proclus’ Platonic Theology was edited by H.D. Saffrey and L.G. Westerink in six volumes, published between 1968 and 1997. Several scholars suggested emendations in their reviews of one or other volume, and the editors themselves did the same on various occasions, even though a number of these emendations remained unpublished, relegated in the handwritten notes on their own copies of the volumes. In their turn, also the editors of Proclus’ commentary on the Parmenides, C. Luna and A.-Ph. Segonds, revised here and there the text of the Platonic Theology. This study collects all the emendations, published and unpublished, examining each of them separately. It thus provides a complement to the edition of this monumental treatise, that displays the systematic theology held in the Neoplatonic school of Athens at the end of antiquity.

    3. Tiziano Dorandi, Un manoscritto trascurato del I libro dell’Anthologion di Giovanni Stobeo: Ambrosianus A 183 sup. (76 Martini-Bassi)
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 47-54

    Affiliation: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris (France)
    Keywords: Johannes Stobaeus, Anthologion, Ambrosianus A 183 sup. (76 Martini-Bassi)

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    The Ambrosianus A 183 sup. (76 Martini-Bassi), dated between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th cent., is the oldest partial manuscript of the first book of the Anthologion by Johannes Stobaeus. A codicological study and the analysis of the main variants are presented in this article. The conclusion is that the Ambrosianus not only derives from the same model as the Neapolitanus III D 15 and the later Parisinus gr. 2129, but also is the model (through a lost intermediate) of the Parisinus.

    4. Biancamaria Giommoni, Nota sulle fonti della Risāla fī l-farq bayna l-rūḥ wa-l-nafs (Epistola sulla differenza tra lo pneuma e l’anima) di Qusṭā ibn Lūqā
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 55-68

    Affiliation: Università di Pisa, Pisa (Italy)
    Keywords: Qusṭā ibn Lūqā, Risāla fī l-farq bayna l-rūḥ wa-l-nafs, ps.-Theology of Aristotle

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    This paper focuses on a specific topic discussed in the Risāla fī l-farq bayna l-rūḥ wa-l-nafs by Qusṭā ibn Lūqā (820-912 ca.): the proof that the soul is incorporeal. That the arguments presented by Qusṭā are Neoplatonic is quite clear, but the precise sources have not yet been identified. This article presents textual comparisons with the Arabic paraphrase of Plotinus’ treatise On the Immortality of the Soul, translated and adapted in the ps.-Theology of Aristotle. Parallel passages are present also in the Arabic paraphrase of the De Anima, but the main source of Qusṭā’s argument concerning the incorporeal nature of the soul is the Arabic Plotinus. At variance with pneuma, soul is an incorporeal substance, and on this point Plato and ‘Aristotle’ are in agreement in Qusṭā’s opinion.

    5. Sami Aydin, The Remnant of a Questions and Answers Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories in Syriac (Vat. Syr. 586)
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 69-106

    Affiliation: Uppsala University, Uppsala (Sweden)
    Keywords: Aristotle’s Categories, MS Vat. Syr. 586, Bar Seroshway

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Seven folios at the Vatican Library (Vat. Syr. 586) constitute the only remaining part of a manuscript from the 13th century that contained a large commentary on the Categories of Aristotle. The text features an exchange between a pupil and a master, where the pupil either puts a question on a certain matter regarding the Categories or asks for a clarification to a lemma that is cited from it, to which the master attempts to offer a basic explanation. The extant part of this commentary, which deals with Aristotle’s concluding discussion on the category of quantity and his initial presentation of the relatives, with some noteworthy observations, is edited here for the first time from the partially mutilated folios with a translation and some annotations. The question of its date of composition, its possible author and some other relevant points are treated in the introduction.

    6. Najib George Awad, Dāwūd ibn Marwān al-Muqammaṣ on the Trinity: A Moment in Abbasid Jewish-Christian Kalām
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 107-128

    Affiliation: Hartford Seminary, Connecticut (USA)
    Keywords: Dāwūd ibn Marwān al-Muqammaṣ, al-Muqammaṣ’s Twenty Chapters, Kalām

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    This essay studies al-Muqammaṣ’s Muslim Kalām text, Twenty Chapters, and focuses on his criticism of the Christian Kalām on the Trinity. It first analyzes al-Muqammaṣ’s assessment of the Christian Kalām on the Trinity within the framework of his logico-philosophical discourse on God as ‘the One’. It then tries to investigate which Christian mutakallims’ Arabic works, among the ones we have extant today, could al-Muqammaṣ have read and had in mind when he argued against the doctrine of the Trinity in his Twenty Chapters. I conclude with some remarks on the dynamics of interaction between mutakallims in the Abbasid era, that can be extracted from the discoursing strategies of texts like al-Muqammaṣ’s Twenty Chapters.

    7. Matthias Perkams, The Syro-Persian Reinvention of Aristotelianism: Paul the Persian’s Treatise on the Scopes of Aristotle’s Works between Sergius of Rēšʿaynā, Alexandria, and Baghdad
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 129-146

    Affiliation: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Germany)
    Keywords: Sergius’ of Rēšʿaynā, Paul the Persian, Syro-Persian Aristotelianism

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    This article discusses anew the sources of the treatise by Paul the Persian on the scopes of the writings of Aristotle, transmitted by Miskawayh. A whole row of different sources can be identified: The Syriac Long commentary on the Categories by Sergius’ of Rēšʿaynā as well as different Greek works, including obviously Philoponus’ commentary on the Physics, a commentary on the Analytica priora similar to David and Elias and an introduction into logics which resembles a passage in Boethius. Paul probably knew Greek and spent time in a Greek context, where he could collect so many different works. Paul arranged his material in an original way and supplemented points left open by Greek authors. Formally, he introduces a very consequent binary division of entities and treatises absent from the extant Greek sources. It is possibly influenced by East Syrian scholastic culture. Regarding the content, he was the first to explain all five types of syllogism. Especially the understanding of the Greek μυθῶδες, as a description of the poetical syllogism, as “imagined”, which is probably due to him, paved the way for the Arabic theories on poetical syllogisms. By writing this treatise, Paul fulfils a never executed promise of Sergius’ of Rēšʿaynā, namely explaining the aim(s) of all writings of Aristotle. Thus, he gives the first sketch of a purely Aristotelian curriculum of philosophy in late Antiquity, which is introduced by Sergius’ magnificent image of Aristotle as the master of all sciences. The reception of Paul’s treatise by al-Fārābī and Miskawayh leads to the diffusion of the Aristotelian curriculum, as developed by the two Syro-Persian masters, in Arabic philosophical texts.

    8. Richard Sorabji, The Cross-cultural Spread of Greek Philosophy (and Indian Moral Tales) to 6th Century Persian and Syriac
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 147-164

    Affiliation: Wolfson College, University of Oxford (UK)
    Keywords: Aristotle’s Logic in Syriac, Paul the Persian, Syro-Persian Aristotelianism

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Pagan Greek philosophy spread to the Persian king Khushru I, a Zoroastrian, in the 6th century CE, who first gave the Athenian philosophers refuge from their Christian emperor, to hold (newly translated) discussions with them, and then got a report through ‘Paul of Persia’ of the Alexandrian school’s case to Christian students for studying Aristotle’s logic, in order to decide between conflicting claims about Christian doctrine. The Greek philosophical author of this (newly translated) case can be identified, and it has nothing to do with the equally fascinating autobiography of Khushru’s physician, who got and translated into Middle Persian charming moral tales from India, but abandoned all effort to decide between conflicting Indian claims about religion.

    9. Andrea Pintimalli, “L’espressione ‘apoteosi’ suona male alle orecchie dei musulmani” Al-Bīrūnī tra falsafa e comparazione religiosa
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 165-182

    Affiliation: Università di Roma ‘La Sapienza’ (Italy)
    Keywords: al-Bīrūnī, Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind by Abū Rayḥān, al-Bīrūnī’s history of religions

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    This article is devoted to the third chapter of the Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind by Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī (973-1048) from the viewpoint of his vision of the history of religions and their relationship with the issue of human languages. The opinions held by the inhabitants of the Hind about the intelligibilia and sensibilia form the focus of the chapter, and as an introduction to these opinions al-Bīrūnī embarks on a complex series of comparisons involving texts and concepts of the classical Greece, the sufi tradition, as well as of the Hebrew, Christian, and Manichean doctrines. Such comparisons attest not only al-Birūnī’s linguistic skills and broad knowledge of multifarious religious traditions, but also his endeavour to include elements of the Sanscrit heritage in the intellectual context of the Islam of his age.

    10. Paul Hullmeine, Al-Bīrūnī’s Use of Philoponus for Arguing Against the Eternity of the World
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 183-202

    Affiliation: Bavarian Academy of Sciences (Germany)
    Keywords: al-Bīrūnī, Avicenna, eternity of the world, Theology of Aristotle, John Philoponus

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī is famous mostly for his various scientific treatises on astronomy, mathematics, and geodesy. This paper aims to establish him as an important figure in the philosophical debates in the Islamic world around 1000 AD. The famous exchange of letters between him and the young Avicenna on physical and cosmological questions is a clear indication of al-Bīrūnī’s general interest in philosophical issues and Aristotelian texts. In one of these letters, al-Bīrūnī questions one of the most fundamental Aristotelian teachings – that of the eternity of the world. The discussion of this point and Avicenna’s answer reveal the sources of both interlocutors. While Avicenna is deeply influenced by the Ps.-Aristotelian Theology, al-Bīrūnī draws heavily from John Philoponus, even defending him against Avicenna. In addition, a passage from the geodetic work Kitāb Taḥdīd nihāyat al-amākin gives further evidence for a Philoponan influence on al-Bīrūnī. In this text, al-Bīrūnī answers objections to the Kalām-argument for creation made by Ibn al-Ḫammār. In conclusion, it is argued that al-Bīrūnī played a major role in the philosophical debates of his time, in addition to his well-known contributions to the scientific debates.

    11. Cristina D’Ancona, Philoponus, or “Yaḥyā al-naḥwī”. An Overview
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 203-242

    Affiliation: Università di Pisa (Italy)
    Keywords: Philoponus, Aristotelian-Neoplatonic cosmology, Createdness of the Cosmos

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Thanks to the translation of his anti-eternalist works, in the Arabic-speaking world Philoponus was known as a Christian who championed the createdness of the cosmos. Also some of his commentaries on Aristotle were translated. Contemporary scholarship on Philoponus discusses the different and at times opposed attitudes that coexist in his huge literary output: indeed, he is both a commentator of Aristotle in a Neoplatonic vein and a harsh critic of the eternity and divinity of the heavens – in itself a pivot of Aristotelian-Neoplatonic cosmology. A prominent feature of the ‘Arabic Philoponus’ is that the anti-eternalist stance, far from being the expression of his genuine position, appears as a device to make an agreement with the ruling Christian faith. This article surveys the current state of research on Philoponus, on his life and works in the Arabic sources, on the works translated, and on their influence on Muslim thought.

    12. Yehuda Halper, Are there Second Intentions in De Interpretatione 16 a 3-8? The Hebrew Aristotelian Commentary Tradition in the 13th-15th Centuries
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 243-260

    Affiliation: Bar-Ilan University (Israel)
    Keywords: Aristotle’s De Interpretatione, Averroes, Jacob Anatoli, Gersonides, Abraham Avigdor, 15th century Hebrew Commentaries on De Interpretatione

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    Aristotle’s De Interpretatione 16 a 3-8 describes the relationship between writing, words, meanings, and things. Christian and Jewish interpreters took different approaches to interpreting this passage. Scholastic thinkers tended to examine the differences between meanings and the meaning of meanings, or first-second intentions, and this terminology is even reflected in William of Luna’s translation of Averroes’ Millde Commentary on this passage. The 14th c. Jewish interpreters, who relied on Jacob Anatoli’s 13th c. translation of Averroe’s Middle Commentary, tended not to find the first-second intention distinction in De Interpretatione 16 a 3-8, and instead took Averroes’ account of meaning at face value. This changed in the 15th c. when Jewish thinkers began to engage more directly and more significantly with Latin scholastic works, and began to interpret Aristotle accordingly.

    Tools for Research
    Rüdiger Arnzen, Yury Arzhanov, Nicolás Bamballi, Slavomír Čéplö, Grigory Kessel, The Quest for ‘Falsehood’, or a Survey of Tools for the Study of Greek-Syriac-Arabic Translations
    SGA 9 (2019), pp. 263-280

    Affiliations: Ruhr University Bochum / Austrian Academy of Sciences Vienna
    Keywords: Ancient philosophy and medicine, Graeco-Syriac and Graeco-Arabic translations, digital edition, parallel corpus, Digital Humanities

    Abstract, Full Text PDF

    This article surveys the tools available for those interested in the study of Greek-Syriac-Arabic translations of Greek scientific literature. Presenting both standard printed works and the available digital databases, it identifies the respective advantages and disadvantages of each. Thereafter, it sets out the work-in-progress of the ERC project Transmission of Classical Scientific and Philosophical Literature from Greek into Syriac and Arabic (HUNAYNNET). The remit of this project is to offer a new approach for research into translation techniques and into the history of the transmission of classical Greek literature in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, building upon the methods of digital philology and computational linguistics.

    1. Cristina D’Ancona: M.-O. Goulet-Cazé, Le cynisme, une philosophie antique, Vrin, Paris 2017 (Textes et traditions, 29), 702 pp., SGA 9, pp. 283-289

    2. Cristina D’Ancona: M.-L. Lakmann, Platonici minores. 1. Jh.v.Chr. – 2. Jh.n.Chr. Prosopographie, Fragmente und Testimonien mit deutscher Übersetzung, unter Mitarbeit von D.J. O’Meara. Übersetzungen von M. Baltes (†), E. Pahnke (†), H. Thoss, Brill, Leiden – Boston 2017 (Philosophia Antiqua, 145), xiv + 824 pp. SGA 9, pp. 290-294

    3. Francesco Celia: A. Marmodoro – N.B. McLynn (eds.), Exploring Gregory of Nyssa: Philosophical, Theological, and Historical Studies, Oxford U.P., Oxford 2018, xi + 263 pp., SGA 9, pp. 299-306

    4. Cristina D’Ancona: D.D. Butorac – D.A. Layne (Eds.), Proclus and his Legacy, W. de Gruyter, Berlin – Boston 2017 (Millennium Studien zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr., 65), x + 456 pp., SGA 9, pp. 299-306

    5. Germana Chemi: Priscian. Answers to King Khosroes of Persia, translated by P. Huby, S. Ebbesen – D. Langslow – D. Russell – C. Steel – M. Wilson, Bloomsbury, London 2016 (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle), VII + 162 pp., SGA 9, pp. 307-309

    6. Godefroid de Callataÿ: Les Épîtres des Frères en Pureté (Rasāʾil Ikhwān al-ṣafā). Mathématique et Philosophie. Présentation et traduction de six épîtres par Guillaume de Vaulx d’Arcy, Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2019 (Sagesses médiévales), 318 pp., SGA 9, pp. 310-312

    7. Elisa Coda: A. Lammer, The Elements of Avicenna’s Physics. Greek Sources and Arabic Innovations, W. de Gruyter, Berlin – Boston 2018 (Scientia graeco-arabica, 20), xvii + 594 pp., SGA 9, pp. 312-321

    8. Cecilia Martini Bonadeo: Avicenne. Logica (Logique du Šifāʾ). Texte latin, édition critique de la traduction médiévale par F. Hudry. Introduction doctrinale par A. de Libera, Vrin, Paris 2018 (Sic et Non), 266 pp., SGA 9, pp. 322-325

    9. Concetta Luna: F. Acerbi – G. Vuillemin-Diem, La transmission du savoir grec en Occident. Guillaume de Moerbeke, le Laur. Plut. 87.25 (Thémistius, in De an.) et la bibliothèque de Boniface VIII, Leuven U.P., Leuven 2019 (Mediaevalia Lovaniensia. Series I / Studia 49), xi + 266 pp., SGA 9, pp. 326-341

    10. Elisa Coda: J.-P. Rothschild, Moïse b. Sabbataï, lecteur juif du Livre des causes et adversaire de la Kabbale, en Italie, vers 1340, Brepols, Turnhout 2018 (Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions of the Middle Ages, 2), xii + 332 pp., SGA 9, pp. 342-344

    11. Cristina D’Ancona: D.N. Hasse, Success and Suppression. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy in the Renaissance, Harvard U.P., Cambridge (Mass.) – London 2016 (I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History), xviii + 660 pp., SGA 9, pp. 345-352

    12. Marco Di Branco: İlker Evrim Binbaş, Intellectual Networks in Timurid Iran. Sharaf al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī and the Islamicate Republic of Letters, Cambridge U.P., Cambridge 2016 (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization, s.n.), xxii + 362 pp., SGA 9, pp. 353-355

    13. Issam Marjani: M. Campanini – C. La Martire, Dizionarietto di arabo per filosofi, Morcelliana, Brescia 2019, 368 pp., SGA 9, pp. 356-358

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