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R. Saadia Gaon

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Chapter Summary

Jewish philosophical literature first developed under the influence of Moslem philosophers in Babylonia during the Geonic period, in the first half of the 10th century. One may consider Saadia the founder of the philosophical tradition that interprets holy writ from a Jewish/rabbinic viewpoint. Saadia's fields of productivity were varied, but one tendency is clearly recognized in all, to establish the authority of the rabbinic tradition against all its opponents. His philosophical work was devoted to the same goal. He was creative in six principal fields: lexicography and study of the Hebrew language; prayer and liturgical poetry; biblical translation and commentary; polemical literature; halakhic literature, and philosophical literature. Saadia wrote a translation of the Torah in Arabic with commentary. His translation and commentary addressed a specific need of the Jewish community, the emergence of an Arabic-speaking community who were no longer knowledgeable in Hebrew.

Keywords: Geonic period; Hebrew language; Jewish community; Jewish philosophical literature; R. Saadia Gaon; rabbinic tradition; Torah



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