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Latin-into-Hebrew: Introducing a Neglected Chapter in European Cultural History

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter examines an under-investigated phenomenon of European medieval intellectual history: the transmission of bodies of knowledge and texts from Latin into Hebrew between the twelfth and the fifteenth century. The overwhelming majority of Hebrew translations were done from Arabic, but Latin-into-Hebrew translations were carried out as well. Most of the historically influential works of Jewish philosophy were written in Arabic and subsequently translated into Hebrew. The study of the Latin-into-Hebrew transmission is important for several reasons. One is that exceptions often throw important a contrario light on the more common occurrences. A second reason is that the historians' almost exclusive attention to the constitution of Hebrew philosophy out of Arabic sources has had untoward consequences for European intellectual history. The relative neglect of the Latin-into-Hebrew cultural transfer has obscured from view significant phenomena of European and Jewish intellectual history.

Keywords: Arabic sources; European intellectual history; Jewish philosophy; Latin-into-Hebrew translations

10.1163/9789004252875_002
/content/books/b9789004252875_002
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