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The Other Arabic Version of Proclus’ De Aeternitate mundi. The Surviving First Eight Arguments*

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AbstractProclus’ De Aeternitate mundi was, especially in combination with its refutation by Philoponus, highly popular in Medieval Arabic Islamic Philosophy. So far two different, incomplete Arabic translations of De Aet. are known to be extant, one anonymous, the other ascribed to Isāq b. unayn. Isāq’s version was edited by Badawī and its version of the first argument was translated, at least twice into English and once into German. The other version is, for the first time, edited and translated in the present article, which also examines the quotations from the De Aet. in Ibn Suwār, al-Isfizārī and al-Shahrastānī.

1. Badawī ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Aflāṭūniyya al-muḥdatha ʿind al-ʿArab, Dirāsāt Islāmīya 1977 Vol Vol. 19 Kuwait Wikālat al-maṭbūʿāt 2
2. Endress Gerhard "“Alexander Arabus on the First Cause. Aristotle’s First Mover in an Arabic Treatise attributed to Alexander of Aphrodisias.”" Aristotele e Alessandro di Afrodisia nella tradizione araba, a cura di Cristina d’Ancona e Giuseppe Serra 2002 Padova Il Poligrafo 19 74
3. Endress Gerhard Proclus Arabus. Zwanzig Abschnitte aus der Institutio Theologica in arabischer Übersetzung 1973 Vol Bd. 10 Beirut Imprimerie Catholique eingeleitet, herausgegeben und erklärt von Gerhard Endress, Beiruter Texte und Studien
4. Giannakis Elias "“The Quotations from John Philoponus’ De Aeternitate Mundi Contra Proclum in al-Bīrūnī’s India.”" Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 2002-3 Vol 15 185 195
5. Gimaret Daniel "“Un traité théologique du philosophe musulman Abū Ḥāmid al-Isfizārī (IV e*-X e* S.).”" Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph 1984 Vol 50 207 252
6. Hasnawi Ahmed "“Alexandre d’Aphrodise vsJean Philopon: Notes sur quelques traités d’Alexandre “perdus” en Grec, conservés en Arabe.”" Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 1994 Vol 4 53 109 http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0957423900001867
7. Lewin Bernhard Gren Erik , Lewin Bernhard , Ringgren Helmer , Wikander Stig "“La notion de muḥdaṯdans le kalām et dans la philosophie. Un petit traité inédit du philosophe chrétien Ibn Suwār.”" Donum Natalicium H. S. Nyberg Oblatum 1954 Uppsala 84 93
8. Ibn al-Nadīm Muḥammad b. Isḥāq K. al-Fihrist 1871-2 Vol I-II Leipzig mit Anmerkungen hrsg. von Gustav Flügel. Nach dessen Tode besorgt von Johannes Rödiger und August Müller
9. al-Qifṭī Jamāl al-Dīn ʿAlī ibn Yūsuf von Lippert Julius Taʾrīkh al-ḥukamāʾ 1903 Leipzig [Ikhbār al-ʿulamāʾ bi-akhbār al-ḥukamāʾ, epitome of Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Zauzanī] = Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾauf Grund der Vorarbeiten August Müllers
10. Philoponus Ioannes Rabe Hugo De aeternitate mundi contra Proclum 1899 Leipzig Teubner Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana
11. Philoponus Share Michael Against Proclus’ On the Eternity of the World 1-5 2005 Ithaca, New York Cornell University Press [and 6-8 in a second volume]
12. Proclus Lang Helen S. , Macro A. D. , McGinnis Jon On the eternity of the world. De Aeternitate Mundi. 2001 Berkely, London University of California Press Greek Text with Introduction
13. Rashed Marwan "“Nouveaux fragments anti-procliens de Philopon en version arabe et le problème des origines de la théorie de l’‘instauration’ ( ḥudūth).”" La circolazione dei saperi nel Mediterraneo: filosofia e scienze (secoli IX-XVII) 2011 Firenze Edizioni Cadmo 421 474 a cura di Graziella Federici Vescovini, Ahmad Hasnawi
14. Rosenthal Franz "“From Arabic Books and Manuscripts VII: Some Graeco-Arabica in Istanbul.”" Journal of the American Oriental Society 1961 Vol 81 7 12 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/594894
15. Rowson Everett K. A Muslim Philosopher on the Soul and its Fate: al-ʿĀmirī’s Kitāb al-Amad ʿalā l-abad 1988 Vol Vol. 70 New Haven, Connecticut American Oriental Society American Oriental Series
16. al-Shahrastānī Abū l-Fatḥ Muḥammad Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Laṭīf K. al-Milal wa-l-niḥal 1977 al-ʿAbd. I. [Cairo] Maktabat al-Anjlū al-Miṣriyya
17. al-Shahrastānī Abū l-Fatḥ Muḥammad Livre des religions et des sectes II 1993 Paris Peeters, Unesco traduction par Jean Jolivet et Guy Monnot
18. FN0 * I would like to thank Simon Swain (Warwick) and James Weaver (Cambridge) for their helpful corrections and comments.
19. FN1 1Franz Rosenthal, “From Arabic Books and Manuscripts VII: Some Graeco-Arabica in Istanbul”, Journal of the American Oriental Society81 (1961): 9-10. Rosenthal describes Ms Pertev Pasha to be ‘of uncertain date, but rather recent’, whereas Üniversite Kütüphanesi is dated to 1821. I am grateful to Heidrun Eichner (Tübingen) and Peter Starr (Ankara) for providing me with scans of the treatise in both manuscripts and to Gerhard Endress (Bochum) for sharing his reproduction of a microfilm of the Damascus Ms Ẓāhiriyya 4871 with me. Although the reproduction is in parts not entirely clear, it was sufficient to check the text of Isḥāq’s version of De Aet.against Badawī’s edition and to establish that the version of Isfizārī’s 25. Masʾalapreserved in the Damascus manuscript does not deviate considerably from Gimaret’s edition.
20. FN2 2For the Arabic text see the edition of Isḥāq’s version by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Badawī, al-Aflāṭūniyya al-muḥdatha ʿind al-ʿArab, Dirāsāt Islāmiyya, 19 (Kuwait: Wikālat al-maṭbūʿāt, ²1977), 34-42.
21. FN3 3Muḥammad b. Isḥāq Ibn al-Nadīm, K. al-Fihrist, eds Gustav Flügel, Johannes Rödiger and August Müller (Leipzig, 1871), I: 252.13-14; and Jamāl al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Yūsuf al-Qifṭī, K. Ikhbār al-ʿulamāʾ bi-akhbār al-ḥukamāʾ[epitome of Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Zauzanī], ed. August Müller and Julius Lippert: Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ(Leipzig, 1903), 89.3-5.
22. FN4 4Abū l-Fatḥ Muḥammad al-Shahrastānī, K. al-Milal wa-l-niḥal, ed. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf Muḥammad al-ʿAbd ([Cairo]: Maktabat al-Anjlū al-Miṣriyya, 1977) I: 462.8.
23. FN5 5See the discussion in On the Eternity of the World. De Aeternitate Mundi. Proclus, tr. by Helen S. Lang and A. D. Macro (Berkely, London: University of California Press, 2001), 3, and in Philoponus: Against Proclus’ On the Eternity of the World 1-5[and 6-8 in a second volume], tr. by Michael Share (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2005), 9-10, n. 3, who focuses primarily on the title of Philoponus’ refutation which is equally uncertain. For the beginning of the Greek text, i.e. the entire Proclean first proof and the first part of Philoponus’ refutation of it are missing. For the Greek Philoponus’ text see Ioannes Philoponus De aeternitate mundi contra Proclum, ed. Hugo Rabe, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Leipzig: Teubner, 1899).
24. FN6 6Rosenthal, “From Arabic Books”, 10.
25. FN7 7Everett K. Rowson, A Muslim Philosopher on the Soul and its Fate: al-ʿĀmirī’s Kitāb al-Amad ʿalā l-abad, American Oriental Series, 70 (New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society, 1988), 252.
26. FN8 8The Arabic version of Philoponus’ work seems lost today but its use is attested in several authors, for example in Birūnī (on whose quotations, which are rather paraphrastic, see Elias Giannakis, “The Quotations from John Philoponus’ De Aeternitate Mundi Contra Proclum in al-Bīrūnī’s India”, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften15 (2002-3): 185-95) and al-ʿĀmirī, who is inspired by some discussion on the soul and the tuning example of the lyre (see Rowson, Muslim Philosopher, 261, 265 and 321). There are further two substantial fragments from Philoponus’ text, i.e. IV, 4-6 and IX, 11 which circulated in the guise of Alexander of Aphrodisias (see Ahmed Hasnawi, “Alexandre d’Aphrodise vsJean Philopon: Notes sur quelques traités d’Alexandre ‘perdus’ en Grec, conservés en Arabe”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy4 (1994): 53-109).
27. FN9 9Marwan Rashed, “Nouveaux fragments anti-procliens de Philopon en version arabe et le problème des origines de la théorie de l’‘instauration’ ( ḥudūth)”, in La circolazione dei saperi nel Mediterraneo: filosofia e scienze (secoli IX-XVII), eds Graziella Federici Vescovini and Ahmad Hasnawi (Firenze: Edizioni Cadmo, 2011). There Rashed also points out that the Proclean quotation is not, as Lewin implies (Bernhard Lewin, “La notion de muḥdaṯdans le kalām et dans la philosophie. Un petit traité inédit du philosophe chrétien Ibn Suwār”, in Donum Natalicium H.S. Nyberg Oblatum, eds Erik Gren, Bernhard Lewin, Helmer Ringgren and Stig Wikander (Uppsala, 1954), 92, n. 2), drawn from the Elementatio Theologicaor In Tim., but in fact from De Aet.
28. FN10 10Another possibility would be to assume that in the first proof the specification bi l-fiʿl( in actu) was originally added to the statement that God is always generous. There is some indication for that in the Arabic version of De Aet.edited and translated below, which uses the term faʿʿāltwice, in places where it is difficult to see what the translator means by it. If faʿʿālis interpreted as bi-l-fiʿlthe sentences would make perfect sense. However this assumption would imply that the translators did not know how to translate ἐνεργείᾳ, κατ᾿ ἐνέργειαν or similar in the first proof, but got it right in the third proof, which seems highly unlikely unless the third proof was emended at a later stage.
29. FN11 11Whether al-Isfizārī’s original phrase read anna al-ʿalām sabab li-wujūd allāhas in Gimaret’s edition is dubious, yet it appears again further down in this passage and in the one after the next (ed. Gimaret, 249.1). The more likely reading would be . . . sabab li-jūd allāh. However, since the text also states that God’s generosity is His essence, the philosophical conclusion drawn from the first reading is not hugely different from the one drawn from the second. Unfortunately, the present passage is indecipherable in the reproduction of Ms Ẓāhiriyya 4871 at my disposal (fol. 143b at the bottom right hand corner and fol. 144a at the top). At the third occurrence, parallel to ed. Gimaret, 249.1, however, it reads jūd(144a18: . . . jūduhu ʿillat wujūd al-ʿālam lā al-ʿālam ʿillat jūdihi). New evidence for the underlying Philoponus’ passage which I have just found in the 14th question of Kitāb Bahjat al-muʾmin(Oxford, Bodleian, Ms Marsh 408, fol.12a) by the 11th century Melkite scholar ʿAbd Allāh Ibn al-Faḍl al-Anṭākī also has ʿilla li-jūd allāh. It further contains the syllogism of man and living being and thus strenghtens the assumption that it was indeed part of the lost Philoponus text (see below). I hope to discuss Ibn al-Fadl’s Philoponus quotations in his 14th and 49th question separately.
30. FN12 12Ibn Suwār also uses the sun and daylight as examples (ed. Badawī, al-Aflāṭūniyya, 247.4).
31. FN13 13The proofs are the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth and thirteenth at the beginning of his entry on the sophisms of Proclus with possible traces of the twelfth and the sixteenth at the end of his entry (see Shahrastani. Livre des religions et des sectes II, tr. Jean Jolivet et Guy Monnot (Paris: Peeters, Unesco, 1993), 347, n. 33).
32. FN14 14 Proclus Arabus. Zwanzig Abschnitte aus derInstitutio Theologica in arabischer Übersetzung, ed. Gerhard Endress, Beiruter Texte und Studien, Bd. 10 (Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1973), 17, where Endress also mentions that al-Shahrastānī is in a few particular cases closer to the older Arabic version of De Aet.than to Isḥāq’s, as already reported by Rosenthal.
33. FN15 15See Share, Philoponus, 58-60. The above mentioned passage in Kitāb Bahjat al-muʾmin(Oxford, Bodleian, Ms Marsh 408, fol.12a4-5) of Ibn al-Faḍl al-Anṭākī which must be based on Philoponus also states that there is no ‘hindrance ( māniʿ)’ which prevents God from His action.
34. FN16 16The De Aet.versions use miqdār.
35. FN17 17See Share, Philoponus 6-8, 119.
36. FN18 18The manuscript was foliated twice, once directly above the text on the left in pencil by a European hand and once in the upper left-hand corner in ink by an Oriental hand.
37. FN19 19See above , p. 51.
38. FN20 20Since they are of no particular interest to the text and its transmission, they are not indicated in the critical apparatus.
39. FN21 21Maróth also ventures a reconstruction of the Greek based on the terminology used in the other Proclean proofs extant in Greek and Arabic, in the Arabic versions of the Elementatio Theologicaand the Liber de causis, and in translations by Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq, to whom he ascribes the translation of De Aet.without indicating any reasons for doing so.
40. FN22 22All three translators address the question which Greek term corresponds to the Arabic concept of jūdcrucial to the first proof. They assume that it is ἀγαθότης, although Adamson also suggests ἀφθονία (Share, Philoponus, 90, n. 6). As to the corresponding adjective, Philoponus uses ἀγαθός in a sentence which may well summarise part of Proclus’ argument in his refutation (ed. Rabe, 7.23-4: καίπερ ἀεὶ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ ἀεὶ δηµιουργοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπάρχοντος), and all Arabic versions use jawādwith remarkable consistency.
41. FN23 23The cases are discussed in the footnotes to my English translation.
42. FN24 24Both texts use the form Arisṭāṭālīs, the expressions ṭaqsand muṭaqqasand show a preference for anniyyaand ʿilla.
43. FN25 25As was the case in his translation of Aristotle’s Physics. See Gerhard Endress, “Alexander Arabus on the First Cause. Aristotle’s First Mover in an Arabic Treatise attributed to Alexander of Aphrodisias”, in Aristotele e Alessandro di Afrodisia nella tradizione araba, eds Cristina d’Ancona and Giuseppe Serra (Padova: Il Polografo, 2002), 31.
44. FN26 1On the nisba ῾al-Ṭarasῡsῑsee Endress, Proclus Arabus, 13-4.
45. FN27 2On the number of proofs see above, pp. 59-60.
46. FN28 3A possible emendation of fῑmᾱto fi῾luhῡwould express that neither the Creator nor His creation are ever non-existent. However, zᾱlain two tenses probably refers to the same subject.
47. FN29 4On the possible Greek equivalent to Arabic jῡdsee above, p. 60, n. 23.
48. FN30 5 Sarmadῑmay have been the translator's choice for ‘eternal’, whereas azᾱlῑ, which occurs in Isḥᾱq's version, could have been added later to update the terminology. In the following azᾱlῑoccurs six times on its own, six times with abᾱdῑand twice with sarmadῑ.
49. FN31 6This clarification has no parallel in Isḥᾱq's version.
50. FN32 7This reading may be corrupted. Isḥᾱq has ‘the being of the world is like ( musᾱwin) the being of the Creator’. Deleting fῑin our text would result in the expression jajrῑ majrᾱhu, i.e. ‘the being of creation does not cease to be like generosity in state [i.e. eternal]’ or with the slight emendation of jῡdto jawᾱdparallel to Isḥᾱq ’... to be like the Generous’.
51. FN33 8Isḥᾱq has mushᾱkilawhich may indicate a Greek term such as пαϱαпλήσιος (see Tim.29e2-4 as indicated in Lang, On the eternity, 162, n. 23). Correspondingly, our text could be emended from ‘connected ( muqᾱrinato ‘similar ( muqᾱriba)’.
52. FN34 9Here Isḥᾱq has an additional passage which may or may not have been part of the Greek Vorlage. It is not crucial to the argument, yet definitely Neoplatonic.
53. FN35 10It is once again impossible to guess whether the addition Isḥᾱq has here has been in the Greek.
54. FN36 11Isḥᾱq does not mention ‘weakness’ as a consequence of a lack of power, but talks about ‘being affected’. In what follows his version is shorter than ours.
55. FN37 12In the margin of Ms Pertev Pasha some later hand added an excerpt (see apparatus) which repeats part of the main text and shall probably highlight the passage.
56. FN38 13The reading is corrupted here and the word quwwanot decipherable, yet the comparison with the Greek and Isḥᾱq suggests it. Share ( Philoponus, 96, n. 81) comments that in this passage the Greek δύναμις may mean ‘property’ or ‘function’ rather than ‘power’.
57. FN39 14The reading is dubious here and I emend mithᾱlto matᾱ. The Greek in Philoponus is corrupted as well (Share, Philoponus, 96, n. 83). Isḥᾱq does not mention ‘the image’ in this sentence.
58. FN40 15Here the Greek and Isḥᾱq have an additional statement about correlatives each of which can not exist without the other.
59. FN41 16The emended reading ‘a maker of something ( ṣᾱniʿan li-shayʾin)’ is supported by the Greek and Isḥᾱq.
60. FN42 17The reading ‘or ( aw)’ may be emended to, for example, ‘i.e. ( ayy)’, since neither the Greek nor Isḥᾱq presents a third option. They only distinguish between an always actual maker and a sometimes potential maker.
61. FN43 18The suggested addition is supported by the Greek and Isḥᾱq.
62. FN44 19The reading is uncertain here and neither the Greek nor Isḥᾱq (who has khᾱliq) provides any help. Ms Pertev Pasha is undotted, whereas Ms Universite Kutuphanesi has the VIII. form of b-d-ʾ. I emend to ‘creator ( mubdiʾ) which may not be the original reading, but hopefully not too far off the mark.
63. FN45 20Unlike the Greek both Arabic versions mention Aristotle by name.
64. FN46 21Our Arabic text is shorter and less precise than the Greek and Isḥᾱq's version which make a point of saying that the potential becomes actual by something which is actually what the potential is only potentially.
65. FN47 22The reading is uncertain here. Both Arabic versions as they stand seem to interpret the Greek (which needs some emendation too, see Share, Philoponus, 101-2, n. 155) as saying that the actual thing which changes something else into being actual has previously been potentially changing, but is then actually changing. This would somehow contradict the argument. One would expect something along the lines of Share's tr. ( Philoponus, 43): ‘everything that exists potentially changes to actual [existence] through the agency of something that is actually what it was previously potentially and subsequently actually’. A possible emendation is to read mustaḥῑlinstead muḥῑland translate ‘before this becomes changed to actuality, it was first potential ...’.
66. FN48 23Our text does not support the emendation of the Greek by Share ( Philoponus, 105, n. 206) who translates ‘it is an everlasting cause’ (50) instead of ‘a cause of something everlasting’. Ishâq's version is ambiguous.
67. FN49 24This half-sentence has no parallel in Isḥᾱq.
68. FN50 25Here our version elaborates. The Greek and Isḥᾱq only discuss the case of someone who claims that the world is not eternal.
69. FN51 26The specification of what is detracted from the cause by that claim is another elaboration of our version.
70. FN52 27Here our version skips a statement of the Greek preserved by Isḥᾱq which reads in Share's translation ( Philoponus, 78): ‘- for in either case, even though there is no time, there will be a ‘some time’, which is [a part] of time, in existence -’. The sentence is marked as parenthetical by Rabe and Share.
71. FN53 28The concluding Platonic sentence of the Greek, which is preserved by Isḥᾱq, is omitted here.
72. FN54 29As in the first proof the Arabic jawᾱdmost probably renders the Greek ἀуαθόϛ.
73. FN55 30Following the Greek one may add lahuand translate ‘as it should belong to him’, i.e. the unbinding is the matter of he who has bound something together. Ishâq's parallel is phrased differently.
74. FN56 31This refers to Plato who is neither mentioned by name in the Greek nor the Arabic.
75. FN57 32Here the Greek and Ishâq state explicitly that this ‘is impossible’.
76. FN58 33The mention of Plato only occurs in the Arabic, yet in both versions. The Greek then mentions Socrates, Timaeus and the Muses whom Isḥᾱq replaces with ‘inspiration’ (waḥy). Our text omits the entire passage with no apparent loss to the course of the argument.
77. FN59 34 Awwalῑ(‘primary’ or ‘principal’) may be emended to azalῑ(eternal). Since this is the heading added in our translation, neither the Greek nor Isḥᾱq have a parallel. The reason for keeping awwalῑis that in what follows everything self-moving is said to be a ‘beginning’ ( awwala).
78. FN60 35The second part of the sentence is missing in Greek (see Share, Philoponus 6-8, 147-8, n. 418), but Isḥᾱq has something similar to our version.
79. FN61 36The term here is mutaḥarikka min dhᾱtihᾱwhereas before muḥarikka li-nafsihᾱwas used. This may indicate a change by a later reader or copyist, particularly as the occurrence of dhᾱtin our text is rare. In most cases anniyyaor nafsis used.
80. FN62 37This entire passage of our text is shortened in comparison to the Greek, which seems corrupted (Share, Philoponus6-8, 148, n. 419), and to Isḥᾱq's version.
81. FN63 38Here the Arabic text omits the explanatory sentence preserved in the Greek and by Isḥᾱq, namely that souls move corruptible bodies by means of bodies they always move.
82. FN64 39This last half-sentence is attested in the Greek, but missing in Isḥᾱq's version.
83. FN65 40The text seems corrupted here. A possible emendation would be to read yumkin, in which case our version would talk here and in what follows about the impossible which exists. The Greek and Isḥᾱq more plausibly discuss the less possible.
84. FN66 41Ms Üniversite Kütüphanesi reads ‘chapters’.
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2012-01-01
2015-07-28

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