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How Many Recensions of Avicenna's Kitāb al-Šifā'?

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The article discusses the possibility that Avicenna's magnum opus in philosophy might have had multiple recensions, either by the author himself, or in a very early phase of its manuscript transmission, possibly as a result of scholarly discussions within Avicenna's school. As test case, the fifth treatise of the metaphysical section (Ilāhiyyāt) of the Kitāb al-Šifā' is chosen: in some very ancient testimonia, this treatise presents an arrangement of chapters that is coherent and straightforward, but sensibly different—both in the number and the disposition of chapters—from the mainstream version transmitted by the current printed editions of the work. Some hypotheses on the origin of these variations—which cannot be classified as simple accidents of transmission, on account of their rational and macroscopic character—are finally advanced. Appendix B fixes to six the number of codices employed in the standard edition of the Ilāhiyyāt published in Cairo in 1960.


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