Eight chapters of Maimonides on Ethics/Introduction
THE OBJECT OF MAIMONIDES' WORKS. THE COMMENTARY ON THE MISHNAH. THE SHEMONAH PERAḲIM
During the lifetime of Maimonides, there were many who bitterly assailed him, declaring that his Talmudical knowledge was faulty, that his writings were un-Jewish, that he sought to introduce strange elements into Judaism, and that he desired his works to supersede the Talmud. Some of Maimonides' opponents were animated by a spirit of true criticism, but other attacks made upon him were partly due to personal feelings of envy. The opposition continued for a while after Maimonides' death, but it was not long before the true character of this master's works became universally recognized. The feeling, minus the personal element, that Maimonides wished to have his works take the place of the Talmud, has, however, persisted to this day. Thus, we find Luzzatto stating that Maimonides wrote his Mishneh Torah in order to do away with the study of the Babylonian Talmud. Beer, supporting the same opinion, maintains that Maimonides saw the disadvantages of the study of the Talmud, was aware of the uselessness of some of its parts, and considered its extended study a waste of time. As proof of this he quotes from the introduction to the Mishneh Torah the famous sentence, "I have named this work Mishneh Torah for the reason that if any one has read the Torah and then this work, he would know the Biblical and oral law without having to read any other book." Geiger maintains that Maimonides' object was merely to shorten the study of the Talmud.
There are those, however, who take exception to this view. Rosin says, "From the very beginning the Talmud alone was the object of his study." Worldly knowledge and philosophy were merely used by Maimonides as instruments for explaining and glorifying the divine teaching. He considered the rabbis to be second only in rank and greatness to the prophets, and held their writings in equally high esteem. On the face of it, the quotation cited from the Mishneh Torah would seem to prove the assertion made above, but this passage may be interpreted to prove exactly the opposite; that far from being his object to discourage the study of the Talmud, he wished to spread its knowledge among those who for any reason were unable to have access to it, or who could not devote sufficient time to master it. "It is a gross injustice often done to Maimonides," says I. Friedlaender, "to accuse him of having the intention to supersede the Talmud entirely. . . . He considered the Talmud as a most worthy object of study, but only for scholars. The people, however, are not scholars and cannot devote the whole of life to learning. For the mass of people alone he intended to supersede the Talmud by a comprehensive extract from it." Ziemlich, finally, asserts that Maimonides did not desire to put an end to the study of the Talmud, but rather to cast it into scientific form.
Although this decided difference of opinion as to Maimonides' attitude towards the Talmud still exists, all, however, agree that his main object was to harmonize Jewish traditional belief with the current Aristotelian philosophy. For this work Maimonides was admirably equipped; his ability as a systematizer was most remarkable, and not only had he a profound knowledge of Jewish law and lore, but was so deep a student of philosophy and the sciences that his works have since exercised considerable influence even outside the domains of Judaism. His chapters, for instance, in the Moreh on the Mutakallimun have become the main source for the history and knowledge of the Kalām.
The most important of his works which have had a profound influence upon Judaism are his Commentary on the Mishnah (פירוש המשנה), the Mishneh Torah (משנה תורה) or Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah (יד החזקה), and the Guide for the Perplexed (מורה נבוכים).
The Commentary on the Mishnah, Maimonides’ first work of importance, written in Arabic, was begun at the age of twenty-three (1158), in Spain, and was completed at the age of thirty-three (1168), after he had taken up his residence in Egypt. In this Talmudic work of his early manhood, Maimonides scarcely had a predecessor. Though one of his earliest works, and in spite of the difficulties in writing it during years of wandering and seeking a secure home, with no books accessible, the Commentary is a marvel of lucidity, masterful knowledge, and comprehensiveness. Grätz attributes its existence to the author’s striving for “clearness, method, and symmetry.” The fact that it is so often referred to in his later writings testifies that at a very early date Maimonides had outlined for himself a thorough philosophical system and a literary scheme from which he subsequently deviated only slightly. Most of the theories and principles established in the Commentary were retained in the Mishneh Torah.
The greater part of the Commentary was not translated into Hebrew until after his death. The general introduction to this work and parts of the order Zeraʿim were translated by Jehudah al-Ḥarizi (1194); Moʿed by Joseph ibn al-Fawwal; Nashim by Jaḳob ibn Abbas; Neziḳin by Salomon b. Josef ibn Yaʿkub; Ḳodoshim by Nathanel ibn Almoli (or Almali); and Ṭohorot by an anonymous translator. The commentary on Sanhedrin, Chapter X, was translated probably by Al-Ḥarizi, and also by Samuel ibn Tibbon.
In commenting on the tractate Abot, Maimonides had abundant opportunity to make use of his knowledge of Greek philosophy and particularly of Aristotelian ethics. To this tractate he prefixed an introduction of eight chapters, outlining in a general way a system of ethics based mainly on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, which Maimonides harmonized with rabbinical teachings. This introduction constitutes the most remarkable instance in medieval ethical literature of the harmonious welding of Jewish religious belief and tradition with Greek philosophy.
For the rendering into Hebrew of the Commentary on Abot and its introduction commonly called שמונה פרקים (The Eight Chapters), Samuel ibn Tibbon, who was at work on the translation of the Moreh, was eminently fitted. The Shemonah Peraḳim have always been widely read among the Jews and students of the philosophy of Maimonides on account of their simplicity of style and subject matter, and no less on account of their accessibility, being found in all editions of the Mishnah and Talmud that contain Maimonides' commentary, in a number of Maḥzorim, especially of the Roman and Greek ritual, and also in various separate editions. Their popularity is evidenced by the fact that they have been translated into Latin, French, Dutch, English, and many times into German.
An examination, however, of the Hebrew text of the Peraḳim in the editions of the Mishnah and the Talmud, in the Maḥzorim, and the many separate publications, at once shows that no two agree, and that each is in many instances in a corrupt state. A like examination of the manuscript sources bears the same result. Again, if any individual text, even that of the best manuscript, be placed beside the original Arabic in Pococke's Porta Mosis or Wolff's Acht Capitel, one would find many divergences. It may be safely stated that there is not in existence to-day, in any form, a text of the Shemonah Peraḳim which in its entirety is a faithful reproduction of the version of Ibn Tibbon. By a selective process based on a collation of the best texts, with the Arabic as a constant guide, it is possible, however, to reconstruct the Shemonah Peraḳim, so that almost every corrupt reading can be rectified. The purpose of this work is to restore and elucidate linguistically the text of Ibn Tibbon as far as possible, and by a translation make it accessible to readers of English.
As this is mainly a textual work, its aim is not to treat with any degree of detail Maimonides' ethics, its sources, Jewish or Greek, and its place in Jewish philosophy, all of which has been admirably done by Rosin in his Ethik. But, in order to obtain a more complete knowledge of the Peraḳim and the theories laid down therein, the editor deems it well to mention and describe Maimonides' other ethical writings, the place of ethics in his philosophical system, and what ethics meant to him. The name and the date of the original composition of the Peraḳim, as well as that of its translation by Ibn Tibbon, will be discussed. The relation of the Peraḳim to Maimonides’ other works will be taken up, followed by a characterization and summary of their contents. A brief account of the style and character of Ibn Tibbon’s translations in general, and as portrayed in the Peraḳim, will also be given. There is also included a list of manuscripts, editions, commentaries, and translations.
A. Maimonides’ Ethical Writings—Definition of Ethics
The works in which Maimonides presents his ethical teachings are as follows:—
- Commentary on the Mishnah (פירוש המשנה), in many places, but especially in:
- Book of Commandments (ספר המצות), in various places.
- Mishneh Torah (1170–1180) (משנה תורה), scattered references, but especially in:Book of Knowledge (ספר המדע) in the Treatise on Beliefs (הלכות דעות), and in the Treatise on Repentance (הלכות תשובה).
- Moreh Nebukim (מורה נבוכים), in many places, but especially Part III, Chapters 51–54.
- Scattered references in his minor works, as:
In his Terminology of Logic (מלות ההגיון), Maimonides divides philosophy into two divisions: theoretical (הפילוסופיא העיונית), and practical philosophy (הפילוסופיא המעשית). The latter he also terms “human philosophy” (פילוסופיא אנושית), or “political science” (החכמה המדינית). Under theoretical philosophy he groups mathematics, physics, and metaphysics. Under practical philosophy are found ethics (הנהגת האדם נפשו), household economy (הנהגת הבית), the science of government (הנהגת המדינה), and politics in its broadest sense ( ).
Ethics, or the science of self-guidance, consists, on the one hand, in acquiring for one’s self noble soul-qualities or characteristics (המדות הנכבדות), and, on the other hand, of avoiding evil qualities (המדות הפחותות). These qualities, whether good or bad, are called states or conditions (תכונות), and when acquired each is known as a property (קנין). Noble qualities are called virtues (מעלות המדות), while the vices are termed פחיתיות המדות. The virtues cause good deeds (הפעולות הטובות), the vices, bad ones (הפעולות הרע). Ethics is the science of virtues or of good deeds.
B. Name, Date, Description, and Contents of the Shemonah Peraḳim
The Shemonah Peraḳim, in Maimonides’ system, come, accordingly, under the head of ethics (הנהגת האדם נפשו), which in turn is a branch of practical philosophy (הפילוסופיא המעשית). They are divided into eight chapters, from which fact the name is derived. This division undoubtedly goes back to Maimonides himself, who, in his short introduction to the Peraḳim, says “and they are eight chapters.” The Arabic equivalent is Thamaniaṭ Fuṣūl, which Wolff uses as a title for his edition of the Arabic text. It seems, however, that neither of these titles originated with Maimonides, for, in Moreh, III. 35, in referring to the Peraḳim, he calls them the Preface to Abot. Whether Ibn Tibbon used the title Shemonah Peraḳim, it is difficult to ascertain. The simplicity of the title has fortunately been the cause of avoiding confusion as to its exact meaning, which is not the case with the title Moreh Nebukim.
The date of composition of the Peraḳim cannot be accurately determined. All that can be said is that it was written sometime between 1158 and 1165, along with the rest of the commentary on the Mishnah, which was made public in 1168. As to the translation, the only source of information regarding its date is the manuscript Parma R. 438⁶, which in a note states that the Commentary on Abot was translated by Samuel ibn Tibbon in Tebet 963, which is the year 1202.
Although written originally as an introduction to the commentary on the Pirḳe Abot, for the purpose of explaining in advance problems that Maimonides brings up in the course of his commentary, the Peraḳim form in themselves a complete system of psychology and ethics, so much so that Rosin, in writing on this phase of Maimonides’ activity, uses them as a basis of his discussion in the first half of his Ethik, in which he takes up Maimonides’ general ethics. They do not, however, form an exhaustive treatment of this subject, as Maimonides himself states, but with a reference here and there to some other of his works may be easily made to do so. The Mishnah Commentary as a whole was written for those who were unable or not disposed to study the Talmud, and for those who were, to facilitate its study. Its philosophical and psychological parts were intended for those who, though they had a knowledge of the Talmud, were unacquainted with philosophical problems, or were unable to harmonize them with Jewish thought. The Peraḳim, consequently, being intended for readers not necessarily versed in philosophy, and some not being deep students of the Talmud, avoid all intricate philosophical and Talmudical discussions. For students versed both in the Talmud and in philosophy, Maimonides wrote his Moreh Nebukim, the object of which was to bring into harmony Talmudical Judaism and peripatetic philosophy as developed among the Arabs. Thus, the Mishnah Commentary, in which the rabbinical and the philosophical elements are successfully harmonized and blended, leads the way to Maimonides’ masterpiece, the Moreh. The Peraḳim, then, may be looked upon as an introduction to Maimonidean philosophy, and may be profitably studied by the student before he attacks the problems contained in the Moreh. They may be briefly described as a treatise on the soul, its characteristics and powers, and their employment towards the goal of moral perfection.
Chapter I is psychological in character. It deals with moral life, the sources of which reside in the soul (נפש) and its powers (כחות). The soul is a unit having various activities (פעולות) called powers (כחות), and at times parts (חלקים). Medical authors speak, however, of many souls, as, for instance, Hippocrates, who says there are three souls,—the physical (טבעית), the vital (חיונית), and the psychical (נפשית). The improvement of morals (תקון המדות) is the cure of the soul and its powers. Therefore, just as the physician must know about the body as a whole as well as its individual parts, so must the moral physician know of the soul and all its powers or parts. There are five parts to the human soul: (1) the nutritive (הזן); (2) the perceptive (המרגיש); (3) the imaginative (המדמה); (4) the appetitive (המתעורר), and (5) the rational (השכלי). Other beings are spoken of as having these powers, but they are essentially different from those of man, whose soul, as the bearer of human properties, is not the same as that of other creatures, as the horse, the ass, or the eagle.
The nutritive part of the soul has seven powers, or properties: (1) the power of attraction (המושך); (2) the power of retention (המחזיק); (3) the power of digestion (המעכל); (4) the power of repelling superfluities (הדוחה למותרות); (5) the power of growth (המגדל); (6) the power of propagation (המוליד בדומה), and (7) the power of differentiation between the nutritive humors (ליחות) and those to be repelled.
The perceptive part consists of the five senses, seeing (הראות), hearing (השמע), smelling (הריח), tasting (הטעם), and feeling (המשוש).
The imaginative part is the power of retaining impressions of objects even when they do not perceptibly affect the senses, and of combining them in different ways, so that the imagination constructs out of originally real things those that never have nor can exist. The Mutakallimun overlook this truth as regards the imagination, which they make the corner-stone of their philosophical system.
The appetitive part is the power to long for a thing or to shun it. From this there results the seeking after or fleeing from a person or thing; inclination and avoidance; anger and satisfaction; fear and bravery; cruelty and compassion, and many other qualities (מקרים, accidents) of the soul. The organs of this power are all parts of the body.
The rational part is the power peculiar to man by which he understands, thinks, acquires knowledge, and discriminates between proper and improper actions. This manifold activity of the rational part is both practical and speculative. The practical activities are partly mechanical (מלאכת מחשבת) and partly intellectual. The speculative activities are the powers of man by which he knows things which, by their nature, are not subject to change. These are called the sciences. The mechanical power is that by which man learns the arts, as that of architecture, agriculture, medicine, or navigation. The intellectual power is that by which man reflects upon the possibility or manner of doing an intended action. The soul, which is a unit, but which has many powers or parts, bears the same relation to the intellect (השכל) as matter does to form.
Chapter II, like Chapter I, is psychological in character. It deals with the powers of the soul, obedient or disobedient to the Law, and the determination of the parts which produce virtues or vices. Violations (עבירות) and observances (מצות) of the Law are found only in two of the parts of the soul, namely, the perceptive and the appetitive. The nutritive and the imaginative have no violations nor observances connected with them, since these powers have neither knowledge nor choice. There is some doubt as regards the rational power, but if it has violations and observances, they are, respectively, beliefs in false or true doctrines.
Virtues are of two kinds, ethical virtues (מעלות המדות) and intellectual virtues (מעלות השכליות). Their opposites are the two kinds of vices. Intellectual virtues are found in the rational part. These virtues are wisdom (חכמה), which is the knowledge of the near and remote causes (סבות) of things based on a previous knowledge of their existence; reason (שכל), which in turn comprises (a) innate, theoretical reason (השכל העיוני והוא הנמצא לנו בטבע); (b) acquired reason (השכל הנקנה); (c) sagacity (זכות התבונה), or intellectual cleverness (טוב ההבנה), or the ability to quickly understand a thing. The vices of this power are the opposites of these virtues. The ethical virtues belong only to the appetitive part, and in this connection the perceptive part is subservient to the appetitive. The virtues of this power are very numerous. They are moderation (זהירות); liberality (נדיבות); probity (יושר); meekness (ענוה); humility (שפלות הרוח); contentedness (הסתפקות); bravery (גבורה), and uprightness (אמונה). The vices of this power consist of an exaggeration or a deficiency of these virtues. The nutritive and the imaginative powers have neither vices nor virtues.
The diseases of the soul (חליי הנפש) are described in Chapter III. The ancient philosophers laid down the dictum that the soul, like the body, can be healthy or sick. A healthy soul is in such a condition (תכונה) that only good and honorable deeds flow from it. The opposite is true of a diseased soul. Just as the physically sick desire things that are bad for them, but which they consider good, so do those whose souls are ill seek the bad and the evil, thinking that they are good. Furthermore, just as those whose bodies are diseased consult a physician and take medicines that are unpleasant to the taste in order that they may be restored to a healthy condition, so must the morally ill consult the wise men (החכמים), who are the physicians of the soul (רופאי נפש), and ascertain from them what are the bad and what are the good deeds. They must follow the advice of the soul-physicians, even though what they prescribe be distasteful. If a person is physically ill, and does not consult a physician, his end will be premature death, and, likewise, one morally ill, who does not seek the advice of the sages, will experience a moral death.
Chapter IV deals with the cure of the diseases of the soul. In agreement with Aristotle, Maimonides declares that actions are good when they follow a medium course between two extremes which are both bad. Virtues are conditions (תכונות) of the soul and characteristics which are midway between two states, one of which is excessive and the other deficient. Thus, generosity is the mean between sordidness (כילות) and extravagance (פזור); courage (גבורה), the mean between recklessness (מסירה לסכנות) and cowardice (רך הלבב); humility (ענוה), that between haughtiness (גאוה) and self-abasement (שפלות הרוח), and so forth. People often consider one or the other extreme a virtue, as when they praise the reckless man as being brave, or the lazy as being contented. To cure a person who is morally unsound, that is who performs deeds which go to the one or the other extreme, he should be made to practise the opposite extreme until his original fault has been remedied. That is, if a man is niggardly, he must practise deeds of extravagance until his niggardliness disappears. Then he is instructed to stop his extravagance, and follow the medium course of generosity. Man must constantly guard his actions that they maintain the proper balance between exaggeration and deficiency. By this means he gains the highest degree of human perfection, comes nearer to God, and partakes of His eternal blessings. This is the most perfect form of reverencing the Deity. Maimonides ends the chapter by harmonizing the philosophical and Talmudical views in regard to man's powers of weighing his actions and following the proper mean.
The directing of the powers of one's soul towards a certain goal is the subject of Chapter V. Man's one aim in life should be to understand God. All his actions and words should be so arranged as to accomplish this purpose, and consequently he should seek not the most pleasant but the most useful things. The body should be kept in a healthy condition for the sake of the purity of the soul. When one partakes of food that is pleasant but dangerous to the health, he is like a senseless beast. Man acts sensibly only when all his actions are aimed at gaining bodily welfare and spiritual superiority. Science and education aid in this; for the study of algebra, geometry, and mechanics sharpens one's intellect, and enables one to understand the truth of the proofs of God's existence. Man ought to direct his words towards this goal. He should speak only of such things as will benefit his soul, or avert danger from his body. In consequence of this, man will desist from many ordinary actions and words. He will not think of beautifying the walls of his house with costly decorations or his clothes with expensive embroideries, unless it be done for the purpose of spiritual uplifting. Such an aim is lofty and difficult of attainment, but one accomplishing it ranks as high as does a prophet. The rabbis have most wonderfully and concisely expressed this sentiment by the saying, "Let all your actions be for the sake of God." (Abot II, 12.)
In Chapter VI, Maimonides discusses the difference between the saintly man (החסיד המעולה) and the one who curbs his desires (הכובש את יצרו והמושל את נפשו). Agreeing with Aristotelian philosophy, Maimonides asserts that the truly virtuous man practises the good as a result of an innate inclination to do so. He is superior to the one who, though he may do deeds equally good, yet in order to accomplish them, must subdue his desires which are of an evil nature. That is, the condition of the saint’s soul is better than that of the man who subdues his passions. Proverbs XXI. 10, “The soul of the wicked longeth for evil,” agrees with this sentiment. The rabbis, however, seem to contradict this opinion by saying that he who has evil thoughts and desires, but who conquers them, is greater than he who has no battle to fight. They even maintain that the greater a man is, the more powerful are his desires. On the face of it, the opinions of the rabbis and the philosophers seem to disagree. But here Maimonides uses his wonderful ability as a harmonizer of philosophical and rabbinical doctrines. He explains away the contradiction by stating that the philosophers meant by the desires for evil the inclination to commit such transgressions as murder, stealing, deceit, and so forth. The laws forbidding these are called by the rabbis “commandments” (מצות), or “ordinances” (משפטים). There is no doubt that a soul that desires any of these grave evils is a bad soul. There is, however, another kind of less important transgressions, the performance of which is prohibited by statutes (חקים). It is in reference to these evils, and not to the first mentioned, that the rabbis say that if a man desires, but conquers them, his reward is great. These are, for instance, the partaking of meat and milk together, or the wearing of clothes made of two different materials. The rabbis would not say, any more than the philosophers, that the man who desires to murder but refrains from doing so is greater than the one who never desires to murder.
In Chapter VII, Maimonides discusses the partitions or walls (מחיצות) which separate man from God, and also describes what prophecy is. As explained in Chapter II, there are intellectual and moral virtues, and their opposite vices. These vices, which are termed partitions, prevent man from beholding God. As many vices, intellectual or moral, a man has, by so many partitions is he separated from God. The prophets "looked upon" God from behind the least number of partitions. The fewer they were, the higher was the rank of the prophet. Three virtues the prophets, however, must have, which Maimonides deduces from the rabbinical saying, "Prophecy rests only upon the wise, the brave, and the rich." The wise man is the one who possesses all intellectual virtues. The brave man is he who conquers his desires. The rich man is the one who is satisfied with his lot. Moses was the only prophet in whom all moral and intellectual virtues were combined. The only partition or wall between him and God was his physical body, from which the spirit of man cannot divorce itself on earth. This partition the rabbis call specularia, a transparent wall, through which Moses gazed upon the highest truth, but not as one does with human eyes.
The interesting problem of the freedom of will, in which again Maimonides successfully blends the philosophical and the rabbinical doctrines, is taken up in Chapter VIII. Maimonides begins with the statement that man is not born with either virtues or vices, just as he is not born skilled in an art. He may, however, have a predisposition towards a certain characteristic, but every man's temperament is equally susceptible to virtue as well as to vice. It is man's moral duty to encourage any predilection he may have towards virtue, and to stamp out any desire for the vicious. No virtue is unattainable; there is no vice that cannot be avoided, no matter what man's natural bent may be. The developing of what is good and the conquering of what is bad may be accomplished by instruction, guidance, and habit. Astrologers, however, and those who believe with them, maintain that a man's destiny, his conduct in life, in fact, all his actions, are determined according to the constellation under which he is born. This belief Maimonides denounces as ridiculous. The rabbis and the philosophers alike agree in the belief that man has absolute free choice, and that he alone is responsible for his actions. If this were not so, all commands and prohibitions of the law would be in vain. All learning, teaching, and effort of all kinds would be useless if man's actions, knowledge, and characteristics were determined by an outside power. If such were the case, reward and punishment would be unjust; for no matter how much a man would try to do a certain deed, if it were predetermined that he should not do it, he would be unable to perform it. If Simeon killed Reuben, it would be unjust to punish Simeon; for he did not kill of his own volition, but was forced to do so.
Maimonides then attacks a popular belief that all actions, even such as sitting or standing, are done by the will of God. In general, this is true, but not of any given individual action. A stone thrown up in the air falls to the ground, which is in accordance with a general law of nature that God willed at creation. God, however, does not will that a certain stone at a certain time, when thrown into the air, should fall to the ground. At creation God willed also that man should have certain characteristics, that he should walk upright, have a broad chest, have fingers on his hands and so forth, and likewise man was endowed with the characteristics of having freedom of will which he can exercise. Maimonides then proves that certain statements in the Bible which seemingly support the theory of predestination are not of such a nature.
In conclusion, Maimonides takes up a question often asked, "Does God know in advance that a certain man will do a good or a bad deed at a certain time, or does He not know it?" If He does not know, then the principles of religion are undermined, for God is said to be all-knowing. If He does know in advance, then this clearly proves that man's actions are preordained. Maimonides answers by having recourse to metaphysics. God does not know, he says, by means of human knowledge, nor does He live by means of human life, so that it can be said He and His knowledge are distinct, or that He and His life are different, as is true of man. God is, however, the knower, the knowing and the known. He is the living, He is the life, and the giver of life. Man cannot, owing to his imperfections, comprehend what is the knowledge or life of God any more than he can grasp what God Himself is. Thus, Maimonides reconciles the two beliefs that man is free to choose, and that God is yet all-knowing.
C. SAMUEL IBN TIBBON AS A TRANSLATOR — HIS TRANSLATION OF THE SHEMONAH PERAḲIM
Samuel ibn Tibbon, the most famous of an illustrious family of translators, by his translation of Maimonides' Moreh Nebukim, performed an inestimable service for Jewish philosophy. Written originally in Arabic, the Moreh would have remained a sealed book to the majority of Jews, had not Ibn Tibbon rendered it accessible. Had he not translated it, no doubt some one sooner or later would have accomplished that task, but it was very fortunate that one who was a contemporary of Maimonides, who had his entire confidence, and who could correspond with the author in regard to obscure passages, and receive valuable instructions from him, should have done the work. From the correspondence between Maimonides and the men of Lünel, Ibn Tibbon's birthplace, we note that Maimonides had a high regard for Samuel's ability as a translator, and honored him as a man of erudition. It seems that the scholars of Lünel wrote to Maimonides asking him to translate the Moreh into Hebrew, but the answer came that Ibn Tibbon was already at work on it, and that Maimonides had faith in the translator. He considered Ibn Tibbon a capable and skilled translator, and wondered at his knowledge of Arabic, although he did not live in an Arabic-speaking country.
Shortly after Ibn Tibbon translated the Moreh, Jehudah al-Ḥarizi, the poet, was asked by a number of scholars to do the same work. This, of course, implied that Ibn Tibbon's rendering was not satisfactory to them. They wished al-Ḥarizi to translate the Moreh in a simple, clear and polished style, as the version of Ibn Tibbon, being literal, was necessarily heavy. Al-Ḥarizi prefixed to his work two introductions, one containing an alphabetical list of "strange words," and the other, the contents of each chapter. It is fortunate for Ibn Tibbon that al-Ḥarizi, too, did the same work, for a comparison shows the marked superiority and excellence of Ibn Tibbon's translation. In his Glossary of Strange Words, which he later prefixed to the Moreh, Ibn Tibbon rightfully shows the many errors and shortcomings of the translation of al-Ḥarizi, who might be a good poet, but who showed his ignorance when he attempted to deal with scientific matters.
Pococke's opinion of the two translators is interesting. He says, "The version of Ḥarizi is inferior to that of Ibn Tibbon, not because that of Tibbon is more elegant, but as regards matter it is closer to the original text." Shem Tob ibn Palquera in a letter says, "In Ibn Tibbon's translation there are only a few errors; and if the learned translator had had time he would certainly have corrected these. But in al-Ḥarizi's translation mistakes are numerous and words are often given a wrong meaning." Munk scores Ibn Tibbon's translation as a mere cast of the original and unintelligible to the ordinary Hebrew reader. Steinschneider, in commenting on this harsh criticism, shows the difficulties that faced Ibn Tibbon, and points out the value of his translation, even though it is largely a literal one. He maintains that Ibn Tibbon's work will continue to be one of the most important in the history of translations, for it laid the foundation of Hebrew philosophical style with its syntactical and terminological Arabisms. Grätz contemptuously calls Ibn Tibbon a "handicraftsman in philosophy."
While it is true that Ibn Tibbon's style is not the best, he should not be criticized too severely on this account. He consciously avoided elegance of expression for the sake of accuracy, and in order to faithfully render the original even went so far as to reproduce ambiguities. As far as possible, he consulted Maimonides on difficult passages. One must remember, too, that Ibn Tibbon was a pioneer in the art of translating from Arabic into Hebrew, that he had no patterns to go by, except the works of his father, Jehudah, that a philosophical Hebrew vocabulary did not exist, and, in consequence, even the most ordinary terms had to be coined. Ibn Tibbon was well aware of the difficulties that the reader would meet in his translation, and in order to avoid these as far as possible composed a Glossary of Strange Words, in which he ably explains the philosophical terms employed. He realized fully that his translation contained Arabisms, but wherever it was possible to use a Hebrew word or expression he did so. Many words and constructions in Hebrew which Ibn Tibbon used for the first time to convey the Arabic sense are now commonly accepted philosophical terms. It is unjust, moreover, to judge Ibn Tibbon by the ordinary texts of the works he has translated. Not until a carefully prepared and revised text of the Moreh has been published will one be able to determine accurately his ability and his shortcomings. Judging by the experience of the editor in his textual work in the Peraḳim, often an otherwise obscure or meaningless passage is rendered clear by evidence from manuscript, or other reliable sources.
Ibn Tibbon translated Maimonides’ Commentary on Abot, including its introductory chapters, the Peraḳim, at the request of the men of Lünel, who were presumably convinced of his capabilities by what Maimonides thought of him. All that has been said of Ibn Tibbon as a translator of the Moreh is true generally of his work on the Peraḳim. As in the Moreh, he sacrificed style for the sake of accuracy, and so, on the whole, translated with great literalness, very often word for word. Wherever he has to any marked degree departed from the original, the fact has been mentioned in the notes. As an instance of the care he exercised in turning the Arabic into Hebrew, we may point to his rendering the Arabic phrase אללהם אלא, meaning “unless indeed,” into the Hebrew אלהים אם לא, which very naturally gave rise to a misreading, or, where preserved correctly, was unintelligible save to those who were acquainted with the Arabic idiom. This shows the justice of Munk’s criticism. Wherever Ibn Tibbon was uncertain of the translation of an Arabic word, which might be rendered by one of two Hebrew words, his usual custom was to put one in the text and the other in the margin. These variants came afterwards into the text. In regard to the Moreh, he relied upon the advice of Maimonides as to which should be eventually used. It seems, however, that he did not consult Maimonides in reference to the Shemonah Peraḳim, and consequently at obscure points introduced glosses, noted by the expression “that is to say” (כלומר), or “I mean” (ר״ל), or “the explanation of” (פי׳). An instance of this is seen in Chapter II, where, after the words “as moderation” (כזהירות), there is added the phrase “that is to say, fear of sin” (כלומר ירא חטא).
At the beginning of Chapter IV, where the doctrine of the Mean is discussed, Ibn Tibbon has taken what in his case may be considered great liberties with the text, resulting in such a divergence from the original that Rosin was compelled to assume that the translator had before him an Arabic text differing from that of the manuscript reproduced in Pococke's Porta Mosis. The order of the list of virtues in Ibn Tibbon's version in no manuscript or edition is the same as that of the original, although the manuscripts and editions disagree among themselves in this regard. There are also a number of glosses, explaining in detail some of the virtues. The reason for a change in arrangement seems to be hinted at in one of the glosses, written in all likelihood by Ibn Tibbon, where there occurs the phrase, "and for this reason I have arranged them thus" (ולזה סדרתים כך). The nice distinction drawn by Maimonides between the extremes of the various virtues he discusses was sufficient cause for Ibn Tibbon to have introduced explanatory glosses, as it was impossible for him to find in Hebrew the proper words for the fine Arabic terminology. The necessity of elucidation becomes apparent from the fact that a number of glosses which did not originate with Ibn Tibbon are found in some of the sources. It may, consequently, be maintained that the Arabic text we have today is substantially the same as that from which Ibn Tibbon translated, and also that, on the whole, the Hebrew of the Peraḳim follows the Arabic very closely.
It is needless to go into detail here as to the peculiarities of Ibn Tibbon's translation, as these are taken up in the notes on the text. The critical text of the Hebrew offers in places valuable evidence on obscure readings in the Arabic, attention to which has also been drawn in the notes.
D. DESCRIPTION OF COLLATED MATERIAL — GENERAL REMARKS ON THE TEXT
A glance at the long list of manuscripts and editions of the Peraḳim shows the impracticability of trying to collate all the material available. The editor has, therefore, chosen a number of the most valuable sources, and has minutely compared them, being constantly guided by the Arabic. He has confined his attention as far as the Arabic is concerned to the Pococke version and that of Wolff based on it. A careful collation of Arabic texts may, however, clear up some points which are still left in doubt. The editor hopes to accomplish this task some day.
The material used in collation is as follows:
Br = manuscript of British Museum Add. 14763, written A.D. 1273, containing Samuel ibn Tibbon's translation of Maimonides' Commentary on Abot preceded by Ibn Tibbon's introduction to and translation of the Shemonah Peraḳim. This is the oldest and, on the whole, the best source known to the editor. It is very carefully written, with scarcely any scribal errors. For the first six chapters its evidence is very reliable. In the seventh chapter it begins to vary from the original Arabic, and in the eighth it departs rather widely, having readings which agree substantially with those of some unreliable sources. It is possible that the first six chapters were copied from one source, the seventh and eighth from another. This manuscript is characterized throughout by an almost superfluous use of the matres lectionis, even in Biblical quotations. It has a few vocalized words, all of which have been recorded in the notes.
Ma = a manuscript Maḥzor, Roman rite, fourteenth or fifteenth century ; in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Its readings are, on the whole, close to the Arabic, in places superior to those of Br, especially in Chapters VII and VIII, where the latter is faulty. The revised text of these two chapters is based mainly on this manuscript. There are, however, many, though unimportant, omissions, except in one instance in Chapter VIII, where all texts depart from the original, on account of which lack of evidence on the part of Ma, the editor has been obliged to reconstruct the text. It has a number of errors such as misspelled words and minor repetitions, due to carelessness of the scribe, or to a faulty source. A few vocalized words and marginal readings, chiefly of a later hand, occur.
So = Maimonides' Commentary on Abot, Soncino (1484–85?). It is found in the libraries of Columbia University, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and elsewhere, and is an incunabulum. It is minutely described by De Rossi, in Annales Hebraeo Typographici, Parma, p. 131. It was probably copied from the Soncino edition of the Maḥzor. Its chief value lies in its being in places corroboratory of Br or Ma. Only occasionally does it offer an independent reading of value.
Mi = Mishnah text with Commentary of Maimonides, Naples, 1492; printed by Joshua Soncino. This is the first edition of the Mishnah. The copy used by the editor is found in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. It has marginal notes offering corrections, as well as some interlinear insertions. It agrees substantially with So, its source evidently being the same, both being Soncino editions. Variants from it are recorded in the notes only when differing from those of So.
As it has been the aim of the editor to restore the text as it came from the pen of Ibn Tibbon, it has very often become necessary for him to place in the notes readings whose Hebrew is superior to that of those retained in the text. Ibn Tibbon, on the whole, translated literally, and consequently the literalism of a reading indicates conclusively that it originated with him. The more idiomatic renderings are due to copyists, who endeavored to improve the text, but who, it may be added, through their ignorance of the Arabic constructions, at times introduced errors into their manuscripts.
In order, however, to equalize the text and render it as smooth as possible, wherever one source has a reading which in minor details is more correct grammatically than that of another, though perhaps better manuscript or edition, the former reading is preferred without mention in the notes, although the looser rendering may go back to Ibn Tibbon. This is especially true as regards the agreement of suffixes and pronouns with their nouns. Thus, בהם, מהם, etc., of So are often retained in preference to בהן, מהן, etc., of Br or Ma, although the latter are more authoritative sources.
Emendations of the text have been avoided unless supported by good authority, and always by that of the original Arabic, as, for instance, in Chapter VIII, where all the Hebrew sources are at fault, the manuscripts and editions reading, ואמרו, אמתתו, ומתוך, or אמתתו ואמרו. The Arabic פהלכוא points plainly to an original ומתו.
Glosses which can be traced to Ibn Tibbon are printed in small type. All other glosses are put in the notes.
The reader can generally tell the source on which a given part of the text is based by the absence of the sign of that source from the notes. In Chapters I to VI, for instance, the sign Br is seldom present in the notes, which indicates that the text follows that manuscript very closely. The character of the notes in this regard should, however, be taken into consideration. Thus, Chapters VII and VIII are based mainly on Ma, but that sign appears often in the notes because of minor errors and omissions in its text. Variants occurring in Mi are noted only when they differ from those in So.
E. MANUSCRIPTS — EDITIONS — TRANSLATIONS — COMMENTARIES
For a list and description of the Arabic manuscripts containing the Thamaniaṭ Fuṣūl (Shemonah Peraḳim), see Catal. Bodl., 1889–1890.
The Arabic text, in Hebrew characters, with a Latin translation is contained in:—
- Porta Mosis sive Dissertationes Aliquot a R. Mose Maimonide, suis in varias Mishnaioth, etc., by Edward Pococke (Oxford, 1654), pp. 181–250.
- The Theological Works of the Learned Dr. Pocock, edited by Leonard Twells (London, 1740), pp. 68-93.
- It has also been edited by Wolff, with a German translation, under the title Thamaniaṭ Fuṣūl, Musa Maimuni's Acht Capitel. Arabisch und Deutsch mit Anmerkungen von Dr. M. Wolff (Leipzig, 1863). Second revised edition, Leiden, 1903.
In the following are enumerated a partial list of manuscript works containing the whole Abot Commentary, and also of the manuscript Maḥzorim in which the Shemonah Peraḳim are found:—
I. WITH ABOT
714.2. Fol. 54. Sh'muel ibn Tibbon's preface and Heb. translation of M.'s commentary on Aboth and of the Eight Chapters (Italian rabbinical characters).
1254.2. Fol. 112. M.'s commentary on Aboth in Heb. (German rabbinical characters).
2282.3. Fol. 14. Sh'muel ibn Tibbon's translation of M.'s Eight Chapters and his commentary on Aboth, with marginal notes by a later hand (German rabbinical characters).
Add. 16390. M.'s, XVIth century.
Add. 17057. The of M. and his Commentary on Aboth (imperfect), translation from the Arabic into Hebrew by Samuel ibn Tibbon, XVth century.
Cod. 71. Pirke Avoth seu Capitula patrum cum Comm. Maimonidis ejusque praefat; memb. rabb. in 4° in Sec. XV.
Cod. 269. 2°. Pirke Avoth cum Commentario Maimonidis ac fusa ejus praefatione; membr. rabb. in 4°. an. 1444.
Cod. 273. 1°. Pirke Avoth seu Capitula patrum cum Com. Maimon.
Cod. 327. 8°. Maimonidis Comm. in Pirke Avoth cum fusa praef. seu octo Peraḳim ex R. S. Tibbonides translatione.
Cod. 353. P.A. seu capitula patrum cum Comm. Maimonidis, etc. Sec. XV.
Cod. 438. 6°. M. Comm. in P.A. cum praef. Sam. Tibbonidis. Ad calc. vero Com. M. in P.A. haec reperiuntur "Finita est translatis comm. hujus tractatus ex lingua arab. in sanctam mensa tebeth an. 963 (chr. 1202) quem vetrit in arce Lünel sapiens philosophus, eruditus in omnia scientia, R. Sam. fil. sapientis magni R. Jeh. aben. Tib. fel. m. Granatensis hispanus."
Cod. 1161. 2°. Pirke avoth cum commentario M. et fusa ejus prefatione. An. 1419.
Cod. 1246. 1°. R. M. M. Perachim, Capitula de facultatibus animae seu fusa praefatio ad P.A.
2°. P.A. seu Capitula patrum, cum M. com. ex versione R. aben T. Sec. XIV.
Cod. 1262. R. Mosis Maim. Tredecim articuli fidei et Commentarius in P. A. cum fusa seu Capitibus de facult. animae. Anni 1454.
2102. Schön. ital. rabb. XIV–XV J. dann verschied; s16.
35b, s. N. 128 am Rand vow. f. 35, 35b Raschi, 946 zu K. 6, etc.
29712. 299 f. span. Curs, gross bis 62, 199b–240, 296 ff. a. 1431–9. 231 Maimonides ( s. n. 108) K. 3 ff. Saml. Tib.’s Vorw. f. 240b angefangen.
3277. (55b–71b) enthält nur das Vorw. des Uebersetzers S. ibn Tib. und die (so zuletzt, vgl. 1281. Zeile 3, 4 im Akrost. des Abschreibes lautet:
4017. (Von der Hand des Cod. 400 XV–XVI J.) 269. Ms’ acht Kapitel. Anf und Mitte def; s. Cod. 128 zuletzt Minuskel 1498.
752 (Ms. Or. Oct. 138.) Pergament, 303 Seiten, grosse schöne span. rabb. Hand. etwa XIV Jahrh. S. 86 (zuletzt) Commentar des Mose Maimonides zum Tractat Abot (ohne Text, vgl. Cod. 567, Fol. 498 Qu1). Der erste Abschreiber fand die Vorrede des Uebersetzers Sam’l ibn Tibbon erst nächtraglich und schrieb sie S. 293–303, etc.
Add. 16577. Roman rite, includes Aboth with Eight Chapters and commentary of M. in Hebrew translation of Samuel ibn Tibbon. XVth century.
Add. 27070. Part 1 of a מחזור, Roman rite, including Aboth with the Eight Chapters and Commentary of M. in Samuel ibn Tibbon's Hebrew translation. XVth century.
Add. 19944-19945. מחזור, Roman rite, including Aboth with the Eight Chapters and Commentary of M. in the Hebrew translation of Samuel ibn Tibbon. A.D. 1441.
De Rossi Library
Cod. 260. Maḥzor . . . Accedunt Pirke Avoth seu Capitula patrum cum com. M. . . . memb. rabb. fol. min. sec. XV. M. com. Pirke Av. et epistola de resurrectione sunt ex versione R. Samuelis Aben Tib.; ac prior ille praefixaim, habet fucam auctonus praefationem, seu Capitula de facultati bus animae.
Cod. 378. Maḥzor seu Purim et Pesach cum libro Esther, etc. — et. M. Com. P. A. ex versione S. Aben T. memb. rabb. Mutilis in 4° : maj. sec. XIII. Vetustus codex singularibus, instructus lectionibus, etc.
Cod. 403. Maḥzor hisp. cum Sect. biblicia ac Psal. occurr. . . . P. A. cum com. M. Minhag seu Treves, memb. rabbin. in 8° an. 1470.
Cod. 420. Maḥzor ital.; cum Ruth, etc. P. A. cum Com. M. sec. XV.
Cod. 740. Maḥzor ital. . . . Pirke Avoth cum comm. Maimonidis, membr. rabb. fol. min. vel. 4° Maj. Sec. XV.
Cod. 767. Maḥzor ital. . . . P. A. cum comm. M. membr. rabb. in fol. an 1463.
Cod. 770. P. A. cum M. Comment. hebr. verso a R. S. aben Tib. Sec. XIV.
Cod. 802. Maḥzor italicum . . . P. A. cum com. M. ei Perachim seu VIII capitibus. Sec. XV.
Cod. 814. Maḥzor ritus italici . . . P. A. . . . cum comm. M. ej. ° Perachim membr. ital. 1489.
Cod. 955. Maḥzor hisp. . . . P. A. cum com. M.; membram hisp. fol. sec. XIV vel XV.
Cod. 959. Maḥzor romanum ° vel italicum . . . P. A. cum com. M. ac Jarchii ej. M. Perachim an. 1400.
Note. — Maimonides com. in P. A. qui est consueta Sam. Tibbonidis versione praemittur interpretis et auctoris altera fusior de animae facultatibus quam scemone perachim seu octo capitula inscripsit.
Cod. 1212. Machazor italicum . . . P. A. cum com. M. ac fusa ejus praef. seu Octo Capitibus. Sec. XV.
Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
Editions of the Shemonah Peraḳim
The Peraḳim are found in all editions of the Mishnah and Talmud which contain the Commentary of Maimonides. The text of the Peraḳim contained in the first edition of the Mishnah agrees substantially with that found in the Commentary on Abot which has been collated by the editor, and designated by So. Both were printed by Soncino. The Peraḳim in the first edition of the Talmud are practically in accord with these.
The Commentary on Abot with the Peraḳim was incorporated into the Italian ritual (1484) and also into the Greek ritual (since 1520). They may also be found in the Maḥzorim of the Soncino Brothers, Soncino, 1485 (finished, Casal Maggiore, 1486), and Rimini, 1521, and in the Bologna edition of the Maḥzor, 1540–1541.
Editions of Abot With the Shemonah Peraḳim
- Abot with commentary of Maimonides, including the Shemonah Peraḳim, Soncino, 1484; described on page 25.
- פרקי אבות עם פי׳ הרמבם ופי׳ דון יצחק אברבנאל בן דון יהודה אברבנאל וקרא בשם המאמר הזה נחלת אבות, 1545. וויניציאה ש״ה. 4°.
- פרקי אבות, with commentary of Maimonides, London, 5532 (1772). 12°.
- Hurwitz, Abraham. . . . ספר חסד אברהם שאזן מ׳ אברהם בר שבתי הורוויץ על שמונה פרקים. Lublin, Kalonymos ben Mordechai Jafe und sein Sohn Chojyim. 1574.
- ש׳פ . . . אינס דייטש איבערזעצט. Vienna, 1798. 8°.
- Lichtenstein (Abraham ben Eliezer). ספר הין צדק ותיקון המדות מיוסד על ח״ פרקי רבינו משה בר מיימון זצוק״ל. Wilna, 1799. ווילנא (תקנט). 4°. (Contains only chapters I–V.)
- שמונה פרקים להר״מבם מיט דער דייטשען איבערסעצונג נייע נאנץ פערבעסערטע אוסגאבע. Basel, 1804. Printed by Wilhelm Haas.
- Salomon, Gotthold. … חלקת מחקק כולל שמונה פרקים לר״מב״ם איבערזעצט אונד מיט טהעאלאגיש פהילאזאפישן אנמערקונגן פערזעהן מאת שלמה זלמן בכה״רר ליפמן לבית הלוי. Dessau, Moses Philippsohn, 1809. 8°. With vowels.
- Beer, Michal. שמונה פרקים לרמב״ם. Le huit Chapitres de Maïmonide, etc., trad. en franc. 8°. Paris, 1811.
- Acht Abschnitte … aus dem Arabischen. Braunschweig, 1824. 8°.
- Falkenheim, S. Die Ethik des Maimonides oder Schemoneh Perakim; deutsch bearbeit. Konigsberg, 1832. 8°.
- שמונה פרקים לרמב״ם. De Acht Hoofdstukken van Maimonides. Bevattende zijne Zielkundige Verhandeling. Het Hebreeuwsch op nieuw nagezien en in het Nederduitsch vertaald. Groningen, S. J. Oppenheim, 1845.
- Slucki, David. שמונה פרקים להרמב״ם in חכמת ישראל. Contains also a biography of Samuel Ibn Tibbon and notes. Warsaw, 1863.
- Wolf, Michal. שמונה פרקים לרמב״ם נעתק מחדש ללשון אשכנז והובא לדפוס מאת מיכל וואלף ונוסף עליו הערות חדשות עם ישנות. Lemberg, 1876 (Follows ed. Dessau, 1809). With vowels, but unreliable.
Commentaries, Annotated Editions, and Translations
The commentaries on the Peraḳim are found in some of the above-mentioned editions. They are the ספר חסד אברהם by Hurwitz, which is found in all editions of the Talmud which contain Maimonides' commentary, and that of Lichtenstein in his ספר הין צדק.
The annotated editions are those of Vienna, 1798; Dessau, 1809; Groningen, 1845; Warsaw, 1863; and Lemberg, 1876.
The popularity of the Peraḳim is evident from the fact that they have been translated many times into various languages. The following is a list of the translations:—
a. Latin.—The Peraḳim in Latin are found in:
(1) Pococke's Porta Mosis, from the Arabic. (2) The translation of the Mishnah, with the commentaries of Maimonides and Bartinora, by Surenhusius. (3) The unedited translation of Maimonides' Commentary on Abot, by Jacob Mantinus. (4) The translation of Maimonides' Commentary on Abot, by C. C. Uythage.
b. German.—In the editions of (1) Vienna, 1798; (2) Haas, Basel, 1804; (3) Salomon, Dessau, 1809; (4) Wolff, Leipzig, 1863 and Leiden, 1903, from the Arabic; (5) Wolf, Lemberg, 1876; (6) by M. Rawicz, in Kommentar des Maimonides zu den Sprüchen der Vater, ins Deutsche übertragen, 1910, pp. 1-47. Portions of chapters I and VIII are translated by Beer, in R. Moses ben Maimon.
c. French.—Beer, Paris, 1811; Jules Wolff, Paris, 1912.
d. Dutch.Groningen, 1845.
e. English.—Hebrew Review, edited by Morris J. Raphall, London, Volumes I and II (1834-1835).
- Moses Maimonides (in Arabic, Ibū ʿImrān Mūsa ibn Maimūn ibn ʿObaid Allah) was born at Cordova, March 30, 1135; in 1165 he accompanied his father to Africa and then to Palestine; in 1166 he repaired to Egypt, and settled in Fustât, near Cairo; he died Dec. 13, 1204. On the pronunciation of מימון, see Geiger, Nachgelassene Schriften (1876), III, Moses ben Maimon, p. 70, note 1; Grätz, VI3, p. 262, n. 1; Catal. Bodl., 1861 ff.; Arab. Lit., 199 ff. On his life and works, see Catal. Bodl., 1861 ff.; Grätz, VI3, pp. 261–326; also Yellin and Abrahams, Maimonides (Philadelphia, 1903); I. Broydé, JE, IX, art., Moses ben Maimon; etc.
- On the opposition to Maimonides' works, see Jew. Lit., pp. 85–92.
- In Kerem Ḥemed, III, p. 67.
- Leben und Wirken des Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Prague, 1834), pp. 6, 15, 16.
- Moses ben Maimon, p. 57; p. 83, n. 33.
- Ethik, p. 30, "Von Hause aus sei der Talmud allein Gegenstand seines Studiums gewesen."
- I. Friedlaender, Moses Maimonides, in New Era Illustrated Magazine, January, 1905, Reprint (New York, 1905), pp. 34–35; Bernard Ziemlich, Plan und Anlage des Mischne Torah, in Moses ben Maimon, I, p. 259; see also M. Friedländer, Guide, Introd., pp. xix, xxi.
- Munk, Guide, Vol. I, Preface, p. 1; Beer, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, pp. 4 and 12; Arab. Lit., pp. 203–204; Rosin, Ethik, p. 30; Grätz, VI3, pp. 275, 307; Wolff, Acht Capitel, Introd., p. ix; M. Friedländer, Guide, Introd., p. xxiv.
- Joel, Verhältniss Alb. d. Gr. zu Moses Maimonides (Breslau, 1863); Etwas über den Einfluss der jüdischen Philosophie auf die christliche Scholastik (Frankel’s Monatsschr., IX, pp. 205–217); Jaraczewski, Die Ethik des M., etc., in ZPhKr., XLVI, pp. 5–24; Guttmann, Das Verhältniss des Thomas v. Aquino zur jüd. Literatur (Göttingen, 1891); Die Scholastik des 13 Jahrh. in ihren Beziehungen zur jüd. Litteratur (Breslau, 1902); D. Kaufmann, Der Führer Maimuni’s in der Weltlitteratur, AGPh., XI, p. 335 ff.; Richter, Geschichte der christlichen Philosophie, Vol. I, p. 610 ff.; Ueberweg, Hist. of Phil. (1885), Vol. I, p. 428; Weber, Hist. of Phil. (1895), p. 210, n. 2; Jacob Guttmann, Der Einfluss der maimonidischen Philosophie auf das christliche Abendland, in Moses ben Maimon, I, pp. 135–230; Philip Bloch, Charakteristik und Inhaltsangabe des Moreh Nebuchim, ib., p. 41, n. 1.
- Munk, Mélanges, p. 323; HUb., p. 415; M. Guttmann, Das religionsphil. System der Mutakallimun nach d. Berichte Maimon (Leipzig, 1885); D. Kaufmann, op. cit., pp. 339–340.
- The Arabic title is כתאב אלסראג̇ (ספר המאור, Book of Illumination), which, however, as Steinschneider (Arab. Lit., p. 200) and Geiger (Moses ben Maimon, p. 82, n. 31) maintain, hardly originated with Maimonides.
- M. wrote all of his works, with the exception of the Mishneh Torah and a number of letters, in Arabic, but with Hebrew characters, as Arabic was the language used by the Jews living under Islam. On his objection to having the Moreh copied in other than Hebrew characters, see Munk, Notice sur Joseph ben Jehouda (Paris, 1842), p. 27, n. 1. On the Arabic language of Maimonides and his style, see I. Friedlaender, Sprachgebrauch des Maimonides (Frankfurt a. M., 1902), Introduction; and by the same author, in Moses ben Maimon, I, the articles, Die arabische Sprache des Maimonides, pp. 421–428, and Der Stil des Maimonides, pp. 429–438; also his short account in Selections from the Arabic Writings of Maimonides (Semitic Study Series, No. XII, edited by Gottheil and Jastrow, Leiden, 1909), Introd., pp. xiv–xxiii.
- See infra, p. 10, n. 1.
- Geiger, Moses ben Maimon, p. 59; Harkavy, in Hebrew ed. of Grätz, IV, Appendix, p. 52.
- Grätz, VI3, pp. 266 and 274.
- In the Moreh, which appeared at least twenty-five years after the Com. on the Mishnah, there are twelve or more references to the latter, four of which are to the Peraḳim. See Moreh, I, 39; III, 35 (twice), 48. Scheyer, in Das psychologische System des Maimonides (Frankfurt a. M., 1845), which he designated as an introduction to the Moreh, draws largely from the Peraḳim, and constantly refers to them in the notes. See especially Chaps. I, II, and IV. Munk, in the notes in his Guide, refers a number of times to the Mish. Com., many of these being to the Peraḳim. In Vol. I, p. 210, n. 1, he quotes at length from Peraḳim I on the rational faculty, and on p. 232, n. 1, from Peraḳim VIII on the attributes of God. Other references are found in Vol. I, p. 125, n. 2, to Peraḳim II (the classification of the virtues); p. 286, n. 3, to Peraḳim VIII (miracles); p. 355, n. 1, to Peraḳim I (the faculties); p. 400, n. 2, to Peraḳim I (the theory of imagination of the Mutakallimun) ; etc.
- Ziemlich, Plan und Anlage des Mischne Thora, in Moses ben Maimon, I, p. 305, “Die im M. K. festgestellten Resultate hat er zum grossen Teile in den M. T. aufgenommen.” See also authorities cited by Ziemlich. On the contradictions of the Mishnah Commentary and the Mishneh Torah, see Derenbourg, in Zunz’s Jubelschrift (Berlin, 1884), Die Uebersetzungen des Mischnah Commentars des Maimonides.
- For a detailed account of the translators and translations of the Commentary on the Mishnah, see HUb., pp. 923–926; Arab. Lit., pp. 201–202.
- To M., Aristotle was the "chief of philosophers." Cf. Munk, Guide, I, Chap. V, p. 46, and n. 1. See also Moreh, II, 17, 19, 24. He considered him to be almost on a plane with the prophets. See M.'s Letter to Ibn Tibbon, Ḳobeẓ II. M. refers to the Nichomachean Ethics in Moreh, II, 36, and in III, 49 (twice). On his dependence upon Eth. Nic., see Rosin, Ethik, p. 6, et al. M., however, does not slavishly follow Aristotle, and speaks disparagingly of those "who believe that they are philosophers," but who consider "it wrong to differ from Aristotle, or to think that he was ignorant or mistaken in anything" (Moreh, II, 15). In regard to Aristotle's theory of creation, he speaks of the absurdities implied in it (ib., II, 18, end). See A. Wolf in Aspects of the Hebrew Genius, London, 1910, pp. 141–142. On M.'s departure in the Peraḳim from the Aristotelian system, see Jaraczewski, ZPhKr., XLVI, pp. 12–13, 14–15, and 16. On M.'s dependence upon Aristotle, see M. Joel, Die Religions-philosophie des Mose ben Maimon (Breslau, 1859); Scheyer, Das psychol. System des Maimonides; Rosin, Ethik; Wolff, Acht Capitel; Yellin and Abrahams, Maimonides; Cohen, Charakteristik der Ethik des Maimunis, in Moses ben Maimon, I, all en passim; and Ludwig Stein in JE, II, pp. 47, 48–49.
- See pp. 25 and 31.
- See pp. 24–25, 29–30, and 31.
- See pp. 31 and 32.
- See pp. 32 and 33.
- See p. 27.
- See Catal. Bodl., 1853; Arab. Lit., p. 200 ff., and Grätz, VI³, p. 273 ff.
- Generally, but incorrectly, named , as in Pococke, Porta Mosis, which contains the Arabic text with Latin translation.
- Arabic with Latin translation in Porta Mosis. Arabic with Hebrew translation, J. Holzer, Zur Geschichte der Dogmenlehre in der jüd. Religionsphilosophie des Mittelalters. Mose Maimuni’s Einleitung zu Chelek (Berlin, 1901); English translation by J. Abelson, JQR, vol. XXIX, p. 28 ff. The Arabic text with notes has been recently edited by I. Friedlaender in Selections from the Arabic Writings of Maimonides, pp. 1–39.
- See Catal. Bodl., 1890–91.
- Arab. Lit., p. 273, n. 1. Arabic text by Baneth, Berlin, 1905; Ger. translation in Rawicz, Commentar des M. zu den Sprüchen der Väter (1910).
- Written by M. to serve as an introduction to the Mishneh Torah; it contains the enumeration and classification of the 613 precepts of the Law. See Grätz, VI³, p. 291. For a part of the Arabic text with the Hebrew translation of Shelomoh ben Joseph ibn Ayyub, and German translation with notes, see M. Peritz, Das Buch der Gesetze, Theil I (Breslau, 1881); the Arabic text was published by Moïse Bloch, Paris, 1888. See HUb., p. 926; Jew. Lit., p. 71; and in Moses ben Maimon, I, articles by Moritz Peritz, Das Buch der Gesetze, nach seiner Anlage und seinem Inhalte untersucht, and by Ferdinand Rosenthal, Die Kritik des Maimonidischen “Buches der Gesetze” durch Nachmanides.
- Catal. Bodl., 1869 ff.; Grätz, VI³, p. 285 ff.; Ziemlich, Plan und Anlage des Mischne Thora, in Moses ben Maimon, I, pp. 248–318.
- Ib., pp. 273, 278, 281–283.
- For literature, description, and contents of the Moreh, see HUb., pp. 414–434; Grätz, VI³, p. 306 ff.; M. Friedländer, Guide, Introd.; Bloch, Charakteristik und Inhaltsangabe des Moreh Nebuchim, in Moses ben Maimon, I, pp. 1–52.
- HUb., pp. 434–436. Hebrew by Moses ibn Tibbon in many editions.
- HUb., pp. 436–437.
- Consists of Arabic excerpts from the writings of Galen and other physicians. Hebrew by Natan ha-Meati, edited in Lemberg, 1800, 1834–35, and in Wilna, 1888. See Jew. Lit., p. 195; HUb., pp. 765–767; Arab. Lit., pp. 214–215; Rosin, Ethik, p. 32, n. 6; Pagel, Maimuni als medizinischer Schriftsteller, in Moses ben Maimon, I, pp. 232–238.
- Chapter XIV.
- In the introduction to Sanhedrin, Chap. X (Pereḳ Ḥeleḳ), M. speaks of .
- Rosin, Ethik, p. 37, “Die Ethik ist also nach M. die Lehre von den Tugenden und den guten Handlungen.”
- והם שמונה פרקים. See Hebrew text, p. 7.
- פתיחת אבות: Ar. צדר אבות. See p. 3, n. 4, on the Arabic title of the Com. on the Mishneh (סראג̇), for which M. is probably also not responsible.
- In his Preface to the translation of the Commentary on Abot, I. T. refers to them as והפרקים אשר הקדים הרב וכ. See p. 22, n. 1.
- On the appropriateness of מורה נבוכים as a translation of the Arabic title Dalālat al Hāʾirīn (דלאלה̈ אלחאירין), see HUb., p. 418. Maimonides himself was of the opinion that הוראת הנבוכים would be preferable. See also Kaufmann, Attrib., p. 363, and n. 1; and especially Munk, Guide, Note sur le Titre de cet Ouvrage, at beginning of Vol. I; and II, pp. 379–380.
- According to a postscript to the Commentary on the Mishnah written by Maimonides, he began to work on it at the age of twenty-three (1158), and finished it at the age of thirty, in the year 1479 of the Seleucidian era, which is the year 1168, when, however, Maimonides was thirty-three years of age and not thirty. Maimonides could not have made a mistake in his own age. Geiger explains the difficulty by stating that Maimonides must have written the postscript while he was in the Maghreb in 1165, when the Commentary was practically finished. The words and were, however, added three years later after a revision had been made. The words through an oversight were allowed to remain. See Geiger, Nachgelassene Schriften, III, p. 87, end of note 41; and Grätz, VI³, p. 273, n. 3. Rosin, Ethik, p. 30, n. 3, says the postscript should read . Cf. Jaraczewski, ZPhKr., XLVI, p. 23, n. 3.
- See page 28 for description of the manuscript and the note referred to. Jaraczewski (Ibid., p. 22) states that I. T. translated after the death of M.
- Scheyer, Psychol. Syst. d. Maim., p. 9, n. 1, says, “Diese Schrift des M. ist eine ethisch-psychologische Abhandlung.” Steinschneider describes the Peraḳim as “the celebrated eight chapters on psychology” (Jew. Lit., p. 102). Friedländer, Guide (1904), Introd., p. xx, styles them “a separate psychological treatise.” The Dutch translation, 1845 (see infra, p. 32), has a sub-title, Maimonides Psychologie. See also Yellin and Abrahams, Maimonides, p. 77.
- Rosin, Ethik, p. 33, describes the Peraḳim in general as an “Abriss der allgemeinen Ethik,” and Chapters I and II as “die psychologische Grundlage der Ethik im Allgemeinen und Besonderen.” Wolff, Acht Capitel, Introd., p. xii, calls them a “System der Ethik.”
- See infra, Chapter I, p. 45; Chapter V, p. 74; Chapter VII, p. 83; Chapter VIII, p. 100.
- See Grätz, VI³, p. 275.
- On the title of Chapter II, see Hebrew text, p. 14, n. 1.
- On title, see Hebrew text, p. 35, n. 1.
- See infra, chapter VII, p, 79, notes 3 and 4.
- Born 1160, died 1230. See Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, p. 573 ff.; also Les Ecrivains Français; Grätz, VI3, 205; Winter and Wünsche, Die Jud. Litteratur, II, 330, 385; M. Schloessinger, in JE., vol. VI, p. 548; Geiger, Judaism and its History (New York, 1911), pp. 375–376.
- On Maimonides' correspondence with the men of Lünel, see HUb., pp. 415–416.
- Grätz, VI3, p. 324; HUb., p. 417.
- Cf. HUb., p. 420 ff.; Kaufmann, Der Führer Maimuni's in der Weltlitteratur, AGPh., XI, p. 346 ff. See especially Kaufmann, Attrib., p. 493, n. 182, where are mentioned a number of those who find fault with al-Ḥarizi's translation and introductions. Abraham ben Maimon says of him: (Ḳobeẓ, III, f. 16b coll.). Ibn Tibbon in his own Glossary of Strange Words especially condemns that of al-Ḥarizi with the words: . See also Friedländer, Guide, 1904, Introd., p. xxxii.
- Preface to Porta Mosis, "Versis (Charisii) illi ab Aben Tibbon factae postposita, fuit, non quod ilia Tibbonidae elegantior, sed materiae congruentior fuerit," etc.
- HUb., p. 432; JE., art., Ibn Tibbon.
- Munk, Guide, I, Preface, p. ii, " "
- HUb., pp. 419, 423.
- Arab. Lit., p. 205.
- Grätz (Eng. ed.), III, p. 566.
- See his Preface to the Moreh, also Friedländer, Guide, Introd., p. xxviii.
- He had as guides his father's translations and various Arabic books which he possessed. See his Preface to the Moreh, also HUb., p. 416.
- On I.T.'s Glossary (פירוש מן מלות זרות), see HUb., p. 421 ff.
- On Arabisms of I.T., see his Preface to the Moreh; also HUb., pp. 419–420.
- See I.T.’s Preface to his translation of the Commentary on Abot: [some Mss., ] . See Preface to Porta Mosis, p. 4, and Peraḳim, ed. Slutcki, p. 3.
- See Hebrew text, c. V, p. 32, n. 28.
- See I.T.’s Preface to the Moreh.
- See Hebrew text, c. II, p. 16, n. 1.
- Rosin, Ethik, p. 31, n. 2.
- 2 See Hebrew text, c. IV, p. 21, line 8.
- See Hebrew text, c. IV, p. 19, notes 16 and 17.
- The translators of the Mishnah Commentary seem to have had only one copy from which they all translated. Geiger, Moses ben Maimon, p. 83, n. 43.
- See Hebrew text, c. VIII, p. 42, n. 14; p. 43, n. 7; p. 47, n. 6; p. 53, n. 1.
- See Hebrew text, p. 51, n. 10.
- See Catalogo di Opere Ebraiche Greche Latine ed Italiane stampate dai Celebri Tipografi Soncini ne' Secoli XV e XVI, Compilato da Gaetana Zaccaria Antonucci, p. 113; Steinschneider, Supplementum Catalogi libr. hebr.in Biblioth. Bodleiana, in Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen (Leipzig, 1894), Vol. XI, p. 486, and JE., vol. VI, p. 578, art. Incunabula.
- See Antonucci, Catalogo, etc., pp. 53–54.
- See, for instance, Hebrew text, c. I, p. 9, n. 1.
- See Hebrew text, c. V, p. 32, n. 28.
- I.T. was conscious of such errors in his translations. See his Preface to the Moreh, in which he refers to his father's (Jehudah's) Preface to his translation of Baḥya ibn Pakuda's , where Jehudah dwells upon the difficulties in translating from Arabic into Hebrew. Cf. HUb., p. 374.
- See Hebrew text, p. 54, n. 37.
- The Porta Mosis also contains the other introductions found in Maimonides' Commentary on the Mishnah, namely, the Introduction to the Mishnah (erroneously called in Seder Zeraim praefatio) , the introduction to Pereḳ Ḥeleḳ, to Ḳodoshim, to Ṭohoroth, and to M'naḥoth. Twells, in his account of the life and writings of Pococke, says (p. 44) that the Mss. Pococke made use of "were very good and some of them, he imagined, the very originals written by the author's (M.'s) own hand." Jaraczewski (ZPhKr., XLVI, p. 22) states that Pococke used an Oxford Ms. The title page of the Porta Mosis has the imprint of H. Hall Academiae Typographus, 1655, but the title page of the Appendix is dated 1654.
- See, also, Catalogues des Manuscripts Hébreux et Samaritains de la Bibliothèque Impériale (Paris, 1866), nos. 3321 , 3341, 605, 609, 617, 6743, 7502, and 119110, and catalogues of other libraries.
- Neubauer, Catalogue.
- Margoliouth, Hebrew and Samaritan Mss., London, 1893.
- See supra, p. 24.
- Mss. Codices Hebraici, Parma, 1803.
- Steinschneider, Die Heb. Handschriften, Munich, 1875.
- Steinschneider, Verseichniss der Heb. Handschriften, Berlin, 1878.
- See supra, pp. 24–25.
- See Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica, vol. II, p. 309.
- See supra, p. 25.
- HUb., pp. 437–438. Catal. Bodl., 1890, 2483.
- See Antonucci, Catalogo, etc., p. 115. HUb., p. 438, n. 477.
- Rosin, Ethik, p. 31, n. 2.
- See Catalogue of the Cohen Library, Baltimore, Md.
- Other editions of the same are Lublin, 1616; ib., 1622; Krakau, 1577; ib., 1602. See Fürst, loc. cit. Hurwitz was a pupil of R. Moses Isserles; see Monatsch. für Gesch. und Wissenschaft des Judenthum (1903), vol. XI, p. 163, n. 1.
- According to the preface, it follows a Latin text, presumably that of Pococke, but its text is hardly different from that of the other editions.
- Haas was a member of the Acad. der mech. Künste in Berlin.
- HUb., p. 438. Salomon was a teacher at the Freischule in Dessau; Beer, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, p. 72.
- Catalogue of Hebrew Books in the British Museum, p. 587.
- A copy is found in the Columbia University Library (N.Y.).
- See Fürst, loc. cit.
- Jaraczewski (ZPhKr, XL VI, p. 23) refers to a Latin translation which appeared in Bologna in 1520.
- Mishnah sive totius Hebraeorum juris, rituum, antiquitatum, ac legum oralium systema cum Maimonidis et Bartenorae commentariis integris. Accedunt variorum auctorum notae Latinate donavit G. Surenhusius. Amsterdaedami, 1698-1703.
- Jak. Mantino (A. in Tortosa) Octo Capita R. Mosis Maimonidis ... in versione latina, etc. Bologna, 1526. 4°. See Fürst, loc. cit.; HUb., p. 438.
- Cnej. Cornel. Uythage (in Leyden), Explicatio R. Mosis Maimonidis ... complectens octo capita, etc., Leyden, 1683. 8°. HUb., p. 438.
- See Jew. Chronicle (London), No. 2255, p. 30.
- Incomplete and very free. Chapter IV is translated by Coupland in Thoughts and Aspirations of the Ages, London, 1895, pp. 206 ff.