Themistii In Aristotelis metaphysicorum librum lambda paraphrasis

The Greek original is lost.

The Fihrist credits Mattā ibn Yūnus with an Arabic translation of this paraphrase. (K. al-Fihrist, Flügel: 251,29–30). Parts of this Arabic translation are at present extant (chapter 1, a portion from chapter 2, and chapters from 6 to 10) and published (Meyrav 2020; Badawī 1947). The Arabic version of the Paraphrase has been in turn translated into Hebrew by Moshe ibn Tibbon (d. c. 1283) in 1255 (edited by Meyrav 2020). Tibbon’s Hebrew translation of Themistius’ Paraphrase was in turn translated into Latin by Moshe Finzi in 1558. Tibbon’s Hebrew translation is extant and edited together with Finzi’s Latin translation (Meyrav 2020 includes the edition of the Arabic and Hebrew versionsCAG V/5 1903 includes the editions of the Hebrew and Latin versions – both remodeled by Landauer). At variance with what is said in the Fihrist (see above), one of the Arabic MSS (Badawī 1947:329,2) credits Iṣhāq b. Ḥunayn with the Arabic translation, saying also that Iṣhāq’s translation has been in turn corrected by Thābit ibn Qurra (d. 901). This attribution is also attested by one of the Hebrew MSS (MS B quoted in Landauer 1903: V). Some scholars agreed with this attribution (Badawī 1947 Intro: 16ssq.; Pines 1987).

The edited parts of the Arabic translation (Meyrav 2020, Badawī 1947) are shorter than the corresponding chapters of the Hebrew translation. On the identity of the translator and the relation between the Arabic and the Hebrew versions, two hypotheses have been advanced: (1) the extant parts of the Arabic translation are an abridgment of the longer text (Badawī 1947; Pines 1987); (2) they trace back to two Greek recensions, which have been translated into Arabic by the same person (discussed in Pines 1981:177 n. 3). The debate on this point is still open (Pines 1981, 1987; Brague 1999). Tibbon’s Hebrew version has been used to complement the Arabic one and the two both are translated into French (Brague 1999; Martini 2003:263); a new edition will be provided by M. Yoav. Finally, T. Farhat has detected a long quotation in Ibn Taymiyya (Geoffroy 2003:420). Themistius’ Paraphrase inspired the medieval Arabic and Jewish philosophers especially about the interpretation of divine intellection as it is exposed in Book Lambda of the Metaphysics. Aristotle’s God is designated as the First Intellect; following Aristotle’s formulation, Themistius asserts that God intelligizes only Himself and nothing that is extraneous to Himself. But this means for him that God thinks all the existents, as they are not extraneous to Him. Thus, Aristotle’s God is both the cause of the cosmos and of the Nomos (Ar. nāmūs, Hebr. nimmus) obeyed throughout the cosmos (Pines 1987:189–190), and this allows Themistius to add that God intelligizes the existents because He is their cause and producer. It has been demonstrated that his conception of God was influenced by Plotinus’ description of Nous (Pines 1981). Among the Arab authors who refer to his exegesis are al-Fārābī, al-Mas‘udī (c. 893–956, Kitāb al-tanbīh wa-l-ishrāf: 163), al-‘Āmirī (d. c. 992, Badawī 1947:18), Avicenna ( In Metaph. Lambda, ch. 7:26–27; ch. 9:31; Shifā’, Metaph. VIII 6:358–359, VIII 7:363, IX 2:393); Averroes ( Long comm. of the Metaph., ed. Bouyges: 1410, 4–5; 1492,3; 1494; 1635,4–1636,13; Epitome on the Metaph., see references in Brague 1999:28). His interpretation was influent also on the medieval Jewish authors. Among the Jewish authors who refer to his Paraphrase or to his interpretation of Aristotelian God are Maimonides ( Guide of the Perplexed I, 68; I, 69; III, 21), Falaquera (b. c. 1223, Moreh ham-Moreh ed. Bisseliches 1837: 76), and Gersonides ( The Wars of the Lord V, 3, ch. 12).

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