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When the Jews Learned Logic from the Pope: Three Medieval Hebrew Translations of the Tractatus of Peter of Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Charles H. Manekin
Affiliation:
Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Maryland at College Park

Abstract

It is well known that the Tractatus of Peter of Spain (later Pope John XXI) was one of the most popular logic textbooks in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Less known is the Tractatus's considerable reputation and diffusion among the Jews, as evidenced by five translations, two commentaries, and what appears to be an abbreviatio — if not of the Tractatus itself, then of a similar work. The present article attempts to understand the phenomenon of the Tractatus's popularity and offers an analysis of the three translations whose authors are known — those by Shemaryah ha-Ikriti (Greece, early to mid-fourteenth century), Abraham Abigdor (late fourteenth century), and Judah b. Samuel Shalom (either Italy or Spain, mid-fifteenth century) — and their subsequent fate. The more popular versions of Abraham Abidgor and Judah Shalom provided Jewish students, many of whom would likely become physicians, with a grounding in logic comparable to that of their Christian counterparts.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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