Nationality, Religious Belief, Geographical Identity, and Sociopolitical Awareness in Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Astrological Thought

Authored by: Shlomo Sela

The Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Medieval Worlds

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738057
eBook ISBN: 9781315686622
Adobe ISBN: 9781317415701

10.4324/9781315686622.ch15

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Abstract

Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–c. 1161) was born in Muslim Spain, where he received his Jewish and scientific education within the orbit of Arabic culture and language. After leaving his homeland at the age of 50, he began an itinerant life that took him through Italy, France, and England. During these years he wrote prolifically on a wide variety of subjects, almost exclusively in Hebrew. 1 Although Ibn Ezra owes his reputation to his outstanding biblical commentaries, he also wrote religious and secular poetry, religious-theological and grammatical monographs, and a large corpus of scientific treatises on mathematics, astronomy, scientific instruments, the Jewish calendar, and, especially, astrology. 2 He incorporated a significant amount of astrology into his biblical commentaries, thereby promoting the smooth absorption of that science into Jewish culture. 3 He also produced the first comprehensive set of astrological texts in Hebrew that address the main systems of Arabic astrology and provided Hebrew readers with access to that body of knowledge. 4 Shortly after Ibn Ezra’s death, a process began in which collections of his astrological writings were transmitted to non-Jewish readers via repeated waves of translations into Latin and the emerging European vernaculars. 5

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