Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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Abraham, Ibn Ezra Scholarship,
1970-1990: A Bibliography
o n e
a u t h o r it y
h a s
noted, “It was in Spain that Jews first made
contact with the intellectual life o f Europe and that the first
sprouts appeared o f a Jewish school o f learning, which later
shifted to France and Italy and afterwards long had its centre
in Germany.” 1 Central to this movement was one o f the most
il lu s t r io u s o f S p an ish Jew s , A b ra h am Ib n Ezra
(1089/92-1164/67), an intellectual giant reknowned as an exe-
gete, philologist, liturgical poet, philosopher, physician, trans­
lator o f Arabic, mathematician, and astrologer. Born in Tudela
(Toledo occasionally appears in the literature in erro r) as was
his famous contemporary and friend, Ju d ah Ha-Levi, Ibn Ezra
left Spain in 1140 following the tumultuous Almohade Berber
invasion and wandered in Europe for the rem a inder o f his life,
staying for various lengths o f time in several Italian, French,
and English Jewish communities. As if to explain his peripatetic
movements, it has been suggested that his “main occupation
was to establish astronomical tables according to the meridian
o f various cities.”2
His endu r ing repu ta tion derives primarily from his Bible
commentaries, composed in exile and often in short and long
versions, employing the
(plain o r literal meaning) mode
o f in terpre tation and widely studied for their extensive reliance
on grammatical and lexical analysis. His commentaries have en ­
du red in ou r standard rabbinic Bible (
Mikra’ot gedolot)
the commentaries to Genesis, for instance, o f Rashi, Nahma-
1. Bertold Spuler,
The Muslim World: A Historical Survey. Part I: The Age o f the
(Leiden, 1960), p. 112.
2. Marie-Therese d ’Alverny, “Translations and Translators,” in
Renaissance and
Renewal in the Twelfth Century,
ed. by Robert L. Benson and Giles Constable
(Cambridge, Mass., 1982), p. 443.