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When the Intellectuals of ‘Ḥarrān Contributed to Falsafa’

Theodore Abū Qurrah as ‘Nāqil-wa-Mufassir’ of Proclean Legacy in Early Islam

In: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Author:
Najib George Awad Independent scholar

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Abstract

In this essay, I attend to an under-analyzed topic in the history of Kalām and Falsafa studies, the contribution of Theodore Abū Qurrah, a Melkite-Chalcedonian Arab-Speaking mutakallim of the early Abbasid era, to the Greek-Arabic translation movement and to Falsafa and Kalām, via the translations he made or through the philosophical ideas that underpin his own Kalām discourses. I will pay specific attention to a possible transmission of the Neoplatonic-Aristotelian heritage of Proclus through Abū Qurrah’s use of Proclean ideas in his own Christian Kalām. I will argue that some of Abū Qurrah’s literary output is expressive of his endeavor to develop an independent reading of Proclus and offer a fresh implementation of Proclean legacy in a Kalām-form that exceeds the boundaries of the traditional reading of Proclus. I will begin with insights on Kalām and the translation movement. I will move then to discuss the place of Ḥarrān (the city which Abū Qurrah belonged to and was the Melkite bishop in) on the map of the transmission of Greek sciences to Arabic, before paying attention to the role of the Bishop of Ḥarrān in this transmission activity. After setting the contextual framework, I will focus in the ensuing sections on some traces of Proclus’s legacy in Theodore Abū Qurrah’s extant texts.

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