Samuel ben ḥofni Gaon and His Cultural World

Texts and Studies


Samuel ben ḥofni Gaon was head of the Yeshiva of Sura in Baghdad during the cultural renaissance which characterized the Buyid period. His writings reflect the impact of Arabic literature on Jewish intellectuals at this time.
The first part of this volume presents the known details of his life and extensive writings and describes the dynamics of contemporary, tenth-century Jewish culture: the decline and temporary restoration of the yeshivot and the intellectual activity outside of them. Additionally, some of the basic concepts of his thought, strongly influenced by Mu‘tazilite Kalām, are explained.
The book provides the Judeo-Arabic text and annotated English translation of two of his works on legal theory, his Treatise on the Commandments and Ten Questions, reconstructed from manuscript fragments from the Cairo Geniza.

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David E. Sklare, Ph.D. (1992) in Post-Biblical Jewish History and Hebrew Literature, Harvard University, is Senior Researcher of the Center for the Study of Judeo-Arabic Culture of the Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem.
Winner of the Ben-Zvi prize 1998.

'David Sklare has painted an arresting portrait of Samuel ben ḥofni and his cultural world; both subject and treatment should compel the attention of a wide scholarly audience.'
Daniel Frank, The Jewish Quarterly Review, 2001.
Students, scholars and academic libraries with interests in medieval Jewish history and thought, Arabic intellectual history, cross-cultural dynamics, Judeo-Arabic literature, or history of legal theory.
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