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Ayman Shihadeh


Avicenna’s Neoplatonic account of divine providence and theodicy was hugely influential on later philosophical and religious thought in the Islamic world. However, it was severely criticised by one of his earlier commentators, the theologian-philosopher Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210). While Avicenna champions an optimist theodicean thesis of a plenitude of good to support the theory of providence integrated into his cosmogony, his commentator counters by arguing for a plenitude of evil and an overall pessimist anti-theodicy. Rejecting Avicenna’s ontological-cum-cosmological account of evil, al-Rāzī argues that a theodicy must be strictly subject-centred and is ultimately a futile exercise. This article includes a study and translation of the relevant section in his commentary on Avicenna’s al-Išārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt (Pointers and Reminders).

Nadia Vidro


This article is a case study in the transition of texts from manuscript to print. It looks at all surviving manuscripts and 15th–16th-centuries printed editions of Jacob ben Asher’s ʾArbaʿah Turim, Tur Orah Hayyim. Based on a close textual investigation of Tur Orah Hayyim, chapter 428, it identifies and dates manuscript clusters, and establishes how different imprints are linked with the manuscript tradition and with each other. The article suggests that the Soncino 1490 imprint by Solomon Soncino exerted a crucial influence on the printed text of Tur Orah Hayyim. Whereas before imprints were independent and closely associated with individual manuscripts, Soncino 1490 became the archetype for all but one subsequent 15th–16th-centuries imprints, and direct dependence on manuscripts subsided.

Torsten Hylén


The developing myth about the events at Karbala, as well as the image of al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī and the cult connected with him, were important factors in the shaping of early Shiite identity. In this article, I argue that some of the earliest traces of this process are found in the account of the Tawwābūn, or Penitents, events which took place in the years immediately following the death of al-Ḥusayn at Karbala in 60/680. Important elements of this story originate at least as early as the late first/early eighth century. In the story we see the image of al-Ḥusayn in process of transformation from that of someone merely human to someone ascribed traits that transcend the human. In the same course of events, the story of his death at Karbala is in process of being elevated from a tragic story to a myth with its associated rituals.

“A Dream Carries Much Implication”

The Midianite’s Dream ( Judges VII), Its Role and Meanings

Robin Baker


Commentators have long been divided in appraising Gideon. Some consider him an outstanding champion of Yahweh’s cause. Others judge him as, at best, flawed, at worst a vainglorious manipulator who corrupted Israel’s relationship with Yahweh and weakened her hold on the Promised Land. Despite abundant commentary on Gideon, the Midianite’s dream has attracted little specific exegetical attention beyond recognition that, on hearing its interpretation, Gideon was transformed. Yet it must surely rank as one of the most remarkable episodes in Judges. This study considers the dream’s hermeneutical function in illuminating Gideon’s character and changing relationship with Yahweh. It examines the dream’s place in the Gideon narrative and explores the meaning of its symbolism for the writer’s time and readership. It demonstrates that the narrative’s structure, and the dream’s place within it, were carefully planned and crucial to its interpretation. Finally, it analyses heuristic literary devices used in the narrative.

Sami Yli-Karjanmaa


This study examines four Josephan passages discussing souls entering a new body or life. It argues that research on this issue can be advanced from the conclusion by several scholars that despite the language of reincarnation it is really the belief in resurrection that underlies Josephus’s accounts. The key findings include: Josephus does not directly characterize the new life as a reward, and the fact that its recipients are good souls does not contradict reincarnation. The descriptions of the new body in b.j. are in all respects easier to reconcile with reincarnation than resurrection. The expression ἐκ περιτροπῆς (αἰώνων) is best understood as referring to (cyclical) recurrence. The Josephan version of re-embodiment that emerges has many exact similarities with accounts of reincarnation but only a few general ones with resurrection. The thesis that Josephus’s real referent is resurrection is implausible.

Cat Quine

This paper demonstrates that the bird and the mountains phrase in Ps 11:1 compares well with a common metaphor relating to siege warfare and military conquest found in Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions and considers the resulting implications.

Do Justice and Peace Really Kiss Each Other?

Personifications in the Psalter and an Exemplary Analysis of Ps 85:11

Sigrid Eder

While Lady Wisdom, Zion and Jerusalem, for example, are well-known and frequently analyzed personifications in the Old Testament, the study of personifications in the book of psalms is a research desideratum. After presenting the theoretical background of the term personification with special focus on the function of the verb, I will present the results of verb personifications in the psalter followed by a textual analysis of the personified virtues of steadfast love, truth, justice and peace in Ps 85:11. One example of the encounter between justice and peace in the form of a kiss, from Christian reception history, forms the last part of the article. The paper aims to contribute to the broad and intense discussion of metaphor analysis in psalms research on the three levels of theory, of textual analysis of the whole book of psalms and of Ps 85,11 and the reception history of metaphors.

Grigory Kessel

A little-known thirteenth-century manuscript preserved in Damascus contains by far the largest Syriac medical work that has survived till today. Despite the missing beginning, a preliminary study of the text allows us to argue that it is the medical handbook (entitled Kunnāšā) of Īšōʿ bar ʿAlī, a ninth-century physician and student of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq. The seven books of the handbook appear to follow the model of Paul of Aegina’s Pragmateia both in composition and content. The actual significance of the handbook in the history of Syriac and Arabic medicine is yet to be assessed, but there can be no doubt that it will be a pivotal source that illustrates the development of Syriac medicine during a period of four centuries at the moment when it was being translated to lay the foundations of the nascent medical tradition in Arabic.