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Author: Shlomo Sela
The main focus of this book is the study of Abraham Ibn Ezra’s (1089-1167) scientific thought within the historical and cultural context of his times. His scientific contribution may be understood as the very embodiment of ‘the rise of medieval Hebrew science’, a process in which Jewish scholars gradually adopted the holy tongue as a vehicle to express secular and scientific ideas. The first part provides a comprehensive picture of Ibn Ezra’s scientific corpus. The second part studies his linguistic strategy. The third and fourth parts study Ibn Ezra’s introductions to his scientific treatises and the fifth part is devoted to studying four ‘encounters’ with Claudius Ptolemy, the main scientific character featuring in Ibn Ezra’s literary work.
A Parallel Hebrew-English Critical Edition of the Book of the Beginning of Wisdom and the Book of the Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs. Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Astrological Writings, Volume 5
Author: Shlomo Sela
The present volume offers a critical edition of the Hebrew texts, accompanied by English translation and commentary of Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom) and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot (Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs) by Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161). The first, the summa and by far the longest of his astrological works, the target of the most cross-references from the rest of that corpus and the most influential, enjoyed the widest circulation among Jews in the Middle Ages and after. The second, by contrast, is the most obscure. It is never referred to elsewhere by its author and is the only work for which Ibn Ezra’s authorship must be substantiated. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot were written in order to explain concepts common to the various branches of astrology that Ibn Ezra addressed elsewhere and to elucidate the worldview that underlies astrology. These two treatises are the richest and most varied with regard to the astrological information they present. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot also exemplify the close collaboration between astronomy and astrology in medieval science and are the two components of Ibn Ezra’s astrological corpus with the most extensive, comprehensive, and significant astronomical content.

"A critical edition with English translation of Reshit Ḥokhmah was published in 1998 by Epstein. Sela has not only aspired to improve it but also supplied a commentary to render the text more comprehensible. Sela’s mission is successfully accomplished for both treatises. This multifarious book is another important contribution to a deeper understanding of the life and work of one of the most important medieval Jewish polymaths." - Ilana Wartenberg, Universität Bern, in: Journal for the History of Astronomy 50.1 (2019)
Author: Shlomo Sela


Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161) was born in Muslim Spain, but his extensive scientific corpus, dealing mainly with astrology and astronomy, was composed in Latin Europe and written almost exclusively in Hebrew. Recent work on Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom), an introduction to astrology that is considered to be the zenith of Ibn Ezra’s astrological work, revealed that at least one-fourth of this text consists of translations or close paraphrases from identifiable and available Arabic astrological and astronomical texts. Relying on these findings, this paper identifies the Arabic texts Ibn Ezra drew on, shows where their Hebrew translations were incorporated into Reshit Ḥokhmah, and then scrutinizes his translation methods.

In: Medieval Encounters