Category:Medieval Jewish astronomers
Pages in category "Medieval Jewish astronomers"
The following 27 pages are in this category, out of 27 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 27 pages are in this category, out of 27 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Maimonides – In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician. Born in Cordova, Almoravid Empire on Passover Eve,1135 or 1138, he worked as a rabbi, physician and he died in Egypt on December 12,1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias. Nonetheless, he was acknowledged as among the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law and he is sometimes known as ha Nesher ha Gadol in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah. Aside from being revered by Jewish historians, Maimonides also figures prominently in the history of Islamic. Influenced by Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and his contemporary Averroes, he in his turn influenced other prominent Arab and Muslim philosophers and he became a prominent philosopher and polymath in both the Jewish and Islamic worlds. His full Hebrew name is Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, whose acronym forms Rambam and his full Arabic name is Abū ʿImrān Mūsā bin Maimūn bin ʿUbaidallāh al-Qurtabī or Mūsā bin Maymūn for short. In Latin, the Hebrew ben becomes the Greek−style suffix -ides to form Moses Maimonides, Maimonides was born in Córdoba during what some scholars consider to be the end of the golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula, after the first centuries of the Moorish rule. At an early age, he developed an interest in sciences and he read those Greek philosophers accessible in Arabic translations, and was deeply immersed in the sciences and learning of Islamic culture. Maimonides was not known as a supporter of mysticism, although a strong type of mysticism has been discerned in his philosophy. He expressed disapproval of poetry, the best of which he declared to be false and this sage, who was revered for his personality as well as for his writings, led a busy life, and wrote many of his works while travelling or in temporary accommodation. Maimonides studied Torah under his father Maimon, who had in turn studied under Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash, a Berber dynasty, the Almohads, conquered Córdoba in 1148, and abolished dhimmi status in some of their territories. The loss of protected status threatened the Jewish and Christian communities with conversion to Islam, death. The historical records of abuses against Jews in the immediate post-1148 period are subject to different interpretations, Maimonidess family, along with most other Jews, chose exile. Some say, though, that it is likely that Maimonides feigned a conversion to Islam before escaping and this forced conversion was ruled legally invalid under Islamic law when brought up by a rival in Egypt. For the next ten years, Maimonides moved about in southern Spain, during this time, he composed his acclaimed commentary on the Mishnah in the years 1166–1168. Following this sojourn in Morocco, together with two sons, he sojourned in the Holy Land, before settling in Fustat, Egypt around 1168, while in Cairo, he studied in a yeshiva attached to a small synagogue. In the Holy Land, he prayed at the Temple Mount and he wrote that this day of visiting the Temple Mount was a day of holiness for him and his descendants
2. Petrus Alphonsi – Petrus Alphonsi was a Jewish Spanish physician, writer, astronomer, and polemicist, who converted to Christianity in 1106. He is also known just as Alphonsi, and as Peter Alfonsi or Peter Alphonso and was born Moses Sephardi), born in Islamic Spain, he mostly lived in England and France after his conversion. He was born at a date and place in the 11th century in Spain. In honor of the saint Peter, and of his patron and godfather. By 1116 at the latest he had emigrated to England, where he seems to have remained some years, the date of his death is as unclear as that of his birth. He was famous as a writer during his lifetime, and remained so for the rest of the Middle Ages, the most common are his Dialogi contra Iudaeos, an imaginary conversation between a Jew and a Christian, and Disciplina Clericalis, in fact a collection of Eastern fables. Petrus was born a Jew while living in al-Andalus, and after he rose to prominence and this environment gave him an advantageous knowledge of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that would later prove useful in his polemics. John Tolan mentioned in his book Petrus Alfonsi and His Medieval Readers that Alfonsi’s texts were received enthusiastically—he became an auctor and his success was due in large part to his ability to bridge several cultures, a Jew from the world of al-Andalus. His knowledge of different religions is what makes Alfonsi unique. Petrus’ upbringing placed him in an atmosphere that provided a significant impetus to launch him as one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics, in the Dialogus Alphonsi relates that he traveled to England as magister in liberal arts. He spent several years there as court physician of Henry I of England, the presence of Alfonsi in the West Country in the years before that date may have contributed to the flowering of Arabic science in that region from the 1120s onwards. He discussed astronomy with Walcher of Malvern, Petrus passed on the Arabic system of astronomical graduation. They may have collaborated on a work on eclipses, alfonsis fame rests chiefly on a collection of thirty-three tales, composed in Latin at the beginning of the 12th century. This work is a collection of tales of moralizing character. Some of the tales he drew on were from tales later incorporated into Arabian Nights, including the Sinbad the Wise story cycle and it established some didactic models that would be followed by other medieval authors. The collection enjoyed remarkable popularity, and is a study in comparative literature. It is entitled Disciplina Clericalis, and was used by clergymen in their discourses. The work is important as throwing light on the migration of fables, translations of it into French, Spanish, German, and English are extant
3. Abraham Zacuto – Abraham Zacuto was a Sephardi Jewish astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, rabbi and historian who served as Royal Astronomer in the 15th century to King John II of Portugal. The crater Zagut on the Moon is named after him, Zacuto was born in Salamanca, Spain in 1452. He may have studied and taught astronomy at the University of Salamanca and he later was for a time teacher of astronomy at the universities of Zaragoza and then Cartagena. He was versed in Jewish Law, and was rabbi of his community, with the general expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Zacuto took refuge in Lisbon, Portugal. Already famous in academic circles, he was invited to court and nominated Royal Astronomer and Historian by King John II of Portugal and he was consulted by the king on the possibility of a sea route to India, a project which he supported and encouraged. He fled first to Tunis, and later moved to Jerusalem and he died probably in 1515 in Jerusalem, however, other reports indicate his final home was the Hebrew community of Damascus and the death occurred in 1520. Zacuto had established his wish to make his pilgrimage at a Passover gathering. Zacuto developed a new type of astrolabe, specialized for practical determination of latitude while at sea, in contrast to earlier multipurpose devices intended for use ashore. Abraham Zacutos principal claim to fame is the astronomical treatise, written while he was in Salamanca, in Hebrew, with the title Ha-ḥibbur ha-gadol, begun around 1470. It was composed of 65 detailed astronomical tables, with set in year 1473. The calculations were based on the Alfonsine Tables and the works of earlier astronomers, Zacuto set out the data in a simple almanac format, with the positions of a planet easily interpolated between entries, making it quite easy to use. The first Castilian translation was undertaken in 1481 by Juan de Salaya, Zacutos Almanach perpetuum helped immediately revolutionize ocean navigation. Prior to the Almanach, navigators seeking to determine their position in the seas had to correct for compass error by recourse to the quadrant. But this proved useful as they approached the equator and the Pole Star began to disappear into the horizon. Zacutos Almanach supplied the first accurate table of solar declination, allowing navigators to use the sun instead, as the quadrant could not be used to look directly at the sun, Portuguese navigators began using the astrolabe on board. Zacutos tables in conjunction with the new metal nautical astrolabe allowed navigators to take accurate readings anywhere, already in 1497, Vasco da Gama took Zacutos tables and the astrolabe with him on the maiden trip to India. It would continue to be used by Portuguese ships thereafter to reach far destinations such as Brazil, prior to that, Zacuto had again improved on the existing astronomical tables, mostly those prepared under King Alphonso X of Castille. Already Columbus had used Zacutos tables, Zacutos work thus saved the Admirals life and that of his crew
4. Mashallah ibn Athari – MashaAllah ibn Atharī was an eighth-century Persian Jewish astrologer and astronomer from the city of Basra who became the leading astrologer of the late 8th century. According to Ibn al-Nadim in his Fihrist, Mashallah was a man of distinction and he served as a court astrologer for the Abbasid caliphate, and wrote a number of works on astrology in Arabic, some of which have only survived in Latin translations. Science historian Donald Hill writes that Mashallah was originally from Khorasan, the Arabic phrase ma shaa allah indicates acceptance of what God has ordained in terms of good or ill fortune that may befall a believer. Ibn al-Nadim said Mashallahs name was Mīshā, meaning Yithro, Latin translators also called him Messahala. The crater Messala on the Moon is named after him and his writings include both what would be recognized as traditional horary astrology and an earlier type of astrology which casts consultation charts to divine the clients intention. It is also known that his work was influenced by Hermes Trismegistus and Dorotheus. Only one of his writings is still extant in its original Arabic and his treatise De mercibus is the oldest extant scientific work in Arabic. One of his most popular works in the Middle Ages was a treatise which provides a comprehensive account of the whole cosmos along Aristotelian lines. In it, Mashallah covers many topics that were important in early cosmology, Mashallah had intended for his account to be aimed at laymen and therefore included diagrams with text to facilitate comprehension of his main ideas. The treatise was printed in two versions, a short version of 27 chapters known as De scientia motus orbis. The shorter version was translated by Gherardo Cremonese, both were printed in Nuremberg and in 1504 and 1549, respectively. This work is referred to as De orbe for short. Mashallah wrote the first treatise on the astrolabe in Arabic and it was later translated into Latin as De Astrolabii Compositione et Ultilitate and included in Gregor Reischs Margarita phylosophica. Its contents primarily deal with the construction and usage of an astrolabe and his On Conjunctions, Religions, and People discusses the astrology of important world events and the role Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions have in their timing. This treatise does not survive intact and is preserved only in quotations by the Christian astrologer Ibn Hibinta and his work on nativities, with the Arabic title Kitab al - Mawalid, has been partially translated into English from a Latin translation of the Arabic by James H. Holden. Other astronomical and astrological writings are quoted by Suter and Steinschneider, an Irish astronomical tract also exists based in part on a medieval Latin version. Edited with preface, translation, and glossary, by Afaula Power, the notable 12th-century scholar and astrologer Abraham ibn Ezra translated two of Mashallahs astrological treatises into Hebrew, Sheelot and Ḳadrut. Eleven of Mashallahs astrological treatises were translated out of Latin into English in 2008 and are available in The Works of Sahl, on Reception is also available in an English translation by Robert Hand from the Latin edition by Joachim Heller of Nuremberg in 1549
5. Shabbethai Donnolo – Shabbethai Donnolo was a Graeco-Italian Jewish physician, and writer on medicine and astrology born at Oria, Apulia. He turned to medicine and astrology for a livelihood, studying the sciences of the Greeks, Arabs, Babylonians, as no Jews at that time busied themselves with these subjects, he traveled in Italy in search of learned non-Jews. His special teacher was an Arab from Baghdad, according to the biography of Nilus the Younger, abbot of Rossano, he practiced medicine for some time in that city. Later he would become the Byzantine court physician, the alleged gravestone of Donnolo, found by Abraham Firkovich in the Crimea, is evidently spurious. Donnolo is one of the earliest Jewish writers on medicine, what remains of his medical work, Sefer ha-Yaḳar, was published by Moritz Steinschneider in 1867, from MS. 88, in the Medicean Library at Florence, and contains an antidotarium, donnolos medical science is based upon Greco-Latin sources, only one Arabic plant-name occurs. In addition, he wrote a commentary to the Sefer Yetzirah, dealing almost wholly with astrology, at the end of the preface is a table giving the position of the heavenly bodies in Elul 946. Parts of this introduction are found word for word in the anonymous Orchot Tzaddikim and it was published separately by Jellinek. The style of Donnolo is worthy of note, many Hebrew forms and he is also the first to cite the Midrash Tehillim. In the Pseudo-Saadia commentary to the Sefer Yetzirah there are citations from Donnolo. Abraham Epstein has shown that extracts from Donnolo are also to be found in Eleazar of Worms Sefer Yetzirah commentary, even to the extent of the tables. He is also mentioned by Rashi, by Samuel of Acco, preface to Ḥakemani, published by Abraham Geiger, in Melo Chofnajim, p.29, the whole by D. Castelli, Il Commenti di Sabb. Donnolo sul Libro della Creazione, Florence,1880, text of medical fragments, edited by M. Steinschneider — Donnolo, Fragment des Aeltesten Med. 1867, translation in idem, Donnolo See, also, Biography of Nilus, in Acta Sanctorum, vii.313, Leopold Zunz, G. V. 2d ed. p.375, Moritz Steinschneider, bodl. col.2231 et seq. idem, Hebr. P.446, idem, in Monatsschrift, xlii.121, A. Epstein, in ib. xxxix.75 et seq. Heinrich Graetz, Gesch. 3d ed. v.292, Buber, Lekah Tob, p.22, Berliners Magazin,1892, p.79, Isaac Hirsch Weiss, Dor, iv.227, Jewish Encyclopedia article on Shabbethai Donnolo, by Richard Gottheil. This article incorporates text from a now in the public domain. New York, Funk & Wagnalls Company