The Andalusi Literary and Intellectual Tradition

The Role of Arabic in Judah ibn Tibbon's Ethical Will

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Sarah J. Pearce
Indiana Series in Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies
  • Bloomington, IN: 
    Indiana University Press
    , May
     2017.
     278 pages.
     $60.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780253025968.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Fathima Hana Ayoub Khan forthcoming.

Description

Beginning in 1172, Judah ibn Tibbon, who was called the father of Hebrew translators, wrote a letter to his son that was full of personal and professional guidance. The detailed letter, described as an ethical will, was revised through the years and offered a vivid picture of intellectual life among Andalusi elites exiled in the south of France after 1148. S. J. Pearce sets this letter into broader context and reads it as a document of literary practice and intellectual values. She reveals how ibn Tibbon, as a translator of philosophical and religious texts, explains how his son should make his way in the family business and how to operate, textually, within Arabic literary models even when writing for a non-Arabic audience. While the letter is also full of personal criticism and admonitions, Pearce shows ibn Tibbon making a powerful argument in favor of the continuation of Arabic as a prestige language for Andalusi Jewish readers and writers, even in exile outside of the Islamic world.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

S. J. Pearce is assistant professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University, where her teaching and research focus on the intellectual history and literature of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in medieval Spain. She was awarded the John K. Walsh Prize from La Corónica/MLA Division of Medieval Hispanic Literature in 2016.

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