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.
A Note on Translations and Transliterations
Introduction: ‘The Preface of Every Book Is Its First Part’: A Brief Overview of Materials and Methodology
1. ‘Pen, I Recount Your Favor’: Reading, Writing and Translating in Memory of al-Andalus
2. ‘Examine your Hebrew Books Monthly and Arabic Books Bimonthly’: Autobiography and Bibliography in the Islamic West
3. ‘On Every Sabbath, Read from the Bible in Arabic’: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Arabic Literature
4. ‘The Words of the Ancient Poets’: Poetics Between Jewish and Islamic Scripture
5. ‘The Arab Sage Said’: Transmitting Arabic Wisdom in Translation
6. ‘From Vessel to Vessel’: The Reception and Reimagining of the Tibbonid Corpus
Conclusion: "This Book Has Been Completed:" Looking Back and Ahead at al-Andalus in Translation
Appendix: Judah ibn Tibbon’s Ethical Will: A New Translation
S. J. Pearce demonstrates the cultural value of Arabic as a medium of learning and as a marker for Andalusi Jewish intellectual cutlure. A fascinating history of an important moment in the history of translation.
David A. Wacks
author of A Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature
The study of the Hebrew afterlife of Judeo-Arabic and Arabic texts produced or consumed by Andalusi authors has become a growing field, and S. J. Pearce provides penetrating and engaging perspectives to questions of authorial voice, heteroglossia, paratexts, and fictionalized accounts of translation scenarios.
author of Patronage, Production, and Transmission of Texts in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Cultu
As the first full-length study on Judah ibn Tibbon, Pearce's book fills a lacuna in the historiography of Hebrew literature and philosophy.
Highly recommended for academic and research institutions.
Throughout the book, Pearce never fails to adequately situate the reader within the proper context, striking the correct balance that makes this book accessible and enjoyable to specialists and non-specialists alike.