The Logika of the Judaizers: A Fifteenth-Century Ruthenian Translation from Hebrew
Critical edition of the Slavic texts, presented alongside their Hebrew sources, with an Introduction, English translation and commentary
In the latter part of the fifteenth century, a Jewish translator, working together with a Slavic amanuensis, translated into the East Slavic language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania three medieval Hebrew translations of Arabic philosophical texts: the Logical Terminology, a short work on logic attributed to Maimonides (but probably by a different medieval Jewish author); and two sections of the Muslim theologian Al-Ghazālī’s famous Intentions of the Philosophers. Highlighting the unexpected role played by Jewish translators as agents of cultural transmission in the heady messianic atmosphere leading up to the year 1492, these texts drew the attention of the Orthodox Church authorities as being in the possession of the enlightened heretical sect known as the Judaizers, which had emerged in Novgorod and spread to Moscow.
Although they discerned the translator’s Jewish identity, earlier scholars were unable to discover the provenance and purpose of these Ruthenian texts because of their inability to compare the translations with their Hebrew sources. Reflecting three and even four layers of translation, Professor Moshe Taube’s monumental triple-language critical edition of the Logika of the Judaizers displays the Slavic texts alongside the Hebrew translations on which they are based and accompanies them with a modern English translation. In his comprehensive introduction and commentary, Taube surveys earlier scholarly efforts, starting in the late nineteenth century, to decipher the translations, discusses the linguistic and textological issues raised by the texts, puts forward the likely dissimilar motivations of the Jewish translator and the Christians who commissioned the work, and reveals the translator’s probable identity.
The present publication, a long-awaited desideratum, will be of interest not only to historians of the Great Duchy of Lithuania and of the principality of Muscovy, but also to scholars of Jewish history and of the history of philosophy and science, as well as to linguists studying the history of the Belorussian, Ukrainian and Russian languages.
Moshe Taube is Tamara and Saveli Grinberg Professor of Russian Studies and a faculty member of the Departments of Linguistics and of German, Russian and East European Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has served as Head of the Institute of Arts and Letters and as Chair of the Department of Linguistics. He received his BA and MA in linguistics from the Hebrew University and completed his PhD in Slavic linguistics at the Université de Paris–Sorbonne. He was a Mihaychuk Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, and he headed the research group “Cultural Archaeology of Jews and Slavs: Medieval and Early Modern Judaeo-Slavic Cross-Fertilization” at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Advanced Studies.
2016. 724 pp. 18 × 27 cm. Cloth.