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Alchemie, Ketzerei, Apokryphen in
fruhen Islam: Gesammelte Aufsatze.

By PAUL KRAUS. Edited by REMI BRAGUE. Hildesheim and New York: GEORG OLMS VERLAG, 1994. Pp. xiii + 346. DM 118.

Eleven studies by Paul Kraus, one of the true geniuses of our times! Remi Brague introduces the book with a brief biography and interesting sketches of Kraus' main colleagues. Unfortunately the book has no index.

1. "Hebraische und syrische Zitate in ismailitischen Schriften." In a number of texts ascribed to the influential dai Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani (Kraus proves their authenticity in the course of his analysis) there are a number of quotations in Hebrew (drawn from the Jewish Bible and Mishnah) and in Syriac (taken from the New Testament). These texts are gathered in a single majmua, then in the possession of Husain Hamdani; the present whereabouts of the codex is unknown. However, some of the texts, including the most important one, Rahat alaql, have since been published. Two minor comments concerning Kraus' analysis: It seems clear that in the translation from Isaiah 60:19, a scribal error is responsible for reading kunuz, rather than ka-nur; the mysterious addition of gez above the line would seem to be a later attempt to deal with this error. In light of advances in research in the histories of both Jewish philosophy and kabhalah, I would suggest looking to philosophical literature for sources of the interpretations of asarah mamarot, and to explore kabbalistic connections (to the extent that these can be clearly distinguished at this period) for the concepts of the three worlds, especially "the world of creation."

2. "Dschabir ibn Hajjan und die Ismailijja." Here Kraus puts forth his well-known theory connecting the corpus of alchemical writings associated with the name of Jabir with the early phases of the Ismailiyya, claiming further that the underlying religious doctrines of the Jabirian texts are as germane to the corpus as are their scientific and technological contents. The technical terms used to describe the anatomy of the eye, planetary conjunctions, and the theological formulations of al-Kirmani, are evidence that the corpus dates from roughly the year 900.

3. "Studien zu Jabir ibn Hayyan." Several points developed in the previous study, especially Jabir's connection to the Ismailis and the thematic unity of Jabirian science, are taken further. Kraus notes that the corpus seems to give preponderance both to alchemy and to medicine, and suggests that Jabir was a doctor who later turned to alchemy. He suggests that Jabir and his mentor Jafar are mystically one, in a way similar to alHallaj's famous proclamation of his union with God.

4. "Les dignitaires de la hitrarchie religieuse scion Gabir ibn Hayyan." Passages from Kitab al-Khamsin are translated and supplied with very rich notes. Here Jabir's enterprise is said to consist of the reconciliation of Islamic gnosticism with Hellenistic science. The hierarchy described does not reflect the social or religious structure of the Ismailis, but rather Jabir's attempt to promulgate a radically new doctrine.

5. "Zu Ibn al-Muqaffa." Two points raised by F. Gabrieli are criticized. The translator of Aristotle's logical works is identified as Muhammad ibn al-Muqaffa, the son of the famous litterateur; the writings were translated from Greek or Syriac, not Persian, and represent the earliest stage of the reception of the Aristotelian corpus in Islamic civilization. Contra Gabrieli, who attributed to the translator Ibn al-Muqaffa the skeptical passages in the introduction to Kalila wa-Dimna, it is shown that these two had a Persian vorlage.

6. "Das Kitab az-Zumurrud des Ibn al-Rawandi." In this, the longest study in the collection, Krauspublishes some extracts from the voluminous Majalis Muayyadiyya, again making use of a manuscript owned by his friend H. E. Hamdani. This document reveals new information concerning the teachings of the archheretic Ibn al-Rawandi, which, in turn, is of great value in assessing the role played by religious polemics in shaping the way Islam defined itself in the early stages of its existence. In effect, Kraus endorses the position of Saadya Gaon, i.e., that Ibn al-Rawandi and others as well put their own heterodox views into the mouths of the Indian "Brahmans." Krausargues for an early date for this thinker (ca. 250 A.H.), and traces his evolution from criticism of the Mutazila to abandonment of the faith, as well as the connections between his writings and some later accounts of the "Brahmans."

7. "Les 'Controverses' de Fakhr al-Din al-Razi." A concise and rich presentation of the activities and views of a great and little-studied thinker, including an analysis and partial publication of a short autobiographical work.

8. "La Conduite du philosophe: Traite d'ethique d'Abo Muhammad b. Zakariyya al-Razi." This discussion of al-Razi's apologia pro vita sua inaugurates one of Kraus' major projects (see also the following item), namely the publication and analysis of the works of the maverick philosopher and medical writer Abu Bakr Muhammad (the name is displayed erroneously in the title) al-Razi.

9. "Extraits du kitab alam al-nubuwwa d'Abu Hatim alRazi." These passages, which record personal confrontations between the two Razis, reveal Abu Bakr at his boldest, disparaging prophetic writings and asserting that the books on astronomy and medicine are of far greater utility for humanity.

10. "Un fragment pretendu de la recension d'Eustochius des oeuvres de Plotin." A rebuttal of the claim of P. Henry that Eusebius utilized a purported edition of the Enneads prepared by Eustochius, rather than the only extant one, that of Porphyry.

11. "Plotin chez les arabes: Remarques sur un nouveau fragment de la paraphrase arabe des Enneades." A major advance in Plotinian studies, with a wealth of detail concerning the readership of the Arabic versions of the Theology of Aristotle, the discovery of more Plotinian materials in a treatise attributed to al-Farabi, and strong philological evidence that Syriac versions had sanitized the Enneads of pagan tendencies before they were translated into Arabic. This study was meant as an introduction to a major study that >Kraus had prepared but never saw published; most of the same materials can be found in A. Badawi's Plotinus apud Arabes.


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