Averroes Encyclopaedia

Edited by Rüdiger Arnzen.

The object of the present section of DARE is to make readily accessible to scholars the philosophical, scientific and technical vocabulary found in the existing editions and publicly accessible manuscripts of Averroes' works in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin. The Encyclopaedia thus to be compiled is meant as a collaborative, evolving, and open-ended project to be pursued by interested scholars doing research on Averroes.

The Importance of Terminology

From the early thirteenth century A.D. to the Renaissance, numerous philosophical, medical and juridical works by Averroes were translated from the original Arabic into Hebrew and Latin. The vocabulary used in these translations influenced—in many cases even coined—the philosophical, scientific, and technical vocabulary of Medieval Hebrew and Latin works. The information which can be gathered from a systematic analysis of this activity is of crucial importance for several areas of research.

First, it will help to better understand the vocabulary of the scientific and philosophical works composed in Latin or Hebrew during the epoch in question. Secondly, it will contribute to our understanding of the chronology and nature of the translation movement from Arabic into Hebrew and Latin in general. Thirdly, it will establish an important reference tool for future critical editions of Averroes’ works in each of the three languages as well as for their translation into modern European languages. Fourthly, it will provide an indispensable database for doctrinal studies on the philosophy of Averroes and its reception in Hebrew and Latin philosophy.

Plan of the Encyclopaedia

The Encylopaedia will be arranged according to the alphabetical order of the Arabic lexemes which form the starting point of the process of translation. However, it is planned to establish a search engine permitting to search directly for any Hebrew or Latin lexeme registered in the database as an equivalent of one or more Arabic lexemes. In other words, the materials collected will be fully searchable starting from each of the three languages. Each search query in Hebrew or Latin will guide the user to the relevant entries which displaythe compiled page and line references to the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin editions.

As stated, the Encyclopaedia shall focus on the philosophical, scientific and technical vocabulary of Averroes’ works and their translations. It thus will incorporate mainly content words of a significant philosophical or scientific meaning to the exclusion of content words lacking any philosophical or scientific relevance. However, it will cover the latter classes of words as far as they form part of compound philosophical or scientific expressions. Studies of function words may likewise be included.

Structure of Entries

Ideally, each entry of this database will be divided into two main sections – a philological analysis and a doctrinal study.

1. Philological Section

Starting from the relevant Arabic headword (or compound expression), the first section is planned to include:

  1. an analytical subdivision of the different meanings or semantic levels of the Arabic lexeme including English definitions of the meanings it displays in the relevant context passages or philosophical/scientific disciplines,
  2. representative samples of page and line references to all works by Averroes extant in Arabic in which the relevant headword/expression occurs in these different meanings,
  3. citations of a representative sample of passages including the headword/expression, in order to supply evidence for its (different) meaning(s) and the way Averroes used the word/expression in terms of syntax and morphology,
  4. all Latin and Hebrew lexemes used in the corresponding Medieval and Renaissance translations in order to render the (different) meaning(s) of the relevant Arabic lexeme, following the semantic subdivision described above; this part of each entry will also include the names of the translators as far as we have reliable information on their identity,
  5. page and line references to all published Hebrew and Latin translations testifying the Arabic-Hebrew or Arabic-Latin cor¬respondences in question.

Thus the first section consists of the lexicographic information containing the English definition of the meaning(s) of the Arabic headword, its Hebrew and Latin equivalents, sample citations and references to the relevant texts as described.

2. Doctrinal Section

We deem it desirable to provide, as a second section of each entry, information about the history and evolution of the lexeme in question. Ideally, this section will focus on the doctrinal relevance and implications of this lexeme in the philosophical and scientific works by Averroes or in the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin receptions of his works. A first step towards this goal may consist in providing bibliographical references to publications containing such information. In a second step, further remarks or even systematic in depth discussions of the meaning, semantic fields, doctrinal implications and history of the Arabic lexeme and/or its Hebrew and Latin equivalents (as attested in the first section) may be added by interested scholars.

Contribution Guidelines

A project such as this is open-ended and cannot be performed by the personnel of DARE and the Thomas-Institut without assistance from the international Averroes research community. We therefore encourage researchers working on Averroes’ writings in Arabic and Latin or Hebrew to contribute to the project by supplying any sort of material relevant for its realization. The database will be linked to a regularly updated table of all contributors.

Materials welcome for incorporation include:

  1. Particular page and line references for any Arabic-Hebrew or Arabic-Latin correspondences in one of Averroes’ works and its translation(s). References should be to published materials only, that is either to edited texts accessible in print or to folio and line number of publicly accessible manuscripts. (Whenever possible, please refer to material accessible online.)
  2. Entire glossaries and word indices of (parts of) the Arabic or Hebrew or Latin vocabulary of specific works by Averroes (no matter whether handwritten, digitized, index cards, etc.).
  3. Searchable scans or digitized copies of editions of Averroes’ works in Arabic, Latin or Hebrew.
  4. All kinds of remarks and bibliographical hints that might be helpful for the establishment of what is described above as “doctrinal section” of each entry, especially detailed discussions of the meaning, relevance and influence of particular philosophical or scientific lexemes.
  5. Corrections and additions to the material already accessible in the Encyclopaedia.

Furthermore, scholars interested in contributing complete lexical entries for this project are sincerely invited to do so and will receive further guidelines upon request. Please, send any query or materials to:

Ruediger.Arnzen@uni-koeln.de and David.Wirmer@uni-koeln.de.

Hard copies may be sent to: Ruediger Arnzen
Thomas-Institut der Universitaet zu Koeln
Universitaetsstrasse 22
50923 Koeln, Germany