Eckhart, Lost in Translation: La traduction de Sh-h-r par Yehuda Alharizi et ses implications philosophiques

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Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed had a significant influence on both Jewish and Christian philosophy, although the vast majority of Jewish and Christian readers in the Middle Ages could not read the original Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written in Hebrew characters) text. Instead, they had access to the text through Hebrew and Latin translations. The article focuses on words derived from the root sh-h-r in the original text of Maimonides, first (section 1) on the understanding of Maimonides himself, where they take on two meanings; the first sense of these words is an adjective that refers to things well-known to the larger public; the second sense is that in which the opinions held by the public are opposed to the intelligibles. Second (section 2), while one of Maimonides' Hebrew translators, Ibn Tibbon, did understand the original meaning of the words in the Guide, the other, Alharizi did not; he missed the distinction between rational understanding and generally admitted opinions. This misunderstanding changed the meaning of three important passages of the Guide. Finally (section 3) the mistranslation of Alharizi influenced the medieval philosophers that either read his translation, such as Rabbi Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia, or a Latin translation based upon it, such as Meister Eckhart.

Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)125-145
Number of pages21
JournalVivarium; an International Journal for the Philosophy and Intellectual Life of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Alharizi
  • Ibn Tibbon
  • Maimonides
  • Meister Eckhart
  • Rabbi Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia
  • Translations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy

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