Jewish Magic with a Christian Text: A Hebrew Translation of Ramon Llull's Ars Brevis

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In July or August 1474 in Senigallia, a town on the coast of the Adriatic sea, a translation into Hebrew was completed of the Ars brevis, a work by the medieval Christian philosopher, mystic, and missionary Ramon Llull. Within a couple of years, this translation had been copied a number of times, and from the colophon of one of these copies, it appears that this work was rated very highly by its Jewish readers as an aid for achieving mystical experience. Any interest shown by the adherents of one faith in the texts of another is important for shedding light on common intellectual interests and contacts. This translation is of especially great significance in that there appears to have been in Italy in the fifteenth century a circle of Jewish scholars willingly engaging with a Christian text in order to achieve divine illumination. Here, I will try to shed some light on this group of Jewish savants and to situate their interests within the wider context of the Renaissance.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)283-300
Number of pages18
Issue number54
StatePublished - 1999


  • Articles
  • Theology
  • Wisdom
  • Christian philosophy
  • Renaissance philosophy
  • Kabbalah
  • Christianity
  • Rabbis
  • Divinity
  • Aristotelianism
  • Universities
  • Llull
  • Ramon
  • 1232?-1316
  • Jewish magic -- History -- Middle Ages
  • 500-1500
  • Allemanno
  • Johanan ben Isaac
  • approximately 1435-approximately 1504
  • Christianity and other religions -- Judaism -- History -- To 1500


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