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Glossae – Scholia – Commentarii

Studies on Commenting Texts in Antiquity and Middle Ages


Edited By Mieczyslaw Mejor, Katarzyna Jazdzewska and Anna Zajchowska

The role of commentary as a basic method of research used broadly in both Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages still awaits further analysis. Commentary as a research and didactic method becomes especially interesting in a multicultural perspective: were Buddhist and Arabic texts commented in the same way as it was done by late antique and medieval scholars? The extensive medieval commentary literature still awaits scholarly assessment from the perspective of theory of literature as well as methodology and history of various scientific disciplines.
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Katarzyna Pachniak: The Muslim Tradition of Commentary: Ibn Rushd’s (Averroes’s) Commentaries on the Works of Aristotle


The Muslim Tradition of Commentary: Ibn Rushd’s (Averroes’s) Commentaries on the Works of Aristotle

Katarzyna Pachniak

Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies,University of Warsaw

The tradition of commenting works of scholarship reached Muslim culture together with the Graeco-Arabic translation movement, which reached its culmination in the early 9th century. The Graeco-Arabic translation movement itself is an extremely complex phenomenon, the causes of which are not, against all appearances, easily explainable; there was a variety of factors that determined its emergence and continuation. For it is not known exactly why the Arabs, who had arrived from the desert, and who in the course of their conquests had come across centres with thriving traditions of scholarship, assimilated that heritage, incorporating it into their own culture and religion, rather than destroy it. The fact that they had not had traditions of that kind themselves does not seem to be the sole explanation here. Dmitri Gutas, an outstanding specialist on the Graeco-Arabic translation movement, regards it as a kind of undertaking which involved many educated members of society in the early Abbasid period, i.e. after 750.1 As a result, a significant part of the tradition of Greek scholarship, including mathematics, philosophy, optics, medicine, physics etc., was assimilated by Muslim culture.2

The tradition of translation as such dates back in the Middle East to the second millennium BC, and these oldest translations are of Sumerian documents into Akkadian. In the pre-Abbasid period, there had already been...

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