Categories

Archives

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

The Arabic Hermes: From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science

Reviewed by Y. Tzvi Langermann

Kevin van Bladel has produced an admirable study of the Arabic Hermetic tradition, fleshing out in considerable detail the evolution of Hermes’ image, his identification with Qur’anic prophet Idris as well as the forces driving this transformation, and his connections, real, imagined, and still controversial, with the Harranians, the last organized group of astrolators to continue functioning within Islamic civilization. To do this, van Bladel constrains his use “Hermetic” to refer “only to texts attributed by name to Hermes” (p. 21), a definition that he admits is a bit too severe to apply throughout, but which serves well the purpose of weeding out much “Hermetic” nonsense that has no place in his book.

Part One, “Background”, comprises three chapters. In the first of these, “Introduction”, van Bladel establishes that the Greek Hermetica were produced in Roman Egypt. The remaining two chapters are devoted to Sassanid astrologers and the Harranian pagans, since these are the only two “special group[s] credited with possessing works attributed to Hermes and transmitting them into Arabic” (p. 66). The evidence for this transmission is very carefully reviewed. Van Bladel shows that some of the Arabic Hermetica were translated from Middle Persian. Though the texts in that language that may have been utilized by the Arabic translators are extremely scarce, the philology of Paul Kunitzsch and others prove a Persian origin. An important part of van Badel’s story is taken up by complex narratives of the recovery of ancient wisdom. The Sassanians who translated Greek texts were, in their own eyes, repossessing part of the Perisan cultural heritage that had been plundered by Alexander the Great.

Read the original article at: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Comments are closed.