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This book contains an edition—with an extensive introduction, translation and commentary—of The Light of the World, a text on theoretical astronomy by Joseph Ibn Nahmias, composed in Judeo-Arabic around 1400 C.E. in the Iberian Peninsula. As the only text on theoretical astronomy written by a Jew in any variety of Arabic, this work is evidence for a continuing relationship between Jewish and Islamic thought in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. The text’s most lasting effect may have been exerted via its passage to Renaissance Italy, where it influenced scholars at the University of Padua in the early sixteenth century. With its crucial role in the development of European astronomy, as well as the physical sciences under Islam and in Jewish culture, The Light of the World is an important episode in Islamic intellectual history, Jewish civilization, and the history of astronomy.
Robert G. Morrison is Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College. He is also the author of Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi.
"A work of admirable erudition, Robert Morrison’s annotated translation masterfully analyzes Ibn Nahmias’s treatise on theoretical astronomy, the only work of its kind written in Arabic by a Jewish author. Morrison preserves the work’s originality and its place in both Islamic and Jewish societies."—Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History, Institute for Advanced Study
"A work of remarkable significance, this book marks a milestone in scholarship on premodern Jewish science. Robert Morrison has made a major contribution to our understanding of the transmission of Islamic astronomy to Europe as well as how Islamic and Jewish scientific material reached and most likely influenced Renaissance astronomers, including Copernicus. His linguistic, historical, and technical skills have allowed him to deal in a careful, scholarly, and nonpolemical way with the interchanges between these various communities."—F. Jamil Ragep, Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies, McGill University