The Aristotelian Tradition in Syriac  book cover
1st Edition

The Aristotelian Tradition in Syriac

ISBN 9780367661229
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

This volume presents a panorama of Syriac engagement with Aristotelian philosophy primarily situated in the 6th to the 9th centuries, but also ranging to the 13th. It offers a wide range of articles, opening with surveys on the most important philosophical writers of the period before providing detailed studies of two Syriac prolegomena to Aristotle’s Categories and examining the works of Hunayn, the most famous Arabic translator of the 9th century. Watt also examines the relationships between philosophy, rhetoric and political thought in the period, and explores the connection between earlier Syriac tradition and later Arabic philosophy in the thought of the 13th century Syriac polymath Bar Hebraeus.

Collected together for the first time, these articles present an engaging and thorough history of Aristotelian philosophy during this period in the Near East, in Syriac and Arabic.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. From Alexandria to Baghdad. Max Meyerhof Revisited

Chapter 2. From Sergius to Mattā. Aristotle and Pseudo-Dionysius in Syriac Tradition

Chapter 3. The Syriac Aristotle between Alexandria and Baghdad

Chapter 4. Sergius of Reshaina on the Prolegomena to Aristotle’s Logic. The Commentary on the Categories, Chapter Two

Chapter 5. The Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy of George, Bishop of the Arabs

Chapter 6. Why Did Ḥunayn, the Master Translator into Arabic, Make Translations into Syriac? On the Purpose of the Syriac Translations of Ḥunayn and his Circle

Chapter 7. The Syriac Translations of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq and their Precursors

Chapter 8. Greek Thought and Syriac Controversies

Chapter 9. Julian’s Letter to Themistius - and Themistius’ Response?

Chapter 10. Themistius and Julian. Their Association in Syriac and Arabic Tradition

Chapter 11. Literary and Philosophical Rhetoric in Syriac

Chapter 12. Greek Philosophy and Syriac Culture in Abbasid Iraq

Chapter 13. Graeco-Syriac Tradition and Arabic Philosophy in Bar Hebraeus

Chapter 14. Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Political Thought in the Christian Orient and in al-Fārābī, Avicenna, and Averroes


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John W. Watt is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University. His research has focused on Syriac rhetoric and philosophy, and in these areas he has edited major treatises of Antony of Tagrit (Leuven: Peeters, 1986) and Bar Hebraeus (Leiden: Brill, 2005). Several of his articles are collected in his Rhetoric and Philosophy from Greek into Syriac (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010).


‘This extraordinary collection of fourteen articles is a very important, useful and engaging contribution to the intellectual history of Aristotelian philosophy during this specific period in the Near East, in Syriac and Arabic. It is also a very demanding book that is clearly written for specialists in the field but that would doubtless be of interest to scholars working on all aspects of intellectual history ... Watt is clearly a master in his field of research, and his erudition glimmers through on every page of this book. The author and his publisher should be commended for putting together this excellent and inspiring Variorum collection’ - International Journal of the Classical Tradition