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Title: «L'Hermès arabe» de Kevin van Bladel et la question du rôle de la littérature sassanide dans la présence d'écrits hermétiques et astrologiques en langue arabe
Author(s): COTTRELL, Emily
Journal: Bibliotheca Orientalis
Volume: 72    Issue: 3-4   Date: 2015   
Pages: 336-401
DOI: 10.2143/BIOR.72.3.3115441

Abstract :
This review-article of Kevin van Bladel’s study of the posterity of Hermes Trismegistus in Arabic medieval literature attempts to give a thorough examination of several of the thought-provoking hypotheses offered by the author about the transmission of the Greek treatises and fragments where the figure of 'Hermes' appears as an author. The central role given to Middle Persian as the language into which some Greek hermetica — astrological in particular — were translated, is discussed. This thesis, once put forward by the late David Pingree, is questioned in detail, occasioning an evaluation of Pingree’s methology and his interpretation of the Arabic evidence. A new translation of an extract of Abū Sahl Ibn Nawbakht transmitted by Ibn al-Nadīm — which Pingree and others read as historical evidence — is provided and new readings are suggested, pointing to a different set of influence (i.e. Manichaean and Enoch literature, next to the commonly accepted late Zoroastrian). The author’s dismissal of any possible influence of Alexandrian Hermeticism on such scholars as al-Kindī, Thābit ibn Qurra, or al-Mubashshir ibn Fātik is re-evaluated, and confronted to the methodology of the book.

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