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The Epistle of the Number by Ibn al-Ahdab. The Transmission of Arabic mathematics to Hebrew circles in Medieval Sicily

Start: Jun 09, 2016 07:00 PM

Ilana Wartenberg

Thursday June 9th


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 Ilana Wartenberg’s book aims to show how Ibn al-Banna’s famous Arabic text on arithmetic and algebra Talkhis A’mal al-Hisab (A Summary of the operations ofCalculation) was transmitted into Hebrew by the polymath Isaac Ibn al-Ahdab, resulting in the extensive text The Epistle of the Number. This book presents the first edition of The Epistle of the Number, which was composed in Syracuse, Sicily, at the end of the 14th century. It also depicts the fascinating figure of Isaac Ibn al-Ahdab: astronomer, mathematician, poet, exegete and ‘calendar-man’ – shedding new light on his persona and intellectual activity. The Hebrew Epistle plays a pivotal role in the history of medieval Hebrew mathematics because it is the first known Hebrew treatise which includes extensive algebraic theories and procedures. It is also the first (and last) known Hebrew version of Talkhis A’mal al-Hisab. The Hebrew Epistle exposes novel mathematical vocabulary and enhances our understanding of the linguistic mechanisms which helped create scientific vocabulary in medieval Hebrew. The Epistle of the Number is a palpable witness to the transmission of Arabic science to Jewish circles in Christian Syracuse at the end of the 14th century, reflecting the scientific activity of the Jews there, of which still relatively little is known. This book will be of interest to scholars in the fields of Jewish Studies, Hebrew philology, medieval studies, mathematics, history of science, and, in particular, history of medieval Hebrew and Arabic mathematics.

Ilana Wartenberg studied mathematics, linguistics, and history and philosophy of science at Tel Aviv University and at Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7). She is a research associate in the department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London.

Lecture at 7pm  followed by a drinks reception in collaboration with Gorgias Press.

Pearson lecture theatre, Pearson Building

University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

NE entrance, turn left inside UCL main gate

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