Afendopolo, Caleb ben Elijah

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AFENDOPOLO, CALEB BEN ELIJAH (1464?–1525), Karaite scholar and poet. Born probably in Adrianople, he lived most of his life in the village of Kramariya near *Constantinople, and ultimately in *Belgrade where he died. A pupil of his brother-in-law, Elijah *Bashyazi, Afendopolo remained an Orthodox Karaite of the school of *Aaron b. Elijah of Nicomedia, although he was on friendly terms with several Rabbanite scholars. He acquired much of his knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and Greek-Arabic philosophy, including the works of Maimonides, from the Rabbanite Mordecai *Comtino, and learned modern languages, such as Italian, Greek, and Arabic. Maimonides' views on the messianic era and on the purpose of the commandments proved a formative influence. Afendopolo taught and wrote on a variety of subjects. Most of his numerous treatises remain in manuscript, now in various collections, and often treat diverse unrelated topics.

While surpassing his Karaite contemporaries in the depth and breadth of his scientific studies, Afendopolo lacked originality. A talented eclectic, he mastered the wealth of past and contemporary scholarly material at his disposal, and his writings are a valuable source of reference concerning scholars and works whose existence would otherwise remain unknown. He owned an extensive library of original manuscripts as well as copies he made himself. His works include (1) an unfinished supplement to Adderet Eliyahu by Elijah Bashyazi (1532); (2) Iggeret ha-Maspeket, on dietary and other laws; (3) Patshegen Ketav ha-Dat, on the reading of the Pentateuch and haftarot; (4) Asarah Ma'amarot, sermons reflecting his religious views (fragments are included in Dod Mordekhai by *Mordecai b. Nisan ha-Zaken, Hamburg, 1714); (5) indices to Ez Ḥayyim by Aaron b. Elijah and to Eshkol ha-Kofer by Judah b. Elijah *Hadassi; (6) Avner ben Ner, a discourse on ethics in the style of the Arabic maqāmāt; (7) Gan ha-Melekh, poetry and prose, containing autobiographical and historical details as well as two elegies on the expulsion of the Jews from Lithuania in 1495; (8) Mikhlal Yofi, on the principles of astronomy, withrelation to the calculation of the calendar (9) liturgical poems, included in the Karaite prayer book; (10) a commentary on the Nicomachean arithmetic; (11) Gal Einai, on astronomy (known only by the title); and (12) Iggeret Maspeket, mainly a glossary of astronomical terminology.


S. Bernstein, in: Horeb, 11 (1951), 53–84; Mann, Texts, 2 (1935), index. add. bibliography: M. Steinschneider, Gesammelte Schriften (1925), 184–96; M. Malachi, in: Shay le-Heiman (1977), 343–62; H. Ha-Levi, Hagut Ivrit be-Arẓot ha-Islam (1982), 167–72; S.B. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium (12041453), 1985, index; Z. Malachi, in Masoret ha-Piyyut, 3 (2002), 31–44; M. Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to Its History and Literary Sources, (2003), index.

[Moshe Nahum Zobel]