Anatoli, Jacob ben Abba Mari ben Samson

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ANATOLI, JACOB BEN ABBA MARI BEN SAMSON (13th century), physician, homilist, and translator. He married a daughter of Samuel ibn *Tibbon. Samuel taught him mathematics. At the suggestion of friends in Narbonne and Béziers, Anatoli began translating Arabic works on astronomy and logic into Hebrew. However, before completing them, he left France for Naples where he is mentioned in 1231. There Emperor Frederick ii employed him as a physician and enabled him to devote himself to scholarly work. In Naples Anatoli became a close associate of another favorite of the emperor, the learned Michael Scot, who had translated works by Aristotle and Averroes from Arabic into Latin. It is doubtful that Anatoli assisted Scot in his translations, as some scholars maintain. Anatoli translated the following works: (1) Averroes' Intermediate Commentary on the first five books of Aristotle's Logic. The first three books were translated into Latin by Jacob Mantino from Anatoli's Hebrew translation and printed, together with other works by Averroes, in the editions published between 1550 and 1553; (2) the Almagest of Ptolemy; (3) the astronomical work of al-Farghāni, its full title in later manuscripts being The Elements of Astronomy. This book was translated by Anatoli from a Latin version but was corrected on the basis of the original Arabic text. Specimens of this translation were published by Campani (rso, 3 (1910), 205–52); (4) the Compendium of the Almagest by Averroes. This translation was begun in Naples in 1231. According to a note in the Vienna manuscript no. 195, 1, the work was completed in Padua, and it is not clear whether this was by Anatoli or by someone else. Other translations have been erroneously ascribed to Anatoli.

Anatoli was also an active preacher. In his discourses, he employed allegorical and philosophical exegesis. Generally, he followed Maimonides, and his sharp public rebuke of the latter's detractors made him many enemies. This was, probably, one of the reasons which caused him to leave France. In Naples he also encountered opposition. Anatoli collected his homilies in a book which he called Malmad ha-Talmidim (Lyck, 1866, "A Goad to Scholars"), which follows the order of the weekly scriptural portions. The work argues that observance of the commandments must rest on knowledge of the reasons underlying them and on an adequate understanding of the biblical texts as well as of the prayers. The author sharply castigates the superficial reader of the Bible and endeavors both to demonstrate the ethical value of the biblical stories and to disclose the hidden philosophical truth which, in his opinion, is inherent in the language of Scripture. Yet his sermons also contain practical admonitions. For example, he reproaches those who, like the non-Jews, permit their daughters to sing love songs, and those who indulge in incantations to obtain answers to various questions in dreams. He was an enemy of superstition and of outward piety. He quotes thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Averroes. He also refers to the Vulgate and cites the biblical interpretations of such contemporaries as Michael Scot and Emperor Frederick ii.

Anatoli contributed greatly to the dissemination of philosophical knowledge among the Jews of Italy. The Malmad ha-Talmidim was widely read in the 13th century; parts of it are quoted almost verbatim in the works of Zerahiah b. Isaac Gracian and *Immanuel of Rome. It was also well-known beyond Italy. When Solomon b. Abraham *Adret issued his famous ban against philosophy and philosophers, he named Malmad ha-Talmidim as a dangerous work which should be proscribed. Some scholars also attribute Ru'aḥ Ḥen, an introduction to Maimonides' Guide, to Anatoli. However, according to one manuscript, the author was Anatoli's son, Anatolio, also a philosopher and disciple of Maimonides. Anatolio was the teacher of R. Moses b. Solomon of Salerno, the commentator on the Guide. R. Moses often mentions Anatolio in his commentary. One manuscript of Ru'aḥ Ḥen was transcribed by a grandson of Anatoli, who refers to himself as "Jacob b. Samson b. Anatoli b. Jacob, author of Malmad ha-Talmidim."


C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 67–80; I. Bettan, in: huca, 11 (1936), 391, 424; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 1180 and add.; Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, index; Munk, Mélanges, 145, 488; A. Neubauer and E. Renan, Les rabbins francais (1887), 580–9; J.L.A. Huillard-Bréholles, Historia Diplomatica Friderici Secundi, 1 (1852), dxxvi (introd.); Perles, R. Salomo b. Abraham b. Adereth (1863), 13–15, 67–70 (German section), 56–61 (Hebrew section); S. Assaf, Mekorot le-Toledot ha-Ḥinnukh be-Yisrael, 2 (1931), 44–45.

[Umberto (Moses David) Cassuto]