Jewish religious philosopher, active in the second half of the 11th century. Nothing is known of his life except that his full name was Baḥya ben Joseph ibn Paqūda (Pakūda) and that he was a dayyan (rabbinical judge) in Saragossa or Cordova in Muslim Spain. Besides writing a certain number of liturgical poems, he was the author of an important work in Arabic on Jewish ethics, Alhidâya ila farâ'iḍ al-qulub (Introduction to the Duties of the Heart). Joseph Kimchi's Hebrew translation of the work has not been preserved, but the 12th-century Hebrew version of it by Judah ibn tibbon under the title Ḥovot ha-levavot (Duties of the Heart) became very popular and has been preserved in many MSS. A critical edition of the Arabic text was published by A. S. Yahuda (Leyden 1912). Modern translations have appeared in German by E. Baumgarten (Hamburg 1922) and in French by A. Chouraqui (Paris n.d.), but the English translation by M. Hyamson (New York 1945) offers only the sixth, seventh, and eighth treatises.
Ibn Paqūda set himself the task of harmonizing seemingly incompatible values: soul and reason, faith and science, Hellenistic systems of wisdom and Judeo Islamic religious practices, the external "duties of the members" and the interior "duties of the heart." To the revealed religion of the Bible and rabbinical tradition he brought the support of a rational theology concerning God, the soul, and the world in general. His doctrine has three aspects: the one God, the relationship between man and God, and the relationship between man and man. These are distributed through a "preliminary elevation" and through the "ten portals" through which the truly pious man must ascend to the divine union.
Although Ibn Paqūda insists on a negative theology—for while the God of the Bible is one, discursive human knowledge is necessarily multiple—he endeavors to give proof of God's existence in terms of a Neoplatonic dialectic that does not exclude traces of pseudo-Aristotelian texts.
The basic attitude of the believer must be one of abandonment to God's will, and his most serious obstacles are passion and pride. Therefore repentance and an effective return to God should be conspicuous among the "duties of the heart." The means thereto are examination of conscience, prayer, corporal works of mercy, purity of intention, and asceticism; but the goal of all should be the pure love of God and the union it effects. In language of distinguished poetic quality (even in translation) this Jewish sage praises the delights of mystical union. The product of the interaction of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Ibn Paqūda's religious philosophy breathes an ecumenical air that conforms to his idea of the theologian as one who would reconcile but not suppress conflicting claims. Although Ibn Paqūda remained scrupulously faithful to rabbinical Judaism, he was not blind to the spiritual values current outside the Synagogue in 11th-century Spain.
Bibliography: g. vajda, La Théologie ascétique de Bahya Ibn Paquda (Paris 1947); Introduction À la pensée juive du moyenâge (Paris 1947). a. kahlberg, Die Ethik des Bachja Ibn Pakuda (Heidelberg 1914). m. sister, Bachja-Studien (Berlin 1936). m. raffaella de sion, "Baḥya Ibn Paḳuda: Tutor of Hearts," The Bridge, v.4 (New York 1959). j. cantera, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:1180. j. guttmann, Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 10 v. (New York 1939–44) 2:34–35. The Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. j. singer, 13 v. (New York 1901–06) 2:447–454. Encyclopaedia Judaica: Das Judentum in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 10 v. (Berlin 1928–34) 8:358–368.
[m. r. nÔtre]