Ramon, Lull°

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RAMON, LULL ° (Raimundus Lullus ; c. 1234–1315), Catalan Christian preacher, mystic, and philosopher. As a youth Lull grew up in *Majorca, where a substantial Muslim majority had remained even after this island's conquest (1229–32) by King James i. This enabled him, besides the traditional education imparted to the sons of Spanish nobility, to familiarize himself with Muslim culture and the Arabic language. When he was 30, Lull turned to ascetic life. Besides his immersion in mystical contemplation, he considered it his vocation to preach and propagate Christianity among nonbelievers, Muslims, and Jews in Aragon and, chiefly, in Majorca. To this end, Lull devoted many years to the study of Arabic language, philosophy, and theology, and some of his initial works were written in that language. In comparison, his knowledge of Judaism was scant and superficial, some works by Jewish thinkers being known to him through Arabic philosophy, or from Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed. In about 1272 Lull wrote in Arabic and translated into Catalan the widely circulated Libre del gentil e los tres savis, which was subsequently translated into Latin, French, and probably Hebrew. It is a work of apologetic character, drawn up in a form frequent in those times. A man, either a nonbeliever or a pagan, consults three sages–a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim–and asks them the basic principles of their respective creeds. This furnishes the starting point of a peaceful debate between the three, which finally remains inconclusive, although the author does not conceal his sympathy for the Christian. There has been speculation as to the possible influence of *Judah Halevi s Kuzari over this work, but there is nothing to warrant it. In 1305 Lull wrote a second apologetic work chiefly directed against the Jews, Liber de Trinitate et Incarnationeadversus Judaeos et sarracenos, better known under its shorter appellation Liber Predicationis Contra Judaeos (scholarly edition published in Madrid-Barcelona, 1957). The book comprises 52 sermons, one for each week of the year, preceded by a verse from the Bible. In these Lull strives to demonstrate, against Jewish and Muslim arguments as to the irrationality of Christianity, that the Christian truth is not only rational but also borne out by common sense.

Lull was also active as a preacher. In 1299 James ii (1291–1327) allowed him to give sermons on Saturdays and Sundays in the synagogues and on Fridays and Sundays in mosques. In his important Ars Magna (c. 1274) Lull reduces all knowledge to a few basic metaphysical principles. The theory of the attributes of God occupies the central part of this work and it is interesting to compare the dignitates of Lull with the Sefirot of the kabbalists. The similarity between the two categories possibly stems from Neoplatonic influence common to the kabbalists and to Lull; the latter maintained friendly relations with a circle of Jewish religious thinkers in Catalonia, such as Solomon b. Abraham *Adret and R. Aaron ha-Levi of Barcelona, author of Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh; Lull presumably learned about the foundations of *Kabbalah from them.


Baer, Spain, index; J.M. Millás Vallicrosa, in: Sefarad. 18 (1958), 241–53; idem, in: S. Ettinger et al. (eds.), Sefer Yovel le-Yiẓḥak Baer (1961), 186–90; R.J.Z. Werblowsky, in: Tarbiz, 32 (1962/63), 207–11; A. Llinares, Raymond Lulle… (Fr., (1963), bibl.: 455–81.

[José Maria Millas-Vallicrosa]