- Il Commento medio di Averroè alla Metafisica di Aristotele nella tradizione ebraica: Edizione delle versioni ebraiche medievali di Zeraḥyah Ḥen e di Qalonymos ben Qalonymos con introduzione storica e filologica (Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics in the Hebrew tradition: Edition of the Medieval Hebrew versions by Zeraḥyah Ḥen and Qalonymos ben Qalonymos, together with a historical and philological introduction)
Mauro Zonta's long awaited work Il Commento medio di Averroè alla Metafisica di Aristotele nella tradizione ebraica is really three books in one: a historical and philological account of the two medieval Hebrew translations of Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics and editions of both translations. The Arabic of Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics is not extant apart from a few fragments (see vol. 1, pp. 13-5). Nor is there a direct Latin translation of the Arabic—indeed, Zonta states that there is no evidence of reliable citations of the work by any Latin authors (vol. 1, p. 18). Zonta's book, then, presents the only way of accessing Averroes' monumental work in its entirety.
Zonta presents this work as a revised and up-to-date version of his 1995 doctoral dissertation,1 but it is far more than that. In the intervening fifteen and a half years, Zonta has been extraordinarily prolific: he has now published more than ninety scientific articles and ten books (vol. 1, p. 150), many of which concern topics he discusses in his introductory volume. Indeed, one of the main advantages of this introduction is that it gives us the most up-to-date version of Zonta's research on each topic. It collects important points made in numerous articles and books, not all of which are readily available, into a single place. This is perhaps most evident in his discussion of the topic that will likely be of greatest interest to his readers: the revisions of the Middle Commentary. Zonta has discussed these revisions in at least five different works published over the course of some years.2 In the present book, he sums up all his discoveries. Through careful comparison of discrepancies in the Hebrew manuscripts of the Middle Commentary, particularly places where sections of the Metaphysics have been commented upon twice, Zonta elegantly restates and bolsters his argument that Averroes himself revised the Middle Commentary, entirely rewriting two sections: Book Δ, chapter 29, and a section of Book Z corresponding to 1045a7-1045b23 (see vol. 1, pp. 27, 40, 55-58). This is based on evidence of revisions in one of the Hebrew translations, namely that of Qalonimos ben Qalonimos, presumably made after encountering Averroes' revised text either in a new Arabic manuscript or perhaps in the other Hebrew translation by Zeraḥyah Ḥen, made at least thirty years before (see 1 : 23-31). Qalonimos' translation was apparently revised at least two more times, probably by entirely different writers (see 1 : 58-64). Unfortunately, Zonta does not tell us much about the philosophical content or importance of these revisions, and we are left to wonder whether they are of any significance beyond textual history. [End Page 96]
Indeed, Zonta's introduction holds almost no philosophical content, but focuses entirely on establishing the details of the transmission of the text from Arabic into Hebrew. To this end, Zonta gives us meticulous descriptions of the two Hebrew translators and of Yehudah ben Shelomoh ha-Kohen and Shem Ṭob Falaquera, whose encyclopedic works contained their own translations and summaries of sections of Averroes' Middle Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. Yet, except for...