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ABBASI, JACOB BEN MOSES IBN or (IBN ABBASI) (erroneously, 'Aksa):

Translator and scholar, who flourished in the second half of the thirteenth century at Huesca, Spain. His father, Moses ibn Abbasi the Martyr (the son signs himself , which can only mean ), was surnamed Bedersi, which might indicate that the Abbasi family came from Béziers, in southern France. Jacob translated (about 1298) Maimonides' commentary on Seder Nashim, from the Arabic into Hebrew. He prefixed to the translation a philosophical disquisition on Eccl. vii. 22, in which he makes a clear distinction between worldly knowledge, which is bounded by the limitation of human understanding, and the knowledge of things Jewish; meaning by this the study of the Law, which is open to everybody. The Law, it is true, has its own mysteries, which can be understood by a few only of the elect, who are versed in the Cabala. But the real Torah consists only of the Law together with its elucidation in Talmudic literature; and this every mortal can comprehend. A translator of Maimonides, a student of the "Moreh Nebukim," a scholar familiar with the works of Plato and Aristotle, and, finally, an admirer of the mystics as well as a strict Talmudist, Abbasi is a fair illustration of the spirit which pervaded the Spanish Jews at the end of the thirteenth century. As a rabbinical authority, Maimonides was unreservedly acknowledged by the Spanish Jews, but as a philosopher he was pushed into the background by the triumphant march of mysticism. The Arabic original not being accessible, it is impossible to judge of Abbasi's powers as a translator. His Hebrew seems to be weak, but it is clear; and, unlike the translators of the other parts of the Mishnah commentary of Maimonides, Abbasi left no Arabic word untranslated. From his scholarly correspondence with Solomon ben Adret, the greatest Talmudic authority of the time, it appears that Abbasi possessed a fair Talmudic knowledge. One of Adret's letters, a commendation of his literary activity, was reproduced by Abbasi in the preface to his translation.

Bibliography:
  • J. Perles, Rabbi Salomo ben Abraham ben Adereth, pp. 10, 60;
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 924;
  • Jew. Quart. Rev. xi. 333.
L. G.
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