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IBN SHEM-ṬOB, SHEM-ṬOB BEN JOSEPH BEN SHEM-ṬOB:

Spanish writer and philosopher; flourished about 1461-89; lived in Segovia and Almazan. He was a follower of Maimonides, even though his grandfather Shem-Ṭob ibn Shem-Ṭob was one of Maimonides' most uncompromising opponents, and though his father did not agree with Maimonides on essential points in his philosophy. Ibn Shem-Ṭob was the author of the following works: (1) Treatise on matter and its relation to form, according to the opinions of the ancient philosophers, especially Aristotle and his commentators; written in Segovia, 1461 (Paris MS. No. 898, 4). (2) Commentary to book iii., ch. 4-7 of Averroes' "middle commentary" on Aristotle's "De Anima," on the ratiocinative power of the soul; finished in Almazan, in 1478, under the title "Bi'ur ha-Koaḥ ha-Dabri" (Paris MS. No. 3). The other parts of the commentary were written by one of Shem-Ṭob's pupils in the same year (1478), and probably were either based upon the teacher's lectures or dictated by him (Paris MS. No. 967, 2). (3) Commentary on Averroes' "middle commentary" on Aristotle's "Physics"; finished in Almazan in 1480 (Paris MS. No. 967, 4). (4) "Ha-Ma'amar ba-Sibbah ha-Taklitit," treatise on the final cause or purpose of the creation of the world (Paris MS. No. 998, 2). The author quotes and discusses several of the opinions of ancient writers on this subject, and agrees with the last one cited, that the purpose of creation is the existence of mankind. The end of all humanity, according to him, is to approximate to the image of God. (5) "Teshubot" to Eli Ḥabillo's philosophical questions (De Rossi, MS. Parma No. 457, 2). (6) Commentary on Pirḳe Abot (Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." iii. 1135). (7) Commentary on Maimonides' "Moreh" (Venice, 1551). This commentary, his chief work, was written with the purpose of reconciling "reason" (philosophy) and "law" (religion). He frequently quotes the commentary of Profiat Duran, to which his remarks are sometimes only supplementary. In the preface he states his intention to be merely to reproduce explanations and comments already given and in his opinion correct. A compendium, therefore, rather than a commentary, the work is very prolix (see Friedländer, "The Guide of the Perplexed," vol. iii., p. xxii.). (8) "Derashot ha-Torah," homilies on the Pentateuch, written in 1489 and printed three times during the sixteenth century (Salonica, 1525 or 1530; Venice, 1547; Padua, 1567). It soon, however, fell into comparative oblivion.

Bibliography:
  • Munk, Mélanges, pp. 508-509;
  • Munk-Beer, Philosophie und philosophische Schriftsteller der Juden, pp. 119 et seq.;
  • M. Straschon, Pirḥe Zafon, ii. 86;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 2534 et. seq.;
  • idem, Jewish Literature, pp. 99,104;
  • idem, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 120, 150, 425;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 791.
J. M. Sc.
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