Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 16, 2017

What Wasn’t an Encyclopaedia in the Fourth Islamic Century?

James Weaver

Abstract

The usefulness of the term “encyclopaedia” in the study of pre-modern Arabic and Islamic literature has been the subject of some discussion over the last decade. The main concern has been that it is applied to a wide range of texts and text-types in a vague and inflationary manner, leaving the intended meaning unclear in any given case. Although there is much merit to this criticism, the discipline also knows of more systematic usages. This paper surveys some of these, arguing that although the label “encyclopaedia” indeed has its disadvantages, the analytical concepts and categories lying behind a usage are of greater importance than the choice of term itself. In light of these arguments, some of the most prominent scholarly usages of encyclopaedia and encyclopaedism in regard to the fourth Islamic century/tenth century CE are assessed.

References

Adang, Camilla (1996): Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/9789004451216Search in Google Scholar

al-Thaʿālibī, Abū l-Manṣūr (1900): Ġurar Akhbar Mulūk Al-Furs Wa-Siyarihim. Edited by Hermann Zotenberg as Histoire des rois des perses. Paris: Impr. Nationale.Search in Google Scholar

Biesterfeldt, Hans-Hinrich (2000): “Medieval Arabic Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy”. In: The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy. Edited by Steven Harvey. Dordrecht; London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 77–98.10.1007/978-94-015-9389-2_4Search in Google Scholar

Biesterfeldt, Hans-Hinrich (2002): “Arabisch-Islamische Enzyklopädien: Formen und Funktionen”. In: Die Enzyklopädie im Wandel vom Hochmittelalter bis zur frühen Neuzeit. Edited by Christel Meier-Staubach. Munich: Fink, 43–83.Search in Google Scholar

Biesterfeldt, Hans-Hinrich (2004): “Enzyklopädie und Belles-Lettres im arabisch-islamischen Mittelalter”. In: Wissenssicherung, Wissensordnung und Wissesnsverarbeitung: Das Europäische Modell der Enzyklopädien. Edited by Theo Stammen and E. J Wolfgang. Weber. Berlin: De Gruyter, 71–80.Search in Google Scholar

Blachère, Régis (1970): “Quelques réflexions sur les formes de l’encyclopédisme en Egypte et en Syrie du VIIIe/XIVe siècle à la fin du IXe/XVe siècle”. Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales XXIII: 7–19.10.4000/books.ifpo.6275Search in Google Scholar

Blair, Ann (2006): “A Europeanist’s Perspective”. In: Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopaedic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World. Edited by Gerhard Endress. Leiden: Brill, 201–215.Search in Google Scholar

Blair, Ann (2013): “Revisiting Renaissance Encyclopaedism”. In: Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Edited by Jason König and Greg Woolf. Cambridge: CUP, 379–397.10.1017/CBO9781139814683.022Search in Google Scholar

Bosworth, Clifford E. (1963): “A Pioneer Arabic Encyclopaedia of the Sciences: Al-Khwārazmī’s Keys of the Sciences”. Isis 54: 97–111.10.1086/349666Search in Google Scholar

Chapoutot-Remadi, Mounira (1991a): “L’encyclopédie arabe au Xe siècle”. In: L’Encyclopédisme: Actes du colloque de Caen, 12e–16e janvier 1987. Edited by Annie Becq. Paris: Éditions aux amateurs de livres, 37–49.Search in Google Scholar

Chapoutot-Remadi, Mounira (1991b): “Les encyclopédies arabes de la fin du moyen âge”. In: L’Encyclopédisme: Actes du colloque de Caen, 12e–16e janvier 1987. Edited by Annie Becq. Paris: Éditions aux amateurs de livres, 267–279.Search in Google Scholar

al-Maqdisī (1899–1919): Kitāb Al-Badʾ Wa-L-Taʾrīkh. Edited by Clément Huart as Le livre de la création et de l’histoire de Motahhar Ben Tahir el-Maqdisi attribué à Abu-Zéïd Ahmed Ben Sahl el-Balkhi. Paris: Ernest Leroux.Search in Google Scholar

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1895): The Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge. Cambridge: The Riverside Press.Search in Google Scholar

Daiber, Hans (1980): Aetius Arabus: Die Vorsokratiker in arabischer Überlieferung. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.Search in Google Scholar

De Callataÿ, Godefroid (2003): “The Classification of the Sciences according to the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’”. http://iis.ac.uk/classification-sciences-according-rasa-il-ikhwan-al-safa (30/08/2017).Search in Google Scholar

De Callataÿ, Godefroid (2013): s.v. “Brethren of Purity (Ikhwān Al-Ṣafāʾ)”. In: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Leiden: Brill. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_25372 (30/08/2017).10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_25372Search in Google Scholar

De Callataÿ, Godefroid (2016): “Who Were the Readers of the Rasā’il Ikhwan Al-Ṣafā’”. Micrologus XXIV: 269–302.Search in Google Scholar

De Rijk, L.M. (1965): “ἐγκύκλιος Παιδεία. A Study of Its Original Meaning”. Vivarium 3(i): 24–93.10.1163/156853465X00025Search in Google Scholar

Dierse, Ulrich (1977): Enzyklopädie: Zur Geschichte eines philosophischen und wissenschaftstheoretischen Begriffs. Bonn: Bouvier Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Draelants, Isabelle (2013): “Le «siècle de l’encyclopédisme»: Conditions et critères de définition d’un genre”. In: Encyclopédire: Formes de l’ambition encylopédique dans l’Antiquité et au moyen âge. Edited by Arnaud Zucker. Turnhout: Brepols, 81–106.10.1484/M.CEM-EB.1.101791Search in Google Scholar

Ducène, Jean-Charles (2013): “Les encyclopédies et les sciences naturelles dans le monde arabe médiéval (Xiie-Xive Siècle)”. In: Encyclopédire: Formes de l’ambition encylopédique dans l’Antiquité et au moyen âge. Edited by Arnaud Zucker. Turnhout: Brepols, 201–212.10.1484/M.CEM-EB.1.101797Search in Google Scholar

Endress, Gerhard (1987): “Die wissenschaftliche Literatur”. In: Grundriss der arabischen Philologie. Edited by H. Gätje. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, II, 400–506.Search in Google Scholar

Endress, Gerhard (2006): “The Cycle of Knowledge: Intellectual Traditions and Encyclopædias of the Rational Sciences in Arabic Islamic Hellenism”. In: Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopaedic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World. Edited by Gerhard Endress. Leiden: Brill, 103–133.10.1163/9789047408345_009Search in Google Scholar

Forster, Regula (2007): “Enzyklopädie oder Fürstenspiegel? Arabische, lateinisch und deutsche Fassungen des Pseudo-Aristotelischen Secretum Secretorum”. In: Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft. Edited by Paul Michel, Madeleine Herren and Rüesch. Martin Aachen: Shaker Verlag, 257–269.Search in Google Scholar

Fowler, Robert (1997): “Encyclopaedias: Definitions and Theoretical Problems”. In: Pre-Modern Encyclopaedic Texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1–4 July 1996. Edited by Peter Binkley. Leiden: Brill, 3–29.Search in Google Scholar

Fuchs, Harald (1962): s.v. “Enkyklios Paideia”. In: Reallexikon Für Antike Und Christentum V. Edited by Theodor Klauser. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 365–398.Search in Google Scholar

Genette, Gérard (1982): Palimpsestes: La littérature au second degré. Paris: Seuil.Search in Google Scholar

Haake, Matthias (2015): “Writing to a Ruler, Speaking to a Ruler, Negotiating the Figure of a Ruler: Thoughts on “Monocratological” Texts and Their Context in Greco-Roman Antiquity”. In: Global Medieval: Mirrors for Princes Reconsidered. Edited by Regula Forster and Neguin Yavari. Boston: Ilex.Search in Google Scholar

Heck, Paul (2002): The Construction of Knowledge in Islamic Civilization. Qudāma B. Jaʿfar and His Kitāb al-Kharāj Wa-Ṣināʿat Al-Kitāba. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/9789047401230Search in Google Scholar

Hein, Christel (1985): Definition und Einteilung der Philosophie von der spätantiken Einleitungsliteratur zur arabischen Enzyklopädie. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.Search in Google Scholar

Henningsen, Jürgen (1966): “Enzyklopädie: Zur Sprach- und Deutungsgeschichte eines pädagogischen Begriffs”. Archiv Für Begriffsgeschichte 10:271–362.Search in Google Scholar

Khalidi, Muhammad Ali (2013): Natural Categories and Human Kinds: Classification in the Natural and Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511998553Search in Google Scholar

Khalidi, Tarif (1975): Islamic Historiography: The Histories of Masʿūdī. Albany: State University of New York.Search in Google Scholar

Khalidi, Tarif (1994): Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period. Cambridge: CUP.10.1017/CBO9780511583650Search in Google Scholar

Kilpatrick, Hilary (1982): “A Genre in Classical Arabic Literature: The Adab Encyclopaedia”. In: Proceedings [Of The] 10th Congress, Union Européenne Des Arabisants Et Islamisants, Edinburgh, 9–16 September, 1980. Edited by Robert Hillenbrand. Edinburgh: Union, 34–42.Search in Google Scholar

Kilpatrick, Hilary (1998a): s.v. “Anthologies, Medieval”. In: Encyclopaedia of Arabic Literature. Edited by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey. London: Routledge, 94–96.Search in Google Scholar

Kilpatrick, Hilary (1998b): s.v. “Encyclopaedias, Medieval”. In: Encyclopaedia of Arabic Literature. Edited by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey. London: Routledge, 208–209.Search in Google Scholar

König, Jason, Woolf, Greg (eds.) (2013): Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139814683Search in Google Scholar

Marquet, Yves (1991): “L’encyclopédie des “frères de la pureté” (Ihwân Aṣ-Ṣafâ’)”. In: L’Encyclopédisme: Actes du colloque de Caen, 12e–16e janvier 1987. Edited by Annie Becq. Paris: Éditions aux amateurs de livres, 47–56.Search in Google Scholar

Meier, Christel (1984): “Grundzüge der Mittelalterlichen Enzyklopädik: Zu Inhalten, Formen und Funktionen einer problematischen Gattung”. In: Literatur und Laienbildung im Spätmittelalter und in der Reformationszeit. Symposion Wolfenbüttel 1981. Edited by Ludger Grenzmann and Karl Stackmann. Stuttgart: Metzler, 467–503.10.1007/978-3-476-05553-8_38Search in Google Scholar

Meier, Christel (1997): “Organisation of Knowledge and Encyclopaedic Ordo: Functions and Purposes of a Universal Literary Genre”. In: Pre-Modern Encyclopaedic Texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress,Groningen, 1–4 July 1996. Edited by Peter Binkley. Leiden: Brill, 103–126.Search in Google Scholar

Miquel, André (1967): La géographie humaine du monde musulman jusqu’au milieu du 11e siècle. Paris: Mouton et Cie.Search in Google Scholar

Montgomery, James (2005): “Serendipity, Resistance, and Multivalency: Ibn Khurradadhbih and His Kitāb al-Masālik Wa-L-Mamālik”. In: On Fiction and Adab in Medieval Arabic Literature. Edited by Philp F. Kennedy. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 177–232.Search in Google Scholar

Muhanna, Elias (2012): Encyclopaedism in the Mamluk Period: The Composition of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Nuwayrī’s (d. 1333) Nihāyat al-ʿArab fī Funūn al-Adab. PhD. Diss. Harvard.Search in Google Scholar

Needham, Rodney (1975): “Polythetic Classification: Convergence and Consequences”. Man. New Series 10.3: 349–369.10.2307/2799807Search in Google Scholar

Paret, Roger (1966): “Contribution à l’étude des milieux culturels dans le proche-orient médiéval: «l’encyclopédisme » arabo-musulman de 850 à 950 de l’ère chrétienne. Revue Historique 235.1: 47–100.Search in Google Scholar

Pellat, Charles (1966): “Les encyclopédies dans le monde arabe”. Journal of World History 9: 631–658.Search in Google Scholar

Pellat, Charles (1991): s.v. “Mawsūʿa”. In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Edited by P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Leiden: Brill. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0718 (30/08/2017).10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0718Search in Google Scholar

Quine, Willard Van Orman (1953): From a Logical Point of View: 9 Logico-Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Radtke, Bernd (1991): “Towards a Typology of Abbasid Universal Chronicles”. In: Occasional Papers of the School of Abbasid Studies 3. Edited by Wolfhart Heinrichs, P.M Holt, H.N Kennedy and L. Richter-Bernburg. St. Andrews: University Printing Department, 1–18.Search in Google Scholar

Radtke, Bernd (1992): Weltgeschichte und Weltbeschreibung im Mittelalterlichen Islam. Beirut: Franz Steiner Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Ribémont, Bernard (1997): “On the Definition of an Encyclopaedic Genre in the Middle Ages”. In: Pre-Modern Encyclopaedic Texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1–4 July 1996. Edited by Peter Binkley. Leiden: Brill, 47–61.Search in Google Scholar

Rorty, Richard (1999): Philosophy and Social Hope. London: Penguin.Search in Google Scholar

Rosenthal, Franz (1970): Knowledge Triumphant: The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval Islam. Leiden: Brill.Search in Google Scholar

Schöller, Marco (2000): Methode und Wahrheit in der Islamwissenschaft. Prolegomena. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.Search in Google Scholar

Schöller, Marco (2001): “Zum Begriff des «Islamischen Humanismus»”. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 151: 275–320.Search in Google Scholar

Shboul, Ahmad (1979): Al-Masʻūdī & His World: A Muslim Humanist and His Interest in non-Muslims. London: Ithaca Press.Search in Google Scholar

Slingerland, Edward (2008): What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture. Cambridge: CUP.10.1017/CBO9780511841163Search in Google Scholar

Tahmi, Mahmoud (1998): L’encyclopédisme musulman à l’âge classique: le livre de la création et de l’histoire de maqdisî. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose.Search in Google Scholar

Van Den Abeele, Baudouin (2007): Fortune et mutations des encyclopédies latines durant le moyen âge tardif. Thèse d’agrégation de l’enseignement supérieur. University of Louvain.Search in Google Scholar

Van Ess, Josef (2006): “Encyclopaedic Activities in the Islamic World: A Few Questions and No Answers”. In: Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopaedic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World. Edited by Gerhard Endress. Leiden: Brill, 3–19.Search in Google Scholar

Van Ess, Josef (2011): Der Eine und das Andere: Beobachtungen an Islamischen Häresiographischen Texten. Berlin: De Gruyter.10.1515/9783110215786Search in Google Scholar

Von Hees, Syrix (2002): Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes: Qazwīnī’s Wunder der Schöpfung, eine Naturkunde des 13. Jahrhunderts, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.Search in Google Scholar

Von Hees, Syrix (2006): “Al Qazwīnī’s ʿʿajāʾib Al-Makhlūqāt: An Encyclopaedia of Natural History?” In: Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopaedic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World. Edited by Gerhard Endress. Leiden: Brill, 171–186.Search in Google Scholar

Weber, Ralph (2015), “On Comparing Ancient Chinese and Greek Ethics: The Tertium Comparationis as Tool of Analysis and Evaluation”. In: The Good Life and Conceptions of Life in Early China and Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Edited by Richard A.H. King. Berlin: De Gruyter, 29–56.10.1515/9783110310115-005Search in Google Scholar

Yano, Michio (2013): s.v. “Al- Bīrūnī”. In: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Leiden: Brill.http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_25350 (30/08/2017).Search in Google Scholar

Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (1977): Mu’jam Al-Buldān. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir.Search in Google Scholar

Zucker, Arnaud (2013): Encyclopédire: Formes de l’ambition encyclopédique dans l’antiquité et au moyen âge. Turnhout: Brepols.10.1484/M.CEM-EB.6.09070802050003050501040807Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-11-16
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston