Project (2019)

The Hebrew Translation of Euclid’s “Data”


This project is dedicated to Jacob ben Makhir’s Hebrew translation of Euclid’s Data, completed in 1272 and titled Seffer ha-Mattanot. Jacob ben Makhir ibn Tibbon, known also as Profatius Judaeus (1236–1304), translated Euclid’s Data from Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s Arabic translation. This is the first research undertaken on a Hebrew translation of Data.

My examination of the text is led by two aspects: mathematical and cultural. A study led by a mathematical perspective takes into consideration the addition of any new mathematical content such as propositions and proofs, or any structural changes to the text such as changes in the order of propositions. A cultural perspective refers to broader themes, such as the use of Hebrew terms. For instance, ben Makhir uses the term known [ידוע] appropriated from the Arabic mathematical tradition rather than using the original term given [נתון].

To attain better understanding of Ben Makhir’s Seffer ha-Mattanot, I compare it to various editions of Data: the English translations by Simson (1762) and Taisbak (2003), Henrion’s French translation (1626), and Schwab’s German translation (1780). Moreover, Marinus’ commentary on Data is examined. The comparative analysis of the various translations of Data considers not only propositions and proofs, but also more general notions arising from the text, mainly the notions analysis, synthesis, and given.

The research is also supported by the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas and the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University.