Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Sciences of the Soul and Intellect Part I. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 32-36 By Paul E. Walker, Ismail K. Poonawala and David Simonowitz, Godefroid de Callatay, eds./trans. (Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2016. 434 pages.)

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Sajjad Rizvi



Since I and others have already commented on this project’s significance in
terms of producing critical editions and annotated translations of the intriguing
corpus of texts produced in southern Iraq during the tenth century by a collective
calling itself the Brethren of Purity, I shall not focus on that or even
repeat my quibble that I would far prefer to have the Arabic on the facing page
to the English translation (whether on the left like the Library of Arabic Literature
or on the right like the Islamic Translations Series is immaterial).
With this publication, the project has now published at least one epistle
from each of the four parts of the corpus. The present volume is from the third quartile on the “sciences of the soul and the intellect,” which constitutes a
preparation for the higher theology of the last quartile. The epistles’ arrangement
is progressive, from the exact sciences moving onto the observable sciences
and then from the external phenomena to those internal to the human
subject. The five relatively short epistles collected here cover the Brethren’s
metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, psychology, and cosmology. Each
epistle is introduced by the editor/translator with comments on the text followed
by the annotated translation. The Arabic texts are then gathered at the
end of the volume ...

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