Kitāb Al-Muhādarah Wa-Al-Mudhākarah by Moshe Ibn Ezra compared with Kitāb Al-Badī' by Ibn Al-Mu'tazz

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The single comprehensive essay written in the Middle Ages on the poetics of medieval Hebrew secular poetry in Spain, namely Kitāb al-muhāharah wa-almudhākarah by Moshe ibn Ezra (c. 1055-1138), was investigated by two contemporary scholars in a comparative approach towards the system of rhetorical devices in medieval Arabic poetics. Yet this magnificent work deserves further research regarding many other perspectives. The present paper compares Ibn Ezra's work with the first Arabic book on poetics-Kitāb al-badī'-by the Arabic poet, critic, and historian of Arabic poetry, 'Abd Allah ibn al-Mu'tazz (861-908), who became a caliph in Baghdad just a few days before he was murdered. The main objective of Ibn al-Mu'tazz was to end once and forever the intense controversy among the Arabic poets and literati over the issue of the badī', that highly developed system of rhetorical devices in poetry. In order to strengthen his very positive position towards badī', Ibn al-Mu'tazz showed in his book that rhetorical devices were used in the most ancient and religiously most authoritative Arabic sources: pre-Islamic poetry, the Qur'ān, and the hadīth (the oral traditions ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad). The same controversy about the badī' existed among the Jewish literati in Spain, and Ibn Ezra likewise defended its use in Hebrew poetry by supplying proofs from the Bible, the ultimate Jewish religious and literary authority. He did not refrain from citing verses from Arabic poetry, supposedly as additional support for his position, but at the same time-in the frame of his polemic with Arabic culture-he sought to prove that biblical literature had used rhetorical devices many years before Arabic poetry.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Medieval Jewish Poetry
Subtitle of host publicationA Message upon the Garden
EditorsHara Tirosh-Samuelson, Giuseppe Veltri
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789004169319
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameStudies in Jewish History and Culture
ISSN (Print)1568-5004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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