Henry bate, translator of Abraham Ibn Ezra's astrological writings

Shlomo Sela

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Henry Bate of Mechelen (1246–after 1310) was the first to bring the astrological work of the twelfth-century Jewish polymath Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161) to the knowledge of Latin readers. Ibn Ezra created the first comprehensive set of Hebrew astrological textbooks that addressed the main systems of Arabic astrology and provided Hebrew readers with access to the subject. The present study, divided into three parts, studies Henry Bate as translator of Ibn Ezra’s astrological writings. The first part focuses on Bate’s complete translations, authenticates Bate’s authorship, determines their title and the time and place of composition, and consolidates information about their source texts. The second part reviews Bate’s numerous references to Ibn Ezra and translations of individual passages from his astrological works. The third part examines the most salient features of Henry Bate’s modus operandi as translator of Ibn Ezra. This begins with his use of double or triple translations for a single word or locution, a feature that readers of his translations recognize as his hallmark. This is followed by an investigation of Bate’s familiarity with Hebrew and how he applied this knowledge in his translations. Finally, it looks at the additions and glosses Bate incorporated into the translations and considers his motives for doing so. The conclusion summarizes the findings and asks how Bate prepared these translations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-201
Number of pages99
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Aleph


I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for Aleph, who later turned out to be Charles Burnett and Jean-Patrice Boudet, and Lenn Schramm for their comments and corrections. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 289/17).

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation289/17


    Dive into the research topics of 'Henry bate, translator of Abraham Ibn Ezra's astrological writings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this