Some notes on the life of Joseph Ibn asday and his son Abū-l-Fal

Jonathan Vardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Abū Amr Joseph Ibn asday is known as the author of a famous Hebrew panegyric sent to the vizier of Granda, the poet Samuel ha-Nagid, and as the father of the vizier of Saragossa, Abū-l-fal Ibn asday. The article challenges his accepted biography. Examination of all the known pieces of historical evidence, both in Jewish and in Arabic texts, reveals that the scholarly reconstructed biography is rather inaccurate, based on methodologically false conclusions, drawn from conventional verses, text emendations and mere coincidences. Although sketchier than the former, accepted one, the resulting biography of the poet is more accurate; and while fewer facts can be known for full certainty, what is known is far more well-founded. In addition, the article discusses the questions concerning the conversion of the poet’s son, Abū-l-fal, to Islam, arguing that the main historical source used by Jewish scholars to refute his conversion is actually quite ambiguous.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)280-302
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2018 Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.All rights reserved.


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