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Jonathan Lyons

The House of Wisdom

In The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization Jonathan Lyons explains how much medieval Christendom gained from Arabic learning.

Lyons tells of how Western scholars such as Adelard of Bath and Michael Scot travelled to Islamic countries and studied the works available there. Islamic scholars had made substantial progress in many areas, such as mapping the world, and in particular in translating the works of ancient Greeks such as Aristotle - Lyons emphasises that this was not simply a direct transfer of these works, Arabic scholars had put a great deal of effort into interpreting them. The discussion of theological questions by Islamic scholars, such as the eternity of the world, was also of interest to Christian theologians and philosophers, and indeed had an effect on the relationship between theology on the one hand and science and philosophy on the other.

I found the book to be full of interest, but I felt that the structure let it down. Maybe it's just me - I do like books to follow chronological order - but it did seem hard to follow the timeline of what was happening. Hence I feel that this book would be best for those who already have some knowledge of the sequence of events. info
Paperback 272 pages  
ISBN: 1408801213
Salesrank: 240738
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: 2010 Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Amazon price £9.90
Marketplace:New from £5.86:Used from £2.66
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Product Description

For centuries following the fall of Rome, Western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling those Europeans fortunate enough to visit cities like Baghdad or Antioch. There, philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of knowledge, as well as keeping alive the works of Plato and Aristotle. When the best libraries in Europe held several dozen books, Baghdad's great library, The House of Wisdom, housed four hundred thousand. Jonathan Lyons shows just how much "Western" ideas owe to the Golden Age of Arab civilization.

Even while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful of intrepid Christian scholars, hungry for knowledge, traveled East and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance. In this brilliant, evocative book Jonathan Lyons reveals the story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews