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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.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews