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Geber
Jabir ibn Hayyan.jpg
15th-century European portrait of "Geber", Codici Ashburnhamiani 1166, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence
Name: Jabir ibn Hayyan
Title: Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān al azdi
Birth: 721 AD
Death: c. 815 AD
Ethnicity: Persian and/or Arab
Main interests: Alchemy and Chemistry, Astronomy, Astrology, Medicine and Pharmacy, Philosophy, Physics
Works: Kitab al-Kimya, Kitab al-Sab'een, Book of the Kingdom, Book of the Balances , Book of Eastern Mercury, etc.
Influences: Alchemy, Harbi al-Himyari, Ja'far al-Sadiq
Influenced: Alchemy, Chemistry

Geber is the Latinized form of "Jabir", with the full name of Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān al azdi (Arabic: جابر بن حيان‎), (Persian: جابر بن حيان) (born c. 721 in Tous–died c. 815 in Kufa),[1] a prominent polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geologist, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician. He is considered by many to be the "father of chemistry."[2] His ethnic background is not clear;[3] although some sources state that he was an Arab[4], other sources introduce him as Persian.[5][6] Geber or Jabir is held to be the first practical alchemist.[7]

As early as the tenth century, the identity and exact corpus of works of Geber was in dispute in Islamic circles.[8] Entirely separately from that, in 13th century Europe an anonymous writer produced a non-trivial body of alchemy and metallurgy under the pen-name "Geber". This individual is known today as Pseudo-Geber.

Contents

Life and background

An artistic depiction of Geber

According to tradition, Abu Musa (sometimes Abu AbdAllah) Jabir ibn Haiyan al-Azdl (al-Tusl, al-Artusl, al-Harram, al-Sufi, also al-Kufi or al-Tartusi) [9] was a Natural Philosopher who lived mostly in the 8th century, according to some sources he was from Kurdish origin from the city of Harran, and other sources say he was born in Tus (Iran), Khorasan, in Iran (Persia),[1] then ruled by the Umayyad Caliphate. In some sources, he is reported to have been the son of Hayyan al-Azdi, a pharmacist of the Arabian Azd tribe who emigrated from Yemen to Kufa (in present-day Iraq) during the Umayyad Caliphate.[10][11] Hayyan had supported the Abbasid revolt against the Umayyads, and was sent by them to the province of Khorasan (in present Iran) to gather support for their cause. He was eventually caught by the Ummayads and executed. His family fled to Yemen,[12] where Geber grew up and studied the Koran, mathematics and other subjects.[12] Geber's father's profession may have contributed greatly to his interest in alchemy.

After the Abbasids took power, Geber went back to Kufa. He began his career practicing medicine, under the patronage of a Vizir (from the noble Persian family Barmakids) of Caliph Haroun al-Rashid.

Geber may have been a student of the celebrated Islamic teacher and sixth Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq.[13][8] His connections to the Barmakid cost him dearly in the end. When that family fell from grace in 803, Geber was placed under house arrest in Kufa, where he remained until his death.

Contributions

Chemistry

Jabir is mostly renowned for his contributions to chemistry. He emphasised systematic experimentation,[14] and did much to free alchemy from superstition and turn it into a science.[15] He is credited with the invention of over twenty types of now-basic chemical laboratory equipment,[16] such as the alembic[17] and retort, and with the discovery and description of many now-commonplace chemical substances and processes – such as the hydrochloric and nitric acids, distillation,[11] and crystallisation[2] – that have become the foundation of today's chemistry and chemical engineering.[11] [18]

He also paved the way for most of the later Islamic alchemists, including al-Kindi, al-Razi and al-Iraqi, who lived in the 9th-13th centuries. His books strongly influenced the medieval European alchemists[18] and justified their search for the philosopher's stone.[19][20]

He clearly recognized and proclaimed the importance of experimentation. "The first essential in chemistry", he declared, "is that you should perform practical work and conduct experiments, for he who performs not practical work nor makes experiments will never attain the least degree of mastery."[14]

Jabir is also credited with the invention and development of a number of chemical substances and instruments that are still used today. He discovered sulfuric acid, and by distilling it together with various salts, Jabir discovered hydrochloric acid (from salt) and nitric acid (from saltpeter).[citation needed] By combining the two, he invented aqua regia, one of the few substances that can dissolve gold.[11] Besides its obvious applications to gold extraction and purification, this discovery would fuel the dreams and despair of alchemists for the next thousand years. He is also credited with the discovery of citric acid (the sour component of lemons and other unripe fruits),[2] acetic acid (from vinegar),[2][21] and tartaric acid (from wine-making residues).[2] Jabir also discovered and isolated several chemical elements, such as arsenic, antimony and bismuth.[16][22] He was also the first to classify sulfur (‘the stone which burns’ that characterized the principle of combustibility) and mercury (which contained the idealized principle of metallic properties) as 'elements'.[23] He was also the first to purify and isolate sulfur[23][24] and mercury[23][25] as pure elements.

Jabir applied his chemical knowledge to the improvement of many manufacturing processes, such as making steel and other metals, preventing rust, engraving gold, dyeing and waterproofing cloth, tanning leather, and the chemical analysis of pigments and other substances. He developed the use of manganese dioxide in glassmaking, to counteract the green tinge produced by iron — a process that is still used today. He noted that boiling wine released a flammable vapor, thus paving the way for the discovery of ethanol (alcohol) by Al-Kindi and Al-Razi.[26] According to Ismail al-Faruqi and Lois Lamya al-Faruqi, "In response to Jafar al-Sadik's wishes, [Jabir ibn Hayyan] invented a kind of paper that resisted fire, and an ink that could be read at night. He invented an additive which, when applied to an iron surface, inhibited rust and when applied to a textile, would make it water repellent."[27]

The seeds of the modern classification of elements into metals and non-metals could be seen in his chemical nomenclature. He proposed three categories:[28]

The origins of the idea of chemical equivalents can also be traced back to Jabir, who was the first to recognize that "a certain quantity of acid is necessary in order to neutralize a given amount of base." According to Jabir, the metals differ because of "different proportions of sulfur and mercury in them."[29]

In the Middle Ages, Jabir's treatises on alchemy were translated into Latin and became standard texts for European alchemists. These include the Kitab al-Kimya (titled Book of the Composition of Alchemy in Europe), translated by Robert of Chester (1144); and the Kitab al-Sab'een by Gerard of Cremona (before 1187). Marcelin Berthelot translated some of his books under the fanciful titles Book of the Kingdom, Book of the Balances, and Book of Eastern Mercury. Several technical Arabic terms introduced by Jabir, such as alkali, have found their way into various European languages and have become part of scientific vocabulary.

Alchemy

Geber became an alchemist at the court of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, for whom he wrote the Kitab al-Zuhra ("The Book of Venus", on "the noble art of alchemy").

Geber states in his Book of Stones (4:12) that "The purpose is to baffle and lead into error everyone except those whom God loves and provides for". His works seem to have been deliberately written in highly esoteric code (see steganography), so that only those who had been initiated into his alchemical school could understand them. It is therefore difficult at best for the modern reader to discern which aspects of Geber's work are to be read as symbols (and what those symbols mean), and what is to be taken literally. Because his works rarely made overt sense, the term gibberish is believed to have originally referred to his writings (Hauck, p. 19).

Geber's alchemical investigations ostensibly revolved around the ultimate goal of takwin — the artificial creation of life. The Book of Stones includes several recipes for creating creatures such as scorpions, snakes, and even humans in a laboratory environment, which are subject to the control of their creator. What Geber meant by these recipes is today unknown.

Geber's interest in alchemy was probably inspired by his teacher Ja'far al-Sadiq. Ibn Hayyan was deeply religious, and repeatedly emphasizes in his works that alchemy is possible only by subjugating oneself completely to the will of Allah and becoming a literal instrument of Allah on Earth, since the manipulation of reality is possible only for Allah. The Book of Stones prescribes long and elaborate sequences of specific prayers that must be performed without error alone in the desert before one can even consider alchemical experimentation.

In his writings, Geber pays tribute to Egyptian and Greek alchemists Hermes Trismegistus, Agathodaimon, Pythagoras, and Socrates.Geber professes to draw his inspiration from earlier writers on the subject.[30] A huge pseudo-epigraphic literature of alchemical books was composed in Arabic, among which the names of Persian authors also appear like Jāmāsb, Ostanes, Mani, testifying that alchemy-like operations on metals and other substances were also practiced in Persia. The great number of Persian technical names (zaybaq = mercury, nošāder = sal-ammoniac) also corroborates the idea of an important Iranian roots of medieval alchemy.[31] Ibn al-Nadim reports a dialogue between Aristotle and Ostanes, the Persian alchemist of Achaemenid era, which is in Jabirian corpus under the title of Kitab Musahhaha Aristutalis.[32] Ruska had suggested that the Sasanian medical schools played an important role in the spread of interest in alchemy.[31] He emphasises the long history of alchemy, "whose origin is Arius ... the first man who applied the first experiment on the [philosopher's] stone... and he declares that man possesses the ability to imitate the workings of Nature" (Nasr, Seyyed Hussein, Science and Civilization of Islam).

Geber's alchemical investigations were theoretically grounded in an elaborate numerology related to Pythagorean and Neoplatonic systems. The nature and properties of elements was defined through numeric values assigned the Arabic consonants present in their name, ultimately culminating in the number 17.

To Aristotelian physics, Geber added the four properties of hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness (Burkhardt, p. 29). Each Aristotelian element was characterised by these qualities: Fire was both hot and dry, earth cold and dry, water cold and moist, and air hot and moist. This came from the elementary qualities which are theoretical in nature plus substance. In metals two of these qualities were interior and two were exterior. For example, lead was cold and dry and gold was hot and moist. Thus, Geber theorised, by rearranging the qualities of one metal, based on their sulfur/mercury content, a different metal would result. (Burckhardt, p. 29) This theory appears to have originated the search for al-iksir, the elusive elixir that would make this transformation possible — which in European alchemy became known as the philosopher's stone.

The elemental system used in medieval alchemy was developed by Geber. His original system consisted of seven elements, which included the five classical elements found in the ancient Greek and Indian traditions (aether, air, earth, fire and water), in addition to two chemical elements representing the metals: sulfur, ‘the stone which burns’, which characterized the principle of combustibility, and mercury, which contained the idealized principle of metallic properties. Shortly thereafter, this evolved into eight elements, with the Arabic concept of the three metallic principles: sulfur giving flammability or combustion, mercury giving volatility and stability, and salt giving solidity.[23]

Geber also made important contributions to medicine, astronomy/astrology, and other sciences. Only a few of his books have been edited and published, and fewer still are available in translation. The crater Geber on the Moon is named after him.

He also paved the way for most of the later Islamic alchemists, including al-Kindi, al-Razi, al-Tughrai and al-Iraqi, who lived in the 9th-13th centuries. His books strongly influenced the medieval European alchemists[18] and justified their search for the philosopher's stone.[19][20]

Legacy

Max Meyerhoff states the following on Jabir ibn Hayyan: "His influence may be traced throughout the whole historic course of European alchemy and chemistry."[18]

The historian of chemistry Erick John Holmyard gives credit to Geber for developing alchemy into an experimental science and he writes that Geber's importance to the history of chemistry is equal to that of Robert Boyle and Antoine Lavoisier.[33]

The historian Paul Kraus, who had studied most of Geber's extant works in Arabic and Latin, summarized the importance of Geber to the history of chemistry by comparing his experimental and systematic works in chemistry with that of the allegorical and unintelligible works of the ancient Greek alchemists.[15]

The word gibberish is theorized to be derived from Geber's name,[34] in reference to the incomprehensible technical jargon often used by alchemists, the most famous of whom was Geber.[35] Other sources such as the Oxford English Dictionary suggest the term stems from gibber; however, the first known recorded use of the term "gibberish" was before the first known recorded use of the word "gibber" (see Gibberish).

Quotation

  • "My wealth let sons and brethren part. Some things they cannot share: my work well done, my noble heart — these are mine own to wear."[36]

Writings by Geber

The Jabirian corpus

In total, nearly 3,000 treatises and articles are credited to Jabir ibn Hayyan.[37] Following the pioneering work of Paul Kraus, who demonstrated that a corpus of some several hundred works ascribed to Geber were probably a medley from different hands,[38][citation needed] mostly dating to the late ninth and early tenth centuries, many scholars believe that many of these works consist of commentaries and additions by his followers,[citation needed] particularly of an Ismaili persuasion.[39]

The Arabic corpus of Jabir Ibn Hayyan can be divided into four categories:

  • The 112 Books dedicated to the Barmakids, viziers of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. This group includes the Arabic version of the Emerald Tablet, an ancient work that proved a recurring foundation of and source for alchemical operations. In the Middle Ages it was translated into Latin (Tabula Smaragdina) and widely diffused among European alchemists.
  • The Seventy Books, most of which were translated into Latin during the Middle Ages. This group includes the Kitab al-Zuhra ("Book of Venus") and the Kitab Al-Ahjar ("Book of Stones").
  • The Ten Books on Rectification, containing descriptions of alchemists such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
  • The Books on Balance; this group includes his most famous 'Theory of the balance in Nature'.

The Pseudo-Geber corpus

The Latin corpus consists of books with an author named "Geber" for which researchers have failed to find a text in Arabic. Although these books are heavily influenced by Arabic books written by the real Geber, and by Al Razi and others, they were never written in Arabic. They are in Latin only, they date from about the year 1310, and their author is called Pseudo-Geber:

  • Summa perfectionis magisterii ("The Height of the Perfection of Mastery").[40]
  • Liber fornacum ("Book of Stills"),
  • De investigatione perfectionis ("On the Investigation of Perfection"), and
  • De inventione veritatis ("On the Discovery of Truth").
  • Testamentum gerberi

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th books listed above "are merely extracts from or summaries of the Summa Perfectionis Magisterii with later additions."[41]

English translations of Geber/Jabir

  • E. J. Holmyard (ed.) The Arabic Works of Jabir ibn Hayyan, translated by Richard Russel in 1678. New York, E. P. Dutton (1928); Also Paris, P. Geuther.
  • Syed Nomanul Haq, Names, Natures and Things: The Alchemists Jabir ibn Hayyan and his Kitab al-Ahjar (Book of Stones), [Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science p. 158] (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994), ISBN 0792332547.
  • Donald R. Hill, 'The Literature of Arabic Alchemy' in Religion: Learning and Science in the Abbasid Period, ed. by M.J.L. Young, J.D. Latham and R.B. Serjeant (Cambridge University Press, 1990) pp. 328–341, esp. pp 333–5.
  • William Newman, New Light on the Identity of Geber, Sudhoffs Archiv, 1985, Vol.69, pp. 76–90.
  • Geber and William Newman The Summa Perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber: A Critical Edition, Translation and Study ISBN 9004094664

The Geber Problem

The identity of the author of works attributed to Jabir has long been discussed.[8] According to a famous controversy,[42] pseudo-Geber has been considered as the unknown author of several books in Alchemy.[43] This was first independently suggested, on textual and other grounds, by the nineteenth-century historians Hermann Kopp and Marcellin Berthelot.[44]

Jabir, by reputation the greatest chemist of Islam, has long been familiar to western readers under the name of Geber, which is the medieval rendering of the Arabic Jabir, the Geberu of the Middle Ages.[45]

A minority of scholars have maintained that Jabir is the pen name of a group of Ismaili writers in the ninth and tenth centuries, and that he died—if indeed he ever lived—a century before the writings attributed to him were composed.[46][47] In 1942, Paul Kraus argued that anonymous members of the so-called Brethren of Purity of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam were the true authors of the works in Arabic that were attributed to Jabir, and that they were writing in the ninth and tenth centuries.[48] Syed Haq offers evidence for possible 8th century origin of one text.[49] Eric Holmyard argues for at least some Arabic origin but not 8th century. Newman showed a distant relationship to the Arabic work of Razi.[50] He argued that the true author of the most famous book by the Latin "Geber," the "Summa Perfectionis," was the little-known Paul of Taranto, writing shortly after the year 1300.[51] The alchemical texts of Jāber (Geber) and Rāzi (Rhazes) which were in Arabic, were translated into Latin in the 12th century.[31]

Geber's identity with Jabir is still in dispute.[52] It is said that Geber, the Latinized form of "Jabir," was adopted presumably because of the great reputation of a supposed 8th-century alchemist by the name of Jabir ibn Hayyan. About this historical figure, however, there is considerable uncertainty.[53][54] This is sometimes called the "Geber-Jabir problem".[55]

It is important to consider that it is impossible to reach definite conclusions until all the Arabic writings ascribed to Jabir have been properly edited and discussed.[45]

Popular culture

  • There is a villain in the Japanese manga and anime series Bio Booster Armor Guyver by the name of Jearvill bun Hiyern (translated in various ways), who is most likely named after ibn Hayyan.

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b c d e Derewenda, Zygmunt S. (2007), "On wine, chirality and crystallography", Acta Crystallographica A 64: 246–258 [247], doi:10.1107/S0108767307054293 
  3. ^ S.N. Nasr, "Life Sciences, Alchemy and Medicine", The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge, Volume 4, 1975, p. 412: "Jabir is entitled in the traditional sources as al-Azdi, al-Kufi, al-Tusi, al-Sufi. There is a debate as to whether he was an Arab from Kufa who lived in Khurasan or a Persian from Khorasan who later went to Kufa or whether he was, as some have suggested, of Syrian origin and later lived in Persia and Iraq".
  4. ^ and student of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq
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    • William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1994. p.94: "According to traditional bio-bibliography of Muslims, Jabir ibn Hayyan was a Persian alchemist who lived at some time in the eight century and wrote a wealth of books on virtually every aspect of natural philosophy"
    • William R. Newman, The Occult and Manifest Among the Alchemist, in F. J. Ragep, Sally P Ragep, Steven John Livesey, Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on pre-Modern science held at University of Oklahoma, Brill, 1996/1997, p.178: "This language of extracting the hidden nature formed an important lemma for the extensive corpus associated with the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan"
    • Henry Corbin, "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", Translated by Joseph H. Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1998. p.45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Geber seems to have been a client of the Azd tribe established in Kufa"
    • Tamara M. Green, "The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)", Brill, 1992. p.177: "His most famous student was the Persian Jabir ibn Hayyan (b. circa 721 C.E.), under whose name the vast corpus of alchemical writing circulated in the medieval period in both the east and west, although many of the works attributed to Jabir have been demonstrated to be likely product of later Ismaili' tradition."
    • David Gordon White, "The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India", University of Chicago Press, 1996. p.447
    • William R. Newman, Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, University of Chicago Press, 2004. p.181: "The corpus ascribed to the eight-century Persian sage Jabir ibn Hayyan.."
    • Wilbur Applebaum, The Scientific revolution and the foundation of modern science, Greenwood Press, 1995. p.44: "The chief source of Arabic alchemy was associated with the name, in its Latinized form, of Geber, an eighth-century Persian."
    • Neil Kamil, Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots New World, 1517-1751 (Early America: History, Context, Culture), JHU Press, 2005. p.182: "The ninth-century Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, also known as Geber, is accurately called pseudo-Geber since most of the works published under this name in the West were forgeries"
    • Aleksandr Sergeevich Povarennykh, Crystal Chemical Classification of Minerals, Plenum Press, 1972, v.1, ISBN 0306303485, p.4: "The first to give separate consideration to minerals and other inorganic substances were the following: The Persian alchemist Jabir (721-815)..."
    • George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Pub. for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, by the Williams & Wilkins Company, 1931, vol.2 pt.1, page 1044: "Was Geber, as the name would imply, the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Haiyan?"
    • Dan Merkur, in The psychoanalytic study of society (eds. Bryce Boyer, et al.), vol. 18, Routledge, ISBN 0881631612, page 352: "I would note that the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan developed the theory that all metals consist of different 'balances' ..."
    • Anthony Gross, The Dissolution of the Lancastrian Kingship: Sir John Fortescue and the Crisis of Monarchy in Fifteenth-century England, Paul Watkins, 1996, ISBN 1871615909, p.19: "Ever since the Seventy Books attributed to the Persian alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan had been translated into Latin ...."
  6. ^ Sebastian, Anton, A Dictionary of the History of Science, (Casterton Hall: Parthenon Publishing Group Ltd, 2001),241.
  7. ^ Julian, Franklyn, Dictionary of the Occult, Kessinger Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0766128164, 9780766128163, p. 8.
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  9. ^ Names, Natures and Things: The Alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan and His Kitab Al-Ahjar (Book of Stones) Syed Nomanul Haq Edition: illustrated Published by Springer, 1994 ISBN 0792332547, 9780792332541
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  13. ^ Haq, Syed N. (1994). Names, Natures and Things. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 158/ Kluwar Academic Publishers. pp. 14–20. ISBN 0-7923-3254-7. 
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  21. ^ Olga Pikovskaya, Repaying the West's Debt to Islam, BusinessWeek, March 29, 2005.
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  25. ^ George Rafael, A is for Arabs, Salon.com, January 8, 2002
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  27. ^ Ismail al-Faruqi and Lois Lamya al-Faruqi (1986), The Cultural Atlas of Islam, p. 328, New York
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  33. ^ Ahmad Y Hassan. "Arabic Alchemy". http://www.history-science-technology.com/Articles/articles%2010.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  34. ^ gibberish, Grose 1811 Dictionary
  35. ^ Seaborg, Glenn T. (March 1980), "Our heritage of the elements", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B (Springer Boston) 11 (1): 5–19 
  36. ^ Holmyard, Eric John. Alchemy. Page 82
  37. ^ Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach (2006), Medieval Islamic Civilization, Taylor and Francis, p. 25, ISBN 0415966914 
  38. ^ Jabir Ibn Hayyan. Vol. 1. Le corpus des ecrits jabiriens. George Olms Verlag, 1989
  39. ^ Paul Kraus, Jabir ibn Hayyan: Contribution à l'histoire des idées scientifiques dans l'Islam, cited Robert Irwin, 'The long siesta' in Times Literary Supllement, 25/1/2008 p.8
  40. ^ William R. Newman, The Summa Perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber. A Critical Edition, Translation and Study, Leyde : E. J. Brill, 1991 (Collection de travaux de l'Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences, 35).
  41. ^ Quote from Marcellin Berthelot at 1911encyclopedia.org.
  42. ^ Arthur John Hopkins, Alchemy Child of Greek Philosophy, Published by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007, ISBN 0548135479, p. 140
  43. ^ "Geber". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/227632/Geber. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  44. ^ Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance By Pamela O. Long Edition: illustrated Published by JHU Press, 2001 ISBN 0801866065, 9780801866067
  45. ^ a b Alchemy on Islamic Times, Retrieved on 14 February 2009.
  46. ^ Newman, William R. (1991), The Summa perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber : a critical edition, translation and study, Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 61, ISBN 9004094644 
  47. ^ Ede, Andrew; Cormack, Lesley B. (2004), A history of science in society : from philosophy to utility, Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, pp. 67, ISBN 1551113325 
  48. ^ Kraus, Paul (1942). Jabir ibn Hayyan: Contribution a l'histoire des idees scientifiques dans l'Islam. Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale. 
  49. ^ Haq, Syed Nomanul; Jabir ibn Hayyan (1994). Names, Natures and Things: Jabir ibn Hayyan and His Kitab Al-Ahjar (Book of Stones). Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0792325877. 
  50. ^ Newman, William (1991). The Summa Prefectionis of Pseudo-Geber: A Critical Edition, Translation and Study. Brill. ISBN 9004094644. 
  51. ^ Newman, William (1985). "New Light on the Identity of Geber", Sudhoffs Archiv fuer die Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften. 
  52. ^ P. Crosland, Maurice, Historical Studies in the Language of Chemistry, Courier Dover Publications, 2004, ISBN 0486438023, 9780486438023, p. 15
  53. ^ Hugh Chisholm, ed (1910). "Geber". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (11th ed.). pp. 545–546. 
  54. ^ Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance By Pamela O. Long Published by JHU Press, 2001 ISBN 080186606
  55. ^ Thomas F. Glick, Steven John Livesey, Faith Wallis, Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0415969301, 9780415969307, p. 279-300
  56. ^ Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. ISBN 006112416, p. 82.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GEBER. The name Geber has long been used to designate the author of a number of Latin treatises on alchemy, entitled Summa perfectionis magisterii, De investigatione perfectionis, De inventione veritatis, Liber fornacum, Testamentum Geberi Regis Indiae and Alchemia Geberi, and these writings were generally regarded as translations from the Arabic originals of Abu Abdallah Jaber ben Hayyam (Haiyan) ben Abdallah al-Kufi, who is supposed to have lived in the 8th or 9th century of the Christian era. About him, however, there is considerable uncertainty. According to the Kitab-al-Fihrist (loth century), which gives his name as above, the authorities disagree, some asserting him to have been a writer on philosophy and rhetoric, and others claiming for him the first place among the adepts of his time in the art of making gold and silver. The writer of the Kitab-al-Fihrist says he had been assured that Jaber only wrote one book and even that he never existed at all, but these statements he scouts as ridiculous, and expressing the conviction that Jaber really did exist, and that his works were numerous and important, goes on to quote the titles of some 500 treatises attributed to him. He is said to have resided most frequently at Kufa, where he prepared the "elixir," but, according to others, he never spent long in one place, having reason to keep his whereabouts unknown. His patron or master is variously given as Ja'far ben Yahya, and as Ja'far es-Sadiq; in the Arabic Book of Royalty, professedly written by him, he addresses the last-named as his master. In addition to these details the Fihrist mentions a tradition that he originally came from Khorasan. Another story given by d'Herbelot (Bibliotheque orientale, s.v. " Giaber") makes him a native of Harran in Mesopotamia and a Sabaean. Leo Africanus, who in 1526 gave an account of the Alchemists of Fez in Africa (see the English translation of his Africae descriptio by John Pory, A Geographical History of Africa, London, 1600, p. 155), states that their principal authority was Geber, a Greek who had apostatized to Mahommedanism and lived a century after Mahomet. In Albertus Magnus the name Geber occurs only once and then with the epithet "of Seville"; doubtless the reference is to the Arabian Jabir ben Aflah, who lived in that city in the r r th century, and wrote an astronomy in 9 books which is of importance in the history of trigonometry.

The great puzzle connected with the name Geber lies in the character of the writings attributed to him, their style and matter differentiating them strongly from those of even the best authors of the later alchemical period, and making it difficult to account for their existence at all. The researches of M. P. E. Berthelot threw a great deal of light on this question. Taking the six treatises enumerated above he concluded, after critical examination, that the two last may be disregarded as of later date than the others, and that the De investigatione perfectionis, the De inventione and the Liber fornacum are merely extracts from or summaries of the Summa perfectionis with later additions. The Summa he therefore regarded as representative of the work of the Latin Geber, and study of it convinced him that it contains no indication of an Arabic origin, either in its method, which is conspicuous for clearness of reasoning and logical co-ordination of material, or in its facts, or in the words and persons quoted. Without going so far as to deny that some words and phrases may be taken from the writings of the Arabian Jaber, he was disposed to hold that it is the original work of some unknown Latin author, who wrote it in the second half of the r3th century and put it under the patronage of the venerated name of Geber. The MS. of this work in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris dates from about the year 1300. Berthelot further investigated Arabic MSS. existing in the Paris library and in the university of Leiden, and containing works attributed to Jaber, and had translations made of six treatises - two, of which he gives the titles as Livre de la royaute and Petit Livre de la misericorde,-from Paris, and four - Livre des balances, Livre de la misericorde, Livre de la concentration and Livre de la mercure orientale - from Leiden. Berthelot was not prepared to assert that these treatises were actually written by Jaber, but he held it certain that they are works written in Arabic between the 9th and 12th centuries, at a period anterior to the relations of the Latins with the Arabs. In style these treatises are entirely different from the Summa of Geber. Their language is vague and allegorical, full of allusions and pious Mussulman invocations; the author continually announces that he is about to speak without mystery or reserve, but all the same never gives any precise details of the secrets he professes to reveal. He holds the doctrine that everything endowed with an apparent quality possesses an opposite occult quality in much the same terms as it is found in Latin writers of the middle ages, but he makes no allusion to the theory of the generation of the metals by sulphur and mercury, a theory generally attributed to Geber, who also added arsenic to the list. Again he fully accepts the influence of the stars on the production of the metals, whereas the Latin Geber disputes it, and in general the chemical knowledge of the two is on a different plane. Here again the inference is that the Latin treatises printed from the 15th century onwards as the work of Geber are not authentic, regarded as translations of the Arabic author Jaber, always supposing that the Arabic MSS. transcribed and translated for Berthelot are really, as they profess to be, the work of Jaber, and as representative of his opinions and attainments.

XI. 18 But while Berthelot thus deprived the world of what were long regarded as genuine Latin versions of Jaber's works, he also gave it something in their place, for among the Paris MSS. he found a mutilated treatise, hitherto unpublished, entitled Liber de Septuaginta (Tohannis), translates a Magistro Renaldo Cremonensi, which he considered the only known Latin work that can be regarded as a translation from the Arabic Jaber. The latter states in the Arabic works referred to above that under that title he collected 70 of the 500 little treatises or tracts of which he was the author, and the titles of those tracts enumerated in the Kitab-al-Fihrist as forming the chapters of the Liber de Septuaginta correspond in general with those of the Latin work, which further is written in a style similar to that of the Arabic Jaber and contains the same doctrines. Hence Berthelot felt justified in assigning it to Jaber, although no Arabic original is known.

The evidence collected by Berthelot has an important bearing on the history of chemistry. Most of the chemical knowledge attributed to the Arabs has been attributed to them on the strength of the reputed Latin writings of Geber. If, therefore, these are original works rather than translations, and contain facts and doctrines which are not to be found in the Arabian Jaber, it follows that, on the one hand,the chemical knowledge of the Arabs has been overestimated and, on the other, that more progress was made in the middle ages than has generally been supposed.

See M. P. E. Berthelot's works on the history of alchemy and especially his Chimie au moyen age (3 vols., Paris, 1893), the third volume of which contains a French translation of Jaber's works together with the Arabic text.


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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


a valiant man, (1 Kings 4:19), one of Solomon's purveyors, having jurisdiction over a part of Gilead, comprising all the kingdom of Sihon and part of the kingdom of Og (Deut. 2; 31).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

File:Jabir ibn
Geber, 721-815
Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan (Arabic: جابر بن حيان) (c. 721–c. 815), known also by his Latinised name Geber, was a Persian[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] prominent chemist, alchemist, pharmacist, philosopher, astronomer/astrologer, physician and physicist. He has also been widely referred to as the "father of chemistry". Ibn Hayyan is widely credited with the introduction of the experimental method into alchemy, and with the invention of numerous important processes still used in modern chemistry today, such as the syntheses of hydrochloric and nitric acids, distillation, and crystallisation. His original works are highly esoteric and probably coded, though nobody today knows what the code is. On the surface, his alchemical career revolved around an elaborate chemical numerology based on consonants in the Arabic names of substances and the concept of takwin, the artificial creation of life in the alchemical laboratory.

References

  1. A Dictionary of the History of Science by by Anton Sebastian - p. 241
  2. "Jābir ibn Ḥayyān, Abū Mūsā." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite.
  3. The Alchemical Body By David Gordon - p. 366
  4. The Structure and Properties of Matter by Herman Thompson Briscoe - p. 10
  5. The Tincal Trail: A History of Borax by Edward John Cocks, Norman J. Travis - p. 4
  6. William Royall Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1994. pg 94: "According to traditional bio-bibliography of Muslims, Jabir ibn Hayyan was a Persian alchemist who lived at some time in the eight century and wrote a wealth of books on virtually every aspect of natural philosophy"
  7. William R. Newman, The Occult and Manifest Among the Alchemist", in F. J. Ragep, Sally P Ragep, Steven John Livesey, "Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on pre-Modern science held at University of Oklahoma", Brill,1996/1997, pg 178:"This language of extracting the hidden nature formed an important lemma for the extensive corpus associated with the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan"
  8. Henry Corbin, "The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy", Translated by Joseph H. Rowe,North Atlantic Books, 1998. pg 45: "The Nisba al-Azdin certainly does not necessarily indicate Arab origin. Jabir seems to have been a client of the Azd tribe established in Kufa
  9. Tamara M. Green, "The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World) ", Brill, 1992. pg 177: "His most famous student was the Persian Jabir ibn Hayyan (b. circa 721 C.E.), under whose name the vast corpus of alchemical writing circulated in the medieval period in both the east and west, although many of the works attributed to Jabir have been demonstrated to be likely product of later Ismaili' tradition."
  10. David Gordon White, "The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India", University of Chicago Press, 1996. pg 447
  11. William R. Newman, Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature, University of Chicago Press, 2004. pg 181: "The corpus ascribed to the eight-century Persian sage Jabir ibn Hayyan.."
  12. Wilbur Applebaum, The Scientific revolution and the foundation of modern science, Greenwood Press, 1995. pg 44: "The chief source of Arabic alchemy was associated with the name, in its Latinized form, of Geber, an eighth-century Persian. "
  13. Neil Kamil ,Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots New World, 1517-1751 (Early America: History, Context, Culture), JHU Press, 2005. pg 182: "The ninth-century Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hay- yan, also known as Geber, is accurately called pseudo-Geber since most of the works published under this name in the West were forgeries"








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