Ibn Gabirol, Solomon Ben Yehuda

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ibn Gabirol, Solomon Ben Yehuda


(Arabicized form, Abu Ayub Sulaiman ibn Yahya ibn Jabirul; Latinized forms, Avicebron, Avencebrol, Avicebrol). Born circa 1021 in Malaga; died 1055 or 1070 in Valencia. Jewish poet and philosopher.

Ibn Gabirol’s Hebrew poetry played an important role in the general revival of Hebrew poetry in Arab Spain during the tenth and llth centuries. His works are in various lyrical genres, the most important being the mystical poem The Royal Crown. His philosophical treatise Fount of Life was written in Arabic; the original is not extant (Latin translation, Fons vitae, edited by C. Baumker, fascs. 1–3, 1892–95). Ibn Gabirol was drawn to Neoplatonic pantheism, but unlike the Neoplatonists he attached great importance to matter, which he regarded as substance both corporeal and spiritual. He borrowed from the classical philosophical tradition the antithesis of matter and form but raised it to the level of god. If form is interpreted as a creation of god’s will (Ibn Gabirol elaborated a brilliant teaching on the nature of will), then matter is the direct emanation of the essence of god and is therefore more divine than form. This equation of god and matter was later accepted by G. Bruno. Ibn Gabirol’s treatise had no influence in the Jewish and Islamic worlds, surviving only in the Christian Scholastic tradition as the composition of the mysterious Arab or Christian Avicebron. It was not until the 19th century that this philosopher was identified with the Hebrew poet Ibn Gabirol.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.