Beware Islam … according to a classicist

In his nervous effort to reassert the glorious myth of the classical heritage of ancient Greece and Rome, George Kennedy writes:

Islam was not only the greatest danger to Christianity in the Middle Ages, but also the greatest threat to the classical tradition of Europe, for its acknowledged no significant debt to the classical world, rejected its art, and neglected its languages and culture in favor of a new, all-sufficing revelation. The exception to this, of course, is the Arabic transmission of some knowledge of Greek philosophy, primarily the Aristotelian corpus. But a glance into Hermannus Alemannus’s thirteenth-century Latin translation of Averroes’s twelfth-century paraphrase of a tenth-century Arabic translation of a seventh-century Syriac translation of Aristotle’s Poetics is enough to reveal how impoverished the classical tradition would have been if Islam had prevailed in Europe. Averroes lacked even the slightest knowledge of Greek epic or tragedy, and his attempts to make sense of Aristotle on the basis of forms of Arabic poetry is totally obfuscating. (George Kennedy, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 1.1 1994).

You can sense the sigh of relief as he wrote that piece of tripe.


6 thoughts on “Beware Islam … according to a classicist

      1. I suppose I was getting a dig in at Eurocentrism rather than the Classicist myth – but they are relayed: both rely on the dogma of the immaculate conception of “Western” culture, cut of from its Near Easten roots.

  1. “The exception to this, of course, is the Arabic transmission of some knowledge of Greek philosophy…”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always understood it to be THE VAST MAJORITY of Greek philosophy – namely the entirety of the “first period.”

    It would follow, then, that you wouldn’t even have had a “second period” if not for the Arabic transmission of “some” knowledge.

    I guess if one is able to read the original Greek, he is given a free pass to draw any sort of conclusion he likes regarding the history of the text(s) in question.

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