The Legend of the Middle Ages / Fjordman

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Library | 3 comments

The book that inspired this text was The Legend of the Middle Ages:

Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and

Islam by Rémi Brague, a French professor and specialist of medieval

religious philosophy. He is also the author of the fine book Eccentric

Culture: A Theory of Western Civilization, which I have written an

extensive essay about previously.

Thematically this text overlaps to some extent with some of the

material from my book Defeating Eurabia. I will supplement it with

some quotes from two good online interviews with Mr. Brague.

Medieval Muslims were reluctant to travel to infidel lands. According

to Islamic jurists Muslims should not stay for too long in the lands

of non-Muslims if they cannot live a proper Muslim life there. Muslims

had little knowledge of or interest in any Western languages. Only

Italian had some currency for commercial purposes, but mainly

involving Jews and Eastern Christians, especially Greeks and

Armenians. Few Muslims knew any non-Muslim languages well, the

knowledge of which was considered unnecessary or even suspect.

Consequently, the translators of Greek and other non-Muslim scientific

works to Arabic were never Muslims. They were Christians of the three

dominant Eastern denominations plus a few Jews and Sabians. The

language of culture for these Christians was Syriac (Syro-Aramaic or

Eastern Aramaic) and their liturgical language was Greek. The

translators already knew the languages they were to translate. We do

have examples of translators who traveled to Greece to perfect their

skills, but they were Christians for whom Greek was already at least a

liturgical language. Here is Rémi Brague in The Legend of the Middle

Ages, page 164:

“Neither were there any Muslims among the ninth-century translators.

Almost all of them were Christians of various Eastern denominations:

Jacobites, Melchites, and, above all, Nestorians (though I am not sure

why the latter predominated). A few others were Sabians, a somewhat

bizarre religious community with an intriguing history, whose elites

were perhaps the last heirs of the pagan philosophers of the School of

Athens. No Muslim learned Greek or, even less, Syriac. Cultivated

Christians were often bilingual, even trilingual: they used Arabic for

daily life, Syriac for liturgy, and Greek for cultural purposes. The

translators that helped to pass along the Greek heritage to the Arabs

were artisans who worked for private patrons, without institutional

support. One often hears tell of the ‘House of Wisdom’ (bayt

al-hikmah), a sort of research center subsidized by the caliphs that

specialized in producing Arabic translations of Greek works. This is

pure legend. The further back in time we go, the less the chroniclers

connect the activity of translation with that ‘house.’ As an

institution it was above all a propaganda office working for the

Mu`tazilite doctrine supported by the caliphs.”

The Baghdad-centered Abbasid Dynasty, which replaced the

Damascus-centered Umayyad Dynasty after AD 750, was closer to

pre-Islamic Persian culture and influenced by the Sassanid Zoroastrian

practice of translating works and creating libraries. Even Dimitri

Gutas admits this in his pro-Islamic book Greek Thought, Arab Culture.

There was still a large number of Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews

and they held a disproportionate amount of expertise in the medical

field. According to author Thomas T. Allsen, Middle Eastern medicine

in Mongol ruled China was “almost always” in the hands of Nestorian


One prominent translator was the Christian scholar Hunayn ibn Ishaq

(808-873), called Johannitius in Latin. He was a Nestorian (Assyrian)

Christian who had studied Greek in Greek lands, presumably in the

Byzantine Empire, and eventually settled in Baghdad. He, his son and

his nephew translated into Arabic, sometimes via Syriac, Galen’s

medical treatises as well as Hippocratic works and texts by Aristotle,

Plato and others. His own compositions include the Ten Treatises on

the Eye, which transmitted a largely Galenic theory of vision.

Thabit ibn Qurra (ca. 836-901) was a member of the Sabian sect of star

worshippers who had adopted much of Greek culture. His native language

was Syriac but he knew Greek and Arabic well. He worked for years in

Baghdad where he produced influential Arabic translations or revised

earlier ones of Ptolemy’s Almagest and works by Archimedes and

Apollonius. Later Arabic versions developed from his version of

Euclid’s Elements. He was also an original mathematician who

contributed to geometry and the theory of numbers.

Aramaic is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic. It was

once the lingua franca of much of the Near East after the ancient

Persians had made it their Imperial language. It was supplemented by

Greek after the conquest of this region by Alexander the Great. A

young Jew such as Jesus of Nazareth in Roman-ruled Palestine would

probably have known some Hebrew, still the religious language but no

longer the spoken language of the Jews. He would most likely have used

Aramaic for preaching although it is possible that he knew some Greek.

Syriac or Syro-Aramaic gradually gave way to Arabic after the Arab

conquest of this region, but when the Koran was composed, Arabic did

not yet exist as a written language. Author Ibn Warraq estimates that

up to 20% of the Koran is incomprehensible even to educated Arabs

because parts of it were originally written in another related

language before Muhammad was born, if Muhammad as he is described to

us ever existed at all, that is.

The author of the most important work on this subject, a German

professor of Semitic languages, due to potential threats writes under

the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg. According to him, certain obscure

passages of the chapters or suras of the Koran usually ascribed to the

Mecca period, which are also the most tolerant ones as opposed to the

much harsher and more violent chapters allegedly from Medina, are not

“Islamic” at all but based on Christian hymns in Syriac, Biblical

texts adapted for liturgical use:

“In its origin, the Koran is a Syro-Aramaic liturgical book, with

hymns and extracts from Scriptures which might have been used in

sacred Christian services…Its socio-political sections, which are not

especially related to the original Koran, were added later in Medina.

At its beginning, the Koran was not conceived as the foundation of a

new religion. It presupposes belief in the Scriptures, and thus

functioned merely as an inroad into Arabic society.”

While many philosophical and scientific works (but hardly any literary

or historical ones) were translated into Arabic, Muslims didn’t

preserve the originals as these were now seen as unnecessary. This

made the phenomena of “renaissances” impossible – that is, a return to

the original texts to reinterpret and study them with fresh and

unbiased eyes. Muslims themselves virtually never learned Greek. Here

is The Legend of the Middle Ages again, page 168:

“Those who knew Greek had been raised bilingual because they were sons

of an Arab father and a Greek mother. No Muslim seems to have ever

learned a foreign language for theoretical reasons rather than, for

example, commercial reasons. The one exception is perhaps Farabi. One

of his biographers relates that he is supposed to have spent years in

‘Greece’ in order to study there. This information is all the more

interesting because the word used is not ‘Rum,’ which designated

Constantinople, but rather ‘Yunan,’ which can mean only Greece. One

might well wonder where, to what center of teaching, in Greece of the

time might a student from the Muslim world have possibly gone. Farabi

does not seem to have shown proof of a very profound knowledge of

Greek. He does indeed cite a few words of that language. But the

etymological explanations that he gives of the titles of some of

Plato’s dialogues are sheer fantasy. The only real exception is

Biruni. But he is an exception that proves the rule: the language that

he learned was not Greek, but Sanskrit. Biruni had learned that

language to the point of being able to translate into it from Arabic.”

Islamic civilization, in sharp contrast to the European one, never

used its knowledge of the foreign as an instrument that would permit

it, through comparison and distancing in relations to itself, to

understand itself by becoming conscious of the non-obvious character

of its cultural practices. An extremely rare exception to this rule

may be the eleventh century Persian polymath al-Biruni. As Brague

states in his book Eccentric Culture, page 112-113:

“It may be that its geographers made a eulogy of India and of China in

order to address a discreet critique of the Islamic civilization of

their time, often compensated in the last instance by an affirmation

of the religious superiority of the latter. The examples that one

could find of such a vision ‘reflected’ in the mirror are exceptional

and come from marginal or heretical thinkers. Thus, the contact with

the Brahmin Hindu thinkers whose religion does quite well without

prophecy (which the Islamic religion declares on the contrary

necessary to the happiness of man and to a good social order) posed a

problem for the Muslim thinkers; the real or fictitious dialogue with

the Brahmins was able to serve to mask a critique of the Islamic

religion in a free thinker like Ibn al-Rawandi. The only incontestable

exception is without doubt the astonishing work of Al-Biruni on India.

This universal scholar (973-1048), astronomer, geographer, historian,

mineralogist, pharmacologist etc., had taken the trouble to learn

enough Sanskrit to be able to translate in both directions between

this language and Arabic (for him also a learned language). He

presented a tableau of Hindu society and beliefs with perfect


Greek translations heavily influenced Middle Eastern scholars.

Al-Kindi (died ca. AD 873), commonly known as “the Philosopher of the

Arabs,” lived in Baghdad and was close to several Abbasid Caliphs.

Al-Kindi did significant work on optics and made notable mathematical

contributions to cryptography. Al-Farabi (ca. 875-950), “perhaps the

greatest” Muslim philosopher according to Brague, came to Baghdad from

Central Asia, emphasized human reason and was more original than many

of his successors. In How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs, writer De

Lacy O’Leary states that “It is significant that almost all the great

scientists and philosophers of the Arabs were classed as Aristotelians

tracing their intellectual descent from al-Kindi and al-Farabi.” The

attempt to reconcile Islam with Greek philosophy was to last for

several centuries and ultimately prove unsuccessful due to religious

resistance. Are you an author? Learn about Author Central For various

reasons, al-Kindi and al-Farabi were not much translated into Latin.

As Rémi Brague states, “in the oft-romanticized city of Cordoba, the

family of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides was banished, Averroes was

exiled, and many Christians martyred.” Ibn Rushd, or Averroes

(1126-1198), was born in Cordoba, Spain (Andalusia). He faced trouble

for his freethinking ways and is today often hailed as a beacon of

“tolerance,” yet he was also an orthodox jurist of sharia law and

served as an Islamic judge in Seville. He approved, without

reservation, the killing of heretics in a work that was wholly

philosophical in nature. Nevertheless, he is remembered for his

attempts to combine Aristotelian philosophy and Islam. He had a major

influence on Latin scientists but was practically forgotten in the

Islamic world, where philosophy went into permanent decline. The very

influential al-Ghazali argued that much of Greek philosophy was an

affront to Islam. Virtually all freethinkers within the Islamic world

were at odds with Islamic orthodoxy and frequently harassed for this.

European Christians re-conquered Toledo in Spain and Sicily from the

Muslims in 1085 and 1091, respectively. The great Italian (Lombard)

translator Gerard of Cremona (ca. 1114-1187) was by far the most

prolific translator from Arabic to Latin of works on science and

natural philosophy. He lived for years at Toledo, aided by a team of

local Jewish interpreters and Latin scribes. David C. Lindberg argues

that Alhazen’s Book of Optics probably was translated during the late

twelfth century by Gerard or somebody from his school; it was known in

thirteenth century Europe. Many works initially translated from Arabic

by Gerard and his associates, among them Ptolemy’s great astronomical

work the Almagest, were later translated directly from Greek into

Latin from Byzantine manuscripts. Obviously, Alhazen’s work had to be

translated from Arabic since it was written in that language in the

first place.

The basic principle of the astrolabe, a working model of the heavens,

was a discovery of the ancient Greeks. Stereographic projection, one

way among several of mapping a sphere onto a flat surface, was

probably known to the great mathematical astronomer Hipparchus in the

second century BC and was certainly in use by the first century BC

when Vitruvius, the Roman writer on architecture and engineering,

mentioned it. The first treatise on an astrolabe in the modern sense

was probably written by Theon of Alexandria (ca. AD 335-405). He was a

teacher of mathematics and wrote commentaries on the works of Ptolemy,

including the Almagest, and made an influential edition with added

comments of Euclid’s Elements. Writer James E. Morrison is the author

of the book The Astrolabe. As Morrison says:

“The earliest astrolabes used in Europe were imported from Moslem

Spain with Latin words engraved alongside the original Arabic. It is

likely that European use of Arabic star names was influenced by these

imported astrolabes. By the end of the 12th century there were at

least a half dozen competent astrolabe treatises in Latin, and there

were hundreds available only a century later. European makers extended

the plate engravings to include astrological information and adapted

the various timekeeping variations used in that era. Features related

to Islamic prayers were not used on European instruments. The

astrolabe was widely used in Europe in the late Middle Ages and

Renaissance….Astrolabe manufacturing was centered in Augsburg and

Nuremberg in Germany in the fifteenth century with some production in

France. In the sixteenth century, the best instruments came from

Louvain in Belgium. By the middle of the seventeenth century

astrolabes were made all over Europe.”

The oldest surviving, moderately sophisticated scientific work in the

English language is a Treatise on the Astrolabe, written by the

English poet and philosopher Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343-1400) for his

son. His The Canterbury Tales are studded with astronomical

references.It should be noted that while it was a very popular device,

the astrolabe was not a precision instrument even by medieval

standards. Its popularity stemmed from the fact that approximate

solutions to astronomical problems could be found by a mere glance at

the instrument. The invention of the pendulum clock and more

specialized and useful scientific devices such as the telescope from

the seventeenth century on replaced the astrolabe in importance.

Nevertheless, its medieval reintroduction via the Islamic world did

leave some traces. Quite a few star names in use in modern European

languages, for instance Aldebaran or Algol, can be traced back to

Arabic or Arabized versions of earlier Greek names. Today astronomers

frequently identify stars by means of Bayer letters, introduced by the

German astronomer Johann Bayer (1572-16259) in his celestial atlas

Uranometria from 1603. In this system, each star is labeled by a Greek

letter and the Latin name of the constellation in which it is found.It

is true that there were translations from Arabic and that these did

have some impact in Europe, leaving traces in star names and some

mathematical and chemical terms. Yet far too much emphasis is

currently placed on the translations themselves and too little on how

the knowledge contained within these texts was actually used. After

the translation movement it is striking to notice how fast Europeans

vastly surpassed whatever scholarly achievements had been made in the

medieval Middle East based on largely the same material.

Moreover, it is simply not true that these translations “rescued” the

Classical heritage. This survived largely intact among Byzantine,

Orthodox Christians. When Western, Latin Christians wanted to recover

the Greco-Roman heritage they translated Greek historical works and

literature as well, in addition to philosophy, medicine and astronomy,

and copied works by Roman authors and poets in Latin which had been

totally ignored by Muslims.

It is easy to track how Arabic translations of Greek texts from

Byzantine manuscripts, almost always made by non-Muslims, made their

way from the Islamic East to Sicily and southern Italy or to the

Iberian Peninsula in the Islamic West where some of them were

translated by Jews and Christians, for instance in the multilingual

city of Toledo in Spain, to Latin. It is true that some ancient Greek

texts were reintroduced to the West via Arabic, sometimes passing via

Syriac or Hebrew along the way, but these were usually based, in the

end, on Byzantine originals. The permanent recovery of Greco-Roman

learning and literature was undertaken as a direct transmission from

Greek, Orthodox Christians to Western, Latin Christians.

The greatest translator from Greek to Latin was the Flemish scholar

William of Moerbeke (ca. 1215-ca. 1286), a contemporary of the

prominent German scholar Albertus Magnus. He was fluent in Greek and

made very accurate translations, still held in high regard today, from

Byzantine originals and improved earlier translations of the works of

Aristotle and many by Archimedes, Hero of Alexandria and others. Like

his Italian friend the great theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (c.

1225-1274), William of Moerbeke was a friar of the Dominican order and

had personal contacts at the top levels of the Vatican, including

several popes.

Thanks in part to William of Moerbeke’s efforts, by the 1270s Western

Europeans had access to Greek works that were never translated into

Arabic, for instance Aristotle’s Politics. This benefited Thomas

Aquinas and his great theological work the Summa Theologica. The

Spanish-born Jewish rabbi and philosopher Moses Maimonides

(1135-1204), famous for his The Guide for the Perplexed, attempted to

reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Biblical Scripture. Aquinas was

well aware of his work as well as Muslim Aristotelian commentators

such as Avicenna and Averroes, but he could be critical of Averroes

and his use of Aristotle.

Renaissance figures in Italy and Western Europe had at their disposal

a more complete body of Greek thought than any of the major Muslim

philosophers ever did. The translation movement, which began in the

late eleventh century, continued during the Renaissance and culminated

in its final and arguably most important phase during the second half

of the fifteenth century and into the sixteenth with the introduction

of the printing press. This invention vastly increased the circulation

of books as well as the accuracy of their copying.

It was a major stroke of historical luck that printing was introduced

in Europe at exactly the same time as the last vestige of the Roman

Empire fell to Muslim Turks. Texts that had been preserved in

Constantinople for a thousand years could now be permanently rescued.

As Elizabeth L. Eisenstein says in her monumental The Printing Press

as an Agent of Change:

“The classical editions, dictionaries, grammar and reference guides

issued from print shops made it possible to achieve an unprecedented

mastery of Alexandrian learning even while laying the basis for a new

kind of permanent Greek revival in the West.…We now tend to take for

granted that the study of Greek would continue to flourish after the

main Greek manuscript centers had fallen into alien hands and hence

fail to appreciate how remarkable it was to find that Homer and Plato

had not been buried anew but had, on the contrary, been disinterred

forever more. Surely Ottoman advances would have been catastrophic

before the advent of printing. Texts and scholars scattered in nearby

regions might have prolonged the study of Greek but only in a

temporary way.”

Muslims and Christians treated Greek philosophy very differently,

partly because Judaism, Islam and Christianity are monotheistic in

very different ways. Brague points out that there are fundamental

differences between them. It is a misunderstanding that there are

“three religions of the book” because the meaning of the book is very

different in each religion.

According to Rémi Brague, “In Judaism, the Tenakh is a written history

of the covenant between God and the people of Israel, almost a kind of

contract. In Christianity, the New Testament is the history of one

person, Jesus, who is the incarnate Word of God. In Islam, the Koran

is ‘uncreated’ and has descended from the heavens in perfect form.

Only in Islam is the book itself what is revealed by God. In Judaism

God is revealed in the history of the Jewish people. In Christianity

God is revealed as love in the person of Jesus. Judaism and

Christianity are not religions of the book, but religions with a book.

The third misconception is to speak of ‘the three Abrahamic

religions’. Christians usually refer to Abraham as a person who binds

these three religions together, and who is shared by them. In Judaism,

he is the ‘founding father’. But in the Koran it is written: ‘Abraham

was neither a Jew nor a Christian.’ (III, 67)….According to Islam, the

first prophets received the same revelation as Mohammed, but the

message was subsequently forgotten. Or it was tampered with, with evil

intent. So according to Islam, the Torah and the Gospels are fakes.”

In Islamic lands, falsafa remained a private affair, an unofficial

matter for individuals in fairly restricted numbers. Philosophy was

always marginal in the Islamic world and was never institutionalized

there as it was in the European medieval universities.

According to Rémi Brague, theology as such is a Christian specialty.

He even claims that “‘theology’ as a rational exploration of the

divine (according to Anselm’s program) exists only in Christianity.”

Brague states that “The great philosophers of Islam were amateurs, and

they pursued philosophy during their leisure hours: Farabi was a

musician, Avicenna a physician and a vizier, Averroes a judge.

Avicenna did philosophy at night, surrounded by his disciples, after a

normal workday. And he did not refuse a glass of wine to invigorate

him a bit and keep him on his toes. Similarly, among the Jews,

Maimonides was a physician and a rabbinic judge, Gersonides was an

astronomer (and astrologer), and so on. The great Jewish or Muslim

philosophers attained the same summits as the great Christian

Scholastics, but they were isolated and had little influence on

society. In medieval Europe, philosophy became a university course of

studies and a pursuit that could provide a living….You can be a

perfectly competent rabbi or imam without ever having studied

philosophy. In contrast, a philosophical background is a necessary

part of the basic equipment of the Christian theologian. It has even

been obligatory since the Lateran Council of 1215.”

Demand usually precedes the presence of a product on the market and it

is the demand that needs to be explained. As Brague notes,

translations are made because someone feels that a certain text

contains information that people need. The real intellectual

revolution in Europe began well before the wave of translations in

Toledo and elsewhere. This was demonstrated by the American jurist

Harold J. Berman in his important 1983 book Law and Revolution. The

efforts of the Catholic Church to make a new system of law required

refined tools, which meant that the West sought out Aristotle’s and

other Greek work on logic and philosophy.The “Papal Revolution”

starting in the eleventh century was an effort to apply ancient Greek

methods of logic to the remnants of Roman law dating back to Late

Antiquity and the reforms of the active Eastern Roman Emperor

Justinian the Great. Justinian’s revision of existing Roman law, the

Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) was compiled in Latin in the

530s AD and later influenced medieval Canon Law. While they did

utilize Roman law and Greek logic, medieval Western scholars through

their intellectual efforts created a new synthesis which had not

existed in Antiquity. Prominent among them was the twelfth century

Italian legal scholar Gratian, a monk who taught in Bologna. His great

work, commonly known as the Decretum, appeared around 1140 as a

synthesis of church law. Harold J. Berman writes in his book Law and

Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, page


“Every person in Western Christendom lived under both canon law and

one or more secular legal systems. The pluralism of legal systems

within a common legal order was an essential element of the structure

of each system. Because none of the coexisting legal systems claimed

to be all inclusive or omnicompetent, each had to develop

constitutional standards for locating and limiting sovereignty, for

allocating governmental powers within such sovereignty, and for

determining the basic rights and duties of members….Like the

developing English royal law of the same period, the canon law tended

to be systematized more on the basis of procedure than of substantive

rules. Yet after Gratian, canon law, unlike English royal law, was

also a university discipline; professors took the rules and principles

and theories of the cases into the classrooms and collected, analyzed,

and harmonized them in their treatises.”

With the papacy of the dynamic and assertive Gregory VII (1073-1085),

the Roman Catholic Church entered the Investiture Struggle, a

protracted and largely successful conflict with European monarchs over

control of appointments, investitures, of Church officials. Edward

Grant explains in his book God and Reason in the Middle Ages, page


“Gregory VII began the process that culminated in 1122 in the

Concordat of Worms (during the reign of the French pope, Calixtus II

[1119-1124]), whereby the Holy Roman Emperor agreed to give up

spiritual investiture and allow free ecclesiastical elections. The

process manifested by the Investiture Struggle has been appropriately

called the Papal Revolution. Its most immediate consequence was that

it freed the clergy from domination by secular authorities: emperors,

kings, and feudal nobility. With control over its own clergy, the

papacy became an awesome, centralized, bureaucratic powerhouse, an

institution in which literacy, a formidable tool in the Middle Ages,

was concentrated. The Papal Revolution had major political, economic,

social, and cultural consequences. With regard to the cultural and

intellectual consequences, it ‘may be viewed as a motive force in the

creation of the first European universities, in the emergence of

theology and jurisprudence and philosophy as systematic disciplines,

in the creation of new literary and artistic styles, and in the

development of a new consciousness.’…the papacy grew stronger and more

formidable. It reached the pinnacle of its power more than a century

later in the pontificate of Innocent III (1198-1216), perhaps the most

powerful of all medieval popes.”

The power of the secular states grew as well, but the separation

between Church and state endured because the Papal Revolution had

established a virtual parity between them. It was the internal

dynamism of Europe during the High Middle Ages that drove the recovery

of Classical learning. Here is The Legend of the Middle Ages by Rémi

Brague, page 180:

“The European intellectual renaissance preceded the translations from

the Arabic. The latter were not the cause, but the effect of that

renaissance. Like all historical events, it had economic aspects

(lands newly under cultivation, new agricultural techniques) and

social aspects (the rise of free cities). On the level of intellectual

life, it can be understood as arising from a movement that began in

the eleventh century, probably launched by the Gregorian reform of the

Church.…That conflict bears witness to a reorientation of Christianity

toward a transformation of the temporal world, up to that point more

or less left to its own devices, with the Church taking refuge in an

apocalyptical attitude that said since the world was about to end,

there was little need to transform it. The Church’s effort to become

an autonomous entity by drawing up a law that would be exclusive to it

– Canon Law – prompted an intense need for intellectual tools. More

refined concepts were called for than those available at the time.

Hence the appeal to the logical works of Aristotle, who was translated

from Greek to Latin, either through Arabic or directly from the Greek,

and the Aristotelian heritage was recovered.”

Rémi Brague is a highly competent scholar and I can easily recommend

his works to those who have a serious interest in studying these

subjects. I will conclude by adding some other books that people can

read. About Islam I recommend essentially everything written by Robert

Spencer. Bat Ye’or’s books are groundbreaking and important. The

Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Bostom should be considered required reading

for all those who are interested in Islam. It is the best and most

complete book currently available on the subject in English, possibly

in any language. Ibn Warraq’s books are excellent, starting with

Defending the West. Understanding Muhammadby the Iranian ex-Muslim Ali

Sina is worth reading, as are Defeating Jihad by Serge Trifkovic and A

God Who Hates by Wafa Sultan. For European readers I could add my own

book Defeating Eurabia. Paul Belien’s book about the EU, A Throne in

Brussels, is also well worth reading.

For books about the history of science, I recommend everything written

by Edward Grant. The Beginnings of Western Science by David C.

Lindberg is good, though slightly more politically correct than Grant

when it comes to science in the Islamic world. The Rise of Early

Modern Science: Islam, China and the West by Toby E. Huff is highly

recommended. Huff’s work is carefully researched and should be

considered required reading for those who are interested in this

subject. These books are easy to read for an educated, mainstream


For books that are excellent, yet more specialized and slightly more

challenging, I can recommend Victor J. Katzfor the history of

mathematics and The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy by James

Evans for the history of pre-telescopic astronomy up to and including

Kepler. Evans’ book is extremely well researched and detailed, almost

too much so on European and Middle Eastern astronomy, but contains

virtually nothing on Chinese or Mayan astronomy. For a more global

perspective, Cosmos: An Illustrated History of Astronomy and Cosmology

by John North is good and not too difficult to read.

Fjordman is a noted Norwegian blogger who has written for many

conservative web sites. He used to have his own Fjordman Blog in the

past, but it is no longer active.

© 2004-2011 Global Politician

The Legend of the Middle Ages



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