Profiat Duran

Profiat Duran whose Jewish name was Isaac ben Moses (surnamed Ephodeus from his principal work מעשה אפור), is noted as a gifted poet, philosopher, and astronomer. He flourished between 1360 and 1412. In the bitter persecution of 1391 he was driven outwardly to embrace Christianity to save his life. In order to throw off the mask of a religion which in the name of love nearly exterminated all his co-religionists, Protiat and a friend, who had become an apostate for like reasons, concluded to go to Palestine to confess Judaism. Profiat Duran left first and went to a seaplace in the south of France, awaiting the arrival of his friend. Meanwhile Ben-Giorno met with Paul of Burgos (q.v.), who persuaded him to remain steadfastly in his Christian faith. Ben-Giorno wrote a letter to Duran in full praise of the bishop of Burgos, expounding his religious belief and exhorting him at the same time to be also true to Christianity. This imbittered Duran not only against his friend, but especially against the bishop of Burgos, and he answered in a polemical epistle, full of bitter sarcasm and irony, entitled כאבתיאל תהי (Be not like thy Fathers), called by Christians Alteca Boteca, who, misunderstanding its purpose, took it as a defence of Christianity, while in reality aimed against it. The whole letter was equivocal. It was believed at first reading that it was an exhortation to stand fast in the religion he had embraced, but the mystery was easily discovered, and it appeared by an attentive consideration that Duran meant to oblige his friend to return to Judaism. This celebrated work was first published at Constantinople in 1577 in a collection of other treatises. It was then republished by A. Gunzburg in the collection קבוֹ וכוחים (Breslau, 1844). Geiger published a German translation in his Wissenscha (Jl/iche Zeitschrift, 4:452-458 (Stuttgard, 1839), and an English translation was published in the Jewish Messenger (N. Y. Sept. 12, 1873). Besides, Duran wrote כלימת הגוים (The Reproach of the Gentiles), in 12 chapters, which has not as yet been published. An extract of it, as well as the contents of the chapters, is given in the Catalogue of Michael's Library, p. 364, 365 (Hamb. 1848) 1: — מעשה אפד (The Work of Ephod), a Hebrew grammar, divided into 32 chapters, with an interesting and elaborate introduction. Endowed with remarkable grammatical tact, he was the first to demonstrate the reflexive or reciprocal instead of the passive meaning of Niphal. His important grammar, which he finished in 1403, of which fragments are printed in the notes to Goldberg's edition of Ibn- Ganach's (q.v.) Sepher Harikmah (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1856); in Filipowski's edition of Menachem Ibn-Saruk's Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, p. 76 (Lond. 1854), and by Jacob C. Chajim in his Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, p. 42, 43 (ed. Ginsburg, Lond. 1865), has lately been published by Dr. Jonath. Friedlander and J. Kohn, with an introduction, notes, and elucidations (Vienna, 1865):a Commentary on two sections of Ibn-Ezra's commentary on the Pentateuch (De Rossi, No. 835): — a Commentary on Ibn-Ezra's enigma on the quiescent letters: — Comment on The Guide of the Perplexed: — and האפד חשב on astronomy, in 29 chapters. See First, Bibl. Jud. i, 215; Steinschneider. Catalogus Librorum Hebr. in Biblioth. Bodlej. col. 2112-2119; De Rossi, Dizionario Storico degli Autori Ebrei, p. 260 sq. (Germ. trans. by Hamberger); Ginsburg in Kitto's Cyclop. s.v.; Grhtz, Gesch. der Julen, 8:94, 403, etc. (Leips. 1864, p. 8689; ibid. 1875, p. 381 sq.); Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, p. 690 (Taylor's transl.); Lindo, History of the Jews, p. 195; Finn, Sephardimt, p. 386; Kalisch, Hebrew Grammar, ii, 31; Geiger, Judische Zeitschrift (1866), p. 212; Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, p. 127, 137 sq.; Etheridge, Introduction to Hebrew Literature, p. 268; Jost, Gesch. des Judenth. u. s. Sekten, 3, 100; Gronemann. De Profiatii Durani (Efodali) vita ac studiis cum in alias literas turn in grammaticam collatis (Breslau, 1869). (B. P.)

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