BAHYA BEN JOSEPH IBN PAKUDA (Bahya ibn Paquda)—a theologian and philosopher of the ninth century. He lived in Spain, most likely in Saragossa, where he was educated and served as judge. His views were influenced by Judaism, Aristotle’s philosophy, Arab thought, and neo-Platonism. He tried to use philosophy to present the meaning of religion.
Bahya’s doctrine was divided following Aristotle into three sections: natural science, mathematics, and theology. He treated natural science and mathematics as practical doctrines since they provided material benefits. Mathematics included arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. He considered theology as the highest science. Theology concerns divine matters and its object includes God’s attributes, the divine law, and also spiritual beings and the soul (as necessary for knowing God). He formulated theology in the form of the so-called duties of the heart. It was not theology as first philosophy (as in Aristotle) but a “divine science” inseparable from Revelation that set as its goal the rational justification of man’s spiritual duties to God. The duties consisted not only in external conduct in the world, but also in principles in thought and moral conduct. These were expressed in the form of ten theses or counsels: recognition of God’s unity, the possibility of knowing God solely by what He created, obedience to God, trust in God, serving God, humility before God, conversion, constant examination of one’s conscience, asceticism, and love for God. Bahya showed God’s unity and demonstrated his existence as the first cause who can be known only after what he created. In accordance with the Bible he stated that the world was created from nothing, but he did not provide a philosophical justification for this.
In his doctrine on the soul he followed neo-Platonism and showed that the soul is an alien element in relation to the world and it aspires to God. The soul is endowed with two attributes: desire and the ability to judge, an ability based on the reason. The first attribute is necessary to maintain society. The second attribute is necessary to perform the duties of the heart. Bahya strongly emphasized asceticism. He understood asceticism not as a hermit’s life far from society but primarily as the observation of asceticism in the heart, i.e., a life in accordance with God’s will and avoiding unnecessary things.
Bahya was the author of the work Kitab al-hidayah ila fara’id al-qulub (On the duties of the heart) written in Arabic between 1080 and 1090 (ed. Leida 1907–1912, English translation, Northvale 1996). In 1161 this work was translated into Hebrew by Ibn Tibbona and is one of the oldest Hebrew translations from Arabic (Hobot ha- lebabot; ed. W 1856, J-NY 1996). After it was translated it became a very popular work, in particular because of its clear and logical structure.
D. Kaufmann, Die Theologie des B. ibn Pakuda, in idem, Gesammelte Schriften, II, F 1910; G. Vajda, La théologie ascétique de B. ibn Paquda, P 1947; L. Gardet, Un grand spirituel juif. B. ibn Paquda, La view spirituelle 85 (1951), 399–406; Z. Kuksewicz, Zarys filozofii średniowiecznej [Outline of medieval philosophy], Wwa 1982, 546–547, 644–645 (passim); H. and M. Simon, Geschichte der jüdischen Philosophie, B 1984 (Filozofia żydowska [Jewish philosophy], Wwa 1990).