About Rabbi Gershom Ben Solomon Catalan
Gerson ben Solomon Catalan was a Jewish author who lived at Arles, France in the middle of the thirteenth century. He died, possibly at Perpignan, toward the end of the thirteenth century. According to Abraham Zacuto and others, he was the father of Levi ben Gerson (Gersonides).
Catalan compiled, about 1280, an encyclopedia entitled Sha'ar ha-Shamayim (Door of Heaven), which contains many quotations and even whole treatises from previous translations of works written in Arabic. Following Shem-Tov ibn Falaquera, he divided his work into three parts, dealing respectively with: (1) physics, including a chapter on dreams; (2) astronomy, taken chiefly from Al-Fargani; and (3) theology or metaphysics, which part, as Catalan expressly says, contains nothing new, but is a copy of Maimonides' Book of the Soul. The Greek authors cited are Alexander of Aphrodisias, Aristotle, Empedocles, Galen, Hippocrates, Homer, Plato, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Themistius, and Theophrastus; the Arabic: Ali ibn Abbas al-Magusi, Ali ibn Ridwan, Averroes, Avicenna, Costa ibn Lucca, Al-Farabi, Al-Fergani, Chonain, Isaac Israeli, Ibn Tufail, and Ibn Zuhr. The work was published in Venice in 1547 and Rödelheim in 1801.