Galen in Syriac: Rethinking Old Assumptions

in Aramaic Studies
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This article challenges a series of common assumptions regarding the Syriac translations of Galen: first, about the quality of the sixth-century Syriac translations; second, about the status and role of Syriac as a scientific language; and, third, about economic forces and the motivation for excellence in translation. Finally, the circumstances that produced so many incorrect assumptions, and permitted them to persist for so long, are briefly discussed.

Galen in Syriac: Rethinking Old Assumptions

in Aramaic Studies

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References

5

See K.W. HiersemannKatalog 500: Orientalische Manuskripte (Leipzig: Hiersemann1922) p. 14.

8

See Bhayro‘Syriac Medical Terminology’ p. 150. This manuscript is being edited and translated as part of the ERC-funded project Floriental under the auspices of Robert Hawley.

9

See E.C. SachauInedita Syriaca (Vienna: K.K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1870; repr. Hildesheim: G. Olms1968) pp. ‮ܨܙ‬‎-‮ܦܚ‬‎.

11

See E.A.W. BudgeSyrian Anatomy Pathology and Therapeutics or ‘the Book of Medicines’ (London: Oxford University Press1913); S. Bhayro ‘The Reception of Galen’s Art of Medicine in the Syriac Book of Medicines’ in B. Zipser (ed.) Medical Books in the Byzantine World (Bologna: Eikasmós 2013) pp. 123–144. This article is important because it demonstrates how the earlier prejudices were ill founded and yet remain very influential.

14

McCollum‘Sergius of Reshaina as Translator’ pp. 177–178.

17

J.C. LamoreauxḤunayn ibn Isḥāq on His Galen Translations (Provo: Brigham Young University Press2016) p. xv.

19

See LamoreauxḤunayn ibn Isḥāq pp. 62–63.

20

J.T. Olsson‘The Reputation of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq in Contemporaneous and Later Sources’Journal of Abbasid Studies 3 (2016) pp. 29–55.

22

See Olsson‘The Reputation of Ḥunayn’ pp. 32–36.

25

See Olsson‘The Reputation of Ḥunayn’ pp. 39–41.

26

Text according to E.A.W. BudgeThe Chronography of Gregory Abûʾl Faraj the son of Aaron the Hebrew Physician commonly known as Bar Hebraeus (London: Oxford University Press1932) vol. 2 p. 53v; see Bhayro ‘Syriac Medical Terminology’ p. 154. It is likely that Bar Hebraeus’s account was based on that of Ibn al-Qiftī.

31

Hugonnard-RocheLa logique d’ Aristote p. 134.

32

McCollum‘Greek Literature in the Christian East’ p. 23.

33

McCollum‘Greek Literature in the Christian East’ p. 23; see also McCollum’s discussion of the dichotomy of free versus literal translation on pp. 30–31. It is also worth keeping in mind that Ḥunayn himself also employed two different translation styles one more literary and less literal and the other more precise but not overly literal. His choice of style was determined by the preferences of his clients who themselves would sometimes revise his translations—see Lamoreaux Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq pp. xvi–xvii.

34

For full details see Wilkins and Bhayro‘The Greek and Syriac Traditions’ p. 97.

39

See S.P. Brock‘Changing Fashions in Syriac Translation Technique: the Background to Syriac Translations under the Abbasids’Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies 4 (2004) pp. 3–14 (7).

41

Brock‘Changing Fashions’ p. 9.

42

Brock‘Changing Fashions’ p. 9.

45

D. GutasGreek Thought Arabic Culture: the Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʿAbbāsid Society (2nd–4th/8th–10th centuries) (London: Routledge1998) p. 138.

46

See the discussion in McCollum‘Greek Literature in the Christian East’ pp. 25–27.

47

See for example A.H. BeckerFear of God and the Beginning of Wisdom: The School of Nisibis and the Development of Scholastic Culture in Late Antique Mesopotamia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press2006); more recently see H. Takahashi ‘Syriac as the Intermediary in Scientific Graeco-Arabica: Some Historical and Philological Observations’ Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 3 (2015) pp. 66–97 (83–84).

48

GutasGreek Thought Arabic Culture p. 139.

49

M. Meyerhof‘New Light on Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥâq and his Period’Isis 8 (1926) pp. 685–724 (711); see also Bhayro and Brock ‘The Syriac Galen Palimpsest’ pp. 41–42.

50

Dols‘Syriac into Arabic’ p. 48.

51

Watt‘Why Did Ḥunayn’ p. 367.

52

See LamoreauxḤunayn ibn Isḥāq pp. 68–69. For more information on these personalities see Meyerhof ‘New Light on Ḥunayn’ pp. 715 717–719; Lamoreaux Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq pp. 138 148–149 151–152.

53

See Dols‘Syriac into Arabic’ p. 48.

55

See also the remarks in Watt‘Why Did Ḥunayn’ pp. 365–366.

56

Watt‘Why Did Ḥunayn’ pp. 365–366.

58

G. Bos and Y.Tz. Langermann‘The Introduction of Sergius of Rēshʿainā to Galen’s Commentary on Hippocrates’ On NutrimentJSS 54 (2009) pp. 179–204.

60

See Takahashi‘Syriac as the Intermediary’ p. 74.

64

Dols‘Syriac into Arabic’ pp. 46–47.

65

GutasGreek Thought Arabic Culture p. 138.

66

GutasGreek Thought Arabic Culture p. 141.

67

Bos and Langermann‘The Introduction of Sergius of Rēshʿainā’ p. 181.

68

Text from BrooksHistoria ecclesiastica p. 136; compare the English translation in Greatrex Horn and Phenix The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor p. 369.

74

For which see V.L. MenzeJustinian and the Making of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press2008).

75

W. WrightA Short History of Syriac Literature (London: Adam and Charles Black1894) pp. 1–2.

76

M. UllmannIslamic Medicine (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press1978) p. 16.

77

Dols‘Syriac into Arabic’ p. 51.

78

Rosenthal Review of R. Walzer p. 254.

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