Twelfth-Century Latin Medicine in Hebrew Garb: Doeg the Edomite as a Cultural Intermediary
In 1197-1199 an anonymous scholar completed the translation of twenty-four medical works from Latin into Hebrew, which he listed in a Preface he wrote to the entire corpus. Some seventeen of these translations are extant. The translator describes himself as a Jew who took baptism but subsequently re...
|Summary:||In 1197-1199 an anonymous scholar completed the translation of twenty-four medical works from Latin into Hebrew, which he listed in a Preface he wrote to the entire corpus. Some seventeen of these translations are extant. The translator describes himself as a Jew who took baptism but subsequently repented. His self-image as an apostate is reflected in his referring to himself as “Doeg the Edomite,” an appellation we also use. Doeg’s motivation to embark on his gigantic translation project was to keep Jews from flocking at the doors of Christian doctors, who prescribe to them medicines containing impure foodstuffs. Doeg also followed the aim of “enlightening” the Jews and reports that he was taken to task for this.The works translated by Doeg, which we seek to identify, mostly belong to the Salerno corpus. We argue that Doeg is likely to have worked in the setting of a Latin medical school, where the books he put into Hebrew were used in a program of learning. Doeg’s use of Occitan vernacular words transliterated in Hebrew letters allows us to conclude that he lived in the Midi, suggesting that he was in contact with medical scholars in Montpellier. Doeg’s corpus of translations is a significant index to the medical texts valued in Montpellier and sheds light on both Hebrew and Latin intellectual history. Comparisons of Hebrew passages from Doeg’s translations with their Latin Vorlagen allow us to conclude that for the most part Doeg translated literally, although at times reverting to paraphrases or shortening his texts.We argue that, whereas in the domains of philosophy and science most translations in the Midi were made from Arabic, in medicine Latin-into-Hebrew translations were fairly frequent already in the thirteenth century. Doeg’s story points to the causes of this difference: the medical field was one, comprising Jewish and gentile doctors and patients, with the ensuing collaborations or competition over patients compelling Jewish doctors to avail themselves of the best available knowledge.|
|Contains:||Enthalten in: Medieval encounters
|Persistent identifiers:||DOI: 10.1163/15700674-12340072|