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Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms

Objective

The Hippocratic Aphorisms have exerted a singular influence over generations of physicians both in the East and in the West. Galen (d. c. 216) produced an extensive commentary on this text, as did other medical authors writing in Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew. The Arabic tradition is particularly rich, with more than a dozen commentaries extant in over a hundred manuscripts. These Arabic commentaries did not merely contain scholastic debates, but constituted important venues for innovation and change. Moreover, they impacted on medical practice, as the Aphorisms were so popular that both doctors and their patients knew them by heart. Despite their importance for medical theory and practice, previous scholarship on them has barely scratched the surface. Put succinctly, the present project breaks new ground by conducting an in-depth study of this tradition through a highly innovative methodology: it approaches the available evidence as a corpus, to be constituted electronically, and to be analysed in an interdisciplinary way.
We propose to survey the manuscript tradition of the Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, beginning with Ḥunayn ibn ʾIsḥāq’s Arabic translation of Galen’s commentary. On the basis of this philological survey that will employ a new approach to stemmatics, we shall produce provisional electronic XML editions of the commentaries. These texts will constitute the corpus, some 600,000 words long, that we shall investigate through the latest IT tools to address a set of interdisciplinary problems: textual criticism of the Greek sources; Graeco-Arabic translation technique; methods of quotation; hermeneutic procedures; development of medical theory; medical practice; and social history of medicine. Both in approach and scope, the project will bring about a paradigm shift in our study of exegetical cultures in Arabic, and the role that commentaries played in the transmission and transformation of scientific knowledge.

Call for proposal

ERC-2011-StG_20101124
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Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
Address
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 499 968
Principal investigator
Peter Ernst Pormann (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Liz Fay (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (2)

THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 499 968
Address
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Peter Ernst Pormann (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Liz Fay (Ms.)
THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

Participation ended

United Kingdom
Address
Kirby Corner Road - University House
CV4 8UW Coventry
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Peter Hedges (Dr.)