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The Medical Works of Moses Maimonides: Glossaries and Indexes

It is my pleasure to enable access to the glossaries and indexes of the following medical works by Moses Maimonides, both original Arabic text and medieval Hebrew translation(s):

  • On Asthma;

  • On Hemorrhoids;

  • On Coitus;

  • On the Regimen of Health;

  • On the Elucidation of Some Symptoms and the Response to them (more commonly called De Causis Accidentium) and

  • On Poisons.

These glossaries and indexes have been prepared as part of the edition and translation of these works which are being published as a part of a project aiming at critically editing Maimonides' medical works which had not been edited at all or had been edited, but in unreliable editions.

This project started in 1995 thanks to the support of the Wellcome Trust in London and now enjoys the generous support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The series entitled The Medical Works of Moses Maimonides is published under the auspices of the Middle Eastern Text Initiative at Brigham Young's Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship by Daniel C. Peterson (editor-in-chief), Morgan Davis and Angela Barrionuevo.

The Arabic-Hebrew-English glossary and the Hebrew indexes based on the translation by Moses Ibn Tibbon and Zeraḥyah Ben Isaac Ben She'altiel Ḥen to On Poisons are currently being adapted and will be added soon. The same holds good for a major Arabic-Hebrew-English glossary to the Medical Aphorisms, consisting of approximately 4000 terms, and the Hebrew indexes derived from Nathan ha-Me'ati and Zeraḥyah Ben Isaac Ben She'altiel Ḥen.

For the preparation of the indexes I am very grateful to a team of assistants at the Martin-Buber-Institut, consisting of Dr. Carsten Schliwski, Mrs Recha Allgaier-Honal MA, Mrs Melanie Hanitsch MA, and Mrs Jessica Kley MA. They were also instrumental for converting both the glossaries and the indexes from Nisus into Mellel files thus making it possible to turn them into PDF files. It should be stressed that these separate files are presented here as a preliminary tool. We realize that these files are not an ideal platform for research into the terminology in question, and hope that in the near future we will be able to provide access to them as part of a more general database of the medieval Hebrew medical terminology.

The glossaries are arranged alphabetically according to the original Arabic term, followed by the corresponding medieval Hebrew translation(s) and translation into modern English. However, since, contrary to the Arabic medical terminology, the field of medieval Hebrew medical terminology is still to a large extent unresearched, with many terms featuring neither in the current dictionaries nor in secondary literature, separate Hebrew indexes, arranged in alphabetical order, have been added to the different glossaries, to facilitate the search for a specific Hebrew medical term. It is my hope that these glossaries and indexes will ease the reading of medieval Arabic and Hebrew scientific texts in general and medical texts in particular. Moreover, the separate Hebrew indexes devoted to the individual translators of these medical texts are intended as a tool for defining the specific technical vocabulary used by these translators, and for establishing the authorship of many anonymous translations.

So far only the technical vocabulary and technique of translation used by one of these translators, namely, Zeraḥyah Ben Isaac Ben She'altiel Ḥen (Medical Aphorisms, On Poisons, On Hemorrhoids, On the Regimen of Health) have been the object of a more thorough critical investigation and resulted in the ascription of three more translations to his name, namely, of Hippocrates' De superfoetatione (by M. Zonta), and of Maimonides' Regimen and On Hemorrhoids (by G. Bos).

The terminology used by Moses Ibn Tibbon has been analyzed concisely in the edition of On Poisons and will be the object of further research as part of a project devoted to the edition of Ibn al-Jazzār's Zād al-musāfir wa-qūt al-ḥādir (Provisions for the Traveller and the Nourishment for the Sedentary), in addition to the Hebrew translation by Moses Ibn Tibbon.

A striking feature of his translation technique is the use of Occitan pharmaceutical terminology, and its close correspondence with the terminology used by yet another prominent translator from the Arabic, namely Shem Tov Ben Isaac. The technical vocabulary used by Shem Tov is currently being investigated as part of a project initiated by Gerrit Bos and Guido Mensching. The aim of this project is the critical edition, translation and annotation of book 29 of his translation of al-Zahrāwī's Kitāb al-taṣrīf li-man 'ajiza 'an al-ta'līf (The Arrangement of Medical Knowledge for One Who is Not Able to Compile a Book for Himself). Instead of translating Zahrāwī's glossary of medical terms in this book, Shem Tov compiled two independent lists of medical synonyms, the first in Hebrew-Arabic-Romance and the second in Romance-Arabic, and sometimes Hebrew.

Volume 1, consisting of the edition, translation and analysis of the first glossary with more than 700 entries, will be published by E.J. Brill, Leiden in 2010. The results of a comparative analysis of the terminology used by Shem Tov for his translation of Book 30 of this encyclopaedia dealing with surgery is forthcoming in an article by Gerrit Bos, entitled Medical terminology in the Hebrew tradition. Shem Tov Ben Isaac, 'Sefer ha-Shimmush', book 30.

Finally I trust that those who use the material offered here freely for their own research will acknowledge such in their publications.

Prof Dr Gerrit Bos