This research unit/ panel is generously sponsored by the Collaborative
Research Center – SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion”, Freie Universität Berlin
 and the German Research Foundation/ Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(DFG)

Chairs

Markham J. Geller, Freie Universität Berlin.

mark.geller@fu-berlin.de

Lennart Lehmhaus, Freie Universität Berlin.

lennart.lehmhaus@fu-berlin.de

 

Background

This new research unit is based on two current research projects in Berlin working in the field  of ancient Mesopotamian, Graeco-Roman and Talmudic medicine from a comparative perspective:

CRC/SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion” research project A03

“The Transfer of Medical Episteme in the ‘Encyclopaedic’ Compilations of Late Antiquity”

ERC-research project

“BabMed-Babylonian Medicine_Fragments of Cuneiform Medicine in the Babylonian Talmud: Knowledge Transfer in Late Antiquity.”

 

Programme

Knowledge and practice of medicine was a well established field in Late Antiquity and must have been formulated within the context of a medical curriculum to which we do  have access only via Graeco-Roman and Syriac texts, while no Hebrew or Aramaic work has been transmitted. Nevertheless, some indications of medical ideas and healing practices are alluded to in the Bible, in many Rabbinic sources, as well as in the healing texts and magico-magical passages of the New Testament and the apocrypha. Furthermore, one may suggest that all these sources adapted and/ or appropriated earlier and contemporary medical knowledge that prevailed in their surroundings, be it from ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, Graeco-Roman or Syriac traditions or knowledge systems. The panels will focus on the complex and often subtler processes of reception, adaptation and production of (secular or scientific) medical knowledge in the transformative period of (Late) Antiquity. Particular attention will be paid also to the interplay between form and content in the representations of medical discourses. Recent studies have begun to discuss how the use of rhetoric strategies, literary structures, or the choice of genres affects also the conveyed ideas and concepts in ancient “knowledge cultures”. In which way did specific hermeneutics (Listenwissenschaft/ encyclopaedism/ linguocentrism/ exegesis) not only serve as a ‘container’ or ‘channel’ for transmission or as a seal for authority but also as a method for acquiring knowledge? An analysis of these specific ways of appropriation of medical ideas and practices might show also the particular cultural or religious (Mesopotamian, Jewish, Christian, Graeco-Roman) character of the epistemologies and the knowledge generated through these exchanges.

Keywords:

Medicine, Magic, Encyclopaedia, Ancient Science, Diagnosis

 

Call for Papers 2017 (BERLIN, 7-11 August 2017)

Papers are invited on the theme of “Literary and discursive framing of concepts of (medical) knowledge in (Late) Antiquity”, extending from biblical and apocryphal texts, into later Jewish, Rabbinic-Talmudic traditions and beyond (i.e. early medieval time). The organizers explicitly welcome papers by scholars working on similar questions as those outlined in the following but dealing with neighboring or adjacent traditions (ancient Babylonia or Egypt; Graeco-Roman culture(s); Iranian traditions, early Christian or Syriac traditions; early Islam etc.)

Recent studies into ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman scientific traditions have emphasized the craft and artifice of those texts. On the one hand, these works can be characterized by a rather astonishing degree of literary expertise, discursive versatility and rhetorical sophistication.Ancient scientific authors were well versed not only in their very field of expertise but adopted and deployed many compositional techniques of their respective cultural milieu. On the other hand, scholars have pointed also to the complex framing of scientific knowledge in texts whose primary focus was poetic, historiographic or literary. This new trend in scholarship on ancient knowledge cultures pays attention to the complex interplay between form and content in the representations of these knowledge discourses. How does the use of rhetoric strategies, literary structures, or the choice of genres in ancient `scientific texts’ affect the ideas and concepts conveyed? In which ways does a specific hermeneutic (Listenwissenschaft/ encyclopaedism/ linguocentrism) not only serve as a ‘container’ but also as a method for knowledge acquisition

Based on these thoughts, the research unit welcomes presentations that ask how medical (and other related) knowledge is presented, or rather, represented in particular texts and contexts. Papers may address the question of how such knowledge discoursesare shaped and designed. One might ask further: who constructs this discourse and for whom? Which implicit or explicit authorial strategies and intentions might be discerned? How can the adoption or appropriation of certain textual strategies and compositional techniques rather be seen as a vital venue for knowledge transfer, rather than the actual content of the passage?

This set of questions pays attention to the embeddedness of medicine in Talmudic literature, other Jewish and further ancient traditions. So, it allows for valuable insights how medical information and other types of knowledge were integrated into different, overlapping discourses. Especially, the interplay between medical, religious, political, ethical and ritualdiscourses seems to be of crucial importance for a broader understanding of ancient knowledge cultures.  Papers should be interested in a comparative approach and may apply theories and methods ranging from textual criticism and redaction history, toliteraryor discursive studies of ancient scientific texts that pay also attention to their socio-cultural framing. Jewish texts as a legacy and integral component of ancient Near Eastern cultures have to be examined carefully with regard to their concept of language, literacy/orality and their discursive techniques.

Although being primarily focused on Jewish traditions, the research unit would like to emphasize the comparative approach by inviting papers from scholars working in neighboring traditions on those and similar questions.

 

POSSIBLE TOPICS (not meant exclusively) might be:

– (Medical) knowledge and science in a Biblical garb: sacred fiction or factual practices?

– Different concepts and strategies of framing knowledge discourses in the so-called scientific literature in the Second Temple period (Apocrypha, Apocalyptic texts like Enoch etc., texts from Qumran).

– trajectories and inheritance of Ancient Babylonian and other Near Eastern concepts and forms of representing and transmitting knowledge (e.g. Listenwissenschaft; scribal culture and school curricula; specialized groups of experts, like priests etc.) in later Jewish, Christian and Graeco-Roman texts.

– Style, form and content of rabbinic discourse on medicine and healing in their Graeco-Roman and Iranian-Persian contexts.

  • Specific hermeneutics and discursive inclinations (Listenwissenschaft/ encyclopaedism/ linguocentrism) as a trans-cultural phenomenon and their importance for the transfer of knowledge.

– The figure of the healer/doctor/expert and his representation as informant and agent of knowledge (Wissensträger) in Jewish and neighboring traditions.

  • smaller forms and genres as well as the question of discursive entanglement in biblical, later Jewish, and Talmudic discourse of medicine and other fields of knowledge within their varying cultural contexts.

– How did the different ways of structuring, framing and representing knowledge affect the theories or concepts of disease as well as practical approaches to medicine and the bodyin the periods under discussion?

 

Alongside the focus in 2017 on “Literary and discursive framing of Concepts of (medical) knowledge in (Late) Antiquity”we invite also contributions which fall into the general scope of our group as outlined above.

Please send your proposals/ abstracts and a short CV to both chairs:

Markham J. Geller, Freie Universität Berlin.

mark.geller@fu-berlin.de

Lennart Lehmhaus, Freie Universität Berlin.

lennart.lehmhaus@fu-berlin.de

Please note that abstracts will  also need to be submitted also via the SBL website.

Invited panelists who are neither EABS nor SBL members will need to join EABS in order to present a paper.

 

PAST ACTIVITIES

The inaugural meeting of this unit took place at the EABS Annual Meeting 2016 in Leuven (Belgium), 17-20 July 2016.

Call for Papers 2016

Papers are invited on the theme of the “Concepts of Disease in traditions of (Late) Antiquity”, extending from biblical and apocryphal texts, into later Jewish-rabbinic and early Christian traditions. We are especially interested in presentations on rabbinic-talmudic traditions against the foil of their literary and socio-cultural background(s). However, also discussions of earlier discourses in the Bible and the post-biblical (Second Temple) literature as well as of those medical traditions in later medieval are most welcome, as far as they relate to the transfer of knowledge on different paths.
The panel organisers aim to offer a comparative perspective by keeping an eye on the embeddedness of such medical discourses on illness and disease in their surrounding cultures. This contextualization starts with ancient Babylonian and other Near Eastern cultures and their highly developed medical systems. However, also the impact of Greco-Roman medical theory and practice and Early Christian approaches as well as later Byzantine, Syriac and early Muslim-Arabic appropriations and inventions should be considered. Such a perspective will allow for assessing Talmudic medical ideas of disease within a broader history of medicine and to determine their particular Jewishness. Furthermore, the synchronic and diachronic structure of the panel is intended to highlight various processes of transmission, transfer, rejection, modification and invention of the issues under discussion. While addressing the interaction between various medical discourses, papers may consider different strategies (borrowing/ camouflage/ negation etc.) which may relate to questions of the transcultural history of science(s) and knowledge in (Late) Antiquity.

Possible topics (not meant exclusively) might be:

– Biblical medicine and illness: sacred fiction or factual practices?
– Which disease concepts can be found in the so-called scientific literature in the Second Temple period (Apocrypha, Apocalyptic texts like Enoch etc., Qumran).
– Ancient Babylonian and other Near Eastern ideas about illness and their permutations in biblical and rabbinic medical traditions.
– Talmudic medicine and approaches to illness in their Greco-Roman and Iranian-Persian contexts.
– The figure of the healer and his role regarding different diseases in Jewish and neighboring traditions.
– The distinction between physical and mental illness and/ or impairment in biblical, later Jewish, and Talmudic discourse within the context of their varying cultural contexts, with a special regard to ideas of mental illness and possession in early Christian (NT/ patristic and monastic literature) and Byzantine traditions.
– How did theories or concepts of disease affect more practical approaches to the patient in the periods under discussion?

Alongside the 206-focus on “Concepts of Disease in traditions of (Late) Antiquity”we invite also other contributions which fall into the scope of our group as outlined above.

Please send your proposals/ abstracts and a short CV to both chairs:

Markham J. Geller, Freie Universität Berlin.

mark.geller@fu-berlin.de

Lennart Lehmhaus, Freie Universität Berlin.

lennart.lehmhaus@fu-berlin.de

Abstracts should be submitted also via a free-log-in account at the EABS website’s application system. See here:

2016 Annual Meeting – Leuven, Belgium

Invited panelists who are no EABS-members then will need to join EABS in order to present a paper.