AJS Annual Meeting 2015, Boston - Panel seeking participants (CFP)
Jewish medical knowledge and rabbinic discourse(s) in Late Antiquity
We are seeking participants for a panel on medical discourse(s) in Jewish traditions throughout (Late) Antiquity. The focus of the session(s) is on medical knowledge in rabbinic traditions (i.e. Talmudic literature and Midrash) against the foil of their literary and socio-cultural background(s). However, within a broader thematic focus also their relation to earlier traditions from the Bible and the post-biblical (Second Temple) literature can be discussed. Moreover, contributions on the legacy of those rabbinic medical discourses in post-Talmudic, early medieval (Sefer Assaf/ Targumim/ Late Midrash/ Geonic literature etc.) traditions may shed light on various ways of the transfer of knowledge on different paths.
Contributions are encouraged to offer a comparative perspective by keeping an eye on their embeddedness 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 Muslim-Arabic appropriations and inventions might be considered. Such a perspective will allow for assessing Jewish medical traditions within a broader history of medicine and to determine the particular Jewishness of those discourses and their epistemologies. From a macro-perspective this will help to observe how Jewish medicine interacts with other medical discourses through various strategies (borrowing/ camouflage/ adaptation/ competing claims to validity etc.), but also how these interactions are related to the history of science(s) and knowledge.
A list of possible questions/ topics (not meant to be exhaustive):
- Biblical medicine in a rabbinic garb - sacred fiction or history of medical practices?
- Relation between Talmudic/ rabbinic medical thought and literature in the Second Temple period related to secular knowledge (Apocrypha, Apocalyptic texts like Enoch etc., Qumran) and Wisdom literature.
- The interplay with Babylonian, Near Eastern, Syriac, Persian and Greco-Roman medical traditions in rabbinic sources.
- Literary, rhetorical and hermeneutical strategies of ‘writing science’ in Talmudic-rabbinic discourse.
- Theory and practice in Jewish medicinal passages- the purposes of medical information in Talmudic discourse.
- Figurations of healers and medical experts in Jewish texts, neighboring ancient traditions and the early Christian movement.
- The role of other cultures and literatures (like Syriac-Christian and Arabic-Muslim) in the transmission and production of rabbinic medical discourses in early medieval times.
Paper proposals or ideas are welcome and should be submitted not later than April 7th 2015.
Convenor/ Panel organiser: Lennart Lehmhaus
The panel is organized by Lennart Lehmhaus as part of the research project about “Talmudic Medicine” (A03) in comparison with Greek medical compilations in the early Byzantine period. The project is conducted by Markham J. Geller collaborating with specialists in Early Byzantine Medical Encyclopedias (head: Philip J. van der Eijk) at Humboldt University and in a complementary project (BabMed) with scholars from Israel. The project is based at Freie Universität Berlin within the framework of and supported by the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 980) "Episteme in Motion". For further information on the project “The Transfer of Medical Episteme in the ‘Encyclopaedic’ Compilations of Late Antiquity”, please visit: