Virtual Forum - Communities of Knowledge

Vanesa Birkhahn's picture


Dear All,

We're continuing our series and want to invite you to register now for the November 3 research paper discussions by Matteo Pimpinelli and Gregor Schwarb for the virtual forum Jews, Christians, and Muslims as Colleagues and Collaborators in the Abbasid Near East. Registrants can read and comment on the papers that will be discussed during the live Zoom session. Please see https://usaybia.net/forum2020 for the full program of the virtual forum (now through December).

For the Care of Body & Soul: The Greek Bible and an Arab-Islamic Botanical Text in a 10th-Century Palimpsest Fragment

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

16:00 CET Research Paper Discussion

For the Care of Body & Soul: The Greek Bible and an Arab-Islamic Botanical Text in a 10th-Century Palimpsest Fragment

Event info and registration: 

https://usaybia.net/forum2020#5-pimpinelli 

Matteo Pimpinelli  
Sapienza University of Rome

This paper is focused on the study of an unpublished palimpsest fragment from the Qubbat al-khazna in Damascus, which presents a very interesting structure. The Greek scriptio inferior, already identified as a biblical text, coexists with the Arabic scriptio superior − referred to an Islamic text − which has not been properly studied in its textual and paleographical features so far. The Arabic text is an excerpt belonging to the medical-botanical work entitled Mukhtaṣar fī-l-ṭibb (“Compendium of Medicine”) − known from only one manuscript witness so far − written by the Andalusian jurist ʿAbd al-Malik b. Ḥabīb (d. 238 AH/AD 853). The textual examination of the Arabic text will be conducted along with the paleographical and codicological analysis of the fragment, in order to suggest some hypotheses about its dating and provenance. Such a multidisciplinary research represents a starting point from which some thoughts, referred to the Arabic scriptio superior in the first place, has been carried out. For example, the study of the Arabic text − which testifies a high degree of knowledge in the fields of botany and medicine − along with the palimpsest order of the fragment, has suggested a monastic environment as its probable place of origin. Furthermore, the fragment represents a documentary witness which highlights the relevance of the body care, as attributed in such environment, in addition to the peculiar process of the discard of a religious text − the Bible in Greek − apparently sensed as no more useful, in a context arguably yet arabized. More interestingly, it is a clear evidence of the fact that such a vision of life was pursued acquiring ideas and concepts, also derived from different cultures − even if it would have implied the study and the use of an Islamic text, written in the Arabic script.

Matteo Pimpinelli is currently a PhD student and a master's graduate from “Sapienza” University of Rome, with a thesis entitled: “Two unpublished fragments from the Mukhtaṣar fī-l-ṭibb by ‘Abd al Malik b. Ḥabīb (d. 238 AH/AD 853) from the Qubbat al-khazna in Damascus” (supervisor: Prof. A. D’Ottone Rambach).

 

A Trans-Denominational Friendship in Late 14th-Century Aleppo

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

17:00 CET Research Paper Discussion

A Trans-Denominational Friendship in Late 14th-Century Aleppo

Event info and registration: https://usaybia.net/forum2020#6-schwarb 

Gregor Schwarb  
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies

An Arabic commentary on Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Sefer ha-Maddaʿ, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah I–IV, attributed to a Ḥanafī muwaqqit in late 14th century Aleppo, has attracted the attention of many distinguished scholars over the last century and a half. The research history of this significant document is almost as intriguing as the text itself and attests to the difficulty of 19th- and 20th-century scholarship to come to terms with the peculiar setting of a Muslim scholar commenting on a Jewish halakhic treatise.In my presentation, I will briefly summarise the research history to illustrate how historiography is prone to be (mis-)guided by cultural predispositions and shaped by issues, concerns, and blind spots rooted in the historian’s realm of experience.The commentary by ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Ṭaybughā was the result of a longstanding friendship with Rabbi David ben Yehoshuʿa, the grandson of Maimonides’ great-grandson. The impact of this friendship comes to the fore on several occasions in David’s own commentary on the Mishneh Torah. In David’s view, this friendship represented far more than a mere social acquaintance with a Muslim soulmate. Like his illustrious ancestor, he conceived of the Foundational Laws of the Torah as a straightforward, ‘exoteric’ digest of all theoretical sciences, in such a way that a well-conceived commentary upon these chapters should build upon the most advanced scientific knowledge available at a given time. The perfect commentator should therefore be a leading scientist of his time, irrespective of his religious affiliation.

Gregor Schwarb (SOAS University of London) is currently a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem and works on several research projects related to manuscripts from the Second Firkovič Collection at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg.

How it works

The virtual forum is conceived as an opportunity to discuss the state of research on interreligious knowledge exchange. Half-hour project demos will showcase ongoing projects in the area, while one-hour research paper discussions are a chance to interact on a deeper level with researchers who are in the process of formulating approaches to the subject.• Students, academics, and anyone else interested may register by clicking on any of the registration links. This will take you to a Zoom page, where you can select any or all of the nine sessions to attend virtually. The number of Zoom participants for each session is limited to 100.
• Registered participants will be sent drafts of research papers to read and comment on ahead of time. We'll use the web tool Hypothes.is to do this collaboratively. You can get a free Hypothes.is account here, and you'll receive an email ahead of the session containing a link to read the paper and another link to join the private Hypothes.is group where you can comment or ask questions.
• During the live Zoom sessions, you'll hear two presentations and, for research paper discussions, 1–2 responses from invited participants. The remainder of the time will be open for you to interact with the speaker, so come with questions!
• Proceedings: Revised papers from the forum will be submitted to a special issue of medieval worlds: comparative & interdisciplinary studies, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ISSN 2412-3196).All times are Central European Time (CET). Logistical support has been provided by Usaybia.net team members Vanessa Birkhahn and Malinda Tolay.

Background

From the eighth century to the thirteenth century and beyond, scholars in the Abbasid and neighboring realms pioneered study in medicine, mathematics, the astral arts, and many other disciplines. Scholarly treatises from that era together with biographical sources such as Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa's History of Physicians an…