Jewish Physicians In Medieval Christian Europe: Professional Knowledge as a Cultural Change

[RG # 129] Jewish Physicians in Medieval Christian Europe: Professional Knowledge as an Agent for Cultural Change

March 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012

Organizers:

Gad Freudenthal (CNRS Paris, University of Geneva)
Reimund Leicht (The Hebrew University)

During the Middle Ages, in Christian Europe, the religious and linguistic borders between Jews and the surrounding Christian culture always remained less permeable than those in Muslim countries, and very little knowledge was appropriated from the neighbouring Scholastic Christian culture. in the Midi (the southern area of contemporary France) hardly any philosophical or scientific works were translated from Latin into Hebrew. One could perhaps even go so far as to speak of a "Latino-phobic attitude on the part of medieval Jews of the Midi in general.

However, the field of medicine is an exception to this generalization. As far back as the 12th century, and again in the 14th and the 15th, scores of medical works were translated from Latin into Hebrew. Jewish and Christian doctors frequently cooperated with each other and treated patients together. Our research group is focusing on the macro-phenomenon of the role played by medieval doctors in bringing about a cultural transfer from Latin into Hebrew cultures, or from Christians to Jews.

Doctors hold a singular position within the social system of knowledge, since all members of all religions and cultures have similarly constructed human bodes, and all human beings, regardless of their religious and cultural backgrounds, suffer from similar illnesses and seek to be healed from these illnesses. Patients always attempt to seek out the best possible medical treatment, thus putting the Jewish doctors in constant and direct competition with the environing non-Jewish health system. Therefore, medicine was usually a unified knowledge system in which Jewish doctors were compelled to keep up with the tendencies of medicine in the host societies and "modernize".

The study of the history of "Medicine and the Jews" as part of the development of Jewish culture in its Christian European environment is much more than the study of the appropriation of professional and scientific knowledge by one specific socio-religious group. It is rather a comprehensive enquiry into the catalytic role Jewish physicians played in the processes of change which Jewish cultures underwent in southern Europe during the Middle Ages.

 

Members

av

Michal Altbauer-Rudnik

FELLOW
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Michal is a professor in the Department of History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
men

Cyril Aslanov

FELLOW
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Cyril is a professor in the Department of Romance and Latin American Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
av

Tovi Bibring

FELLOW
Bar-Ilan University
Tovi is a professor in the Department of French Culture at Bar-Ilan University. Her research interests are medieval literatures and medieval studies.
men

Gad Freudenthal

FELLOW
CNRS / University of Geneva
Gad is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at University of Geneva, Switzerland, and at CNRS, France.
men

Reimund Leicht

FELLOW
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Reimund is a professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
men

Joseph Shatzmiller

FELLOW
Duke University
Joseph is a professor in the History Department at Duke University, USA. His research interest is medieval history.
men

Tamás Visi

FELLOW
Palacký University Olomouc
Tamás is a professor in the Kurt and Ursula Schubert Centre for Jewish Studies at Palacký University of Olomouc, Czech Republic.
men

David Wirmer

FELLOW
University of Cologne
David is a professor in the Thomas-Institut at the University of Cologne, Germany.

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