Copyright Dr. Elizabeth Garner All rights Reserved
“Jewish Doctors According to Three Major Medieval Arabic Literary Sources”
Scholarship on Jewish doctors of the medieval Islamic period often attempts to reconstruct the lives of these physicians by mining medieval Arabic biographies for historical information. However, this method overlooks the fact that these biographical compilations are literary works that were constructed by the elite, Muslims authors to fit certain literary and occupational troupes. By examining the biographical entires of Jewish doctors in three medieval Arabic-langauge compilations by Sa’id al-Andalusi (d. 1070 C.E.), Ibn al-Qifti (d. 1248 C.E.), and Ibn Abi Usaybi’a (d. 1270), the manner in which Muslim compiler’s personal connection to the medical profession affected the shaping of his biographical entries clear. At the same time, the biases of the Muslim compilers tell us a great deal about their interactions with Jewish doctors, the context of the hospital and the ruling court, and the intricate physician networks through which Muslims and Jews taught each other.
Raha Rafi is a current doctoral student within the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania.