The role of Latin
In addition to the Arabic-Hebrew translations, some of these translators used Latin versions of Arabic originals as their source texts, for example al-Jazzar (c. 895-979) and Zad al-Musafir, and of Arabic translations of Greek texts, such as the early translations by Doeg. Between the years 1197-99, Doeg translated 24 medical texts from Latin into Hebrew, which included 17 works on medical practice and seven on theory. These included a Latin translation of Hunayn’s introduction to Galen’s Ars Medica, which he called Sefer
Haguan (Book of Hunayn), Galen’s Ars Medica itself, Hippocrates’ Aphorisms and the Prognostics (Freudenthal 2013)? While these works were normally inaccessible to Jews, Doeg was allowed to obtain Latin texts as a convert to Christianity, albeit one who later repented of his conversion. Many of these texts were also translated from their Arabic versions. The Latin texts with which Doeg worked were sometimes abbreviated, which was the main reason why Moses ibn Tibbon decided to retranslate texts from Arabic that Doeg had already translated from Latin (Freudenthal and Fontaine 2016: 17). Doeg also used technical terms in the language of the gentiles, i.e. the Romance vernacular which was not widely understood among the immigrant communities of Jewish refugees from Andalusia in Southern France. When Moses translated the text again, his version exceeded the popularity of Doeg’s translation.
Major medical works translated into Hebrew
Many texts of Galen’s corpus were translated into Hebrew (Lieber 1981). The Galenic work Ars Medica, which, as we saw above, was translated into Syriac and Arabic to feature centrally in Islamic medical education and scholarship, was translated into Hebrew three times. Two of these were translated from Latin, first by Doeg and again in the 13th century by Hillel ben Samuel, who used a Latin version by Gerard of Cremona, which in turn was based on an Arabic translation that included Ibn Ridwan’s commentary on the text. The third Hebrew translation from the 12th century was the work by Samuel ibn Tibbon and was based on an Arabic text which had been translated from Greek by Hunayn. Galen’s Microtegni was called Melakah qetanah (Small Art) in Hebrew, a translation of the Arabic title as-Sina'a as-Sagira (The Small Art), and known in Latin as the Ars Parva. Samuel ibn Tibbon’s translation of this text survives in nine manuscripts, of which three are incomplete (Freudenthal and Fontaine 2016: 18). Samuel’s translation also included Ibn Ridwan’s commentary. In the Microtegni, Galen sets out the main principles of the art of medicine, and the text functioned as an introduction for medical students in the Islamic world as well as in later Latin and Jewish communities. The Egyptian physician Ibn Ridwan (988-1061/8) glossed it passage by passage and his commentary often accompanied the Ars Medica in Hebrew translation as was the case in both Samuel ibn Tibbon’s and Hillel ben Samuel’s later versions, becoming an important element in Jewish medical education.
Hunayn, who translated the Ars Medica into Syriac and Arabic, added his own introduction to the text known in Arabic under two titles, the Introduction to Medicine (al-mudkhalfi t-tibb) and the Questions into Medicine (al-Masa 'llfit-tibb), which has led to confusion about whether these were two different texts (Brockelmann 1897: 224) or one and the same work (Iskandar 1978; Ferre 1995: 44; Sezgin 1970: 249-250). Iskandar has shown that shortly after the work was produced, scholars started to use two titles to refer to the same work, the first derived from the work’s content and the second from its form (Iskandar 1978). The text was translated into Hebrew multiple times, usually entitled Sefermavo le-malakhat ha-refu’a (Book on the Introduction to the Art of Medicine, Ferre 1995: 42). A shortened version of the work was also translated into Latin and became immensely popular under the name Isagoge ad tegni Galeni (Introduction to Galen’s Tegni). Lola Ferre suggests that the diverse translations and large quantity of manuscripts of Hunayn’s Introduction indicate that the text was popular among Jewish physicians (Ferre 1995: 52).
Ibn Sina’s Canon, one of the major medical encyclopaedias produced in the classical Islamic world, became widely disseminated among European Jewish and Latincommunities. More than 100 manuscripts of the Hebrew translations survive worldwide, which indicates its popularity among Jewish physicians.7 Nathan ha-Me’ati made the first translation of the complete work into Hebrew in 1279 in Rome, a hundred years after its translation by Gerard of Cremona into Latin.s Zerahiah ben Isaac ben Shealtiel Gracian of Barcelona made another translation around 1280, correcting errors in the first two books of Nathan ha-Me’ati’s translation. Finally, Joshua Lorki made further corrections of Nathan’s translation of these first two books in 1402 (Bos 2013: 310). According to Bos, a Hebrew translation of the Canon printed in Naples in 1491 included all three of these translations of the first two books, together with further editions by 15th-century translators (Bos 2013: 310: Singer and Rabin 1946: Ixxvi).
As was the case in the Islamic world the Aphorisms were of great importance in European medical scholarship. Steinschneider lists multiple translations of the Aphorisms into Hebrew under the name Perakim, most of which are part of translations of commentaries on the Aphorisms, for instance that of Maimonides or that of Galen (in Arabic). Nathan ha-Me’ati translated them as part of Galen’s commentary on the Aphorisms, using Hunayn’s Arabic translation of the original Greek text (Steinschneider 1893: 659). Moses ibn Tibbon translated the Aphorisms as quoted in Maimonides’ commentary on the text. Both Hebrew translations of the Arabic Pseudo-Palladius commentary (see next paragraph) include two separate translations of this Hippocratic collection.
Just as some Arabic translations are important witnesses to Greek texts, the Hebrew translations become witnesses for Greek or Arabic texts. This is the case for instance with the 9th-century Arabic version of Palladius’ commentary on the Aphorisms, of which only the first two books are extant in an Arabic manuscript. Fortunately, the full seven books survive in a 13th-century Hebrew translation by Shem Tov ben Isaac of Tartosa (on this commentary see Pormann et al. 2017). Another example is the translation of Hippocrates’ De superfoetatione (On superfetation), which an anonymous translator rendered into Arabic in a poor-quality translation. A later anonymous Hebrew translation of the Arabic text is a valuable witness that helps us to further understand the extant versions of the Greek source text (Zonta 2003). Some Arabic texts only survive in Hebrew translation. An example of this is ar-Râzï’s Arabic treatise on why many people become medical charlatans, which Nathan ha-Me’ati translated into Hebrew in Rome in the 13th century (Steinschneider 1866; Bos 2013: 308: Pormann 2005).