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The Creation And Innovation Of Medieval Hebrew Medical Terminology: Shem Tov Ben Isaac, Sefer Ha-Shimmush

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Chapter Summary

During the Middle Ages, when Linnaeus had not yet been born, and there was no uniform binary system for identifying plants and herbs, the risk of a doctor administering the wrong drug was certainly very real. Due to shift in languages an urgent need arose for 'lexica or glossaries in which technical-medical expressions have been listed alphabetically, especially the names of simple medicines.' One of the most prominent composers of such synonym lists was Shem Tov Ben Isaac, who was born in 1198 in Tortosa (Catalonia). Thus, Shem Tov created two independent lists which he added to the Sefer ha-shimmush, one starting with the Hebrew or Aramaic term, followed by the Arabic synonym, and then in about seventy percent of the entries the vernacular term which usually is Middle Latin or Old Occitan. Shem Tov Ben Isaac applied two procedures in order to create a Hebrew medical terminology.

Keywords: Aramaic term; medieval Hebrew medical terminology; Sefer Ha-Shimmush; Shem Tov Ben Isaac



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