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Transformation of Galen’s Textual Legacy from Classical to Post-Classical Islamic Medicine: Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms

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image of Intellectual History of the Islamicate World

I assess Galen’s (d. ca. 216) textual legacy on Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms. I show that early authors in this tradition employ exegetical strategies taken from Alexandrian exegetical models. Applying these strategies to the Hippocratic-Galenic text makes Galen’s commentary the primary means for these authors to understand the Aphorisms. By introducing a host of commentary strategies that depart from Alexandrian models, Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s (d. after 1067) commentary is a watershed moment in the Aphorisms-commentary tradition. Nevertheless, Galen’s commentary remains crucial for Ibn Abī Ṣādiq. These commentary strategies lead him to introduce texts, concepts and classifications that move beyond Galen’s Aphorisms-commentary. Finally, in one of the last texts in this corpus dating to around 1350, Ibn Sīnā’s (d. 1037) Canon of Medicine and Ibn Abī Ṣādiq’s commentary have become major sources for understanding the Aphorisms. Galen’s commentary is used sparingly.

Affiliations: 1: University of Manchester


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