pdf Insights 22/8 (2002)  >  First Volumes in New METI Series Published

First Volumes in New METI Series Published

The Institute’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has published the first two volumes in its Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy series: Moses Maimonides’ On Asthma and Averroës’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De anima.

Originally written in 1190, On Asthma is the first volume of a sponsored subseries titled the Complete Medical Works of Moses Maimonides. The new edition, translated by Dr. Gerrit Bos of the Martin Buber Institute for Judaic Studies at the University of Cologne, in Germany, uses both the original Arabic text and the English translation to present Maimonides’ treatment of asthma. Throughout the prescribed regimens and lifestyle changes for his patients, Maimonides provides a unique and practical glimpse of how medieval physicians viewed ancient medicine.

“On Asthma is particularly exciting because of its continued relevance today,” said Glen Cooper, an Institute researcher who directs the Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy series. “We still don’t have a cure for asthma, and Maimonides focused on alleviating the symptoms rather than providing the cure, much as we do now.”

The Maimonides series will eventually comprise about 13 volumes and will provide a rare complete reference to the medical works of the eminent medieval Jewish rabbi. Those particular works have been influential but never previously available in a complete or reliable form.

Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De anima was originally written by Averroës (1126-1198), the greatest Aristotelian of the Islamic philosophical tradition. Averroës’ work proved critical to the dissemination of the Aristotelian tradition in Europe, and his direct influence can be found in the work of many leading scholars of the time, including Thomas Aquinas.

The new edition was translated, with notes, by Dr. Alfred Ivry of New York University.

Middle Commentary represents a sophisticated yet clear view of a powerful but often complicated biological treatise on the soul or life force of living things, including plants, and the mysteries of life associated with them. Of Averroës’ three commentaries on De anima, his Middle Commentary is of medium length and scope, hence its title.

This new volume provides the modern reader with an accurate and accessible historical window to Aristotle’s work as it was interpreted and transmitted in the medieval period.

The Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy series, which was organized in 2000, is dedicated to the publication of bilingual editions and translations of significant scientific and philosophical works from the Arabic intellectual tradition. Future projects include the continuation of the Maimonides series and research of ancient Arabic commentary on the work and treatises of Galen.