Toulouse 2022 Call for Papers
Knowledge Entanglements - medical and other scientific traditions/practice/discourses in legal and religious texts/cultures
Papers are invited to explore possible overlaps, entanglements but also frictions between legal and religious texts/cultures and medical and other scientific traditions/practice/discourses in Jewish or Christian traditions and beyond.
In the late antique period, scholars around the Near East and Mediterranean began to agglomerate knowledge in various fields of ancient sciences, not exclusively based on classical sources in Greek and Latin. These broader impulses of ordering and making knowledge accessible in antiquity took place in scholarly as well as in imperial institutions in Jewish, Mesopotamian, Roman-Byzantine, and Persian contexts. At the same time, one may witness a surge of medial and other technical handbooks for various purposes. Those phenomena might have facilitated the popularization of expert knowledge and its appropriation into primarily non-technical, literary texts (e.g. narratives, drama, epistles etc.; cf. Plutarch or Aelius Aristides) and religious traditions (e.g. rabbinic compilations; monastic traditions, the Persian Denkard; various early Christian authors). How can we understand the dynamic interplay between legal and religious discourse (e.g. rabbinic texts, monastic orders, hagiography etc.) and ancient medical and scientific discourse? Which purposes did the integration of medicine and science in those traditions serve for? Can we identify (epistemic/ ideological/ theological) limitations regarding the appropriation or merging of such knowledge?
On another level, compilational features shared between Mesopotamian, Persian, Graeco-Roman (Codes, Digests and Pandects) or Arabic scientific, religious and legal corpora, monastic orders or Talmudic and Midrashic collections also constitute a fruitful comparandum for the collection of scientific knowledge. Which strategies of selection, dissociation or re-arrangement, and which discursive forms (dialectics, precedents, case stories etc.) were shared between these legal, religious, and scientific texts? What concepts of or claims to systematic comprehensiveness can be singled out?
We are especially interested in presentations on rabbinic-Talmudic traditions (until the early medieval period) against the foil of their literary and socio-cultural background(s) as well as on earlier and contemporary discourses in the Bible, post-biblical (Second Temple) traditions, and early Christian texts (in Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Latin etc.). In order to offer a comparative perspective, contributions on the embeddedness of these medical and scientific discourses in ancient Babylonian and other Near Eastern cultures (Persian, Mandean, Arabic) are highly welcome. Papers may explore synchronic and diachronic perspective that highlight various processes of transmission, transfer, rejection, modification and invention of the issues at hand. Those presentations will contribute to the transcultural history of science(s) and knowledge in (late) antiquity.
The “Medicine in Bible and Talmud” group invites paper proposals from scholars of diverse disciplinary and regional backgrounds, from different institutions and at different career stages. Modest stipends for travel, accommodation and registration fees might be available for selected early career scholars/junior faculty. Further information will follow.
We would like to stress that, alongside the thematic focus in 2022 on “Knowledge Entanglements”, we invite also contributions that fall into the general scope of our group as outlined above on our website. Accordingly, proposals engaging more generally with medical or other related (scientific) knowledge and practice in Jewish traditions or related cultures are welcome.