Medicine in the Talmud: Natural and Supernatural Therapies Between Magic and Science
Despite the Talmud being the richest repository of medical remedies in ancient Judaism, this important strain of Jewish thought has been largely ignored—even as the study of ancient medicine has exploded in recent years. In a comprehensive study of this topic, Jason Sion Mokhtarian recuperates this obscure genre of Talmudic text, which has been marginalized in the Jewish tradition since the Middle Ages, to reveal the unexpected depth of the rabbis’ medical knowledge. Medicine in the Talmud argues that these therapies represent a form of rabbinic scientific rationality that relied on human observation and the use of nature while downplaying the role of God and the Torah in health and illness. Drawing from a wide range of both Jewish and Sasanian sources—from the Bible, the Talmud, and Maimonides to texts written in Akkadian, Syriac, and Mandaic, as well as the incantation bowls—Mokhtarian offers rare insight into how the rabbis of late antique Babylonia adapted the medical knowledge of their time to address the needs of their community. In the process, he narrates an untold chapter in the history of ancient medicine.
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Abaye Abod according afflictions ailments Akkadian amulet Ancient anonymous appear Aramaic Babylonian Babylonian Talmud Bavli believe Bible biblical blood body Book of Remedies Boston bowls Brill bring cause century chapter Comparative contains context culture cure debate demons describes discuss diseases DJBA doctor drink drugs Early effective empirical example expert explains fact fever followed Geller Genizah Greek healing heart Hebrew History human ideas identify incantation instance Jewish Jews Journal Judaism knowledge Kottek language Late Antiquity laws learned magic Maimonides Medieval Mishnah natural permitted Persian person physicians plants practices problems Rabbinic Literature rabbis reason reference Religion ritual Šabb Sabbath Sasanian says scholars Science scientific Shmuel sick similar skin sources Studies Syriac Talmudic medicine Talmudic therapies thought Torah traditions translation treat treatment University Press World writings Yerushalmi York