|The Magnes Press|
Samuel S. Kottek (ed.), Embryology in Jewish and Ancient Middle Eastern Sources: Korot vol.23 (2015-2016). The Magnes Press
The present volume 23 of Korot has as main topics, first, embryology in Jewish and ancient Middle Eastern sources, and second, medicine in the Holocaust
The section on embryology consists of six articles, four of which were presented in a symposium entitled “On Fetuses, Infants and everything in-between through the Ages,” which was held at the Van Leer Institute on March 30, 2015. The meeting was sponsored by the Israel Society for the History of Medicine and by Korot, and organized by Dr. Israela Nili.
Three of the papers concentrate on ancient Mesopotamia: Dr. Couto-Ferreira describes embryological data in Akkadian and Sumerian texts, Prof. Klein expounds embryological issues in the omen literature, and Prof. Fleishman discusses some of the legal aspects of parenthood. Prof. Cohen analyzes the influence of Septuagint translation in the debate concerning abortion. Two additional papers deal with later Hellenistic sources: Prof. Kottek and Dr. Paavilainen discuss the contribution of Philo the Alexandrian and Prof. van der Horst examines Hellenistic Christian sources, respectively.
The section on the Holocaust includes three studies. Dr. van den Ende’s paper describes the ethical dilemmas faced by the Jewish doctors in Holland during the Nazi occupation. It was first presented in the workshop of the 15th Nahariya Conference on Medicine and the Holocaust (May 6, 2015), convened by Prof. Shaul Shasha. Dr. Schwoch deals with the same issue from the point of view of the Jewish Krankenbehandler in Germany. Dr. Offer’s bibliographical review, the first part of which has been published in Korot, volume 22, describes the development of academic research in Jewish medicine in the Holocaust from the third decade after the Holocaust until the first decade of the 21st century.
The rest of the articles presented in this volume concentrate on the life and work of several Jewish physicians, the only exception being Prof. Nissan’s paper on hybrid animals in Jewish sources. Prof. McDonald analyzes the story of the Jewish personal physician of Charles the Bald, accused by later authors of having poisoned the king. Prof. Gath discusses a similar topic: Jan III Sobieski and his Jewish physician, who was later blamed for having caused his death. Dr. Nevins casts new light on the mystery of Vesalius’ Jewish friend and adviser in Hebrew medical terms. Prof. Shḥori-Rubin’s work on Dr. Fanny Lvova continues her series of articles on Jewish pioneer women doctors. Dr. Paavilainen describes Isaac Israeli’s way of diagnosing the complex symptoms of consumption. Prof. Freudenthal summarizes the different pressures affecting medieval Jewish physicians and explains on the basis of a contemporary source why science did not thrive among the Jewish scholars of Provence.
The volume is, as usual, bilingual (12 articles in English, 4 in Hebrew), with contributions from Spain, Holland, Germany, Britain, USA, France, and of course Israel. The devoted editorial help of our friend Dr. Kenneth Collins is much appreciated.
Korot is unique as the only journal devoted to the Jewish aspects of the history of medicine and related sciences. Our readers are warmly invited to submit original contributions and communications on the history of Jews and medicine, on medicine in Jewish sources as well as on medical historical topics related to Palestine and Israel. As always, any feedback from our readers is welcome,
including constructive criticism.
Samuel Kottek and Helena Paavilainen