Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78.1 (2004) 210-212
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Gerrit Bos. Ibn Al-Jazzar on Fevers: Provisions for the Traveller and Nourishment for the Sedentary, Book 7, Chapters 1-6. A Critical Edition of Zad al-musafir wa-qut al-hadir. The Original Arabic Text with an English Translation, Introduction, and Commentary. The Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series. London: Kegan Paul International, 2000. v + 217 pp. $75.00 (0-7103-0570-2).
Although the evolution of the complex concept of "fever" has been explored with regard to Graeco-Roman, medieval, and premodern medicine, complete Arabic texts specifically on the subject have not previously been published. To rectify that gap Gerrit Bos has prepared the present edition and translation of book 7, chapters 1-6 (On Fevers) of the Zad al-musafir wa-qut al-hadir (Provisions for the traveller and nourishment for the sedentary) by Ibn al-Jazzar (Qayrawan, d. 970/980). The Zad al-musa fir is a comprehensive handbook of medicine in seven books, dealing with diseases organized "from head to toe," which was intended as a practical guide in the absence of physicians. It is the best-known work of a prolific physician who was a student of Ishaq ibn Sulayman al-Isra'ili (Isaac Israeli) and a contemporary of al-Majusi(Haly Abbas, d. 985).
Translated from Arabic first into Greek (eleventh century), then into Latin (twelfth century), and subsequently into Hebrew, Ibn al-Jazzar's work became an influential medieval text. The Latin translation (or paraphrase?) by Constantine the African formed the basis of subsequent medical commentaries at the School of Salerno. Entitled Viaticum, it was incorporated into the collection of medical texts known as the Articella and widely used at Salerno and Montpellier as well as [End Page 210] at Bologna, Paris, and Oxford. Its importance also derives from the inclusion of quotations from the works of such figures as Aristotle, Rufus, Galen, Polemon, Paul of Aegina, and Qusta ibn Luqa. The Arabic original, however, has remained largely in manuscript, with extant copies from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries in numerous libraries worldwide. Although the first three books have been edited, the Zad al-musafir is being made available mainly by the scholarship of Bos, who has also published (1997) a critical edition of book 6 (On Sexual Diseases and Their Treatment).
In Bos's introduction, he reiterates the difficulty of establishing a stemma due to the corrupted state of the extant manuscript tradition, the oldest one dating from 1337 at the Bodleian Library at Oxford. For bio-bibliographical information the reader is referred to Bos's earlier edition of book 6. Then, under the heading of "survey and evaluation of the contents," Bos gives an overview of the individual chapters (1-6) of book 7, emphasizing Galen as the main source and at the same time drawing attention to parallels between Ibn al-Jazzar's definition, etiology, symptoms, and treatment of "fevers" and those of both al-Majusi and Ibn Sina (980-1037), as well as to some of the figures of late antiquity. Medical historians have shown that from the Hippocratic writings to Galen, the empirical and theoretical approach to "fever" was immensely complicated, indicating more a category of diseases than of symptoms. It is not clear to what extent Ibn al-Jazzar (or other physicians in Islamic civilization) remained within Galenic boundaries.
In the introduction of book 7 Ibn al-Jazzar briefly explains that he begins with "an exposition of fever (humma), because it is, as Galen stated, the most dangerous disease, the messenger of death. . . ." (pp. 25 [Arabic], 97 [translation]). Each of the six chapters deals with a different fever, giving its definition, etiology, symptoms, and treatment. He starts with the "ephemeral" fever; next is the most severe, the so-called ardent fever, followed by fever arising from "blood," and then the tertian, quartan, and quotidian fevers. Ibn al-Jazzar's constant reference to Greek concepts of fever and his use of...