ʿISĀ B. ṢAHĀRBOḴT, medical author of the third/ninth century, from Gondēšāpur (q.v.). ʿIsā was, as is shown by his own name and that of his father, a descendant of an apparently Nestorian Christian Syro-Persian family of Gondēšāpur. His father was a medical author as well; he in fact dedicated a book in the field (a commentary of Jorjis’ Konnāš) to his son—a practice customary in families of physicians. Information about ʿIsā’s life is extremely scarce, but the period can be determined approximately on the basis of a remark by Ebn Abi ʿOṣaybeʿa about ʿIsā’s (lost) translation of part of Ḥonayn’s epitome of Galen’s commentary on Hippocrates’ Aphorisms. The middle third of the third/ninth century was a period of transition, when medical books were still being composed in Syriac; but the demand for Arabic translations, or original works, was rising. Thus ʿIsā translated into Arabic those parts of Ḥonayn’s work which Ḥonayn himself had not translated. ʿIsā’s only other known work, Ketāb qowā’l-adwia al-mofrada ʿalā’l-ḥorūf, was also composed in Arabic. Like his father’s work and so many other books of Islamic medicine from that period, it is preserved only in fragments by way of quotations in later authors. That most erudite scholar Bīrūnī included some fragments in his Ketāb al-jamāher (pp. 197, 222), and Badr-al-Dīn Moḥam-mad b. Bahrām Qalānesi mentioned him in his great Aqrābāḏīn (Ullmann, pp. 307 f.).
Sezgin has shown it likely that ʿIsā’s grandfather Mā-sarjis is identical with a medical author of the same name who is reported to have been a contemporary of Abu Nowās (died ca. 200/815), and with the father of another ʿIsā; the latter is a medical author mentioned by Ebn al-Nadīm, Qefṭī, and Ebn Abi ʿOṣaybeʿa.
Abu Rayḥān Biruni, Ketab al-j¡amāher fi maʿrefat al jawāher, ed. F. Krenkow, Hyderabad, 1936.
Ebn al-Nadīm, ed. Flügel, p. 298.
Ebn Abi ʿOṣay-beʿa, ʿOyun al-anbāʾ fi ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, 2 vols., ed. August Müller, Cairo and Königsberg, 1882-84, I, pp. 199, ll. 4-7; 203, ll. 12-13.
ʿAli b. Yūsof Qefṭī confuses his lifetime with that of ʿIsā b. Šohlāfā: Julius Lippert, ed., Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, Leipzig, 1903; see Sezgin, GAS III, p. 243.
Manfred Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam (Handbuch der Orientalistik I. Suppl.VI/1), Leiden and Köln, 1970, pp. 264, pp. 307 f.
Sezgin, GAS III, pp. 224, 242-43, 256. Sezgin tends to think that the author of the Konnāš which ʿIsā’s father, Ṣahārboḵt, commented on was not identical with Jorjis b. Jebrāʾil b. Boḵtišuʿ, al-Manṣur’s well-known physician (cf. GAS II, pp. 209 f.; Ullmann, p. 108).
Originally Published: December 15, 2006
Last Updated: March 30, 2012
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