Accepted paper:

Diet and Regimen in the Two Talmudic Traditions from Palestine and Babylonia


Tanja Hidde (Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin)
Lennart Lehmhaus (Project A03 "Talmudic Medicine")

Paper short abstract:

The presentation focuses on the category of "Diet & Regimen" within the medical passages of the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud and its connection to the Greco-Roman medical corpus of Late Antiquity.

Paper long abstract:

Throughout their legal-religious discussions, the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmudim deal also with medical issues. When the Talmuds were edited in the 5th-7th centuries AD, medicine was already a well-developed science. In the Babylonian Talmud one can discern not only traces of Greek medicine, but also of earlier Mesopotamian medicine. This presentation focuses on the category of "Diet & Regimen" within the medical passages of the Talmudim and its connection to older medical systems. The genre of "Diet & Regimen", emphasizing proper nutrition and physical exercise as prerequisites for a healthy constitution, is a distinct medical genre in the corpus of Greek medicine, but almost absent in Mesopotamian medicine. When the Babylonian Talmud was composed, Mesopotamia was under Sassanian rule, and although it is commonly assumed that Mesopotamia resisted Hellenization, a bulk of medical advices concerning "Diet and Regimen" within rabbinic literature is preserved in the Babylonian Talmud. The Greco-Roman practice of bloodletting and the food one should consume or avoid afterwards is often discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, but occurs less in the Palestinian Talmud. Medical knowledge about "Diet & Regimen" in the Babylonian Talmud has to be analyzed together with rabbinic literature from Palestine which was closer to the Greco-Roman cultural realm. We will ask if this knowledge was transmitted and trasnfered into the Babylonian Talmud through Palestinian rabbis. The genre of "Diet & Regimen" was adapted by the rabbis according to their own needs and integrated into discussions about modest behavior, or constructed as excurses on halakhical issues.

panel P23
Medical knowledge in motion: exchange, transformation and iteration in the medical traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean world