Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


D. Morgan Davis


hemorrhoids, history, text, translation


There are unpleasant topics, and then there are Unpleasant Topics. The latest volume to appear in the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides, On Hemorrhoids, seems the perfect occasion to modestly avert our attention from the actual subject of the book and consider instead the question of its reception. When referring to the reception history of an antique text, scholars have in mind the journey the text has taken. During its long life, what paths have a given text traveled, so to speak? By this we mean not just where has a given physical document turned up, but also where and by whom were the words and ideas it contained copied, translated, paraphrased, summarized, or argued with? Information was precious in the premodern age. The painstaking work required to hand copy or translate texts of any significant length ensured that only those writings that were in real demand received such attention.