This article was originally published in the Almanac, 07/12/2016. It can be viewed here in its original form. 

The Penn Libraries is proud to announce the launch of the first Massive Open Online Course Collaboration (MOOC) from the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries: “The History of Medieval Medicine through Jewish Manuscripts.”

Launched on June 1, this online mini-course is a introduction both to medieval medicine and to the value of manuscript study taught by Y. Tzvi Langermann, professor of Arabic at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and last year’s Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies-Herbert D. Katz Center Jewish Manuscript Studies Fellow (Almanac July 14, 2015). Dr. Langermann presents a case study that builds from a unique manuscript codex produced in the 15th century containing three important medical manuscripts in Judeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew characters). Compiled in Sicily by a physician identified as David ben Shalom, the manuscript bears witness to the rich cultural exchanges among Latin, Jewish and Arabic communities during this time, especially in the sciences. This course, walks the student through the basics of medical knowledge training and practice in the Jewish Middle Ages and beyond, and shows how clues gleaned from elements of a particular manuscript (such as marginal notes, mistakes and handwriting) shed light on the purpose, use and readership of these texts. The course includes eight 5-7 minute long video lectures that explore the highlights of this extraordinary manuscript.

“The History of Medieval Medicine through Jewish Manuscripts” is offered free to anyone with an internet connection at www.edX.org (search the term “Langermann”). The course is self-paced and takes about two hours to complete. The content will not be inaccessible to the novice, but the nature of the material and the level of scholarship should interest graduate students and colleagues from a range of disciplines. There is an active discussion forum and a link to the full manuscript in digital form. The course will initially be monitored by a TA with specialties in medieval Jewish history and Hebrew and Judeo Arabic language. Dr. Langermann himself will also occasionally participate in the discussions and respond to student queries.