Hunain ibn Ishaq, on text criticism

Hunain ibn Ishaq was a Nestorian Christian who was responsible for much of the translation of Greek works into Arabic, usually via a Syriac intermediate translation.   I find that a long letter of his, on the subject of the works of Galen and how he went about his task, exists.  It was published by G. Bergstrasser, Hunain ibn Ishaq. Uber der syrischen und arabischen Galen-Übersetzungen (1925), and is about 40 pages long.  I’m considering having it translated into English, if I can get hold of a copy.  The only copy for sale online is £67, which is rather a lot!  Anyone got any ideas on how to find a copy?

Interestingly it seems that Dimitri Gutas has published a book about the whole “Translation movement” of turning Greek literature into Arabic.  It’s here.  But apparently it’s big on “why” rather than “what” – the social reasons why translation was a good idea, rather than what was translated.  Drat.

2 Responses to “Hunain ibn Ishaq, on text criticism”


  1. Matthew

    Dear Roger,

    Unfortunately, I have no answer for your above search but good luck. I was wondering what you have found to be the best way to go about scanning objects. I have a friend that is interested in scanning many hundred journals in order to put them online. Is there an easier way to go about this than OCRing them one page at a time? Do you suggest any programs.

    Thank you

    Matthew

  2. Roger Pearse

    There are specialist solutions, but I’ve never used these. Get prepared for wrist-ache.

    You’ll need a scanner like the OpticBook 3600, where you can dangle the bound volume over the edge of the scanner. But you need to drive that scanner at 400 dpi, I suggest.

    I used Abbyy Finereader 8.0 for that (I found that 9.0 only gave me the options of 300 dpi and 600 dpi). I didn’t use it for OCR; rather to get the pages in. I set it to scan multiple pages, with a 10 second interval (just long enough to pull the book off the scanner, turn the page, and replace). Scan, turn, scan, turn, scan turn…. but I tend to surf the net and read blogs while doing it.

    Any easier way? Sure, if you can cut the pages from the spine and stuff them into a sheet-feeder! In that case you’ll need a scanner with a sheet-feeder. Mine was an HP 6350C, but it’s old now; bound to be something better. But you’ll still have to resort the pages into the right order if you do! Again FR is fairly good for this.

    Once I had the page images in, I could save them out as a .PDF. Then I could OCR them in FR9 (which is quite a bit better at OCR), if I needed to.

    It’s hard physical work, this. So pace yourself.



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