Hunayn ibn Ishaq

Full name: 
’Abū Zayd Ḥunayn ibn ’Isḥāq al-‘Ibādī
Arabic name: 
أبو زيد حنين بن إسحاق العبادي
Latin name: 
Date of birth: 
Date of death: 

A famous Nestorian Christian scholar whose translations of Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates, and the Neoplatonists made accessible to Arab philosophers and scientists the significant sources of Greek thought and culture. He was born in Al-Hira in 809, near Kufa, and he died in 873 at Baghdad.

Hunayn studied medicine in Baghdad and became well versed in ancient Greek. He was appointed by Caliph al-Mutawakkil to the post of chief physician to the court, a position that he held for the rest of his life. He travelled to Syria, Palestine, and Egypt to gather ancient Greek manuscripts, and, from his translators' school in Baghdad, he and his students transmitted Arabic and Syriac versions of the classical Greek texts throughout the Islamic world. Especially important are his translations of Galen, most of the original Greek manuscripts of which are lost.

In addition to his work of translation, Hunanyn wrote treatises on general medicine and various specific topics, including a series of works on the eye which remained influential until the fifteenth century. He was the father of Ishaq Ibn Hunayn who helped him with his translations and was for his own a famous scholar and translator.