A Christian Nestorian family prominent in medicine and in the service of the ’abbĀsid caliphs and their successors from the second half of the 8th to the second half of the 11th century. Their public roles and academic interests were characteristic of physicians in their day. The following ten are identified and described in the literature.
Jūrjīs (George) ibn Jibrīl (Gabriel) ibn Bukhtīshū'(d. after 769) was the director of the hospital of Jundishāpūr, Iran, an institution going back to Sassanian times. He was summoned to Baghdad in 765 to cure the Caliph al-Manṣūr (754–775). His success won him the Caliph's favor. Like many of the family, he knew Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. For the Caliph he translated from Greek into Arabic. Works of his own written in Syriac were later translated into Arabic. After a few years in Baghdad he returned and died in Judishāpūr.
Bukhtīshū' ibn Jūrjīs (d. 801), son of the former, continued the direction of the Jundishāpūr hospital. He was twice summoned to court. Intrigue blocked his stay the first time, but the second time, in 787, he was named by the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) physician in chief, and he kept his post until he died.
Jabrīl ibn Bukhtīshū' (d. 828), son of the preceding, had a checkered 22 years of service to the court under three caliphs. He was replaced for a while by his son-in-law. New Syriac translations of Galen were placed at his disposal, and he wrote in Arabic on medicine and logic.
Bukhtīshū' (d. 870), son of Jibrīl, succeeded his father and served the Caliph al-Ma’mūn (813–833). Exiled to Jundishāpūr by the Caliph al-Wāthiq (842–847) and recalled too late to cure this Caliph, he served under the Caliph al-Mutawakkil (847–861), only to be exiled again. He had the translation of Galen continued, and he himself wrote a text on bloodletting.
‘Ubaid Allāh, probably son of the preceding, was a financial official but died, leaving a son Jibrīl, who followed the family tradition. The date of his death is unknown.
Yuḥanna, illegitimate son of Bukhtīshū', was at first physician of the brother of the Caliph Al-Mu‘tamid (870–892). In 893 he became bishop of Mosul, and he was twice an unsuccessful candidate for the office of patriarch. The date of his death is unknown.
Bukhtīshū' ibn Yaḥya cannot be more particularly identified than as a member of the family. He served the Caliph al-Rāḍī (834–940) and was held responsible for the death of Prince Hārūn in 936. The date of his death is unknown.
Jibrī ibn ‘Ubaid Allāh (d. 1006), son of ‘Ubaid Allāh, learned medicine in Baghdad. He served the Buwayhid Caliph ‘Aḍud al-Dawla (949–983) in Shiraz, Iran, and returned to Baghdad. He went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He declined the invitation to Cairo from the Fāṭimid Caliph al-‘Azīz (975–996) but accepted that of the Marwānid at Maiyāfāriqīn (in modern eastern Turkey). He died there at the age of 85.
Abu Sa‘id ‘Ubaidallah ibn Jibrīl (d. 1058), son of the preceding, lived in Maiyāfāriqīn, a contemporary and friend of Ibn Butlan (d. c. 1063). His scholarly work was concerned with medicine, love, and the translation from Syriac of church law on inheritance.
‘Alī ibn Ibrahim ibn Bukhtīshū', the last of the family to write, was concerned with ophthalmology. The date of his death is unknown.
Bibliography: g. graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, 5 v. (Vatican City 1944–53) 2:109–112, with abundant ref. to mod. literature in Arab. and Western lang. d. sourdel, Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. b. lewis et al. (2d ed. Leiden 1954– ) 1:1298. c. brockelmann, Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. m. t. houtsma et al., 4 v. (Leiden 1913–38) 1:614–615. e. hammerschmidt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 2:551.
[j. a. devenny]