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Dr. Glen M. Cooper

Research Interests:

History, theory, and practice of Greek medicine, astrology and astronomy and their receptions in Arabic and Latin; Greco-Arabic philology; Abbasid Era Greco-Arabic Translation Movement; Astronomical instruments (especially astrolabes) and tables, and their role in the development of science generally; Roles of minority groups and identity in the development and transmission of science.


Dr. Cooper is a former visiting faculty member of the Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna and Pitzer Colleges). An historian of Greco-Arabic medicine, he has published mainly on the Galenic crisis tradition in Arabic and astrology in medicine. He has taught a wide range of courses, including history of science and medicine, Byzantine, Islamic, Ancient Near East, Jewish, Classical and Hellenistic Greek histories, and history of Medieval Europe, and the Qur’an. For the past two years he has taught high school physics, worked as a tax advisor, and he is currently seeking a permanent academic post.

It is not unusual for scholars in this field to have a solid background in the sciences before venturing into it. That is true of Dr. Cooper, who began his career in theoretical physics, concerned with the concept and perception of time in Albert Einstein’s relativity theories. After earning a Ph.D. in history of Islamic science and culture, and before taking a position in Islamic history at Brigham Young University, he developed and managed a facing-page edition-translation series for texts from the Greco-Arabic scientific tradition, which eventually became the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides (ed. G. Bos; published by Brill).

It seems ironic that, having studied Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and the mysteries of time and space as an undergraduate, he has now returned to studying the perception of time once again, supported by the Einstein Foundation, though in a wholly different context.

Project Abstract

The Hippocratic-Galenic theories of the crisis and critical days were an important part of diagnostic and prognostic practice in the Greco-Arabic medical tradition, and were closely connected with time and its measurement. The critical day series offered a timeline of expected symptoms, which, it was thought, the physician could use in order to predict the future course of the illness. Thus, determining the beginning of the illness was crucial for the scheme. Moreover, this timing template correlated with the natal chart schema of astrology—the start of the disease was its “birth”, and the natal chart of the disease could be used to help the physician know what was coming. 

Although Galen suggested that astrology could be a useful tool in conjunction with the critical days, astrology played much less of a role in his own medical practice than it later did for many of his medieval followers. Criticism of the supposed astrological connections of the critical days was one of the arguments against astrology and the astrological worldview advanced by Pico della Mirandola in his posthumously published Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem (1496), a work described by some as marking the beginning of the modern age.

For his main Chronoi project, Dr. Cooper is completing an edition and Graeco-Arabic study of Galen’s important diagnostic treatise, De crisibus (Crises). This continues his previous work with Galen’s prognostic treatise, De diebus decretoriis (Critical Days), published in Arabic edition (2011).

Curriculum vitae


Pitzer College, Department of History, Claremont, CA.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of History


Claremont McKenna College, Department of History, Claremont, CA.

Visiting Assistant Professor of History; Affiliate Professor of Late Antique-Medieval Studies


Gennadius Library, American School of Classical Studies, Athens, Greece.

Summer Program in Medieval Greek Paleography and Byzantine Literature


Brigham Young University, Department of History, Provo, UT.

Assistant Professor of History; Affiliate Professor of Middle East Studies; Affiliate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies


Brigham Young University, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Provo, UT.

Founding and Managing Editor, Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy series (Renamed: Medical Works of Moses Maimonides)


University of Oxford, Linacre College and Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford, U.K.

Visiting scholar in philosophy and history of science

Selected Publications

Galen, De diebus decretoriis, from Greek into Arabic: A Critical Edition, with Translation and Commentary, and Historical Introduction of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Kitāb ayyām al-buḥrān.  (London: Ashgate, 2011). [Paperback, Routledge, 2016].

'Astrology: The Science of Signs in the Heavens'. In The Oxford Handbook to Science and Medicine in the Classical World, edited by P. T. Keyser and J. Scarborough.  (Oxford University Press, 2018): 381-407.

'Medical Crises and Critical Days in Ibn Sīnā and After: Insights from the Commentary Tradition'. Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 6, nos.1-2 (2018): 27-54.

'Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Galen Translations and Greco-Arabic Philology: Some Observations from the Crises (De crisibus) and the Critical Days (De diebus decretoriis)'. Oriens 44 (2016): 1-43.

'Rational and Empirical Medicine in Ninth-Century Baghdad: Qusṭā ibn Lūqā’s ‘Questions on the Critical Days in Acute Illnesses’'. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 24 (2014): 69-102.

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February 23, 2023

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February 23, 2023

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