During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, translations of Greek and Arabic texts into Latin revealed to western Europeans a new and exciting vision of medicine as «theory» – that is, as a coherent science grounded in classical principles of physica, physiology, and anatomy. The Isagoge is the translation by Constantine the African (d. ca. 1099) of the Masa¯’il fi¯ t-tibb, a teaching summary of Galen’s Techne¯ iatrike¯(Art of Medicine or Tegni) by the ninth-century Baghdadi Nestorian translator and medical author H. unayn ibn Isha¯q, known in the West as Johannitius. The Isagoge is a beginner’s key to the essential concepts of Galenism: it covers the body itself, its constituents, structures and functions; the relationship of the body to its changeable material environment; and the causes and symptoms of diseases. Within a few decades of its translation into Latin, the Isagoge had become the flagship text of an anthology designed for teaching medicina theorica, the so-called Articella. Teaching the Articella, and in the first instance, the Isagoge, was carried out using methods of text analysis associated with philosophy and the artes, and is recorded in magisterial commentaries.
The first full suite of Articella commentaries ascribed to a named teacher are those of Master Bartholomeus (fl. ca. 1150), a teacher and practitioner who enjoyed considerable fame as well as important social and intellectual connections. Bartholomeus’ Isagoge commentary survives in reportata by his students, as well as in an incomplete revised edition prepared by the master himself. It is exceptional for its ambitious intellectual scope, its engagement with new translations of the works of Galen and Aristotle, and its use of questiones – all hallmarks of the emerging forms of instruction in the medieval schools.