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Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature$
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Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479823048

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479823048.001.0001

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Enoch and the Beginnings of Jewish Interest in Natural Science*

Enoch and the Beginnings of Jewish Interest in Natural Science*

Chapter:
(p.25) 2. Enoch and the Beginnings of Jewish Interest in Natural Science*
Source:
Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature
Author(s):

Philip S. Alexander

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479823048.003.0002

This chapter traces the history of Jewish engagement with ancient science by contextualizing the literature related to Enoch. It first considers a working definition of “science” and the earlier history of science before assessing evidence of scientific interest among Jews in late antiquity, including the Second Temple period and the period covered by the Achaemenid Empire. In particular, it examines surviving concentrations of Jewish science from the Second Temple period in Enochic literature. It then links a distinct Jewish tradition to forerunners of Greek science in other parts of the Mediterranean shore, citing the Ionian philosophers of nature as a prime example. It also highlights the distinction between the scientific Enoch tradition and the Mosaic tradition, the latter of which was less interested in the natural sciences. Finally, it examines the Jewish narrative on the history of knowledge, with particular emphasis on the myth of the Watchers.

Keywords:   ancient science, Enoch, Jews, Second Temple period, Achaemenid Empire, Jewish science, Enochic literature, natural sciences, history of knowledge, Watchers

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