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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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“Ancient Jewish Sciences” and the Historiography of Judaism

“Ancient Jewish Sciences” and the Historiography of Judaism

(p.195) 8. “Ancient Jewish Sciences” and the Historiography of Judaism
Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature

Annette Yoshiko Reed

NYU Press

This chapter examines the place of “science” in the historiography of Judaism in order to uncover some of the ways in which knowledge about the stars, cosmos, and human body was represented, taught, and transmitted in premodern Jewish literary cultures—particularly in relation to pedagogies and practices labeled as “Jewish.” It begins by considering Jewish attempts to insert Jews into Greek, Roman, and Islamic histories and taxonomies of knowledge before turning to the debate over “the beginnings of Jewish science” in the early Middle Ages. It then cites recent insights from the history of science to highlight anachronistic assumptions about “religion” and “science” in research on ancient Judaism. Finally, it explains how “ancient Jewish sciences” as an area of study can help elucidate possible continuities in Jewish reflection on the cosmos into Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Keywords:   science, Judaism, knowledge, Jews, Jewish science, Middle Ages, religion, historiography of Judaism, ancient Jewish sciences, cosmos

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