Writing Jewish Astronomy in the Early Hellenistic Age: The Enochic Astronomical Book as Aramaic Wisdom and Archival Impulse

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
Annette Yoshiko Reed University of Pennsylvania

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The full publication of 4Q208 and 4Q209 in 2000 has enabled a renaissance of research on the Enochic Astronomical Book, illumining its deep connections with Babylonian scholasticism and spurring debate about the precise channels by which such “scientific” knowledge came to reach Jewish scribes. This article asks whether attention to Aramaic manuscripts related to the Astronomical Book might also reveal something about Jewish scribal pedagogy and literary production in the early Hellenistic age, particularly prior to the Maccabean Revolt. Engaging recent studies from Classics and the History of Science concerning astronomy, pedagogy, and the place of scribes and books in the cultural politics of the third century bce, it uses the test-case of the Astronomical Book to explore the potential significance of Aramaic sources for charting changes within Jewish literary cultures at the advent of Macedonian rule in the Near East.

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