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.
* Earlier versions and portions of this article were presented at Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University Seminar on Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University. Special thanks to Alex Ramos and Jillian Stinchcomb for their feedback.
In recent years, studies in Classics and cognate fields have increasingly illuminated the micro-dynamics, constituent parts, and cultural politics of the processes that scholars of the past once generalized broadly as “Hellenization.”* Two decades ago, Amélie Kuhrt and Susan Sherwin-White issued an incisive corrective of the hellenocentrism of past research, deconstructing conventional assumptions about the supposedly one-sided spread of the civilization of the Greeks in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great.1 Since then, the character of cultural change in the Hellenistic age has come under fresh investigation: just as studies of the Diadochi, Seleucids, and Ptolemies have debated the degree of continuity with Achaemenid Persia, so research on Greek literature has increasingly illumined the imperially-inflected transformations of translocal “Greekness” in the Hellenistic age, attending to the culturally creative ways in which its exportation catalyzed the reconceptualization of local knowledge, histories, heroes, and identities.2
The same decades have also seen the emergence of increasingly interdisciplinary perspectives on Greek paideia. Raffaela Cribiore, Teresa Morgan, and others have done much to map the consolidation and consequences of distinctively Hellenistic-era forms of paideia, whereby the Athenian past, and its language and literature, came to be put to the service of enculturating elites across a newly vast and interconnected oikoumene.3 Not only have their insights helped to inspire cross-cultural investigations into ancient literacy and education,4 but they have also spurred exploration of the shifting forms, settings, and practices through which Greek knowledge was repackaged and repurposed under Hellenistic, Roman, and Christian empires.5 In the process, attention to translocal Hellenism and the pedagogical “making of men” has enabled renewed efforts to connect the study of Greeks and the Near East, and to connect them forward to research on Late Antiquity.6 Partly as a result, new understandings of “Greekness” in the field of Classics have begun to have an impact on Jewish Studies as well.
To be sure, specialists in the Septuagint, Philo of Alexandria, and the Greek-speaking/Greek-writing Diaspora Jews of Second Temple times have long been attuned to Jewish encounters with Greek paideia.7 What has been facilitated by new approaches to Hellenism, Greekness, and paideia from Classics and cognate fields, however, have been fresh conversations about the creative cultural effects even on Jewish literature composed in the Land of Israel and in Hebrew and Aramaic.8 Among the results have been new insights into long-debated topics ranging from the collection and canonization of the Hebrew Bible, on the one hand, to the dialectics of the Talmud Bavli, on the other.9
Where such conversations remain surprisingly absent, however, is in research on Aramaic and Hebrew literature composed in the early Hellenistic age—that is, in immediate wake of the conquests of Alexander of Macedon and the establishment of the empires of his Successors. Scholarship on the ad vent of Ptolemaic and Seleucid rule in the field of Classics, for instance, increasingly points to the creative cultural mediation of native elites like Egyptian and Babylonian priests and the effects within Demotic and cuneiform Akkadian sources no less than those in Greek.10 Scholarship on Jews and Judaism in the third and second centuries bce, by contrast, largely continues to operate within the framework of older notions of Hellenization, which treat “Hellenism” as commensurate and contrastive with “Judaism.”11
Despite decades of critiques,12 this old contrast remains re-inscribed by habituated patterns of selectivity in scholarly training and practice, whereby Hebrew and Aramaic Jewish literature tends to be read in isolation from intellectual and cultural trends evident in Greek literature and studied by Classicists.13 In practice, moreover, the historiography of Ptolemaic and Seleucid Palestine tends to focus on the causes and consequences of the Maccabean Revolt and to rely quite heavily on later sources like 1 and 2 Maccabees, wherein the retrospective remembrance of Macedonian rule has been dramatized through rhetorical contrasts of Hellenismos and Ioudaismos (esp. 2 Macc 4:7–17).14 If anything, older dichotomous and contrastive approaches to empire and identity have recently been revived in the trend of rereading the rise of apocalyptic literature as “imperial resistance,” wherein the motives of even pre-Maccabean Jewish apocalypses have been recast as “responses” to what is reconstructed, from 1 and 2 Maccabees, as the “state terror” of Hellenistic colonialism.15
The Maccabean Revolt has loomed so large in the study of Second Temple Judaism that it can be difficult to recall that Judaea was ruled by the Ptolemies for a century prior (i.e., from around 301–200 bce)—roughly around the same span of time that it was later ruled by the Hasmoneans.16 Given the paucity of evidence for this century, it may be tempting to treat the entire century as if a mere preface to the Revolt. Already in 1999, however, Seth Schwartz emphasized the lack of evidentiary support for the common assumption that “[d]iffering attitudes to Hellenism . . . generated social fissures and even conflict” starting in the third century bce.17 “Although the history of Yehud/Judaea . . . in much of the period is obscure,” Schwartz stressed, “the apparent institutional stability of Judaea suggests that the impression of calm created by the silence of the sources . . . is no mirage.”18 Or, as he more recently puts it: “Despite the violence in the world around it . . . Yehud/Judea experienced these centuries as unprecedented peaceful ones.”19 Consequently, Schwartz posits that “the search in Jewish sources for Greek influence and native resistance in the form of opposition to Hellenism is largely misguided” for this period,20 and he calls “instead [for] a more subtle search for cultural reorientation” in the third and early second centuries bce.21
In this article, I take up this task by looking to our early evidence for Aramaic Jewish literary production in the early Hellenistic age. In past research on Second Temple Judaism, the third century bce was largely dismissed as a poorly attested and shadowy period.22 What has emerged in the past fifteen years—with the completion of the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the new work and perspectives thereby enabled—has been a new sense of this era as marked by a flowering of Jewish literary production in Aramaic. Devora Dimant, for instance, estimates that there were portions of as many as 121 Aramaic texts found at Qumran.23 Even if we set aside those materials that are too fragmentary to assess, we are left by her count with “eighty-four scrolls . . . from twenty-nine different works, only three of which were known [to us] prior to the discovery of the scrolls.”24 Frustratingly fragmentary but surprisingly extensive, these Aramaic materials reveal the broader contexts of previously-known works like the Book of the Watchers, Tobit, and Daniel, while also significantly expanding our evidentiary base for understanding Judaism in the early Hellenistic age—prior to the Maccabean Revolt, on the one hand, and the establishment of the Qumran community, on the other. After all, as John J. Collins notes:
the corpus of Aramaic texts found at Qumran . . . are often thought to be presectarian, and most of them surely are, [even if] not necessarily all. They are part of the literary heritage of the third and early second centuries bce.25
Why is so much of our extant Jewish literature from the early Hellenistic age written in Aramaic? Might the repurposing of Achaemenid administrative language as a Jewish literary language offer us an important datum, in its own right, for charting “cultural reorientations” among Jews under Ptolemaic and early Seleucid rule? I make no claim to provide any decisive answers to these questions in what follows. What I would like to attempt here, however, is to help to set the stage for beginning to answer questions of this sort by highlighting some of the micro-dynamics of pre-Maccabean Aramaic Jewish pedagogy and literary production and by signaling some points of resonance with broader cultural trends in the early Hellenistic age.
To do so, I shall focus on the Astronomical Book, which is perhaps the work that scholarly consensus has placed most firmly as pre-Maccabean on the basis of both manuscript evidence and its connections with other works. Not only does it stand at the very fountainhead of the Aramaic Enoch tradition now best known from the late antique Ethiopian compendium 1 Enoch, but it survives in perhaps the broadest array and variety of ancient Aramaic fragments (4Q208–4Q211=4QEnastra–d).26 Insofar as it remains one of the most puzzling works from the Second Temple period, moreover, it may also provide an interesting test-case for rereading in light of recent insights into Greek paideia and the cultural politics of the early Hellenistic age.
Much has been done to situate the Astronomical Book within diachronic trajectories such as the transmission of Mesopotamian astronomy, the development of Jewish apocalyptic literature, and the prehistory and formation of 1 Enoch. What I would like to propose, here, is that the Aramaic fragments related to this work may also offer interesting insights into Jewish literary practices and scribal pedagogies in the early Hellenistic age. In what follows, then, I experiment with using these fragments to try to draw out something of the shifts in Jewish literary, scribal, and pedagogical practices during this era. To do so, I consider the Astronomical Book in three overlapping ways:  arguing for the potential value of this work as evidence for Hellenistic-era Jewish practices and perceptions of writing,  looking to the variance within manuscripts related to the Astronomical Book to illumine these practices, and  contextualizing these practices and processes in relation to contemporaneous trends related to knowledge, writing, astronomy, cosmology, and pedagogy among Greeks and Near Eastern native elites in the early Hellenistic age (e.g., Aratus; Berossus). What I shall propose, in the process, is that closer attention to these and other Aramaic fragments from Qumran may help us to reorient the types of questions that we ask—and the range of comparanda that we engage—when we seek to glimpse the effects of “Hellenization” within ancient Jewish literature.
The Astronomical Book is perhaps the most puzzling exemplar of Jewish literary production in the early Hellenistic age, but as a result it may also be the most telling. Even prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a version of the work was known from chapters 72–82 of the Ethiopian compendium 1 Enoch. In the form preserved there, it offers a first-person account from the antediluvian sage Enoch concerning what the angel Uriel showed him of the cycles of the moon, sun, stars, seasons, and weather, and what Enoch, in turn, wrote and taught of this knowledge to and through his son Methuselah. After the discovery of Aramaic fragments at Qumran, the Astronomical Book was revealed to be both more ancient than scholars had suspected and more indebted to a scientific tradition of calendrical astronomy with deep roots in Mesopotamian scholasticism. As a result, we can look to the Astronomical Book as one of the sources that can most plausibly be used to fill the silence of what was previously known of Judaism in the third century bce. Yet it does so, however, in a manner that challenges our very notion of what “Judaism” even entails—and how and why it should react to “Hellenism.”
At first sight, its dependence on Babylonian astronomy might seem to signal a tradition either sealed-off to the effects of Hellenization or reacting sharply against it. After all, as Seth Sanders notes:
. . . it is not possible to explain the new Jewish interest in mathematics and astronomy [in the Astronomical Book] through Greek influence. This is because it mainly draws on elements that had existed in the ancient Near East for centuries before its emergence in texts of the third century bce. The new material first appears in Aramaic, not Greek; it is in a dialect—Standard Literary Aramaic—formed already in the Persian period; and it derives directly from a Babylonian scientific tradition that was itself one of the main influences on early Greek mathematics and astronomy.27
Sanders here synthesizes research on the Astronomical Book and related materials by Jonathan Ben-Dov, Henryk Drawnel, and others, who have underlined the depth of the connection with Babylonian science, as well as its probable roots in intellectual interchanges far prior to the formation of the text itself.28 Yet the question of its formation still remains: why would learned Jews living under Hellenistic rule, in the third century bce, choose to write about Babylonian astronomy in Aramaic? Or, in other words: whatever and wherever the ultimate origins of the content collected within the Astronomical Book, why do we find it first textualized, in these particular literary forms, specifically when and how we do?
Recent research on the Astronomical Book has done much to recover the place of Jews in the circulation of ancient sciences.29 The possibility that I would like to explore in this article is that the Astronomical Book might tell us just as much about the cultural work done by the record of such older knowledge in writing among Jewish scribes in the early Hellenistic age. The Astronomical Book is certainly puzzling when we read it through the lens of later ideas about “Judaism” and “Hellenism.” It may make more sense, however, when we follow the theorization of writing and knowledge within the work itself and attend to the choices made by the scribes who collected, selected, rewrote, and reframed the knowledge therein. When we do so with reference to the relevant Aramaic fragments, in particular, we may be able to draw out some of the scribal practices and settings that mediated its very emergence as a literary work—and, hence, perhaps also some of the contexts and concerns that informed the Jewish literary repurposing of Aramaic.
The lunar theory therein bears the marks of much older debts to Babylonian science.30 Whether one imagines its transmission from Babylonian to Jewish scribal circles as direct or indirect, pointed or diffuse,31 it is thus important to distinguish  the question of the timing and character of the cross-cultural contact for knowledge-transfer from  the question of the timing and character of the literary formation of the Astronomical Book. The latter clearly does not mark the first moment of Jewish contact or concern with calendrical astronomy.32 What it can help us to investigate, however, is when, where, how, and why some Jewish scribes chose to record selected technical knowledge about the natural world and celestial cycles in writing.33
In highlighting literary questions of this sort, I am following the lead of recent research at the intersection of Classics and the History of Science, which has pointed to the cultural work done by anthologizing technical knowledge—and thus the need, as Jason König and Tim Whitmarsh stress, to consider how “particular conceptions of knowledge and particular ways of textualising knowledge were entwined with social and political practices and ideals.”34 Working along these lines, for instance, Emma Gee and Katharina Volk have helped to recover the import of Greek and Latin writers like Aratus and Manilius, who were influential in antiquity but neglected in modern scholarship due to judgments about the derivative character of their astronomy and their lack of any “new” scientific discoveries of their own.35 Just as fresh attention to such figures reveals much about the place of astronomy in the power-knowledge complex of the ancient Mediterranean world, so perhaps too—I shall here propose—with the Astronomical Book.36
In focusing on the process of the textualization of astronomical knowledge, I also extend recent shifts in the scholarly conversation about ancient Jewish sciences. Earlier discussion focused largely on the form of the Astronomical Book known from 1 Enoch 72–82 and centered on the question of whether or not the authors deliberately adopted “outdated” Babylonian models in resistance to newer Hellenistic ideas.37 Mladen Popović, however, has pressed for attention to the literary framing of these and other scientific materials found at Qumran.38 Much can be learned from culling such materials for content to compare with the products of similar knowledge-enterprises in other cultures. Nevertheless—as Popović notes—if we wish to understand the “context of transmission of scholarly knowledge,” we must also ask: “what textual formats or genres of scientific writings are attested? And what sort of authorial strategies did ancient Jewish scholars pursue?”39
Accordingly, in what follows, I experiment with analyzing the manuscript evidence for the Astronomical Book with an eye to the specific micro-dynamics of the collection, reworking, reconfiguration, reframing, and representation of older received knowledge therein. I attempt to map some of the main processes and practices by which lunar lists and other technical and didactic materials became compiled and consolidated into what David Carr calls “long-duration” literature.40 To the degree that these processes can be plausibly situated in the early Hellenistic age, I suggest that the Astronomical Book may help us to illumine both the first flowering of Aramaic Jewish literary production and its resonance with the cultural politics of the early Hellenistic age. After all, the Jewish scribes responsible for the Astronomical Book were hardly the only ones working to collect and reframe older received traditions about the moon, sun, and stars into newly literary and pedagogical forms: in the third century bce, in particular, one finds parallel efforts of this sort across the ancient Mediterranean world—from Berossus in Seleucid Babylon to Aratus in the court of the Antigonids. And, just as comparison of contemporaneous examples may help us to speculate about what was at stake for those creating and cultivating the Astronomical Book, so it might also help us to draw out what also proved distinctive about the Aramaic Jewish pedagogy and literary production of the early Hellenistic age.
Happily, fresh investigation along such lines is now possible, due to the full availability of the relevant Aramaic fragments from Qumran. In his 1976 edition of the Aramaic Enoch fragments discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, J. T. Milik identified four manuscripts (4Q208–4Q211) as copies of the Astronomical Book. Inasmuch as Milik only reproduced two of them in full, however, even basic work on the Astronomical Book could progress only tentatively in the 1980s and 1990s.41 It was not until 2000 that complete editions of the fragments of the remaining two manuscripts (i.e., 4Q208, 4Q209) were fully published and accessible, thanks to Eibert Tigchelaar and Florentino García Martínez.42
The full availability of these fragments has sparked a remarkable renaissance of research on the astronomy of the Astronomical Book, as noted above.43 With respect to textual history, however, this evidence has also served to destabilize past theories and assumptions. The variance among the textual witnesses to the Astronomical Book, and the problems of textual identity that they pose, frustrate the recovery of any one single “original” core or Ur-text. What I suggest, in what follows, is that this variance may open up some new opportunities as well. Rarely are we so lucky to have so many early manuscripts of a work and so many clues to the patterns of fluidity and scribal activity that preceded its textual stabilization. Not only do these data provide a “check” on source-critical hypotheses that are based only on 1 Enoch as we know it in Ethiopic, but they permit a rare peek into the process by which new types of knowledge—nowhere represented in the Hebrew Bible—came to be integrated into Jewish literary cultures. The four Aramaic witnesses offer snapshots of a textual tradition in motion in the Second Temple era. Consequently, they may help us to recover some of the micro-dynamics of the process by which elements of Babylonian astronomy came to be textualized as a topic of Jewish literary concern and re-framed as remembrance of a Jewish past. When we abandon the quest for an “original” and reverse the arrow of analysis on the manuscript evidence related to the Astronomical Book, we may glimpse something of the scribal practices that shaped the Aramaic Jewish literature of the early Hellenistic age.44
On paleographical grounds, it is possible to chart a relative chronology with 4Q208 at the end of the third or beginning of the second century bce, 4Q210 and 4Q211 in the middle of the first century bce, and 4Q209 at the turn of the eras.45 The oldest manuscript, 4Q208, contrasts most starkly with 1 Enoch: it has no direct textual parallel at all with the version of the Astronomical Book known in Ethiopic. Tigchelaar went so far as to ask whether 4Q208 can be characterized as a “copy” of the Astronomical Book, since it “need not have been an Enochic writing per se.”46 Its preserved text consists of a list of excruciatingly exhaustive information about lunar visibility, which finds only indirect echoes in the version of the Astronomical Book embedded in 1 Enoch (cf. 73:4–8). One of the two manuscripts from the first century bce, 4Q211, exhibits a similar pattern: its treatment of the seasons and weather finds no exact counterpart in 1 Enoch, even though there is some overlap in concern (cf. 1 En. 82:20).47 The other manuscript from the first century bce, 4Q210, preserves portions of three consecutive chapters of 1 Enoch.48 Evinced in the latest Aramaic manuscript, however, is the emergent unity of a textual tradition that might otherwise seem like diffuse reflections on common concerns. This manuscript, 4Q209, survives in 26 fragments and contains text that overlaps with 4Q208, 4Q210, and portions of 1 Enoch 76–79 and 82—including counterparts to the use of first-person speech to frame technical or didactic materials.49
Even though the manuscript evidence does not permit the reconstruction of any single Ur-text, it points to a coherent set of scribal processes of compilation and literary reframing of received materials about lunar visibility and celestial cycles.50 When we compare the Aramaic fragments with the related materials preserved in secondary Ge‘ez translation in 1 Enoch 72–82, moreover, we can glimpse some general patterns of change. In all of the Aramaic manuscripts, for instance, astronomical material is more prominent and detailed than in 1 Enoch 72–82, while narrative material is far less extensive, especially in the earliest manuscripts.
The Aramaic fragments certainly provide a firmer evidentiary basis for reconstructing the prehistory of 1 Enoch 72–82. But they also demonstrate the limits of treating 1 Enoch as the tradition’s sole telos. As such, they dovetail with Ben-Dov’s analysis of the fragments in relation to what we now know from the Dead Sea Scrolls about Jewish calendrical astronomy and the cultivation of scientific concerns at Qumran. Seen from this perspective, it is clear that 4Q208–4Q210 are not only witnesses to the prehistory of 1 Enoch: the textual fluidity that they attest is no less a product of the intensive scribal activity surrounding the 364-day calendar in Second Temple Judaism.51 “Members of this tradition,” Ben-Dov suggests, “studied the original texts and copied them, as well as reworking them into more systematic astronomical treatises.”52 These Aramaic fragments may be critical for recovering the pre-Maccabean forms and settings of the Astronomical Book, but it would be misleading merely to trace a line from 4Q208 to 1 Enoch 72–82. We can learn much more when we also attend to the survival of material remains from so many formative moments in between—the products of which continued to be copied in the late Second Temple period for the different purposes they seem to have continued to serve.
For our present purposes, it suffices to limit ourselves to those data that help us to reconstruct some of the literary processes and scribal practices whereby astronomy came to be framed as part of Jewish knowledge and literature in the early Hellenistic age. The earliest stages of this process remain shrouded in the most mystery, not least because the only witnesses to them are quite fragmentary. As noted above, two of the oldest manuscripts, 4Q208 and 4Q211, exhibit only indirect connections with 1 Enoch (cf. 73:4–8; 82:15–20), and even the direct parallels in 4Q210 (cf. 76:3–77:4; 78:6–8) are far from verbatim. All three, moreover, preserve lists with no evidence of narrative framing. It is here where the analyses of Ben-Dov and Drawnel prove most useful inasmuch they mobilize the work’s science to reconstruct a sense of the matrix of these lists in a Jewish intellectual tradition that drew upon Mesopotamian models but also developed them.53 This context, for instance, helps to explain the earliest manuscript, 4Q208, which may have contained only the calculation of lunar visibility according to the monthly pattern.54 Whatever its precise scope, Ben-Dov notes that it is “the closest one comes to a translation of an Akkadian astronomical text to a western vernacular during this early period,” raising the possibility of “the role of Aramaic as a cultural vehicle in the transmission of Babylonian science.”55 The lunar theory preserved in 4Q208 and in the parallel portions of 4Q209, moreover, differs enough from the corresponding portions of 1 Enoch to warrant crediting it with a unique identity, even if it is “not an independent comprehensive astronomical treatise but simply represented one list in a broader astronomical corpus.”56
Whether simultaneous to the textualization of this model of lunar visibility or soon thereafter, other lists pertaining to the stars, winds, earth, and seasons were also copied, systematized, and textualized. For understanding their aims and settings, Drawnel’s findings again prove useful. Interpreting the fragments apart from the telos of 1 Enoch and eschewing the retrojection of later literary genres such as apocalypses and testaments, he highlights points of connection with Mesopotamian cuneiform sources and Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls. When he highlights the pattern of “formulaic sentences with fragment notations” in 4Q211 (frg. 1 ii–iii), for instance, he does so largely on the basis of what he reads as parallels in the section of Aramaic Levi Document “dedicated to the metrological order of weights and measures presented in the context of liturgical instruction.”57 In his view, both reflect knowledge of “simple arithmetic exercises in Babylonian scribal education,” raising the possibility that “exercises based on cuneiform models . . . found their way into liturgical and astronomical texts” among Jews in Second Temple times.58 For our purposes, the precise origin of the content of these lists is less pressing. What is significant is that the earliest stages in the textual formation of the Astronomical Book both attest and reflect the use of written aids for teaching about cosmic cycles.
For a sense of the topics covered by this Jewish pedagogy, the overlaps with 1 Enoch 76–78 in 4Q210 are telling as well. Parallels include portions of the lists pertaining to the twelve gates of the winds (4Q210 frg. 1 ii 1; cf. 1 En. 76:3–10), the division of the earth and location of Paradise (frg. 1 ii 2a+b+c; cf. 1 En. 76:13–77:4), and the waxing and waning of the moon (frg. 1 iii; cf. 1 En. 78:6–8). Due to the fragmentary character of 4Q210, it is unclear whether or not this manuscript originally included a first-person notice akin to that which concludes the list of the wind’s gates in 1 Enoch 76.59 What is clear, however, is that the sole portion of the Astronomical Book that deals with the earth formed part of the tradition already at a relatively early stage:60
The dominant pattern in the rest of the Astronomical Book is to contextualize material about the moon primarily in relation to the sun and the stars; this pattern informs the doublets in 1 Enoch 72–82, for instance, leading Ben-Dov to speculate about two earlier parallel efforts to create calendrical treatises.61 For our purposes, it suffices to note that 4Q210 already attests a broader cosmological impulse whereby the scope of scribal Listenwissenschaft is further expanded to encompass both the division of the earth and the gates for the wind (Aram. רוח; Eth. nafās).62 It is intriguing that the material about the wind overlaps with the only positive treatment of the study of the stars in the Book of the Watchers (1 En. 34:1–36:2; cf. 8:1–3), while the material about the earth represents the Astronomical Book’s sole foray into mythic geography: 4Q210 does not just attest a core of materials known in fuller forms from the “composite text” of 4Q209 and the version of the Astronomical Book preserved in 1 Enoch: it embodies the purview that made them possible. Evoked here is a newly totalizing Jewish cosmology that looks especially to the intersections between heaven and earth, charting the winds that flow between them and mapping the “pardes of righteousness” at their bounds.63
It is only at the next stage, however, that we might speak of the emergence of the Astronomical Book as a literary work per se. As noted above, 4Q209 contains overlaps of text and content with 4Q208 but also with 4Q210 and 1 Enoch 76–79 and 82. Parallels with the version in 1 Enoch include passages pertaining to the division of the earth (as attested in the overlapping portions of 4Q209 23 3–10 and 4Q210 1 ii 14–20, corresponding to 1 En. 77:1–4) and material about the celestial bodies and their rulers (as attested in 4Q209 28, corresponding to 1 En. 82:9–13). Most importantly, for our purposes, 4Q209 also preserves two structuring devices: material is framed by the designation ḥeshbon (“calculation”)64 and by first-person notices that present the content of the work as what “I was shown”65 and what “I am telling you, my son.”66 Even as the inner-Aramaic parallels evince the continuation of the same types of scribal activity that shaped the earlier tradition, the presentation of units as “another calculation,” “the final calculation,” etc., signals an anthological self-consciousness, while the first-person notices herald the narrativization that later becomes so central for the Aramaic Enoch tradition.
There are only two examples of first-person notices decisively attested in 4Q209,67 but both are perhaps telling:
4Q209 25 3:
3 [ ]another calculation I was shown for it that it went [
4Q209 26 6–7:
6 its [light] alone. Now I am telling you, my son. blank [
7 [ ] a calculation. He showed m[e
In both cases, the first-person voice is used to evoke moments of teaching and to signal the transmission of exact knowledge about the cosmos. In fact, these two passages (frg. 25 3 and frg. 26 7) represent two of the three occurrences of the term ḥeshbon (“calculation”) in 4Q209. As noted above, this term signals the self-conscious categorization of the information thereafter conveyed and may reflect early efforts at coaxing received lists into a literary structure. Even though the fragmentary form of 4Q209 preserves only three examples, the likelihood that this structuring was more extensive is signaled by the corresponding Ethiopic: the two words therein attested as counterparts to ḥeshbon—namely, tǝʾzāz (“law,” “command”) and śerʿāt (“order,” “ordinance”)—serve a similar structuring function throughout 1 Enoch 72–79+82.68
The difference between the two versions is perhaps clearest when we compare the “paternal report” of 4Q209 26 6 to 1 Enoch 79:1. When read in the broader context of 1 Enoch, the latter resonates with the testamentary features of the Aramaic Enoch tradition.69 On the evidence of 4Q209 26 6, however, we must grapple with the possibility that the connection with Enoch and Methuselah may not have been present or significant in the “compound text” attested in 4Q209. “The Aramaic fragment here does not give the name of the teacher or that of the student,” Drawnel observes, “and it does not seem to be a casual omission;” there is a space at the end of the relevant line, and the name is omitted even in the corresponding Ethiopic.70 At least at an early stage in the work’s formation, it is possible that “the didactic context of knowledge transmission did not originally require a particular name to be inserted,” and the evocation of “the action of the knowledge transmission from an anonymous teacher to an anonymous student” may have sufficed to “suggest a didactic context for the transmission of the astronomical knowledge in a rather unequivocal manner.”71
The other decisive example of a first-person notice in the Aramaic fragments, 4Q209 25 3, refers to the reception of knowledge rather than its transmission: “another calculation [ḥeshbon] I was shown” (cf. 1 En. 74:1–2). This statement has received much attention, most recently by Sanders, in relation to the possibility that scientific thought was associated with apocalyptic visions already in the early stages of the Aramaic Enoch tradition.72 A closer look, however, suggests that the process of association may have been a bit slower and less direct. Drawnel’s interpretation is again helpful inasmuch as he attempts to understand this passage apart from the tropes developed in the Book of the Watchers and widespread in later apocalypses. He reasons that the sense of showing here “certainly does not refer to the actual ‘seeing’ of an abstract process (‘calculation’ [ḥeshbon]), but to its mental understanding either by an oral explanation, or in the process of reading, or perhaps both,” and he draws attention to a parallel in the Aramaic Levi Document attesting “the same metaphorical use of ḥ-z-y in the didactic context.”73
In the context of the textual formation of the Astronomical Book, this visual rhetoric bears other resonances too. Surveying references to seeing and showing in both Aramaic and Ethiopic versions of the work, for instance, VanderKam notes how this rhetoric is consistently used in relation to patterns and phenomena visible in the natural world, and he thus argues for a connection to ancient Jewish practices of observing celestial cycles.74 In my view, we need not choose between Drawnel’s emphasis on the visuality of scribal textuality and VanderKam’s emphasis on seeing as metonym for scientific observation. Determinative, rather, is the overlap between the specialized scribal use of sight, on the one hand, and the power of the eyes to enable earthly access of knowledge about divine cosmic order, on the other. It is not until the addition of chapters 80–81 that Enoch’s seeing and showing are physically relocated to the heavens.75 But even prior to the introduction of the heavenly journey as a narrative setting for Uriel’s teachings in the Astronomical Book, the rhetoric of visuality thus functions to assert scribal expertise as coterminous with claims of access to the divine cosmic order inscribed on the cycles of the skies.
In light of the manuscript evidence, it is clear that the “origins” of the Astronomical Book cannot be reduced simply to an appeal to Enoch to domesticate Babylonian astronomy for Jewish consumption.76 How, then, are we to explain the impulse for the literary activity attested in the Aramaic fragments?
If we work with older notions of “Hellenization,” the timing of the textualization of the Astronomical Book may seem counter-intuitive, if not wholly paradoxical. Yet it might make more sense—I suggest—when we consider it in light of the more recent trends of research on paideia noted at the outset, and especially their extension into recent discussions of the politicization of books and knowledge in Hellenistic times. Already in the 1990s, Andrew Erskine drew attention to the “cultural politics” of the early Hellenistic age, as exemplified by the early Ptolemies and their highly visible acts of collecting knowledge and patronizing scholarship.77 More recently, Whitmarsh and others have looked to how Hellenistic imperial aims and rivalries put Aristotelean ideals of knowledge to work for political aims, resulting in a “power-knowledge complex” with cultural consequences across the Mediterranean world. Among the results was what Whitmarsh calls an “archival turn” that shaped literary production in Greek as well as the imperial deployment of knowledge, sparking newly self-conscious efforts to collect, compile, and organize received traditions.78
Where Erskine, Whitmarsh, and others credited imperial interventions (particularly by the Ptolemies),79 Steve Johnstone has recently suggested that the new emphasis on the physicality of books was not so much a matter of the top-down imperial “influence” of the Library of Alexandria so much as a “decentralized revolution happening from Athens to Babylon and in many places in between”—with a constellation of different locales and languages contributing to “the political objectification of the book” and “the invention of the library [as] . . . essentially an object of aristocratic and royal display and propaganda.”80 This reassessment, in turn, fits well with the more nuanced characterizations of imperialism and cultural change arising from more recent studies of the Hellenistic Near East. Paul Kosmin’s work on Seleucid spatial ideologies, for instance, decisively destabilizes older notions of a monolithic “Hellenism” or the imperially-imposed spread of Greek culture, emphasizing instead the “multipolarity” of the Near East and the precariousness of its remapping as a Macedonian domain.81 And, just as Ian Moyer has drawn upon both Greek and Demotic materials to recover something of the active role of native elites in Egypt under the early Ptolemies, so Johannes Haubold has extended Whitmarsh’s insights into the Hellenistic “archival sensibility” to reassess the character of cultural production in Babylonia, especially in the third century bce, putting the Greek Babylonica of Berossus into conversation with cuneiform materials that also attest the self-conscious repositioning of Mesopotamian scribes faced with the new challenges and opportunities of Seleucid rule.82
Attention to this broader synchronic context may help us to address one of the main puzzles surrounding the Astronomical Book—the fact, as Ben-Dov notes, that its content “reflects neither the advanced astronomy of the late cuneiform culture nor the achievements of Greek astronomy,” but rather provides “an example of the dissemination of popular nonmathematical astronomy from Mesopotamia westward.” Older studies of astronomy in the third century bce had tended to privilege the story of discovery; after all, as Katharina Volk notes, this century saw an “unprecedented flourishing of Greek mathematical astronomy, fuelled by contact (following the conquests of Alexander the Great) with Mesopotamian observational records and methods of calculation, by the development of trigonometry, and by the patronage offered to scientists by powerful rulers.”83 Yet, as Volk reminds us, this century was also marked by the concurrent “widespread non-specialist interest in things having to do with the stars.”84 Exemplary in this regard is Aratus’ Phaenomena, an early Hellenistic Greek didactic poem, which consists largely of “a catalogue of constellations plus a list of . . .. stars that rise simultaneously with signs of the zodiac . . . and discussion of (largely unastronomical) weather signs.”85 Written around 276 bce in the Antigonid court, the Phaenomena offers an interesting contemporaneous example of the practice of re-framing older lists of astronomical information into literary forms with particularly pedagogical and cosmological associations86—and hence also to the value associated, at the time, with astronomical knowledge that we might imagine to be too “out-of-date” to be useful.
Douglas Kidd notes how Aratus “gives a display of his artistry and ingenuity in making technical material from prose sources compatible with the demands of Hellenistic poetry.”87 The result was not just to redeem poetry from the philosophical denigration of its capacity to convey rational truths (e.g., Plato, Rep 607b–608a; Aristotle, Poetics 1447b) but also to reframe technical material about the cosmos as revealed knowledge apt for use in education.88 To do so, Aratus models his poem on Hesiod’s Works and Days (esp. Phaen. 1–18; 98–136; cf. Op. 1–4; 109–201; 213–285).89 Its beginning rewrites the famous opening of that work so as to present the cycles of the skies as “signs” revealed by Zeus:90
Let us begin with Zeus, whom we men never leave unspoken. Filled with Zeus are all highways and all meeting-places of people, filled are the sea and the harbours; in all circumstances, we are dependent on Zeus. For we are also his children, and he benignly gives helpful signs to men, and rouses people to work, reminding them of their livelihood, tells when the soil is best for oxen and mattocks, and tells when the seasons are right both for planting trees and for sowing every kind of seed. For it was Zeus himself who fixed the signs in the sky, making them into distinct constellations, and organized stars for the year to give the most clearly defined signs of the seasonal round to men, so that everything may grow without fail. That is why men always pay homage to him first and last. Hail Father, great wonder, great boon to me, yourself and the earlier race! And hail Muses, all most gracious! In answer to my prayer to tell of the stars in so far as I may, guide all my singing.(Aratus, Phaen. 1–19; trans. Kidd)
In place of the Hesiodic assertion that “the gods keep the means of life hidden from humans,”91 however, Aratus proclaims Zeus as the one who “benignly gives helpful signs to humans.”92 He too calls upon Muses for inspiration, but it is here not only the Muses who “tell of Zeus” (Op. 1). Revelatory, rather, are the “signs” [σήµατα] that Zeus himself set in the skies.
That celestial “signs” in the skies mediate divine knowledge comes further to the fore in Aratus’ innovative depiction of personified Justice (Gr. Dike) as simultaneously Muse and constellation (Phaen. 96–136). Here too, new points are made through Hesiodic rewriting—in this case, interweaving the myth of Dike (Op. 213–285) with the myth of the Four Ages (Op. 109–201). “By turning Dike into a star,” as Gee demonstrates, “Aratus makes Hesiod’s narrative of decline into a closed loop in which the notion of cyclicality replaces the Hesiodic timeline.”93 This move, in turn, contributes to the work’s broader aim “to assimilate the Hesiodic mode of didactic poetry to philosophical notions of the cyclicality of the universe.”94 Nor is the appeal to divine revelation limited to the proem and later mythological asides. When Aratus later exhorts his readers to “take pains to learn” about the stars, for instance, he presents them as useful for navigation but also exemplary of what Zeus communicates to humankind:
For we men do not yet have knowledge of everything from Zeus, but much still is hidden, whereof Zeus if he wishes will give us signs anon; he certainly does benefit the human race openly, showing himself on every side, and everywhere displaying his signs. Some things the moon will tell you, for example, when halved on either side of full, or again when she is full, and other things the sun will tell you when rising and again in warnings at the beginning of night.(Aratus, Phaen. 769–775)
His subsequent exhortations to the reader to “observe [σκέπτεο] the moon,” “pay attention [τοι µελέτω] to the sun,” etc., are thus presented in terms of receptivity to revealed knowledge. The technical materials thereby framed might seem “out-dated” or unscientific when we judge them by the standards of the new discoveries of the time (not least because of the errors that Hipparchus himself notes in his commentary to this work!). Nevertheless, Aratus makes no claim that the science here is new—indeed, far from it: his claim is that the science is quite old, if not timeless, and through that claim, the universality of cosmic cycles is drawn into the privileged cultural domain of the mythoi of the Greeks and into the practical domain of Hellenistic pedagogy.
Gee argues that Aratus’ Phaenomena is “the first accessible coalescence of astronomical data with a cosmology which embraces the world in all its levels, including human morality,” and she makes a persuasive case in the context of the Greek literary tradition.95 But, as we have seen, much the same description could be applied to the Astronomical Book in relation to the Jewish literary tradition.96 For understanding the century in which both took form, then, the juxtaposition may be particularly instructive.
I have no intention to argue for any direct lines of influence linking the two works. The wide diffusion of Aratus’ Phaenomena eventually included Jewish readers—as is clear from the direct quotation of its opening lines by Aristobulos in the second century bce and in the Book of Acts in the first century ce.97 The early date of the Astronomical Book makes a connection of this sort more tenuous. For our purposes, arguments about direct dependence are also unnecessary. For understanding something of the broader context of the formation of the Astronomical Book as charted above, this intertext proves useful as a particularly prominent example of the intensification of interest in astronomy and cosmology in the third century bce. By virtue of its extreme popularity, the Phaenomena also serves as a barometer of sorts for the shifting practices of pedagogy that prompted the synthesis of older astronomical data into new literary forms, similarly shaped by new cosmological, ethical, and didactic concerns. Parallels of anthological aim and practice, moreover, prove poignant enough that one might wonder if the Astronomical Book is a separate product of some of the same conditions.
Interestingly, moreover, the figure of Dike in the Phaenomena fulfills much the same function as Uriel in 1 Enoch 72–79+82. Aratus first describes the constellation Parthenos (a.k.a. Virgo) as “daughter of Astraeus . . . the original father of the stars” (98–99; cf. Theogony 378–382). He then opines about “another tale current among men”:
. . . once she actually lived on earth, and came face to face with men, and did not ever spurn the tribes of ancient men and women, but sat in their midst although she was immortal. And they called her Justice: gathering together the elders, either in the marketplace or the broad highway, she urged them in prophetic tones to judgments for the good of the people. At that time they still had no knowledge of painful strife or quarrelsome conflict or noise of battle, but lived just as they were; the dangerous sea was far from their thoughts, and as yet no ships brought them livelihood from afar, but oxen and ploughs and Justice herself, queen of the people and giver of civilized life, provided all their countless needs. That was as long as the earth still nurtured the golden age.(Aratus, Phaen. 100–114; trans. Kidd)
Dike is said to have engaged selectively with the Silver Age, albeit “rebuking them for their wickedness,” never speaking to them face-to-face, and fleeing for the mountains (120–130). It was not until the Bronze Age—“the first to forge the criminal sword for murder on the highways, and the first to taste the flesh of ploughing oxen” (131–132)—that Dike, “conceiving a hatred for the generation of men, flew up to the sky and took up her abode in that place, where she is still visible to men by night as the Maiden by conspicuous Bootes” (133–136).
A later Enochic work, the Parables of Enoch (ca. first century bce/ce), contains a similar tale about how personified Wisdom found no adequate home among humankind and thus made her dwelling in heaven among the angels instead (1 En. 42:1–2; cf. 94:5; Sir 24:7–11). Whereas the Parables of Enoch dramatizes the distancing of divine knowledge from humankind, however, both Aratus and the Astronomical Book invoke celestially-associated mediating figures to assert its continued accessibility. Even though Aratus appeals to the famous Hesiodic schema of the successive denigration from the Golden Age, for instance, he does not describe the departure of Justice from humankind in terms of decline; by equating Dike with the constellation Parthenos, rather, he is able to stress her status as “still visible”—a component of Zeus’ helpful communication to humankind through the “signs” in the skies.98 The point is doubly made when Aratus claims Dike as Muse: not only does she emblematize the accessibility of knowledge from Zeus through our sight of the skies, but she is figured as among the inspiring powers that enable its accessibility through didactic poetry like the Phaenomena itself.
Something similar may be at play in the identification of the angel Uriel both with the leader of the celestial luminaries at the head of the hierarchy of seasonal time and with the teacher who “shows” the “calculations” of their cycles to the Astronomical Book’s first-person scribal “I.” Even as the multiplication of myriads of leaders upon leaders conveys the grandeur of God and the vastness of the heavens, Uriel vouchsafes the predictability of the orderly governance of the cosmos and the availability of knowledge about this orderliness to humankind. Here too, the accessibility mediated through the sight of the skies is paired with the accessibility mediated by writing. In the process—as for Aratus—an emphasis on the visible cycles of the moon, sun, stars, and seasons serves as symbolic of all that the highest deity chooses to reveal to humankind.99
The comparison may help to highlight some of what is at stake in the pairing of Uriel with Enoch. In both cases, the primeval past is evoked as a time of intimacy between heaven and earth: just as Justice herself advised the elders of Aratus’ Golden Age, so Uriel’s connection to Enoch also evokes an antediluvian era when scribes learned about celestial cycles from the angels themselves. This makes it all the more striking, however, that neither tells a narrative of decline. Instead, the evocation of loss serves to occasion the assurance of a continued connection. In both cases, this connection is described through images of knowledge-transmission that conjure the power of pedagogy to preserve truths across even vast expanses of space and time. He who learns the constellations listed by Aratus knows when Dike is predictably visible. Jewish scribal readers of the Astronomical Book are similarly assured that they can look up to the skies to see the celestial luminaries lead by Uriel—the very angel who is also connected to them through a lineage of teaching embodied by the book itself. In effect, both Aratus and the Astronomical Book appeal to transmundane mediators of astronomical knowledge to assure their readers of the potent simultaneity of the mythic past and the didactic present—and, as a result, the capacity of knowledge, rightly taught, to travel smoothly even across moments of radical historical disjuncture.
Interestingly, in both cases, the epistemological functions of these mediating figures are mirrored by their literary functions. By Gee’s reading, for instance, Aratus’ Dike “is both real and mythical, a star and a symbol,” and this is central to her function to help “unite, perhaps for the first time, astronomy and cosmology:”
As a goddess, she is part of an ethical system, a cosmology, in which the world is engineered in such a way as to favour particular conduct, illustrated through a linear model human development; as a constellation, she is part of a cyclical astronomical system. Because of her status as both mythic figure and constellation, a dual status given to her by Aratus himself as the originator of the identification of between Dike and the constellation Parthenos, she stands as a metaphor for the association between the technical and the mythical central to Aratus’ undertaking.100
Just as Dike’s role as “an active participant in the cycles of the cosmos” makes her “a Muse appropriate to the coexistence of poetry and philosophy” for Aratus,101 so the evocation of Uriel as angel also functions to fuse ethical and technical discourses into a newly integrative pedagogical ideal. To ask which “leaders” of the luminaries in the Astronomical Book are and are not “angels,” then, may be as misplaced as to wonder whether Aratus’ Dike is a constellation, a personified principle, or a goddess.102 Here too, it may be the very overlap that makes meaning—both on the level of the work’s theorization of knowledge and on the level of its literary structure. Just as Aratus rewrites Hesiodic myth to mediate the transfer of astronomical information into the literary genre of didactic poetry, so the Jewish scribes responsible for transforming didactic lists into the long-duration text of the Astronomical Book use angelology to mediate the inclusion of astronomical information into the literary heritage of Israel.
In the shared concerns of Aratus and the Astronomical Book, we may glimpse part of the reason for the special appeal of technical information about celestial cycles, in particular, for diverse elites in the early Hellenistic age. At a time when the ancient Mediterranean world was newly splintered into a multipolarity of competing imperial centers,103 the claim made by Aratus and the Astronomical Book is that a man can be taught to look to the skies to see a predictable and cyclical order under one just and benevolent divine ruler, who reveals knowledge to humankind through the visible world, as if writing cosmic truths on and with the skies. Inasmuch as human sight is what enables the connection, it is perhaps not surprising that Aratus uses idioms of visibility to express the earthly availability of divine knowledge, just as both the Phaenomena and the Astronomical Book also figure understanding in terms of being shown, seeing, and being taught how and what to see. Thus construed, technical materials about astronomy could provide powerful tools for new written reflections on knowledge in the early Hellenistic age in part because they enable grand claims about cosmic and divine truths alongside quite practical assurances about their continued accessibility here on earth—both through our eyes and through education.
The rewriting of Enuma Elish and translation of Near Eastern monarchic ideology into Greek language and idiom in Berossus’ Babylonica offers yet another example of the reworking of older knowledge into new literary forms in the third century bce. There is a possibility that this work also integrated some astronomical material. The relevant excerpts have suffered much scholarly neglect due to Neugebauer’s judgments of their scientific content as “primitive” by the criteria of the Babylonian mathematical astronomy known from cuneiform sources.104 Yet, as John Steele has recently shown, they may be an important source for recovering Hellenistic-era efforts by Babylonian priests to rework older materials into the idiom of “philosophical cosmological tradition.”105 Although the questionable authenticity of this material makes any comparison precarious, it presents an interesting point for triangulation with Aratus and the Astronomical Book—raising the possibility that even some Babylonian priests of the time were discussing celestial cycles for aims that were more cosmological or epistemological than scientific per se.
To the degree that Berossus is engaged in a similar enterprise as the Astronomical Book, however, his Babylonica is ultimately oriented towards kingship rather than education. He thus draws upon different elements from their shared Near Eastern cultural heritage, even as he engages in a parallel literary activity of culling this heritage to rewrite the antediluvian past for a changing Hellenistic present. His project fits with the concerns of court cultures of the time in a manner akin to Aratus but distinct from the Astronomical Book. The triangulation thus helps to bring the literary choices within the Astronomical Book into sharper relief. Here, as we have seen, the language of leadership is reserved for Israel’s God and His orderly heavenly hierarchy of luminaries and angels. Yet the divine abode is far from distant. What Berossus culls for political theory, the Astronomical Book reworks into the beginnings of a newly detailed angelology, predicated—as for Aratus—on the assurance of the accessibility of heavenly knowledge here on earth.
Much of the process of the formation of the Astronomical Book—as we have seen—can be characterized as broadly akin to the “archival sensibility” that marks much of the Greek literature of the early Hellenistic age. This trend may similarly help us to account for the seemingly sudden expansion of topics of concern that we see across the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls more broadly. So too with the self-conscious emphasis on the physicality of books and writings that marks almost all of the Aramaic Jewish writings of early Hellenistic age: their self-referential textuality may mark a notable shift from early biblical literature, but it simultaneously finds ample parallels in the non-Jewish literature of its own time as well as in the inscriptional and other evidence for what Johnstone deems the “invention of the library.” Likewise, it is at the very least intriguing that around the same time that Berossus was rewriting king-lists and drawing out the cosmological consequences of the cosmogony of Enuma Elish, the Jewish scribes responsible for the Astronomical Book were reworking older didactic lists about the moon, sun, stars, winds, and seasons into newly literary and narrative forms—just as other Jewish scribes were similarly drawing from both the Israelite and broader Near Eastern heritage of scribal knowledge to create new literary works in Aramaic about demons and angels, geography and ouranography, the prehistory of Israel, and the ultimate fate of the soul and the cosmos. Like Berossus, they engage in the anthological literary activity of culling the heritage of Mesopotamian scholasticism to rewrite the antediluvian past for a changing Hellenistic present—and, in the process, defending the continued importance of the scribe, in part by reframing older elements of scribal Listenwissenschaft into new literary forms.
It is certainly alluring to imagine some dramatic clash between “Hellenism” and “Judaism” already in the immediate wake of the conquests of Alexander, resulting in the heroic rise of the Jewish apocalypse as “resistance literature.” The more we attend to our most plausibly pre-Maccabean evidence, however, the more apt it seems to speak, instead, of a series of subtler shifts within the Jewish scribal cultures of Ptolemaic and early Seleucid Palestine—encompassing the emergence of the apocalypse but hardly exhausted by it. But even if such shifts fit better with Schwartz’s cautious sense of “cultural reorientation” than with older notions of a clash of civilizations, they were perhaps no less seismic for it. To the degree that the Astronomical Book tells us something about the Aramaic Jewish pedagogy of its time, it points to a striking expansion of the very scope and content of Jewish knowledge, writing, and scribal expertise. In the process, it draws our attention to poignant parallels with the broader intensification of concern for local lineages of knowledge, globally-framed local identities, and cosmologically-situated antiquarian local histories across the Mediterranean world, concurrent with the reordering of imperial knowledge within the literatures and libraries of Hellenistic courts and poleis alike.
Reflecting on the some of cultural effects of ancient empires, Greg Woolf has recently posited two types of localism—one generated by isolation but the other “more purposive, in the sense that it is formed consciously.”106 The latter, in his view, is generated by the types of connection facilitated especially by those empires that “connected people, generated diasporas, facilitated travel [and thus] created conditions in which even local history marked itself as global.”107 Scholars have tended to treat nearly all Jewish distinctiveness as the former sort of localism—especially when studying Hebrew and Aramaic sources. Our analysis of the Astronomical Book, however, fits more with the latter.108 It may be expressed in Aramaic rather than Greek, but it remains poignantly resonant, for instance, with what Susan Alcock observes when she characterizes the Hellenistic period in terms of the intensification of “locally generated claims to territory and prestige” sparked in part by an “increasing interaction of great and small powers at this time.”109
For reconstructing Judaism in the third century bce, it might be similarly useful to set aside conventionally contrastive models of ruler and ruled, “Hellenism” and “Judaism,” Macedonian oppression and Jewish apocalyptic resistance. The very choice to make a Jewish literary language out of Aramaic, after all, points to a creative reconfiguration of what even counts as “local” knowledge—far more complex than simply the preservation or defense of some statically “authentic” Israelite heritage against imperial encroachment or even elite assimilation. If this development is inextricably local and globalizing both in its self-presentation and results, so too with another major feature of this corpus exemplified by the Astronomical Book—that is, the embrace of topics and traditions that are unprecedented in the Hebrew Bible but richly paralleled elsewhere in the Near East.
Although relatively isolated in comparison to their counterparts, Jewish priests and scribes in Ptolemaic and early Seleucid Palestine may have had their own reasons to engage in an “archival turn” resulting in a parallel expansion of their own expert claims. If the fortunes of the non-priestly Tobiads are any indication, the status of Jewish priests under Ptolemaic rule may have been more precarious than under the Persian Empire. It may not be coincidental, then, that so many Aramaic Jewish texts from the pre-Maccabean period underline the traditional linkage of priests and teachers, emphasize the pedagogical component of scribal expertise, and reshape the memory of Israel’s past and prehistory in the image of the custodians of an ancestral heritage of knowledge now emphasized as explicitly textual in form and character. Such claims, after all, serve to defend the necessity of priests and scribes within a Jewish society in which priestly lineage no longer sufficed to ensure a place within the administrative apparatus, particularly in the wake of the cross-cultural spread of Greek paideia.110
It is, at the very least, intriguing that the range of topics covered in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls rival the totalizing and encircling claims of Greek paideia—especially in the Hellenistic forms in which this style of education was coming to define elite identity across Ptolemaic and other empires.111 Just as the curriculum of enkyklios paideia (i.e., common education) encompassed Greek grammar and literature but also astronomy and mathematics,112 so Jewish scribes writing in Aramaic in the early Hellenistic age recast Israel’s past in the image of an educational ideal that includes both scribal literacy and detailed technical knowledge about the structure and workings of the cosmos. In the literary formation of the Astronomical Book, we may glimpse something of the process by which this ideal became textualized and materialized as book. The teachings that its authors present as ancient Jewish lore are essentially Babylonian astronomy. And they choose to textualize this knowledge in Aramaic—the imperial language of the previous Persian rulers and the cosmopolitan koine of the intercultural intellectualism of the Near East prior to Hellenistic domination. The result, however, is the assertion of the archaic “Jewishness” of both Mesopotamian scholasticism and the Aramaic language, but also—perhaps no less significantly—the promotion of a newly expansive vision of Jewish scribalism, which could be mapped far back onto the primeval past and up into the heavens.
1 Amélie Kuhrt and Susan Sherwin-White, From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).
2 Rolf Strootman, for instance, stresses the need to abandon “the outdated notion of a one-sided Hellenization of the east” and acknowledges Kurt and Sherwin-White’s important corrective contribution in this regard, but he also points to the shortcomings of what he calls the “postcolonial ‘continuity paradigm,’ i.e., the line of thought that conceptualizes the empire of Alexander and the Seleukids as essentially a continuation of the Achaemenid Empire and emphasizes the continuity of Near Eastern cultural ‘traditions’ ”—which “capitalizes on an ahistorical synthesis of Greek (‘European’) and non-Greek (‘Oriental’) cultural systems” and “conceptualizes Near Eastern cultures as essentially static” (“Babylonian, Macedonian, King of the World: The Antiochos Cylinder from Borippa and Seleukid Imperial Integration,” in Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period, ed. Eftychia Stavrianopoulou [Leiden: Brill, 2013], 67–98 at 76). Strootman is among those more recent historians of the Hellenistic period who are working instead from the assumption that “social discourses and practices are constantly in flux and bi-directional” such that much of the cultural production of the Hellenistic Near East reflects “vital, two-way interaction of city and court” (p. 77); see further Strootman, Courts and Elites in the Hellenistic Empires: The Near East after the Achaemenids, c. 330 to 30 bce (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014). For other such integrative efforts applied to the Ptolemies and Seleucids, respectively, see Ian S. Moyer, Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 83–141; Paul Kosmin, Land of the Elephant Kings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2014).
3 See esp. Raffaela Cribiore, Writing, Teachers and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996); Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Teresa Morgan, Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
4 E.g., David Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Catherine Hezser, Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, tsaj 81 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001).
5 E.g., Maud W. Gleason, Making Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); A. Wallace-Hadrill, “To Be Roman, Go Greek: Thoughts on Hellenization at Rome,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 42.S71 (1998): 79–91; Greg Woolf, “Becoming Roman Staying Greek: Cultural Identity and the Civilizing Process in the Roman East,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 40 (1994): 116–43; Timothy Whitmarsh, Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Simon Goldhill, ed., Being Greek under Rome: Cultural Identity, the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, ed. Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism, Didacticism, Classicism (Burlington: Ashgate, 2006)—i.e., also extending earlier efforts to revisit H. I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), etc., by Peter Brown, e.g., in Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).
6 On the Hellenistic Near East, see Johannes Haubold, Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) and further references cited there. Examples pertaining to paideia and Christianity and “paganism” in Late Antiquity include Laura Nasrallah, “Mapping the World: Justin, Tatian, Lucian, and the Second Sophistic,” htr 98.3 (2005): 283–314; Jeremy Schott, “Founding Platonopolis: The Platonic in Eusebius, Porphyry, and Iamblichus,” jecs 11.4 (2003): 501–31; Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).
7 See already Alan Mendelson, Secular Education in Philo of Alexandria (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1982), and more recently, e.g., Sylvia Honigman, The Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (London: Routledge, 2003); Maren Niehoff, Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). See also Niehoff, ed., Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters: Between Literary and Religious Concerns, jsrc 16 (Leiden: Brill 2012).
8 E.g., David Stern, “The Captive Woman: Hellenization, Greco-Roman Erotic Narrative, and Rabbinic Literature,” Poetics Today 19.1 (1998): 91–127; Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 bce–400 ce (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Amram Tropper, Wisdom, Politics, and Historiography: Tractate Avot in the Context of the Graeco-Roman Near East (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Azzan Yadin, “Rabban Gamliel, Aphrodite’s Bath, and the Question of Pagan Monotheism,” jqr 96.2 (2006): 149–79; Daniel Boyarin, “Hellenism in Jewish Babylonia,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud, ed. Charlotte Fonrobert and Martin Jaffee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 336–63; Yair Furstenberg, “The Agon with Moses and Homer: Rabbinic Midrash and the Second Sophistic,” in Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters, 299–328.
9 E.g., Carr, Writing on the Tablet, 253–72; Guy Darshan, “The Twenty-Four Books of the Hebrew Bible and Alexandrian Scribal Methods,” in Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters, 221–44; Daniel Boyarin, Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
10 See, e.g., Moyer, Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism, 83–141; Alan Lenzi, “The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship,” janer 8.2 (2008): 137–69; Paul Kosmin, “Seeing Double in Seleucid Babylonia: Rereading the Borsippa Cylinder of Antiochus I,” in Patterns of the Past, ed. A. Moreno and R. Thomas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 173–98.
11 On the lineage of modern scholarship on “Hellenism” and “Judaism,” see Arnaldo Momigliano, “Prologue in Germany (untitled),” in Nono Contributo all storia degli studi classici e dei mondo antico, ed. R. Di Donato (Rome: Ed. di Storia e Letteratura, 1992), 556–59; Martha Himmelfarb, “Elias Bickerman on Judaism and Hellenism,” in The Jewish Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians, ed. D. Myers and D. Ruderman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 199–211.
12 I.e., beginning already with the much-cited and celebrated efforts of Martin Hengel, Judentum und Hellenismus: Studien zu ihrer Begegnung unter Berücksichtigung Palästinas bis zur Mitte des 2 Jh.s v.Chr. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1973).
13 Interestingly, many of the surviving Jewish sources from this period are in Aramaic, rather than Greek or Hebrew. Among the notable exceptions to this pattern are the Letter of Aristeas, some of the Greek Jewish authors excerpted by Alexander Polyhistor (e.g., Demetrius, Artapanus, Eupolemus, Pseudo-Eupolemus), and the oldest strata of the so-called Septuagint.
14 On the rhetorical character of such contrasts see Martha Himmelfarb, “Judaism and Hellenism in 2 Maccabees,” Poetics Today 19.1 (1998): 19–40, and for a broader assessment and critique of the continuing effects on current scholarship, see Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 b.c.e. to 640 c.e. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 23–24. For a prominent recent example of this pattern, see Anathea Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 91–113; contrast her Epilogue, however, where she acknowledges her heavy dependence on 1–2 Maccabees, asks what histories of this sort hide, and raises the question of “how narratives of resistance function in these ancient historiographical writings” (p. 395; emphasis mine).
15 Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire; Richard A. Horsly, Revolt of the Scribes: Resistance and Apocalyptic Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010). These books succeed in their stated aims of redressing the scholarly habit of abstracting apocalypses from their socio-political settings and demonstrating the value of insights from postcolonial criticism for specialist scholarship on Second Temple Judaism. Portier-Young, in particular, richly demonstrates the explanatory power of theories of “resistance” for understanding Maccabean-era historical apocalypses such as the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” “Animal Apocalypse,” and the Book of Daniel (pp. 217–79, 313–81). This is the topic at the heart of her argument. What I am questioning here is only whether the same pattern can be generalized to apocalypses composed prior to the Revolt (cf. pp. 15–27, 49–64)—especially since so much of her reconstruction of the imperial motives and programs of “state terror,” etc., depends on the retrospective historical narratives of 1 and 2 Maccabees.
16 For a summary of what we know of its economy and administration, see Roger S. Bagnall, Administration of the Ptolemaic Possessions outside Egypt, Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 11–24.
17 Schwartz, Imperialism, 22–36, quote at 23.
18 Schwartz, Imperialism, 22.
19 Seth Schwartz, The Ancient Jews from Alexander to Muhammad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 30.
20 Schwartz, Imperialism, 31.
21 Schwartz, Imperialism, 31; italics mine.
22 This pattern was stressed already by Michael E. Stone in the 1970s: “It has long been true that a major difficulty in writing the history of Judaism in the pre-Christian era is the paucity of information relating directly to the fourth and third centuries [bce]. Certain of the biblical writings were doubtlessly redacted in this age and a few others composed in it. Nonetheless, we lack a clear picture of how Judaism developed throughout this period. Rabbinic chronology radically foreshortens this era and Josephus’ brevity too reflects the poverty of the historical accounts. It is not surprising that when the sources become plentiful once more, after the start of the second century bce, the picture of Judaism they present differs considerably from that which can be constructed for the period down to the age of Ezra and Nehemiah” (“The Book of Enoch and Judaism in the Third Century b.c.e.,” cbq 40 : 479–92, 479). In what follows, I pick up Stone’s suggestion there that the Astronomical Book may be of special use in helping us to fill this gap.
23 Devorah Dimant, “Qumran Aramaic Texts and the Qumran Community,” in Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in Honour of Florentino García Martínez, ed. A. Hilhorst, É. Puech, and E. Tigchelaar, JSJSup 122 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 197–206 at 199. By her count, the Aramaic mss make up roughly 13% of the total mss found in the caves near Qumran; compare, more recently, the survey and reassessment in Daniel Machiela, “Aramaic Writings of the Second Temple Period and the Growth of Apocalyptic Thought: Another Survey of the Texts,” Judaïsme ancient/Ancient Judaism (2014): 113–34. See further Dimant, “Themes and Genres in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran,” in Aramaica Qumranica: Proceedings of the Conference on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran in Aix-en-Provence, ed. K. Berthelot and D. Stökl Ben Ezra, stdj 94 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 15–45; Eibert Tigchelaar, “Aramaic Texts from Qumran and the Authoritativeness of Hebrew Scriptures: Preliminary Observations,” in Authoritative Scriptures in Ancient Judaism, ed. M. Popović, JSJSup 141 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 155–71; Florentino García Martínez, “Scribal Practices in the Aramaic Literary Texts from Qumran,” in Myths, Martyrs, and Modernity: Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer, ed. J. H. F. Dijkstra, J. E. A. Kroesen, and Y. B. Kuiper, Numen 127 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 329–41; Andrew Perrin, The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), 23–36.
24 Dimant, “Qumran Aramaic Texts,” 200; italics mine. By the three, she there means Tobit, 1 Enoch, and Aramaic Levi Document. This is, of course, a rough count: 1 Enoch is more properly multiple texts, as noted above, and Aramaic Levi Document is only indirectly related to a known text, i.e., the Testament of Levi in the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs. Her point, however, remains.
25 John J. Collins, “The Transformation of the Torah in Second Temple Judaism,” jsj 43 (2012): 455–74 at 456; on his logic here, see further Collins, “The Aramaic Texts from Qumran: Conclusions and Perspectives,” in Aramaica Qumranica, 547–62 at 548–49, 552–55. On Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls as presumably “non-sectarian” and hence often “pre-sectarian,” see Dimant, “Qumran Aramaic Texts,” 198–99; Jonathan Ben-Dov, “Scientific Writings in Aramaic and Hebrew at Qumran: Translation and Concealment,” in Aramaica Qumranica, 379–402; Émile Puech, “Du bilinguisme à Qumrân?” in Mosaïque delangues, mosaïque culturelle: Le bilinguisme dans le Proche-Orient ancient, ed. F. Briquel Châtonnet (Paris: Jean Maisonneuve, 1996), 171–89. Although the correlation cannot serve as a blanket assumption, it does seem to be a general pattern—or, at least, enough so that our understanding of post-Persian, pre-Maccabean Palestine hinges on attention to Aramaic materials understood in their own right, rather than read through the lens of later Hebrew materials. For further discussion and debate, see Florentino García Martínez, “Aramaica Qumranica Apocalyptica?” in Aramaica Qumranica, 435–48 at 439–46. Compare also Armin Lange’s count of pre-Maccabean Dead Sea Scrolls, which includes some Hebrew works as well (“Pre-Maccabean Literature from the Qumran Library and the Hebrew Bible,” dsd 13 : 277–305 at 285–86); by Lange’s assessment, “[b]efore the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, 33 of the 38 non-biblical pre-Maccabean texts from Qumran were known only in part or not at all” (p. 285).
26 For the fragments, see Jozef T. Milik, Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumrân Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 273–97 and plates xxv–xxx; E. Tigchelaar and F. García Martínez in djd 36:95–171; Henryk Drawnel, The Aramaic Astronomical Book from Qumran: Text, Translation, and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
27 Seth L. Sanders, “ ‘I Was Shown Another Calculation:’ The Language of Knowledge in Aramaic Enoch and Priestly Hebrew,” in Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature, ed. Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 69–101 at 75. To be sure, Sanders himself also notes how “not only ‘science’ but also ‘Hellenistic’ and ‘Babylonian’ are in important ways reified and anachronistic terms that only somewhat awkwardly fit our data” (p. 75).
28 E.g., Jonathan Ben-Dov, Head of All Years: Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran in their Ancient Context, stdj 78 (Leiden: Brill, 2008); Henryk Drawnel, “Some Notes on Scribal Craft and the Origins of the Enochic Literature,” Henoch 31 (2009): 66–72; Drawnel, “Between Akkadian tupšarrūtu and Aramaic SPR: Some Notes on the Social Context of the Early Enochic Literature,” RevQ 24 (2010): 373–403.
29 See above as well as Matthias Albani, Astronomie und Schöpfungsglaube: Untersuchungen zum astronomischen Henochbuch (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1994); Eshbal Ratzon, “The Gates Cosmology of the Astronomical Book of Enoch,” dsd 22 (2015): 93–111; Ben-Dov and Sanders, ed., Ancient Jewish Sciences; Seth L. Sanders, From Adapa to Enoch: Scribal Culture and Religious Vision in Judea and Babylon, tsaj (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017).
30 Henryk Drawnel, The Aramaic Astronomical Book of Enoch from Qumran (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 47–49.
31 Opinions range from strong claims of direct Babylonian provenance (e.g., Albani, Astronomie und Schöpfungsglaube, 270; Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 53, 301) to arguments for the broad cross-cultural diffusion of the model underlying 4Q208 (e.g., Dennis Duke and Matthew Goff, “The Astronomy of the Qumran Fragments 4Q208 and 4Q209,” dsd 21 : 176–210; Mladen Popović, “Networks of Scholars: The Transmission of Astronomical and Astrological Learning between Babylonians, Greeks, and Jews,” in Ancient Jewish Sciences, 153–93 at 171). See, most recently, Eshbal Ratzon, “Methodological Issues concerning the Astronomy of Qumran,” dsd 22.2 (2015): 202–9.
32 Inasmuch as the scientific concerns of the Astronomical Book are unparalleled in the Hebrew Bible, some have sought to use this work to pinpoint the origins of Jewish scientific thought—most influentially: Philip S. Alexander, “Enoch and the Beginnings of Jewish Interest in Natural Science,” in The Wisdom Texts from Qumran and the Development of Sapiential Thought, ed. C. Hempel, A. Lange, and H. Lichtenberger (Leuven: Peeters, 2002), 223–44. In my view, it is questionable whether literary evidence could suffice to answer a cognitive question of this sort. On the limitations of cognitive approaches to the history of science, and their special dangers when paired with potentially reified cultural identities (e.g., “Jewish,” “Greek,” “Chinese,” “Western”), see further Francesca Rochberg, “A Consideration of Babylonian Astronomy within the Historiography of Science,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science Part A. 33 (2002): 661–84; Andrew Brennan, “The Birth of Modern Science: Culture, Mentalities, and Scientific Innovation,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 35 (2004): 199–225.
33 I take inspiration here also from the distinction that Tzvi Langermann makes for later materials: “I am not asking when Jews first began to evince an interest in science. The question I want to answer is when Jews first wrote Hebrew texts whose primary purpose was the exposition of scientific knowledge” (“On the Beginnings of Hebrew Scientific Literature and on Studying History through Maqbilot,” Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism 2 : 169–90 at 169–70; emphasis mine).
34 Jason König and Tim Whitmarsh, “Ordering Knowledge,” in Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire, ed. König and Whitmarsh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 3–39 at 3.
35 Emma Gee, Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Katharina Volk, Manilius and His Intellectual Background (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
36 In other words, this article does not address the questions of whether or not the content of the Astronomical Book counts as “real science” or whether it is “outdated” by external criteria of “progress.” In bracketing such concerns, I follow the lead of recent research in the History of Science that has eschewed teleological presentism in favor of a renewed engagement with cultural history (so already Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions [3d ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996], 1–3, 137–41; and see more recently Peter Dear, “What Is the History of Science the History Of? Early Modern Roots of the Ideology of Modern Science,” Isis 96 : 390–406 at 406; Lissa Roberts, “Situating Science in Global History: Local Exchanges and Networks of Circulation,” Itinerario 33 : 9–30 at 10; Serefina Cuomo, Technology and Culture in Greek and Roman Antiquity [Cambridge: Cambridge Unversity Press, 2007], 3–4; Lawrence Principe, “Alchemy Restored,” Isis 102 : 305–12; Daryn Lehoux, What Did the Romans Know? An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012]). Accordingly, I here use the category “astronomy” in its broadest sense as pertaining to the systematic study of celestial phenomena, particularly as perceived in antiquity—rather than trying to judge what counts as “really astronomy” vs. “astrology,” “calendar science,” or the like. Needless to say, there are differences between Babylonian mathematical astronomy and Greek astronomy after Hipparchus, on the one hand, and the discussion of celestial cycles in the Astronomical Book, Aratus’ Phaenomena, Berossus’ “astronomical fragments,” etc., on the other. My interest here is in understanding the cultural continuum that connected them in antiquity, instead of isolating or elevating those particular knowledge-enterprises that contributed to lines of scientific development that made “progress” toward our own understanding of the universe today.
37 Most influentially: Michael E. Stone, “Enoch, Aramaic Levi, and Sectarian Origins,” jsj 19 (1988): 159–70 at 151–52, building upon the assessment of Otto Neugebauer, “The ‘Astronomical Chapters’ of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (72 to 82),” in The Book of Enoch or I Enoch: A New English Edition, ed. M. Black and J. C. VanderKam, svtp 7 (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 386–414. Stone’s assessment was answered by Alexander, “Enoch and the Beginnings,” who pushed the date of the Astronomical Book back so as to locate Jewish interest in science as contemporaneous to the so-called “Greek miracle.” Note, however, that Neugebauer’s judgment was based mainly on the Ethiopic version; on the resultant distortions, see now Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 244–45.
38 Mladen Popović, “The Emergence of Aramaic and Hebrew Scholarly Texts: Transmission and Translation of Alien Wisdom,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Transmission of Traditions and Production of Texts, ed. S. Metso, H. Najman, and E. Schuller, stdj 92 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 81–114.
39 Popović, “Emergence,” 83.
40 I.e., as opposed to the many other uses of writing for single-context and/or short-term usage; Carr, Writing on the Tablet, 10.
41 Milik, Books of Enoch, 273–97, includes 4Q210 and 4Q211 but only part of 4Q209, and omits 4Q208.
42 The two had published an initial transcription and translation in their 1997 Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition—which marked the first time that any portion of 4Q208 was accessible to the public.
43 Together with the recent flurry of articles on the topic in dsd, one might point especially to Ben-Dov, Head of All Years; Popović, “Emergence;” Ben-Dov and Sanders, ed., Ancient Jewish Sciences; Sanders, From Adapa to Enoch—as well as the two new commentaries: Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, and James C. VanderKam, “The Book of the Luminaries (1 Enoch 72–82),” in 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37–82, ed. G. W. E. Nickelsburg and J. C. VanderKam, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012), 334–570.
44 On problems of “textual identity” as opportunities to understand premodern literary practices and on the value of re-reading evidence traditionally used for source-criticism and text-history in terms of redaction-history and reception-history, see Peter Schäfer, “Aufbau und redaktionelle Identität der Hekhalot Zutarti,” jjs 33 (1982): 569–82; Schäfer, “Tradition and Redaction in Hekhalot Literature,” in Schäfer, Hekhalot-Studien, tsaj 19 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1988), 8–16; Annette Yoshiko Reed, Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 16–57; Reed, “The Textual Identity, Literary History, and Social Setting of 1 Enoch: Reflections on George Nickelsburg’s Commentary on 1 Enoch 1–36; 81–108,” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 5 (2003): 279–96; Michael D. Swartz, “Three-Dimensional Philology: Some Implications of the Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur,” in Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, ed. R. S. Boustan et al. (2 vols; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 1:529–50.
45 VanderKam, “Book of the Luminaries,” 337.
46 Eibert Tigchelaar, “Some Remarks on the Book of Watchers, the Priests, Enoch and Genesis, and 4Q208,” Henoch 24 (2002): 143–45 at 145.
47 VanderKam (“Book of Luminaries,” 566–68) summarizes the theories concerning the original location of this material after 1 En. 82:20 but advises caution in this regard.
48 I.e., 1 En. 76:3–10 and 76:13–77:4 in 4Q210 frg. 1 ii; 78:6–8 in frg. 1 iii.
49 I.e., 1 En. 76:13–77:4 in 4Q209 frg. 23; 77:1–2 in frg. 24; 78:16[?]–17 and 79:1–4 in frg. 26; 82:9–13 in frg. 28.
50 The evidence of 4Q209 definitively counters Matthew Black’s notion (The Book of Enoch: A New English Edition, svtp 7 [Leiden: Brill, 1985], 10) that the Astronomical Book was an invention of the Greek translators of other Enochic writings.
51 Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 21–68, 116–18.
52 Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 281, stressing that this process often involved “revisions of the raw data of the emlv.” Although he himself sometimes uses the language of “the original ab,” his insights into its “flexibility of textual transmission” open the way for a different approach (pp. 75–76).
53 Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 69–118; Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 260–310.
54 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 72–73. Contrast the approach of VanderKam (“Book of Luminaries,” 342), who argues—especially against Tigchelaar—for the possibility that 4Q208 “was an Enochic astronomical work that contained more than the synchronistic calendar.” By his reading, the lunar material therein already presupposes the system of celestial gates described in 1 Enoch 72 (p. 357).
55 Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 287.
56 See the discussion of emlv in Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 72–73, 116, 280–81, quote at 281. Drawnel (Aramaic Astronomical Book, 31) posits “conscious literary activity” as evident even in the list of 4Q208.
57 I.e., Aramaic Levi Document 31–47 by his numbering; Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 33.
58 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 33. By his reading, the Astronomical Book and Aramaic Levi have the “same literary style: short sentences with tabular numerical notations that find their origin in Babylonian scribal literature” (p. 58). This insight buttresses his broader argument for “a didactic context for the transmission of the whole compendium” of the Astronomical Book as well—at least in its early Aramaic forms (p. 35).
59 I.e., 1 En. 76:14: “The twelve gates of the four quarters of the sky are completed; all their laws and all their punishment and their prosperity—I have shown you everything, my son Methuselah.”
60 Translations here follow Tigchelaar, “Eden and Paradise: The Garden Motif in Some Early Jewish Texts (1 Enoch and Other Texts Found at Qumran),” in Paradise Interpreted: Representations of Biblical Paradise in Judaism and Christianity, ed. G. P. Luttikhuizen, Themes in Biblical Narrative 2 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 62–81 at 62; Kelly Coblentz Bautch, A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17–19: “No One Has Seen What I Have Seen,” JSJSup 81 (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 200–201; VanderKam, “Book of Luminaries,” 482; cf. Milik, Books of Enoch, 290. Note that in the Ethiopic, this split is depicted as a three-fold division of the northern quadrant of the earth, while the Aramaic fragments describe a three-fold division of the entire world (VanderKam, “1 Enoch 77, 3 and a Babylonian Map of the World,” RevQ 42 : 271–78 at 274–75).
61 Ben-Dov, Head of All Years, 116–18.
62 VanderKam (“Book of Luminaries,” 471) stresses that weather and winds formed part of the scope of astronomy in MUL.APIN as well.
63 4Q209 23 9: ולפרד]ס קושטא . . .].
64 I.e., חשבון in 4Q209 25 3; 26 7; 27 3. Compare the use of the term “law” [Eth. tǝʾzāz] to designate sections of 1 En. 72–82: 72:2 (“first law of the luminaries”), 73:1 (“second law”), 74:1 (“another course and law”), 78:10 (“another law”); VanderKam, “Book of Luminaries,” 410.
65 I.e., אחזית in 4Q209 25 3; cf. 1 En. 74:1–2; 78:9–12.
66 4Q209 26 6: וכען מחוה אנה לך ברי; on the relationship with 1 En. 79:1, see VanderKam, “Book of Luminaries,” 352.
67 The first person is less decisively attested in 4Q209 23 1–2 + 4Q210 1 ii 14, which corresponds to 1 En. 76:14 (“The twelve gates of the four quarters of the sky are completed. All their laws and all their punishment and prosperity—I have shown you everything, my son Methuselah”). In addition, parallels to 1 En. 77:1–4 in 4Q209 23 3–10 + 4Q210 1 ii 14–20 may possibly support the reconstruction of the first-person “I saw” in the Aramaic corresponding to 77:4 (“I saw [reʾiku] seven lofty mountains . . .”).
68 Whereas uses of tǝʾzāz cluster in the first half of the work (e.g., 1 En. 72:2, 35; 73:1; 74:1; 76:14), śerʿāt is used to introduce information about the moon and stars in the second half (1 En. 78:10; 79:1, 2, 5; 82:4, 9, 10, 11, 14, 20).
69 This line may be the earliest precedent for the testamentary element of the Aramaic Enoch tradition; compare 1 En. 81:1–82:4; 83:1; 85:1; 91:1–3, and see further Stuckenbruck, 1 Enoch 91–108, 15–16, 158–59; Stuckenbruck, “Pseudepigraphy and First-Person Discourse in the Dead Sea Documents: From the Aramaic Texts to the Writings of the Yahad,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture, ed. A. D. Roitman, L. H. Schiffman, and S. Tzoref, stjd 93 (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 293–326 at 303–5, 310. It is too early to speak of a literary genre of “testament” per se in this period; as John J. Collins notes (“Testaments,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period, ed. M. E. Stone (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1984], 325–55 at 325) “the independent genre of the testament only emerges in the Hellenistic Age, and is poorly attested even then apart from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.”
70 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 36—although, to be sure, some Ethiopic manuscripts of 1 En. 79:1 here add the name of Enoch’s son Methuselah.
71 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 36.
72 Sanders, “I Was Shown.”
73 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 36–37. Here the verb is חוי in paʿel, whereas it occurs in haphʿel in ald 84.
74 James VanderKam, “Enoch’s Science,” in Ancient Jewish Sciences, 60–61.
75 Drawnel, Aramaic Astronomical Book, 37.
76 As VanderKam notes, the astronomy here is not marked as “alien wisdom” at all—no more than Genesis marks its story of the Flood as Mesopotamian in its matrix; its integration, rather, more likely reflects the long-standing circulation of knowledge within the shared cultural contexts of the Ancient Near East, particularly in Aramaic; see further “Enoch’s Science.”
77 Andrew Erskine, “Culture and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt: The Museum and Library of Alexandria,” Greece & Rome 42 (1995): 38–48.
78 Tim Whitmarsh, Ancient Greek Literature (Cambridge: Polity, 2004).
79 On these linked institutions as “products of the Hellenistic age and of the competition which arose between the successors of Alexander” and as “encapsulate[ing] the ideology and policy of the early Ptolemies,” see Erskine, “Culture and Power,” 38 and passim.
80 S. Johnstone, “A New History of Libraries and Books in the Hellenistic Period,” Classical Antiquity 33.2 (2014): 347–93 at 349.
81 Kosmin, Land of the Elephant Kings.
82 Moyer, Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism; J. Haubold, Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 127–77.
83 Volk, Manilius, 25–26.
84 Volk, Manilius, 27. As much as Hipparchus is celebrated now for his contribution to scientific “progress,” for instance, it is telling that the only work of his to survive is a commentary on Aratus’ Phaenomena—a work that is clearly inferior in terms of its scientific value, and even filled with errors, but was nevertheless far more popular in its own time and into the Middle Ages; Volk, Manilius, 28.
85 Volk, Manilius, 27.
86 E.g., Aratus, Phaen. 783–787; J.-M. Jacques, “Sur un acrostiche d’Aratos,” Revue des études anciennes 62 (1960): 48–61.
87 Douglas Kidd, ed., Aratus: Phaenomena, Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries 34 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 12.
88 As Gee stresses, “poetry carries with it the status of revealed knowledge, from Homer onward,” and Aratus’ work shared in this status even as it was also “seen by at least one of its earliest commentators as designed to impart technical knowledge, therefore open to corrections of a technical kind” (Aratus, 22). It is worth recalling too that poetry has a special place within Greek paideia, in contrast to the more limited and specialized engagement with philosophical and other prose works; see, e.g., Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind, 201–3. The poetic form meant that Aratus’ astronomical work could be used in didactic settings alongside Homer, Hesiod, et al.
89 Kidd, Aratus, 8–10; Gee, Aratus, 24–29, 185–88; Richard L. Hunter, “Written in the Stars: Poetry and Philosophy in Aratus’ Phaenomena,” Arachnion 2 (1995): 1–34.
90 Hunter (“Written in the Stars”) notes the contrast: “The Works and Days presents us with an all-powerful and all-seeing Zeus who is concerned with justice, but whose mind (nóos) is changeable and hard-to-know (483–4), and who has hidden from men the means of a life free from toil,” but Aratus’ Zeus, “while also being all-seeing and concerned with justice, openly assists mankind through the omnipresence of ‘signs’ (Phain. 10–13). . . . Zeus himself set signs in heaven, marking out the constellations, and for the whole year he thought out which stars should most of all give men signs of the seasons, so that all things should grow without fail.”
91 Hesiod, Op. 42: κρύψαντες γὰρ ἔχουσι θεοὶ βίον ἀνθρώποισιν.
92 Aratus, Phaen. 5: ὁ δ’ ἤπιος ἀνθρώποισι δεξιὰ σηµαίνει.
93 Gee, Aratus, 24.
94 Gee, Aratus, 18.
95 Gee, Aratus, 18.
96 What Aratus does here for Hesiod, moreover, the Aramaic Enoch tradition eventually does for Genesis, expanding its framework to include the newly-prestigious domain of astronomy while also mediating access even to those untrained in the relevant technai.
97 Acts 17:28; Clement, Strom. 188.8.131.52; Eusebius, Praep.ev. 13.12.6–7; Annewies van de Bunt-van den Hoek, “Aristobulos, Acts, Theophilus, Clement—Making Use of Aratus’ Phainomena: A Peregrination,” Bijdragen 41 (1980): 290–99; Erich S. Gruen, “Jews and Greeks as Philosophers: A Challenge to Otherness,” in The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism: Essays in Honor of John J. Collins, ed. D. C. Harlow (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 402–22 at 414–15; Mark J. Edwards, “Quoting Aratus: Acts 17, 28,” znw 83 (1992): 266–69. The possibility that ben Sira was aware of this work is explored in Núria Calduch-Benages, “Hymn to the Creation (Sir 42:15–43:33): A Polemic Text?” in The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology, ed. A. Passaro and G. Bellia, Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 1 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2008), 119–38.
98 Gee (Aratus, 29) stresses that this connection seems original to Aratus, and as a result, “Dike as Parthenos is now cyclical, a part of the zodiac . . . [and] as Aratus himself tells us elsewhere (Ph 497–9), part of the zodiac is always visible above the horizon, part revolves below. She is always there, periodically as well as predictably visible.”
99 For both Aratus and the Astronomical Book, this is partly achieved by interweaving technical knowledge about the skies with information about its contact points with lived human experience (e.g., weather, seasons, calendar). Or, in other words, what scholars of the History of Science might dismiss as their inclusion of “unastronomical” information proves significant for the meaning of both works, particularly in relation to their cosmological claims and ethical ramifications.
100 I.e., it is because she is depicted as mediating the “link between astronomical data (the positions of the constellations) and the human understanding of the world as a whole (cosmology)” that she helps to justify the importation of astronomy into the domains of philosophy and the genre of poetry; Gee, Aratus, 34–35.
101 Gee, Aratus, 23.
102 Or, in other words, Aratus offers a contemporaneous example of a blurring of the divine realm and the celestial realm that cannot be reduced simply to an “either/or” choice of whether or not stars are gods.
103 Kosmin, Land of the Elephant Kings, 31.
104 This was the judgment of Otto Neugebauer, “The Survival of Babylonian Methods in the Exact Sciences of Antiquity and Middle Ages,” in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 107 (1963): 528–35 at 529.
105 John M. Steele, “The ‘Astronomical Fragments’ of Berossos in Context,” in The World of Berossus, ed. J. Haubold, et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013), 107–22 at 109. Berossus predates Aratus, and the two also have in common the specification of the days of the moon’s phases (p. 108).
106 Greg Woolf, “Afterword: The Local and the Global in the Graeco-Roman East,” in Local Knowledge and Microidentities in the Imperial Greek World, ed. T. Whitmarsh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 189–200 at 190.
107 Greg Woolf, Tales of the Barbarians: Ethnography and Empire in the Roman West (Malden: Blackwell, 2010), 73.
108 A parallel historiographical point is made for the early modern period by David Rudermann, Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 12; I here draw inspiration from his emphasis there on “the dialectical relationship between local conditions and continental or even global patterns.”
109 Susan E. Alcock, “The Heroic Past in a Hellenistic Present,” in Hellenistic Constructs: Essays in Culture, History, and Historiography, ed. P. Cartledge, P. Garnsey, and E. S. Gruen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 20–34 at 32–33.
110 If so, we might wonder whether the oft-cited evidence for competing Jewish pedagogies of the time—most famous from the contrast of ben Sira and the Book of the Watchers—might also signal the increased centrality of education to the status of priests and scribes (and perhaps even their patronage or livelihoods), concurrent with the increased valuation of pedagogy as cultural capital across the ancient Mediterranean world.
111 Morgan, Literate Education, 22–25, 33–39.
112 Morgan, Literate Education, 35–38. Morgan, notably, notes that the references to the scope of such education found in literature are borne out by papyrological evidence for Greek education in Hellenistic Egypt as well: “Parallel with these ‘literate’ exercises were the reading and writing of lists and tables of numbers, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and astronomy” (p. 43). Cribiore (Gymnastics of the Mind, 3) similarly notes that astronomy and mathematics formed part of enkyklios paideia, although her study does not focus on these elements. Cribiore there reminds us that Greek philosophy was not part of this initial education—an important caveat, for our purposes, inasmuch as studies of “Hellenism” and “Judaism” often privilege philosophy when searching for hints of “Hellenization,” consistent with the prominent place of Plato, et al., in modern Classics curricula.
See esp. Raffaela CribioreWriting Teachers and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt (Atlanta: Scholars Press1996); Cribiore Gymnastics of the Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2005); Teresa Morgan Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998).
E.g. Maud W. GleasonMaking Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press1995); A. Wallace-Hadrill “To Be Roman Go Greek: Thoughts on Hellenization at Rome” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 42.S71 (1998): 79–91; Greg Woolf “Becoming Roman Staying Greek: Cultural Identity and the Civilizing Process in the Roman East” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 40 (1994): 116–43; Timothy Whitmarsh Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitation (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2001); Simon Goldhill ed. Being Greek under Rome: Cultural Identity the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001); Scott Fitzgerald Johnson ed. Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism Didacticism Classicism (Burlington: Ashgate 2006)—i.e. also extending earlier efforts to revisit H. I. Marrou A History of Education in Antiquity (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1982) etc. by Peter Brown e.g. in Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1992).
See already Alan MendelsonSecular Education in Philo of Alexandria (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press1982) and more recently e.g. Sylvia Honigman The Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (London: Routledge 2003); Maren Niehoff Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011). See also Niehoff ed. Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters: Between Literary and Religious Concernsjsrc 16 (Leiden: Brill 2012).
E.g. David Stern“The Captive Woman: Hellenization, Greco-Roman Erotic Narrative, and Rabbinic Literature,” Poetics Today 19.1 (1998): 91–127; Martin S. Jaffee Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 bce–400 ce (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2001); Amram Tropper Wisdom Politics and Historiography: Tractate Avot in the Context of the Graeco-Roman Near East (New York: Oxford University Press 2004); Azzan Yadin “Rabban Gamliel Aphrodite’s Bath and the Question of Pagan Monotheism” jqr 96.2 (2006): 149–79; Daniel Boyarin “Hellenism in Jewish Babylonia” in The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud ed. Charlotte Fonrobert and Martin Jaffee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007) 336–63; Yair Furstenberg “The Agon with Moses and Homer: Rabbinic Midrash and the Second Sophistic” in Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters 299–328.
E.g. CarrWriting on the Tablet253–72; Guy Darshan “The Twenty-Four Books of the Hebrew Bible and Alexandrian Scribal Methods” in Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters 221–44; Daniel Boyarin Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2009).
See e.g. MoyerEgypt and the Limits of Hellenism83–141; Alan Lenzi “The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship” janer 8.2 (2008): 137–69; Paul Kosmin “Seeing Double in Seleucid Babylonia: Rereading the Borsippa Cylinder of Antiochus I” in Patterns of the Past ed. A. Moreno and R. Thomas (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014) 173–98.
Devorah Dimant“Qumran Aramaic Texts and the Qumran Community,” in Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in Honour of Florentino García Martínezed. A. Hilhorst É. Puech and E. Tigchelaar JSJSup 122 (Leiden: Brill2007) 197–206 at 199. By her count the Aramaic mss make up roughly 13% of the total mss found in the caves near Qumran; compare more recently the survey and reassessment in Daniel Machiela “Aramaic Writings of the Second Temple Period and the Growth of Apocalyptic Thought: Another Survey of the Texts” Judaïsme ancient/Ancient Judaism (2014): 113–34. See further Dimant “Themes and Genres in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran” in Aramaica Qumranica: Proceedings of the Conference on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran in Aix-en-Provence ed. K. Berthelot and D. Stökl Ben Ezra stdj 94 (Leiden: Brill 2010) 15–45; Eibert Tigchelaar “Aramaic Texts from Qumran and the Authoritativeness of Hebrew Scriptures: Preliminary Observations” in Authoritative Scriptures in Ancient Judaism ed. M. Popović JSJSup 141 (Leiden: Brill 2010) 155–71; Florentino García Martínez “Scribal Practices in the Aramaic Literary Texts from Qumran” in Myths Martyrs and Modernity: Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer ed. J. H. F. Dijkstra J. E. A. Kroesen and Y. B. Kuiper Numen 127 (Leiden: Brill 2010) 329–41; Andrew Perrin The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2015) 23–36.
Dimant“Qumran Aramaic Texts” 200; italics mine. By the three she there means Tobit 1 Enoch and Aramaic Levi Document. This is of course a rough count: 1 Enoch is more properly multiple texts as noted above and Aramaic Levi Document is only indirectly related to a known text i.e. the Testament of Levi in the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs. Her point however remains.
For the fragments see Jozef T. MilikBooks of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumrân Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon1976) 273–97 and plates xxv–xxx; E. Tigchelaar and F. García Martínez in djd 36:95–171; Henryk Drawnel The Aramaic Astronomical Book from Qumran: Text Translation and Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011).
Seth L. Sanders“ ‘I Was Shown Another Calculation:’ The Language of Knowledge in Aramaic Enoch and Priestly Hebrew,” in Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literatureed. Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders (New York: New York University Press2014) 69–101 at 75. To be sure Sanders himself also notes how “not only ‘science’ but also ‘Hellenistic’ and ‘Babylonian’ are in important ways reified and anachronistic terms that only somewhat awkwardly fit our data” (p. 75).
See above as well as Matthias AlbaniAstronomie und Schöpfungsglaube: Untersuchungen zum astronomischen Henochbuch (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag1994); Eshbal Ratzon “The Gates Cosmology of the Astronomical Book of Enoch” dsd 22 (2015): 93–111; Ben-Dov and Sanders ed. Ancient Jewish Sciences; Seth L. Sanders From Adapa to Enoch: Scribal Culture and Religious Vision in Judea and Babylontsaj (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2017).
Mladen Popović“The Emergence of Aramaic and Hebrew Scholarly Texts: Transmission and Translation of Alien Wisdom,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Transmission of Traditions and Production of Textsed. S. Metso H. Najman and E. Schuller stdj 92 (Leiden: Brill2010) 81–114.
DrawnelAramaic Astronomical Book72–73. Contrast the approach of VanderKam (“Book of Luminaries” 342) who argues—especially against Tigchelaar—for the possibility that 4Q208 “was an Enochic astronomical work that contained more than the synchronistic calendar.” By his reading the lunar material therein already presupposes the system of celestial gates described in 1 Enoch 72 (p. 357).
DrawnelAramaic Astronomical Book33. By his reading the Astronomical Book and Aramaic Levi have the “same literary style: short sentences with tabular numerical notations that find their origin in Babylonian scribal literature” (p. 58). This insight buttresses his broader argument for “a didactic context for the transmission of the whole compendium” of the Astronomical Book as well—at least in its early Aramaic forms (p. 35).
Translations here follow Tigchelaar“Eden and Paradise: The Garden Motif in Some Early Jewish Texts (1 Enoch and Other Texts Found at Qumran),” in Paradise Interpreted: Representations of Biblical Paradise in Judaism and Christianityed. G. P. Luttikhuizen Themes in Biblical Narrative 2 (Leiden: Brill1999) 62–81 at 62; Kelly Coblentz Bautch A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17–19: “No One Has Seen What I Have Seen” JSJSup 81 (Leiden: Brill 2003) 200–201; VanderKam “Book of Luminaries” 482; cf. Milik Books of Enoch 290. Note that in the Ethiopic this split is depicted as a three-fold division of the northern quadrant of the earth while the Aramaic fragments describe a three-fold division of the entire world (VanderKam “1 Enoch 77 3 and a Babylonian Map of the World” RevQ 42 : 271–78 at 274–75).
VolkManilius27. As much as Hipparchus is celebrated now for his contribution to scientific “progress” for instance it is telling that the only work of his to survive is a commentary on Aratus’ Phaenomena—a work that is clearly inferior in terms of its scientific value and even filled with errors but was nevertheless far more popular in its own time and into the Middle Ages; Volk Manilius 28.
Acts 17:28; ClementStrom. 184.108.40.206; Eusebius Praep.ev. 13.12.6–7; Annewies van de Bunt-van den Hoek “Aristobulos Acts Theophilus Clement—Making Use of Aratus’ Phainomena: A Peregrination” Bijdragen 41 (1980): 290–99; Erich S. Gruen “Jews and Greeks as Philosophers: A Challenge to Otherness” in The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism: Essays in Honor of John J. Collins ed. D. C. Harlow (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2011) 402–22 at 414–15; Mark J. Edwards “Quoting Aratus: Acts 17 28” znw 83 (1992): 266–69. The possibility that ben Sira was aware of this work is explored in Núria Calduch-Benages “Hymn to the Creation (Sir 42:15–43:33): A Polemic Text?” in The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Studies on Tradition Redaction and Theology ed. A. Passaro and G. Bellia Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 1 (Berlin: de Gruyter 2008) 119–38.
John M. Steele“The ‘Astronomical Fragments’ of Berossos in Context,” in The World of Berossused. J. Haubold et al. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz2013) 107–22 at 109. Berossus predates Aratus and the two also have in common the specification of the days of the moon’s phases (p. 108).
MorganLiterate Education35–38. Morgan notably notes that the references to the scope of such education found in literature are borne out by papyrological evidence for Greek education in Hellenistic Egypt as well: “Parallel with these ‘literate’ exercises were the reading and writing of lists and tables of numbers arithmetic geometry algebra and astronomy” (p. 43). Cribiore (Gymnastics of the Mind 3) similarly notes that astronomy and mathematics formed part of enkyklios paideia although her study does not focus on these elements. Cribiore there reminds us that Greek philosophy was not part of this initial education—an important caveat for our purposes inasmuch as studies of “Hellenism” and “Judaism” often privilege philosophy when searching for hints of “Hellenization” consistent with the prominent place of Plato et al. in modern Classics curricula.