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The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

This book is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew's story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, and attended by world-leading specialists in all relevant fields: modern astronomy, the ancient near-eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, the history of science, and religion. The scholarly discussions and the exchange of the interdisciplinary views proved to be immensely fruitful and resulted in the present book. Its twenty chapters describe the various aspects of The Star: the history of its interpretation, ancient near-eastern astronomy and astrology and the Magi, astrology in the Greco-Roman and the Jewish worlds, and the early Christian world – at a generally accessible level. An epilogue summarizes the fact-fiction balance of the most famous star which has ever shone.

Cover illustration: © Michael Farrell

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Stol

Stol's comprehensive exploration of the Babylonians' conception and treatment of epilepsy adds a new chapter to the history of this ancient disease. The author presents the sources, examines the terminology and places epilepsy in context among kindred illnesses. A full edition (transliteration, translation, commentary and cuneiform copy) of the relevant parts of the Diagnostic Handbook is included. According to the Ancients, epileptics are 'struck by the moon'. An examination of the relationship between epilepsy and the moon yields surprising results. This volume deals with material that was unavailable to O. Temkin, author of the classic The Falling Sickness; A history of epilepsy from the Greeks to the beginning of modern neurology, (1971). It show that traditional views of the Ancient Near East lived on among the Greeks and Romans.