Judaism and Science: A Historical Introduction

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 - Science - 348 pages

Judaism and Science canvases three millennia of Jewish attitudes towards nature and its study. It answers many questions about the complex relationship of religion and science. How did religious attitudes and dogmas affect Jewish attitudes towards natural knowledge? How was Jewish interest in science reflected, and was facilitated by, links with other cultures - Egypt and Assyria and Babylon in ancient times, Moslem culture in medieval times, and Christian culture during the Renaissance and since? How did science serve as a bridge between religious communities that were otherwise estranged and embattled? How did science serve as a vehicle of assimilation into the wider intellectual culture in which Jews found themselves? The book considers the attitudes and work of particular Jews in different epochs. It takes an eagle's-eye view of its subject, considering broad themes from a high vantage, but also swooping down to consider particular individuals at high focus, and in detail.

Judaism and Science encompasses the entire history of the interaction of Jews and natural knowledge.

; Part I: The Sages of Israel and Natural Wisdom describes the images of nature and natural philosophy in the two most important sets of books on the Jewish bookshelf: the Biblical corpus and the Talmudic/Early Rabbinic corpus

; Part II: Jews and Natural Philosophy shows how Jews explained nature, especially the nature of the heavens, or astronomy and astrology, in medieval times and early modern times.

; Part III: Jews and Science -- describes the entry of Jews into modern science, beginning in 19th century Europe and 20th century United States, USSR and Israel, emphasizing the social background of the rapid entry of Jews into modern sciences, and of their remarkable successes.

; The volume includes annotated primary source documents, a timeline of important events, and an bibliography of essential primary and secondary sources for further research.

 

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Contents

Nature of the Bible
17
Nature of the Talmud and Early Rabbinic Literature
39
Jews and Natural Philosophy
67
Medieval Jews and Natural Philosophy
75
Jews and Early Modern Natural Philosophy
111
Jews and Science
157
Jews and Science in NineteenthCentury Europe
165
Jews and Science in the Twentieth Century
175
Conclusions
253
Primary Sources
263
Bibliography
291
Index
333
Copyright

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Page 29 - And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
Page 25 - And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Page 26 - If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.
Page 27 - Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Page x - Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules ; and history records that whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed, if not annihilated ; scotched, if not slain.
Page 20 - And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
Page 18 - And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
Page 26 - And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.
Page 20 - And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
Page 18 - And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.

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About the author (2007)

Noah J. Efron chairs the Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University, in Israel. He is also President of the Israeli Society for the History and Philosophy of Science. Efron has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Science in Princeton, a fellow of the Dibner Institute for History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, and a fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous scholarly essays about Jewish Natural Philosophy in early modern Europe, and his essays on the politics of religion and the politics of science have appeared in The Jerusalem Report, Midstream, Tikkun, Jewish Action, Hadassah Magazine, The World Jewish Digest, and the Boston Book Review.

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