The First Jewish Astronomers: Lunar Theory and Reconstruction of a Dead Sea Scroll

Eshbal Ratzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Argument The Astronomical Book of Enoch describes the passage of the moon through the gates of heaven, which stand at the edges of the earth. In doing so, the book describes the position of the rising and setting of the moon on the horizon. Otto Neugebauer, the historian of ancient science, suggested using the detailed tables found in later Ethiopic texts in order to reconstruct the path of the moon through the gates. This paper offers a new examination of earlier versions of the Astronomical Book, using a mathematical analysis of the figures and astronomical theories presented throughout the Aramaic Astronomical Book; the results fit both the data preserved in the scrolls and the mathematical approach and religious ideology of the scroll's authors better than the details found in the late Ethiopic texts. Among other new insights, this alternate theory also teaches about the process of the composition of the Astronomical Book in the first centuries of its composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-139
Number of pages27
JournalScience in Context
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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