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Jewish thought and the scientific revolution of the sixteenth century : David Gans (1541-1613) and his times /
André Neher.
Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Published for the Littman Library by Oxford University Press, 1986.
x, 285 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., facsims. --
0197100570 :
More Details
Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Published for the Littman Library by Oxford University Press, 1986.
0197100570 :
general note
Includes index.
Translation of: David Gans, 1541-1613.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. [261]-276.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1988-01:
David Gans was a Jewish rabbi with, surprisingly for his time, almost exclusively secular scholarly interests, especially in astronomy, history, and geography. His writings on these subjects were competent but not very original; virtually none was published in his lifetime; his principal work on astronomy and geography was not published until 1743. Neher's book is the first in English to be devoted to Gans's life and scholarly achievements. Gans was the author of ``the first reference to Nicholas Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler in a Hebrew text'' and the designer of ``the first correct modern map of the world in a Jewish cosmography''; furthermore, in the years 1599-1600, Gans served along with Kepler as an assistant to Tycho Brahe in the latter's observatory at Benatek outside Prague. Neher's most fascinating material concerns, first, the speculations by 16th-century Jewish thinkers on the significance of the discovery of the New World (e.g., the possible identity of the Indians with the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel), and, second, Gans's account of several puzzling discussions with Tycho and Kepler on astronomical questions. Neher's book, then, is potentially important for students of the history of astronomy and for students of 16th-century culture generally. But readers should be warned: Neher is utterly unreliable on the details of the history of astronomy, perhaps his most egregious claim, several times repeated, being that the medievals did not believe in the sphericity of the Earth. To the contrary, Sacrobosco's Sphere (c.1250), one of the most popular elementary astronomical treatises in the Latin Middle Ages, repeats many of Ptolemy's arguments for the sphericity of the Earth. Stylistically, Neher's prose is, if anything, too lively.-R. Palter, Trinity College, Conn.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 1988
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