Conceptions of Astral Magic Within Jewish Rationalism in the Byzantine Empire

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Jewish philosophy and the attitude to astral magic in late medieval Byzantium are introduced. Several characteristics of Byzantine Jewish rationalism are discussed: (1) its isolation from the cultural centers (Spain, Provence, and to some extent also Italy); (2) moderation and syncretism. Byzantine Jewish rabbis did not hesitate to mix Aristotelian rationalism with kabbalistic concepts. The attitude toward astral magic in Spain and Provence is compared with that in Byzantium. One Jewish Byzantine savant claimed that popular "primitive" magic prevents "real" astral magic. Few manuscripts on the subject have been located, however, so attention to this subject is still in its infancy.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)165-211
JournalALEPH: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism
StatePublished - 2003


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