Gersonides' use of Aristotle's meteorology in his accounts of some biblical miracles

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Abstract

In his theological-philosophical treatise the Wars of the Lord and in his biblical exegesis Gersonides shows himself to be a believer bound by what he understood to be the fundamental tenets of the Jewish religion, but also a scientist and philosopher who sought to interpret these beliefs in keeping with the philosophy and science he knew from the Aristotelian corpus, especially Ibn Rushd's commentaries, or as part of the theories developed through his own inquiries based on Aristotelian principles. In his exegesis of miracles he preserves their miraculous character but brings them very close to natural occurrences, introducing a rational and scientific element to his interpretation. Of the explanations based on scientific theories, those that draw on meteorology are the most common. Seven biblical miracles that Gersonides explains on the basis of Aristotle's Meteorology are examined, along with three events that he interprets as natural meteorological phenomena rather than as miracles. It is shown that he anchored his explanations in the meteorological theories of several phenomena: the stratification of the air; the doctrine of exhalations; earthquakes; the splitting of the earth by an earthquake; the creation of minerals; the saltiness of the earth; the generation of lightning; the formation of rain and the formation of rivers; the nature of the wind; and principles of optical meteorology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-313
Number of pages74
JournalAleph
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2010

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