By Seth L. Sanders, Jonathan Ben-Dov
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An analogous situation arose in the early Middle Ages, when Jews began to write in Arabic, not so much because it was the vernacular, but because it was the language of high culture and science, and Hebrew had yet to develop a scientific vocabulary. But the Arabic scientific literature which the Jews read, was not, at least initially, transmitting Arabic ideas, but rather Greek ideas in Arabic dress. The Enochic circles were obviously well educated: they had mastered literary Aramaic and they had access to foreign literature.
A. Lunar data: Most of the extant text on the Aramaic fragments offers sections detailing the amount of light and the time of visibility the moon has each night throughout successive months. All the letters and words surviving from 4Q208 and everything on 4Q209 frgs. , 4Q210 iii). It is as if an author has taken tabular data and written it in prose form. The lunar data are attested in highly truncated form in the Ethiopic version in 73:1–74:9; 78:6-17. In both versions the moon passes through a series of gates on the horizon; the gates are, as Otto Neugebauer showed,5 equal segments or arcs of the horizon.
Drawnel has analyzed the lunar sections of the Aramaic fragments in great detail and concluded that the tables contain these details: for the waxing phase of the moon, they note: A. the time involved is at night, B. the time from sunset to moonset, C. the setting of the moon, D. the time from moonset to sunrise, E. from sunrise to moonrise, F. an equation “Notes on Ethiopic Astronomy,” Or 33 (1964): 49-71, especially 51-58. There is too little left of the Greek version to be sure about the point, but it may preserve the same division into fourteen parts as in the Ethiopic version (see Chesnutt, “Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2069,” 493-494).