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The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories Paperback – March 2, 2001
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The Sun in the Church by J.L. Heilbron is a provocative work of scholarship that challenges long-held views of the relationship between science and Christianity. Heilbron's main point is simple enough: "The Roman Catholic Church gave more financial and social support to the study of astronomy for over six centuries, from the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and, probably, all other, institutions." Despite the persecution of Galileo, Heilbron notes, the Church actively supported mathematical and astronomical research--often designing cathedrals that could also function as observatories--in order to set the precise date of Easter (a crucial endeavor for maintaining the unity of the Church). Heilbron's fluid, engaging style brings his detailed reconstructions of 16th- and 17th-century Church politics to life. And his argument that scientific knowledge was deemed both morally neutral and politically useful during the Reformation and beyond yields an unusually interesting, complex, and human understanding of Catholicism in the early Modern period. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
It is difficult for contemporary readers who live in an increasingly global world to comprehend the difficulty of establishing the correct date of EasterAthe first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox. Heilbron (formerly history and vice chancellor, Berkeley; currently Senior Research Fellow, Oxford) chronicles the ironic relationship between astronomy and the Catholic Church as it seeks the means to determine this date. This is the story of politically astute astronomers and cardinals who have to reconcile church doctrine with Galileo's universe. Heilbron deals specifically with four cathedrals, which, as a result of the "Easter date problem," function as both houses of worship and excellent solar observatories. The text is filled with fine detail and is richly illustrated. An erudite and scholarly work with extensive notes and bibliography, this may be a bit narrow in scope for the average reader; recommended for large public and academic libraries.AJames Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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