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"Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"

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Author Topic: "Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"  (Read 381 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2008, 10:36:56 pm »

Harvey never published a response to Northampton, and concern with the origins of mathematics faded from print for the next two decades in England. It would surface without kindling much debate, for example, in Thomas Hood's 1588 inaugural speech as Mathematical Lecturer to the City of London.38 But in the years surrounding Elizabeth's death and James's accession, the debate flared up again. The clergyman John Chamber's 1601 A Treatise against Judiciall Astrologie expressed militant abhorrence for the astrologers, augurs and figure-flingers who brimmed in the Babylonian streets of late Tudor London. Chamber claimed that Adam and Seth had held mathematical knowledge. But this did not include astrology; that diabolic practice, he claimed, originated in the later Chaldean corruption of divine knowledge. He memorably described the astrologers as, "bastards, the sons of an hedge hore, their mother was an Hittitie," and registered deep alarm: "But that is Babylon, where Babylonicall superstitions are maintained or suffered." Chamber followed Pico in attributing orthodox astronomical knowledge to the Patriarchs, that was later corrupted into astrology by the Chaldeans.39

The godly Protestant soldier Sir Christopher Heydon responded in his 1603 A Defence of Iudiciall Astrology by strenuously insisting on the Adamic origins of astrology. He conceded that Chaldean corruptions had produced heretical and idolatrous arts such as augury, but insisted that true astrology, which proceeds from natural causes to natural effects, was a divine gift from God to Adam, and had been passed along in an unbroken chain since. In illustration, he included at the end of his treatise a "Chronological Index of Astronomers from Adam," which began with the genealogy [End Page 101] from Adam to Joseph, and extended to Tycho Brahe and other contemporaries.40
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