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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

Science and Geography

With colonization, trade, travel, and exploration came a curiosity about the world, which had a substantial impact in the literature of both Greece and Rome. Homer, Hesiod, Scylax, Hecataeus, Pythias, and others, gave rise to a mathematically based understanding of a spherical world that contrasted sharply with the prevailing biblical view, but which was absorbed into Roman views of their domination of the Mediterranean world. This was one aspect of diverse scientific interests, such as water management, military implements, materials and methods of construction, astronomy, botany, anatomy, medicine, physics, and so on.

Though Graeco-Roman scientific work has not affected study of the Bible as much as it might, one group of writers is important for illuminating the biblical world: Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, and Pausanias. Pausanias's descriptions of sites in Greece and elsewhere have—in conjunction with archaeological investigations—transformed scholars' approach to cities, such as Corinth or Athens. Strabo's accounts of the lands, cities, and peoples of Asia, Syria, Arabia, among others, have been called the world's first ethnographic writings. His accounts—sometimes enlivened with ethnographic tidbits—of the living habits of small groups have sharpened the reading of other sources, not least the Bible. By contrast, Pliny the Elder was most concerned with the natural world, providing a mine of information about ancient materials, plants, and animals. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, largely bypassed the natural history interests of his more learned uncle, but he has left a collection of literary letters that reveal much about Roman society.

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