Medieval Views of the Cosmos

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (2004)

Abstract

Once upon a time, the universe was much simpler: before our modern understanding of an infinite formless space scattered with pulsating stars, revolving planets, and mysterious black holes, the universe was seen as a rigid hierarchical system with the earth and the human race at its center. Medieval Views of the Cosmos investigates this worldview shared by medieval societies, revealing how their modes of thought affect us even today. In the medieval world system--inherited by Christians and Muslims from the Greeks and Romans, and modified by their own religious tenets--spheres bearing the planets and stars wheeled around the earth, and at every level there was a moral lesson for humanity and a satisfying metaphor for the nature of God. The authors of this volume explain how the medieval view of the universe was harmonious on theological and practical levels, providing answers to the most puzzling of questions. Medieval Views of the Cosmos is an engaging and beautifully illustrated introduction to a world where every moment was a theater of human drama directed by the hand of God.

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