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Lost and Found Knowledge: the Case of the Hebrew Book of Asaf

Solomon, Queen Sheba and Asaf. Shiraz, Topkapi Palace Library, Ms. H 768, fol. 2a (Photo: Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul)

A talk by

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldsmiths).

Tuesday, Week 7 (21 November), 17:00

Hawkins Room, Merton College, OX1 4JD

No registration required.

The Hebrew Book of Asaf (Sefer Asaf), considered to be the earliest Hebrew medical text, begins with a fascinating origin narrative in which Asaf’s medicine is presented as a renewal of a lost antediluvian book. This narrative is linked with a broader topos found in many proto-scientific ancient Hebrew texts of steles or books in which a legendary or pre-historic figure inscribed some form of human knowledge, to be discovered at a later time. This talk will discuss the Asaf narrative and bring some relevant Semitic parallels. Raising a few points of comparison with Tibetan gter ma texts, the paper will also discuss the possible purpose of such narratives.

The Asian Treasure Traditions seminar sub-series is organised jointly by Robert Mayer (Oriental Institute) and Yegor Grebnev (Merton).

Illustration: Solomon, Queen Sheba and Asaf.
Shiraz, Topkapi Palace Library, Ms. H 768, fol. 2a (Photo: Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul)

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