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Mathematical And Biblical Exegesis: Jewish Sources Of Athanasius Kircher’s Musical Theory

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Chapter Summary

The Jesuit Athanasius Kircher was an eminent scholar of the European Baroque. His extensive epistolary correspondence, now preserved in the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome, documents Kircher's relations with contemporary scientists, scholars, philosophers, and princes. To the subject of music, Kircher devoted a monumental work, which, as the frontispiece makes clear, was intended as an encyclopedia. The relationship between the musical expertise of David and Solomon and the architectural perfection of the Temple is a well-known topic of Kircher's day and is described in great detail in the work of another Jesuit: Juan Bautista Villalpaldo. The significance and purpose of music were also the subject of a sermon by Judah Moscato, the Mantuan rabbi and teacher of Portaleone. For Kircher the idealized reconstruction of ancient Hebrew culture, and of the Temple of Solomon, is a confirmation of the theory of the prisca theologia and prisca sapientia, which he defended.

Keywords: Athanasius Kircher; Juan Bautista Villalpaldo; Judah Moscato; Pontificia Università Gregoriana; Renaissance musical instruments



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