Topic for the Year 42 (2004-2005):
"The Impact of Astrological (and Related) Traditions on Early Jewish and Christian Perspective"

Chaired by Todd C. Krulak (University of Pennsylvania)
and Sarah L. Schwarz (Haverford College/University of Pennsylvania)

While astrology today is relegated to dubious status in the back pages of newspapers, in the ancient world there was no question as to the impact of the stars on human beings. The power gained through knowledge of astrology was at times troubling and terrifying, but rarely, if ever, discounted. Astrological ideas are reflected in all manner of Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian traditions, from the vivid Jewish synagogue floor mosaics to the Star of Bethlehem and the attendant arrival of the Magi to Paul's use of technical terminology drawn from astrology and beyond. Given the widespread impact of astrology, then, it is surprising that these traditions have received relatively little scholarly attention. It is our hope to use this year of PSCO to generate an ongoing conversation involving scholars of early Christianity, scholars of early Judaism, and other students of late antiquity in an examination of the role of astrological traditions in the Greco-Roman world, and especially in early Judaism and Christianity.