From J. B. Bury, _History of the Later Roman Empire_, vol. 2, p. 321: [General setting: 6t

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From J. B. Bury, _History of the Later Roman Empire_, vol. 2, p. 321: [General setting: 6th century Byzantium; Christianity has been the state religion for ~200 years, Greek science is still preserved] "...we find much curious information in a remarkable book which was written about the middle of the 6th century, the _Christian Cosmography_ of Cosmas. "...The _Cosmography, which was composed about AD 545-550, is unfortunately neither a treatise on geography like Strabo's or Ptolemy's, nor a plain account of his travels, but a theological work, designed to explain the true shape of the universe as explained by Scripture., and especially to refute the error of Pagan science that the earth is spherical. His theory as to the shape of the world, which is based on the hypothesis that Moses, "the great cosmographer", intended his tebernacle to be a miniature model of the universe, is not devoid of interest as an example of the fantastic speculations to which the interpretation of Biblical documents as literally inspired inevitably leads. "The earth, according to Cosmas, is a flat rectangle, and its length is double its breadth. The heavens form a second story, welded to the extremities of the earth by four walls. The dry land which we inhabit is surrounded by the ocean, and beyond it is another land where men lived before the deluge. The firmament is the ceiling between the two stories, and the earth, the lower story, lies at the bottom of the universe, to which it sank when it was created. There is nothing below it. Hence, the Pagan theory of the antipodes is a delusion. On its western side the earth rises into a great conical mountain, which hides the sun at night. The sun is not larger than the earth, as the Pagans falsely imagine, but much smaller. The revolutions of all the celestial bodies are guided by angel pilots. [Footnote says: The extension of the work of creation over six days - whereas it could have been accomplished by a single fiat - is ingeniously explained as due to the Creator's wish to give a series of object lessons to the angels.] It would be a mistake to suppose that this strange reconstruction of the world, which contemptuously set aside all that Greek science had achieved, represented the current views of orthodox Christians or ever obtained any general credence..."


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