« Astrology and Astronomy Astruc, Jean Asylum, Right of »

Astruc, Jean

ASTRUC, ās´´trüc´, JEAN: Roman Catholic; b. at Sauve (20 m. w.n.w. of Nîmes, department of Gard), Languedoc, Mar. 19, 1684; d. in Paris May 5, 1766. He was carefully educated by his father, who had been a Protestant pastor, but had been converted to Roman Catholicism; he studied also at Montpellier, where he received the degrees of M.A. and M.D. (1703), lectured at Montpellier, became professor on the medical faculty at Toulouse (1710); and at Montpellier (1717). In 1729 he became physician to King Augustus III of Poland, returned to France in 1730 as physician to Louis XV, was professor at the royal college in Paris from 1731, and member of the medical faculty there from 1743. He was eminent in his profession and published several medical treatises of value. The study of skin diseases led him to consider the Pentateuchal laws of the clean and the unclean; and this occasioned the work which entitles him to mention in a theological encyclopedia, a work which is regarded by many modern scholars as pointing out the true path of Pentateuchal investigation. It appeared anonymously (12mo, Brussels, 1753), with the title, Conjectures sur les mémoires originaux dont il paroit que Moyse s’est servi pour composer le livre de la Génèe. Avec des remarques qui appuient ou qui éclaircissent ces conjectures, and consists of a preface (pp. 1–2), preliminary remarks (pp 3–24), the Book of Genesis and chapters i and ii of Exodus in French translation from the Geneva folio edition of 1610 arranged according to the supposed mémoires (pp. 25–280), the “conjectures” proper (pp. 281–495), closing with an index of twenty-eight pages

That the Pentateuch is based upon older documents was no new idea. Astruc’s originality consisted rather in his assumption that these sources had not been recast, but had been pieced together, and in his attempt to reproduce the sources, follow ing as a clue the varying use of Elohim and Yahweh for the divine name. He thought that he discovered traces of twelve documents, and made naive guesses at their authorship; as Amram the father and Levi the great-grandfather of Moses for Ex. i–ii, and what immediately precedes, respectively; Joseph for his own story; Levi for the Dinah narrative (Gen. xxxiv); etc. He rightly perceives that his hypothesis explains the two expressions for the divine name, as well as repetitions and chronological difficulties. He also thinks that it vindicates Moses from the reproach of careless workmanship, since it is probable that originally he arranged the material in columns like the work of Origen or a harmony of the Gospels, and that negligent or ignorant copyists put it in consecutive form. The Mosaic authorship, Astruc considered established beyond possibility of doubt by passages such as John i, 45, v, 46. The fear that free thinkers would misuse his work deterred him from publishing it till his seventieth year; and he issued it then only on the assurance of a man “learned and very zealous for religion” that “far from being injurious to the cause of religion, it could only be helpful to it, because it would remove or clear up several difficulties which arise in reading the book and with the weight of which commentators have always been burdened” (Preface, p. 1). The title page bears the motto Avia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante trita solo (” Free through the muses’ pathless haunts I roam, where mortal feet have never strayed,” Lucretius, iv, 1). A German translation of the Conjectures, abridged, appeared at Frankfort in 1782, with the title Mutmassungen in Betreff der Originalberichte deren sich Moses wahrscheinlicherweise bei Verfertigung des ersten seiner Bücher bedient hat, nebst Anmerkungen wodurch diese Mutmassungen theils unterstützt theils erläutert werden. As a guaranty of his soundness in the faith, Astruc published immediately after the Conjectures a Dissertation sur l’immartalité et sur l’immatérialité de l’âme with a Dissertation sur la liberté (Paris, 1755). His Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire 337 de la Faculté de médecine de Montpellier were edited after his death with an Éloge historique by A. C. Lorry.

(E. Böhmer†.)

Bibliography: A. C. Lorry, Vie d’Astruc, in his ed. of Astruc’s Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de la Faculté de médecine de Montpellier, Paris, 1887; A. Westphal, Les Sources de la Pentateuque, I. Le Problème littéraire, p. 111 sqq.. Paris, 1888; C. A. Briggs, Study of Holy Scripture, pp. 246, 250, 278 sqq., New York, 1899.

« Astrology and Astronomy Astruc, Jean Asylum, Right of »
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