The vision of the universe from the Old Testament to St. Thomas Aquinas
The Old Testament view of the universe is greatly influenced by the fact that the Jewish people were heirs to Semitic culture. For this reason we cannot separate the vision of the cosmos of the Old Testament from that of the surrounding Semitic cultures.
That conception saw the earth as flat. The sky that overlooked it was the “natural” place where God was. However, in a close parallel to the foundations of human dwellings it needed foundations on which to stand, and the columns of heaven were raised on these foundations, situated at the edge of the flat earth. Beneath them were all the stars, the sun, the planets and clouds you can see in the sky. Above the firmament, and separated from it by the columns of the sky, was water. In fact, there had to be a place to contain the water that spilled onto the earth during rain. Beyond it was the heaven of heaven, and above it was God.
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