Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/606
59 o THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
of adjusting scriptural statements to scientific facts. This utter- ance was admirably oracular, being susceptible of cogent quotation by both sides ; , nothing could be in better form from an orthodox point of view ; but, with that statesmanlike forecast which the present Pope has shown more than once in steering the bark of St. Peter over the troubled waves of the nineteenth century, he so far abstained from condemning any of the greater specific results of modern critical study that the main English de- fender of the encyclical, the Jesuit Father Clarke, did not hesi- tate publicly to admit a multitude of such results results, indeed, which would shock not only Italian and Spanish Catholics, but many English and American Protestants. According to this in- terpreter, the Pope had no thought of denying that there are dif- ferent sorts of documents in the Pentateuch, or the plurality of sources of the books of Samuel, or the twofold authorship of Isaiah, or that all after the ninth verse of the last chapter of St. Mark's Gospel is spurious ; and, as regards the whole encyclical, the distinguished Jesuit dwelt significantly on the power of the papacy at any time to define out of existence any previous de- cisions which may be found inconvenient. More than that, Father Clarke himself, while standing as the champion of the most thor- ough orthodoxy, acknowledged that, in the Old Testament, "numbers must be expected to be used Orientally," and that " all these seventies and forties, as, for example, when Absalom is said to have rebelled against David for forty years, can not possibly be meant numerically"; and, what must have given a fearful shock to some Protestant believers in plenary inspiration, he, while advocating it as a dutiful son of the Church, wove over it an exquisite web with the declaration that " there is a human element in the Bible precalculated for by the divine."
Considering the difficulties in the case, the world has reason certainly to be grateful to Pope Leo and Father Clarke for these utterances, which perhaps, after all, may prove a better bridge between the old and the new than could have been framed by engineers more learned but less astute. Evidently Pope Leo XIII is neither a Paul V nor an Urban VIII, and is too wise to bring the Church into a position from which it can only be extricated by subterfuges as ludicrous as those by which it was dragged out of the Galileo scandal, or by a policy as tortuous as that by which it writhed out of the old doctrine regarding the taking of interest for money.
In spite, then, of the attempted crushing out of Bartolo and Berta and Savi and Lenormant and Loisy, during this very epoch in which the Pope issued this encyclical, there is every reason to hope that the path has been paved over which the Church may gracefully recede from the old system of interpretation and