Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/538

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

scarcely second to any in his knowledge of the teaching of Galen."

After taking his degree, Servetus lectured in Paris on geometry and astrology. The lectures on the latter subject involved him in a dispute with the university; and in March, 1538, we find him defending by counsel a suit that was brought against him by the medical faculty on account of these lectures. In 1537 he wrote a little book, Syruporum Universa ratio, the most popular, perhaps, of all his writings, containing six lectures on digestion, with one chapter—the fifth—devoted to the composition and use of sirups, or tisanes.

In June, 1538, he was at the University of Lou vain studying theology and Hebrew; and in a letter to his father written from this place, he explains that he has left Paris, owing to the death of his master, but hopes to return soon. After practicing as a doctor for a short time at Charlieu, he continued his studies for part of 1540 at the University of Montpellier, where unusual facilities were at that time afforded to medical students.

At Paris, some years before, Servetus had made the acquaintance of Pierre Paurnier, a man of learned tastes, who was now Archbishop of Vienne, in Dauphiny. At his invitation the Spaniard took up his residence at Vienne, and there appears to have lived in quiet seclusion from 1541 to 1553. His professional work was not too heavy to allow of his taking up literary pursuits also. He brought out a new edition of Ptolemy's Geography, and he annotated the Latin Bible of Pagnini. In his preface to the latter work he intimates what he considers to be the proper method of interpreting the prophetical books. He says that people who are ignorant of the affairs and customs of the Hebrews easily think the historical and literal sense of no importance; and in consequence of this they ridiculously follow a mystical interpretation everywhere. "Wherefore," he adds, "I would desire you again and again, Christian reader, to get the knowledge of the Hebrew in the first place, and, after that, diligently to apply yourself to the study of Jewish history, before you enter upon the reading of the prophets."

One of the gravest charges brought against Servetus by Calvin was that by such a method of interpretation "this impostor has dared to give such a wrong turn to the passages (contained in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah) as to interpret them of Cyrus. So that whatever the prophet has with great perspicuity, and with the utmost force of expression, discoursed, this perfidious villain has blotted out (delevit hic perfidus nebulo)."

Here it may be remarked that while no one would pretend that Servetus was a biblical critic and expositor, yet his method