J. H. (Johann Heinrich) Kurtz.

The Bible and astronomy an exposition of the Biblical cosmology, and its relations to natural science online

. (page 1 of 37)
Online LibraryJ. H. (Johann Heinrich) KurtzThe Bible and astronomy an exposition of the Biblical cosmology, and its relations to natural science → online text (page 1 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





Received October, 1894.
Accessions No . JT& f ^^ C/^ss M) .



iiiim 0f % Jpliral








Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by


in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.



THE work here presented to the public in
English dress, first appeared some fifteen years
ago, in the form of a quite small volume. Meet
ing with a favorable reception, both from its vi
gorous treatment of the vital questions which
called it forth, and from a native interest belong
ing to the higher themes upon which it touches
an interest to which the human mind is ever
alive the author was twice led to enlarge and
improve the treatise, until in the third edition it
has reached its present size.

In the work of translation I have endeavored
fairly and faithfully to present the sentiments
and views of the author, without omission or
accommodation all responsibility for their
character of course resting with himself. The

polemical cast of some portions of the work, par-



ticularly of the notes, will be accounted for by
the circumstance that the author in this edition
takes occasion to reply to numerous objections
urged against his views as presented in former
editions of the work. Keeping in mind the re
mark of the author, that "we by no means
design to give instruction in regard to matters of
science in the present volume," and also the ob
vious fact, that general and established principles,
rather than more rapidly accumulating indi
vidual facts, are wanted for the discussion before
us, I have refrained from attempting much addi
tion to the scientific portions of the work. A few
facts of recent discovery in the sphere of Astro
nomy, evidently calling for mention, as well as
some results of much interest, and serving to
carry out more fully the design of the author in
placing together, in a general way, such facts and
views as may present to the mind with sufficient
distinctness, the astronomical theory of the
world, a few such matters have been introduced
in the form of unpretending notes and additions
in the fifth chapter, whilst an occasional note
has been added here and there throughout the
work at large.


It may be well to state that a short treatise
upon Geology and the Bible, together with seve
ral appendices of kindred matter, is to be found
in the volume from which I translate, but which
in no measure affect the unity and completeness
of the work here presented. As the references
to authorities are almost universally to German
works, the indications of page, volume, &c., refer
to the original, though translations of the works
may have appeared in this country, except it be
otherwise distinctly stated.

T. D. S.

HARRISBURG, May 1st, 1857.




THE present or third edition of this work has
assumed a new form in many respects, both in
its theological and scientific portions. Whilst in
respect to Astronomy I have found it necessary
only to add or incorporate the results due to the
rapid progress of this science, I have been com
pelled, on the other hand, to wholly recast many
sections of the work which more particularly in
volve questions of theology. Since the preceding
edition was given to the public, I have become
conscious of the erroneousness and inadmissibility
of several fundamental views as therein promul
gated, materially affecting the whole cast of the


work, which with their far-reaching consequences
must now be avoided. I may mention in this
connection, particularly, the material change in
my apprehension of the Hexaemeron, and the no
less important alteration in my view of the In
carnation, which I now, in harmony with the old
divines of our Church, acknowledge to have been
conditioned alone by the sin of man. Besides, I
have felt myself called upon to defend my views
against the attacks of several recent writers, who
have not only referred to my work, but also ear
nestly contested many of my positions. I refer
more particularly to J. P. Lange (posit. Doy-
matik), Ebrard (Abhandlung iiber Blbel und Na-
turwissenschafi), Hofmann (Schrifibeweis) , and
Delitzsch (Erldaruny der Genesis). Especially
have the two last-mentioned works, from which
I frankly and gratefully acknowledge myself to
have derived much benefit, both in the form of
information and suggestion, and by which I have
willingly suffered myself to be corrected in seve
ral points connected with the subject before us
especially have these works frequently called
upon me to enter upon a somewhat lengthened
defence of my own views in opposition to those


presented against them. This has been so often
and so strikingly the case in regard to the spirited
production of Delitzscli, that it might almost ap
pear to the uninitiated as though my theological
sympathies lay in a wholly different direction
from his, whilst I am joyfully conscious of stand
ing upon the same ground of Christian faith and
doctrine, and of theological science, with my
esteemed friend, the honored author. The more
frequently, therefore, I am compelled to disagree
with the learned writer in the present volume
confessedly, however, only in points not vitally
affecting the grounds of Christian faith and doc
trine so much the more do I rejoice that I
shall soon in another place, have occasion to
show how highly I prize and regard the late
work of this author, and to testify to the advan
tage and stimulus I have derived from its perusal,
as well as to show how closely my theological
opinions coincide with his own.

The present edition of this work has demanded
also, in those portions not requiring to be again
wholly elaborated, manifold improvements and
enlargements, and sometimes, no less, abridge
ments, just as the more matured taste and judg-


rnent of the author has dictated. May the many
alterations and additions made, be found to in
deed improve and enrich the volume, and may it
in its new form meet with the same cheerful and
appreciative reception as in the former editions !


DonrAT, August, 1852.









SEC. 1. Origin, Significance, and Character of the Bibli
cal History of the Creation and the Primeval

Age 77

" 2. Continuation 80

" 3. Continuation 105

" 4. Limitation and Duration of the Days of Creation 112

" 5. Creation of the Heavens and the Earth 127

" 6. Condition of the Earth prior to the Six Days

Work 131

" 7. The First, Second, and Third Days Work 130




SEC. 8. The Fourth Day s Work 139

" 9. The Fifth and Sixth Days Work 151

" 10. The Primeval History of Man 154

" 11. The Position and Mission of the First Man. . . 158
" 12. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. . 162

" 13. The Formation of Woman 166

" 14. The Fall 169

" 15. The Tempter 172

" 16. Prospect of Redemption 175

" 17. The Morning Stars and the Sons of God 186

" 18. Spirituality and Corporeality of the Angels. .. 191
" 19. Nature, Position, and Mission of the Angels.. 207

" 20. The Fall in the Angelic World 211

" 21. The Fallen Angels not capable of Redemption 215
" 22. The Perpetuity of Evil among the Fallen

Angels 220

" 23. The Abode of the Holy Angels 222

" 24. The Heavens as the Dwelling-Place of God 228

" 25. Retrospective View of the Primeval History of

the Earth and Man 232

" 26. Continuation 242

" 27. The present Place of the Fallen Angels 249

" 28. The Universal History of the Cosmos 262

" 29. The Interest of the Angels in Earthly Develop
ments 265

" 30. Participation of the Angels in the Preparatives

to Salvation 268

" 31. Christ the Second Adam 272

" 32. Cooperation and Opposition of the Angels in

the Life of Christ 277

" 33. Ascension of Christ and Progress of the Con
test till His Return 281

" 34. Return of Christ and Renovation of the Hea
vens and the Earth 286

" 35. The Judgment and the Eternal Consummation 301
" 36. Retrospective Glance at the Position of the

Angels 308




SEC. 1. The Sun 313

2. The Planets and Satellites 324

" 3. Shooting Stars 337

" 4. The Comets 339

" 5. Origin and Stability of the Solar System 342

" 6. Parallaxes of the Fixed Stars 346

" 7. Solar Nature of the Fixed Stars 350

" 8. The Milky- Way 353

" 9. The Central Sun 357

" 10. Variability of the Fixed Stars 3G6

" 11. Double and Multiple Stars 372

" 12. Dark Bodies in the Heavens of the Fixed Stars 379

" 13. The Nebulae 387

" 14. Retrospect 413


NOMY 418

SEC. 1. Design of this Chapter 418

" 2. The Doctrine and History of the Creation 420

" 3. The Creation of the World in Six Days 423

" 4. The Creation of Light before the Sun 427

" 5. The Creation of the Fixed Stars before the

Earth 432

" 6. The Creation of the Planetary System 43G

" 7. The Celestial Worlds in general Inhabited 439

" 8. The Angels as the Inhabitants of the Fixed

Stars 443

" 9. Continuation 452

" 10. Inhabitants of the Extra-mundane Bodies of our

Solar System 456

" 11. The Astronomical Theory of the World 461




SEC. 12. The Infinity of Space 4G4

" 13. The Transcendence and Immanence of God in

the Mirror of Astronomy 467

" 14. The Incarnation of God 471

" 15. Continuation 475

" 16. Continuation 479

" 17. Continuation 491

" 18. Continuation 507

" 19. The Catastrophe of the End of the World. . . . 515
" 20. The Duration of the present Course of the

Earth 520

" 21. The Cosmical Consummation . 523


Wie herrlich 1st Dein Name auf der ganzen Erde,
Der Da mit Deiner Pracht den Himmel gekronet !
Aus dem Munde der Kinder und Siiuglingc
Bereitcst Du Dir eine Macbt,
Um zu scliwicbtigen Feind und Racbgierige.

Wenn ich selie Deinen Himmel, das Werk Deiner Finger,
Den Mond und die Sterne, die Du gegriindct bast:
Was ist der Mensch, class Du sein gcclenkest,
Und der Menschensolm, dass Du ibn besuchest ?
Wenig unter gottlichen Stand erniedrigst Du ihn,
Kronest ibn mit Ebre und Herrlichkeit.
Du liissest ibn berrscbcn iiber das Work Deiner Iliindc,
Allest legtest Du unter seiner Fusse,
Scliafe und Kinder allzumal,
Sammt den Thieren des Feldes,

Den Vogeln des Himmels und den Fiscben des Meeres,
Was nur durcbwandert Pfade des Meeres.

Jebova, unser Ilerr !
Wie berrlicb ist Dein Name auf der ganzen Erde !"




We have also a more sure word of prophecy, where-
unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the
day-star arise in your Jiearts. 1

Truly the "Word of God, as spoken unto us by
holy men of old, moved by the Holy Ghost, is a
sure word ; for though heaven and earth should pass
away, no jot or tittle of it shall fail : it is a precious
word, full of the energies of a divine life, a lamp
unto our feet and a light unto our path.

But nature also, to him who lias learned to read
therein, is a divine book laid open ; for the invisible
things of Him, from the creation of the world, are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made, even his eternal power and Godhead. 2 The
heavens, also, declare the glory of God, and the firma
ment showeth forth his handiwork? All that the
starry heavens reveal in lines of light; all that the
seas, the depths and mountains of the earth,

1 2 Peter 1 : 19. 2 Rom. 1 : 20. 3 Psalm 19 : 2.

2* (17)

18 T II E L (> Y A N D

proclaim, the cheerful day and the stormy night,
the glorious bloom of spring, with the hail which
crushes and the frost which blasts its beauty ; the
lily of the field, the sparrow on the roof, the hem
lock in the meadow, the serpent in the grass ; yea,
even a mote in the sunbeam, or a grain of sand,
are, when carefully read and correctly understood,
a Word of God ; testifying of former days, declaring
His wisdom and His power, but also His holiness;
revealing His creative love, but also His avenging

The yearning and earnest expectation of the crea
ture l are no less a sermon from God, fraught with
the deepest lessons of wisdom and knowledge, testi
fying of blessings and curses, of death and the resur
rection, of sin and redemption. 2

"Although," says one who has devoted his whole
life 3 to the study of this divine writing " although
the book of Mature in comparison with the holy
book of Revelation, appears but like an obelisk
covered with hieroglyphics, standing amid the ruins
of an overthrown city; whose characters have in
part become unintelligible to the present race of
men, and in part defaced and obliterated by a hostile
hand; yet have we good grounds upon which to
maintain an agreement between the contents of these
hieroglyphic tracings, which were originally also a

1 Rom. 8 : 19-21.

2 Compare, for example, the interesting remarks of G. H. v.
Schubert. Ansichten von der Nachlseite der Nalurwisscnsclwft, 4th
ed., Dresd. 1810, p. 259 scq.

3 G. II. v. Schubert, Symbolik des Traums, 3d ed., Leipzig, 1840,
p. 44 seq.


revelation of God to man, and the contents of the
Holy Scriptures. Yea, nature also, with unmistake-
able clearness, bears witness of Him from whom and
through whom are all things; and in the present age
of the world, when man is perversely inclined more
to investigate and delight in physical and intellec
tual truths, in which he would fain find a full supply
of his wants, than in an examination of Holy "Writ,
it is perhaps not wholly unnecessary to call attention
to the solemn testimony of nature, and the harmony
of its teachings with those of the Sacred record.

True, the written Word of G-od contains all that is
necessary for our welfare : true, the Sacred Oracles
speak to us more clearly, intelligibly, and unmistake-
ably, than the characters of the obelisk : they speak
just as clearly to the learned as to the unlearned, to
the rude and unlettered as to the talented and refined.
For they are like "a stream of varying depth, in
which the elephant may swim and the lamb wade,"
and whosoever hopes, with the book of Mature, to
dispense with the book of Revelation, his eyes are
blinded no less to the witness of the one than the
other, to the being and works of God. Yet still
must we also give heed to that voice, whose sound
goes out through all the earth, and its words to the end
of the world, 1 and learn from it what is revealed to
us through the creative word of God ; and this the
rather, since nature originally a message from God
for us may yet become a witness against us, for it
is written, so that tliey are without excuse. 2

Therefore, let the theologian, and indeed all Cliris-

Ps. 19 : 4. 2 Rom. 1 : 0.


tians, deign to learn of the student of nature : let
the student of revelation give honor to whom honor
is due : let him cheerfully permit the masters of sci
ence to disclose to his view a new world of wonders,
the product of his Father s hand. Let him frankly
acknowledge the truth, and strive to appreciate the
bold and laborious research by which fresh treasures
are brought to light from the deep and hidden mines
of science, and east into current coin.

But, in like manner, let the man of science give
honor to whom honor is due, the master become the
disciple, the teacher the pupil. Let him sit in the
humble and teachable posture of a second Mary of
Bethany, at the feet of a higher Master, and there
learn the \vords of eternal life, and a wisdom which
dates not its origin in time there learn what neither
his microscope nor telescope can reveal, and yet what
alone can lend to his wisdom a true sacred character.
Let him not forget that if nature be a book full of
Divine lessons and teachings, yet is the Bible the
lexicon and grammar, whereby alone the etymology
and syntax of its sacred language, the form and his
tory, the sense and signification, of the single words,
may be learned that it alone is the teacher of that
criticism, hermeneutics, aesthetics, and logic, whereby
the " disjecta membra poetic" are to be arranged, ex
plained, and understood.

But what if the Bible and Nature, instead of ex
plaining, amplifying, and completing, should contra
dict each other ?

The Bible and Nature, since both are the work of
God, must agree. Where this does not appear to be


the case, the exegesis either of the theologian or the
student of nature must be at fault. And not merely
the latter, but also the former is, alas ! too often
the case, and has begotten incalculable difficulty in
the question with regard to the harmony of nature
and the Scriptures.

Wherever honest doubt, desirous only of reliable
and incontestable truth, or hostile unbelief, delighting
ever to disgrace the cause of Bible truth in the
eyes of the world, have brought forward pretended
or apparent contradictions not capable of recon
ciliation, between the teachings of Scripture and the
results of science, they have generally referred to
the Biblical history of the creation ; and not only
divines, but perhaps more frequently men of science,
have enlisted all their learning and sagacity to do
away with these pretended contradictions, and bring
out in all its beauty and symmetry, the agreement
between the Bible and science.

And behold! just here, where the conflict would
fain be the most unmistakable, and the contradic
tions most numerous just here it is, that, with an
adequate idea of Divine Revelation, and a proper
understanding of the Divine record, a contradiction
is wholly impossible. And for this reason, that the
Bible neither reveals nor was designed to reveal
what is attainable by scientific investigation; and
conversely, that no knowledge to be gained by
scientific research, comes within the province of
revelation : because these two sources of knowledge
do not encroach in their teachings upon each other,
but lie side by side, and hence of course cannot


contradict and supplant, but only (the correctness of
their teachings in other respects granted) complete
each other.

The Mosaic history of the creation, 1 as the Bible
in general, was by no means designed to give in
struction in regard to natural science. Nothing was
more foreign to its object. The efforts of the human
mind after secular culture, after art and science,
were never designed to be mere tributaries to, and
dependent upon, special Divine revelation. As man
was to gain by the sweat of his brow, his daily
bread, for the support of his physical life, from the
earth he inhabits; so also must he acquire from na
ture in, around, below, and above him, by wearisome
effort and diligent research, science and knowledge
for the support and culture of his mental being.
In no case whatever has either mathematical,
physical, or medical science, been communicated
to him by Divine revelation. None of the prophets
of the old dispensation, no apostle of the new,
gained scientific knowledge through revelation. No
one of them was raised by Divine illumination in
this respect, beyond the stage of knowledge and
culture belonging to their own age. All that a
Moses knew in the several spheres of Astronomy,
Geology, Natural History and Medicine; in regard
to the constitution of the starry heavens, the struc
ture of the earth s crust, the signs of clean and un
clean animals, the course or treatment of leprosy,

1 We cannot here anticipate the detailed explanations of the
subsequent chapters of this work, and must hence for the present
confine ourselves somewhat to generals.


the economy of the sexes, etc., he had learned under
the tuition of the Egyptian Magi, 1 or had acquired
from personal observation and study during the
forty years he spent in the wilderness. But Divine
wisdom knew well how to avail itself of knowledge
thus acquired, by natural means, and to consecrate
it as the vehicle of imperishable ideas of grace and
justice, of sin and redemption. All that a Solomon,
whose wisdom attracted the Queen of the South,
spoke or sung, 2 in his three thousand Proverbs, or
in his one thousand and five songs; in regard to
trees, from the Cedar of Lebanon to the hissop upon
the wall; in regard to beasts and birds, creeping
things and fishes; was the fruit of his own deep
contemplations of nature ; but it was also a channel
through which Divine wisdom might be conveyed
to the minds of men.

Yea, we go even further; we boldly maintain, and
with the fullest assurance of not in the least com
promising the Divine character of the sacred books,
that holy men of God, both of the Old and New dis
pensations, who, under the influence of the Spirit
were moved to divine words or deeds, may very
easily have been involved, as far as scientific know-

1 Hence, the circumstances which brought Moses into connec
tion with these wise men, must be regarded as having been spe
cially under the divine direction. He who was to give to Israel
the law and divine service, and with them fresh treasures of
divine revelation, must also be learned in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians; in order, thereby, to attain to the highest preparation
of his natural gifts and talents, and also sufficiently comprehen
sive knowledge, for the fulfilment of his Divine mission.

2 1 Kings, 4 : 32, 33.


ledge is concerned, in the common and prevailing
errors of their age. Such errors did not in the least
detract from the religious truths they were called
upon to announce, and impress upon the hearts of
men. If it he true, for example, that in the time of
Joshua the common opinion prevailed, that the sun,
together with the whole starry heavens, revolved
around the earth in 24 hours, certainly Joshua him
self was not raised above this error; and it doubtless
lay at the foundation of that command, evincing
such signal faith and so often commented upon :
" Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou moon
in the valley of Ajalon." 1 Joshua spoke the com
mand of faith as he understood the matter, but the
Divine hearing of the command was carried out as
God understood it. 2 ~Nor should our faith be any
more estranged from the Scriptures, on finding that
the geocentric view underlies their teachings in
other passages. 3 Moses also may have had very

1 Jos. 10 : 12, seq.

2 The desire of Joshua was, to see the light of day remain, and
the darkness of night prevented, until he had secured his object
in the pursuit of his enemy. And this desire he gained through
his extraordinary faith. It was a matter of no moment to the
faith of Joshua centuries ago, nor is it now, to the faith of the
reader, by what natural means such a supernatural effect should
be produced.

3 All attempts, therefore, to prevent the inspiration of the
Bible from suffering in respect to matters of human science, by

,,proving that though the Scriptures may indeed speak geocentri
cally, the heliocentric view, nevertheless, underlies their teach
ings, must be regarded as having mistaken their object, and aa
tending to error. This is nothing more than the opposite pole of
that perverse and mistaken spirit, which sought the rejection of


many physically erroneous views touching the nature
of the starry heavens, or the structure of the earth,
as he in the spirit of prophecy conceived the history
of the creation of the heavens and the earth, without

the Copernican system, because a few passages of Scripture in
volve the geocentric view. Such was the error committed by the
worthy G. Fr. v. Meyer, who, in his Bldtternfiir Jwliere WaJirheit,
viii, 342 seq., tries to defend the formal proposition: "The Bible,

Online LibraryJ. H. (Johann Heinrich) KurtzThe Bible and astronomy an exposition of the Biblical cosmology, and its relations to natural science → online text (page 1 of 37)