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upon words, such as the history of myths and legends frequently
shows us, it wrought into one fabric the earlier explanations of
the diversities of human speech and of the great ruined tower at
Babylon. The name Babel {bob-iJ) means ''Gate of God" or
" Gate of the Gods." All modem scholars of note agree that this
was the real significance of the name; but the Hebrew verb
which signifies to confound resembles somewhat the word Babel,
so that out of this resemblance, by one of the most common pro-
cesses in the history of myth formations, came to the Hebrew

* Any one who wishes to realize the medisTal view of the direct penKmal attention <A
the Almighty to the univerfle, can perhaps do so most easily by looking orer the engraTings
in the well-known Nuremberg Chronicle, representing hun in the work of each of the ax
days, and resting afterward.

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 291

mind an indisputable proof that the tower was connected with
the sadden confusion of tongues ; and this became part of our
theological heritage.

In our sacred books the account runs as follows :

''And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

" And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that
they found a plain in the land of Shinar ; and they dwelt there.

** And they said one to another. Go to, let us make brick, and
bum them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime
had they for mortar.

** And they said. Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose
top may reach unto heaven ; and let us make us a name, lest we
be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

** And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which
the children of men builded.

''And the Lord said. Behold, the people is one, and they have
aU one language ; and this they begin to do : and now nothing
will be restrained from them wMch they have imagined to do.

" Gk> to, let us go down, and there confound their language,
that they may not understand one another's speech.

"80 the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the
face of all the earth : and they left oflF to build the city.

"Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord
did there confound the language of all the earth : and from thence
did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.'*
(Genesis, xi, 1-9.)

Thus far the legend had been but slightly changed from the
earlier Chaldean form in which it has since been found in the
Assyrian inscriptions. Its character is very simple ; to use the
words of the most eminent English-speaking authority. Prof.
Sayce, of Oxford, a clergyman of the Church of England, "It
takes us back to the age when the gods were believed to dwell in
the visible sky, and when man, therefore, did his best to rear his
altars as near them as possible.'* And the eminent professor
might have added that it takes us back also to a time when it
was thought that Jehovah, in order to see the tower fully, was
obliged to come down from his seat above the firmament. In its
earlier Chaldean form the legend runs, that the gods, assisted by
the winds, overthrew the work of the contrivers and introduced
a diversity of tongues.

As to the real cause of the building of the tower there seems a
substantial agreement among leading scholars that it was erected
primarily as i>art of a temple, but largely for the purpose of as-
tronomical observations, to which the Chaldeans were so devoted,
and to which their country, with its level surface and clear at-
mosphere, was so well adapted. As to the real cause of its de-

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292 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

struction, one of the inscribed cylinders discovered in recent
times, speaking of a tower which most of the leading archsBolo-
gists identify with the Tower of Babel, reads as follows :

" The building named the Stages of the Seven Spheres, which
was the Tower of Borsippa, had been built by a former king. He
had completed forty-two cubits, but he did not finish its head.
During the lapse of time, it had become ruined ; they had not
taken care of the exit of the w;aters, so that rain and wet had
penetrated into the brick-work ; the casing of burned brick had
swollen out, and the terraces of crude brick are scattered in heaps.''

We can well understand how easily ^ the gods, assisted by the
winds,'' as stated in the Chaldean legend, could overthrow a tower
thus built.

It may be instructive to compare with the explanatory myth
developed first by the Chaldeans, and in a slightly different form
by the Hebrews, various other legends to explain the same diver-
sity of tongues. The Hindoo legend of the confusion of tongues
is as follows :

" There grew in the center of the earth the wonderful * world
tree ' or * knowledge tree.' It was so tall that it reached almost
to heaven. It said in its heart : ^ I shall hold my head in heaven
and spread my branches over all the earth, and gather all men
together under my shadow, and protect them, and prevent them
from separating. But Brahma, to punish the pride of the tree cut
off its branches and cast them down on the earth, when they sprang
up as wata trees, and made differences of belief and speech and
customs to prevail on the earth, to disperse men upon its surface."

Still more striking is a Mexican legend : according to this, Xel-
hua, one of the seven giants rescued from the fiood, built the
great Pyramid of Cholula, in order to reach heaven, until the
gods, angry at his audacity, threw fire upon the building and
broke it down, whereupon every separate family received a lan-
guage of its own.

Such explanatory myths grew or spread widely over the earth.
A well-known form of the legend, more like that of the Chalde-
ans than the Hebrew later form, appeared among the Qreeks.
According to this, the Aloid» piled Mount Ossa upon Olympus
and Pelion upon Ossa, in their efforts to reach heaven and de-
throne Jupiter.

Still another form of it entered the thoughts of Plato. He held
that in the golden age men and beasts all spoke the same lan-
guage, but that Zeus confounded their speech because men were
proud and demanded eternal youth and immortality.*

* For the identification of the Tower of Babel with the ** Birs Nimmd '* amid the rains
of the city of Borsippa, see Sir Henrj Rawlinson, and especially George Smitli, Assyrian

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 293

But naturally the version of the legend which most affected
Christendom was that modification of the Chaldean form devel-
oi>ed among the Jews and embodied in their sacred books. To a
thinking man in these days it is very instructive. The coming
down of the Almighty from heaven to see the tower and put an
end to it by dispersing its builders, points to the time when his
dwelling was supposed to be just above the firmament or solid
vault above the earth ; the time when he exercised his beneficent
activity in such acts as opening " the windows of heaven*' to give
down rain upon the earth ; in bringing out the sun every day and
hanging up the stars every night to give light to the earth ; in
hurling comets, to give warning ; in placing his bow in the cloud,
to give hope ; in coming down in the cool of the evening to walk
in the garden of Eden and to talk with the man he had made ; in
meeting one chosen man upon a mountain to give him laws, and
another in the desert to wrestle with him.

But closely connected in its effects with this Babel legend was
that of the naming of the animals by Adam. It was written in
one of our two accounts of the creation that Jehovah came down
and brought all the animals before Adam, who gave them their
names. This and other indications of language, together with the
Chaldean legend, which, in passing through the Jewish mind, be-
came monotheistic, supplied to Christian theology the germs of a
sacred science of philology. These germs developed rapidly in the
warm atmosphere of devotion and ignorance of natural law which
pervaded the early Christian Church ; and so there grew a great

Dtseoreries, p. 59. For a different yiew, see Lenormant, Ilistoire Ancienne de TOrient,
▼oL if p. 118. For some of these inscriptions discoTered and read by George Smith, see
hit Qialdean Account of Genesis, New York, 1876, pp. 160-162. For the statement re-
garding the origin of the word Babel, see Ersch and Griiber, article Babel ; also, the Key.
Prof. A. H. Sajce, in the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannfca ; also Colcnso,
Pentateuch examined, vol It, p. 268 ; also John fiske, Myths and Myth-makers, p. 72 ;
ako Lenormant, Histoire Andenne de TOrient, Paris, 1881, toI. i, pp. \\h el aeg. As to
the character and purpose of the great tower of the Templo of Belus, see Smith's Bible
Dictionary, article Babd, quoting Diodorus ; also Rawlinson, especially in Journal of the
Asiatic Society for 1861 ; also Sayce, Religion of the Ancient Babylonians (Hibbcrt Lect-
ures for 1887), London, 1S77, chap, ii and elsewhere, especially pp. 96, 897, 407; also
Max Duncker, History of Antiquity, Abbott's translation, vol. ii, chaps, ii and iii. For
similar legends in other parts of the world, see Dclitch ; also Humboldt, American Re-
searches; also Brinton, Myths of the New World ; also Colenso, as above. The Tower of
Cbolala is well known, having been described by Humboldt and Lord Kingsborough. For
superb engravings showing the view of Babel as developed by the theological imagina-
tioo, see Kircher, Turris Babel, Amsterdam, 1679. For the Law of Wills and Causes,
with deductions from it well stated, see Beattie Crozier, Civilization and Trogrcss, Lon-
don, 1888, pp. 112, 178, 179, 273. For Plato, see the Polit., 272, ed. Steph., and elsewhere
dted in Ersch and Griiber, article Babylon. For a good general statement, see Bible
Myths, New York, 1888, chap. iii. For Aristotle*s strange want of interest in any
classification of the varieties of human speech, see Max Miiller, Lectures on the Science of
Language, London, 1864, series i, chap, iv, pp. 128-125.



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294 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

orthodox theory of language, strong and apparently firm, whicli
has lasted throughout Christendom for nearly two thousand
years.

There had, indeed, come into human thought at the very earli-
est period some suggestions of the modem scientific view of phi-
lology. Lucretius had proposed a theory, inadequate indeed, but
still pointing very directly toward the truth, as follows : " Nature
impelled man to try the various sounds of the tongue, and so
struck out the names of things, much in the same way as the in-
ability to speak is seen in its turn to drive children to the use of
gestures." But, among the early fathers of the Church, the only
one who seems to have caught an echo of this truth was St. Greg-
ory of Nyssa ; as a rule, all the other great founders of Christian
theology, as far as they expressed themselves on the subject, took
the view that the original language spoken by the Almighty and
given by him to men was Hebrew, and that from this all other
languages were derived at the destruction of the Tower of BabeL
This doctrine was especially upheld by Origen, St. Jerome, and
St. Augustine. Origen taught that ''the language given at the
first through Adam, the Hebrew, remained among that portion of
mankind which was assigned not to any angel, but continued the
portion of God himself/' St. Augustine declared that, when the
other races were divided by their own peculiar languages, Heber's
family preserved that language which is not imreasonably be-
lieved to have been the common language of the race, and that on
this account it was henceforth called Hebrew. St. Jerome wrote,
** The whole of antiquity affirms that Hebrew, in which the Old
Testament is written, was the beginning of all human speech.*'

Amid such great authorities as these even Gregory of Nyssa
struggled in vain. He seems to have taken the matter very
earnestly, and to have used not only argument but ridicule. He
insists that God does not speak Hebrew, and that the tongue
used by Moses was not even a pure dialect of one of the lan-
guages resulting from *' the confusion.'* He makes man the in-
ventor of speech, and resorts to raillery : speaking against his
opponent Eunomius, he says that ''passing in silence his base
and abject garrulity,'* he will "note a few things which are
thrown into the midst of his useless or wordy discourse, where
he represents God teaching words and names to our first parents,
sitting before them like some pedagogue or grammar master.**
But, naturally, the great authority of Origen, Jerome, and Augus-
tine prevailed ; the view suggested by Lucretius, and again by
St. Gregory of Nyssa, died out, and " always, everywhere, and
by all ** in the Church the doctrine was received that the lan-
guage spoken by the Almighty was Hebrew ; that it was taught
by him to Adam, and that all other languages on the face of the

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earth originated from it at the dispersion attending the destruc-
tion of the Tower of BabeL*

This idea threw out roots and branches in every direction,
and so developed ever into new and strong forms. As all scholars
now know, the vowel points in the Hebrew language were not
adopted until at some period between the second and tenth cent-
uries ; but in the early Church they soon came to be considered
as part of the great miracle — ^as the work of the right hand of
the Almighty ; and never until the eighteenth century was there
any doubt allowed about the divine origin of these rabbinical
additions to the text. To hesitate in believing that these points
were dotted by the very hand of God himself came to be con-
sidered a fearful heresy.

The series of battles between Theology and Science in the field
of comparative philology opened just on this little point, appar-
ently so insignificant — ^the direct divine inspiration of the rab-
binical punctuation. The first to impugn the divine origin of
these vocal points and accents appears to have been a Spanish
monk, Baymundus Martinus, in his Pugio Fidel, or Poniard of
the Faith, which he put forth in the thirteenth century. But
he and his doctrine disappeared beneath the waves of the ortho-
dox ocean, and apparently left no trace. For nearly three hun-
dred years longer the full sacred theory held its ground ; but
about the opening of the sixteenth century another glimpse of
the truth was given by a Jew, Ellas Levita, and this seems to
have had some little effect, at least in keeping the germ of scien-
tific truth alive.

The Reformation, with its renewal of the literal study of the
Scriptures, and its transfer of all infallibility from the Church
and the Papacy to the letter of the sacred books, did not abate
but rather intensified for a time the devotion of Christendom to
this sacred theory of language. Only on this one question — ^the
origin of the Hebrew points — was there any controversy, and this
waxed hot. It began to be especially noted that these vowel
points in the Hebrew Bible seemed unknown to St. Jerome and
his compeers; and on this ground, supported by a few other au-

* For Lncretias's statement, see the De Rerum Natura, lib. ▼, Monro's edition, with
translation, Gambridge, 18S6, vol. iii, p. 141. For the opinion of Oregorj of Nyssa, see
Beofey, Geachichte der Sprachwissenschaft in Deutschland, Miinchen, 1869; p. 179; and
for the passage dted, see Gregory of Njssa in his Contra Ennominm, zii, Patr. Greeca,
Paris, 1868, yoI. ii, p. 1048. For St. Jerome, see the Epistle, xviii, p. 866, Migne, tome
audi, Paris, 1842. For citation from St. Angiistine, see the City of God, Dod's translation,
Edinburgh, 1871, toI. il, p. 122. For citation from Orlgen, see Homily xi, dted by Guichard
in preface to rHarroonie dtymologiqnc, Paris, 1681, lib. xvi, o. xi. For absolutely con-
Tiadng proofs that the Jews deriyed the Babel and other legends of their sacred books
from the Chaldeana, see George Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, pamm ; but espe-
dally for a moat candid tliough evidently somewhat reluctant summing up, see page 291.

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a96 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

thorities, some earnest men ventured to think them no part of the
original revelation to Adam. Zwingli, so much before most of
the Reformers in other respects, was equally so in this. While
not doubting the divine origin and preservation of the Hebrew
language as a whole, he denied the antiquity of the vocal points,
demonstrated their unessential character, and pointed out the fact
that St. Jerome makes no mention of them. His denial was long
the refuge of those who shared this heresy.

But the full orthodox theory remained established among the
vast majority both of Catholics and Protestants. Illustrative of
the attitude of the former is the imposing work of the canon Ma-
rini, which appeared at Venice in 1693, under the title of Noah's
Ark : A New Treasury of the Sacred Tongue. The huge folios
begin with the declaration that the Hebrew tongue was " divinely
inspired at the very beginning of the world,'' and the doctrine is
steadily maintained that this divine inspiration extended not only
to the letters but to the vocal punctuation.

Not before the seventeenth century was well under way do we
find a thorough scholar bold enough to gainsay this preposterous
doctrine. This new assailant was Capellus, Professor of Hebrew
at Saumur ; but even he dared not put forth his argument in
France. He was obliged to publish it in Holland, and even there
such obstacles were thrown in his way that it was ten years before
he published another treatise of importance.

The work of Capellus was received by very many open-minded
scholars as settling the question, and among these was Hugo
Grotius. But many theologians felt this view to be a blow at
the sanctity and integrity of the sacred text; and in 1648 the
great scholar, John Buxtorf, rose to defend the orthodox citadel :
in his Anticritica he brought all his stores of knowledge to defend
the doctrine that the rabbinical points and accents had been jotted
down by the right hand of God.

The controversy waxed hot; scholars like Voss and Brian
Walton supported Capellus. Wasmuth and many others of note
were as fierce against him. The Swiss Protestants were espe-
cially violent on the orthodox side. The Calvinists of Geneva^
in 1678, by a special canon, forbade that any minister should be
received into their jurisdiction until he publicly confessed that
the Hebrew text, as it to-day exists in the Masoretic copies, is,
both as to the consonants and vowel points, divine and authentic

While in Holland so great a man as Hugo Grotius supported
the view of Capellus, and while in France the eminent Catholic
scholar Richard Simon, and many others. Catholic and Protestant,
took similar ground against this divine origin of the Hebrew
punctuation, there was arrayed against them a body apparently
overwhelming. In France, Bossuet, the greatest theologian that

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 297

France has ever produced, did his best to crush Simon. In Ger-
many, Wasmuth, professor first at Rostock and afterward at Kiel,
hurled his " VindicisB *' at the innovators. Yet at this very mo-
ment the battle was clearly won ; the arguments of Capellus were
irrefragable, and, despite the commands of bishops, the outcries of
theologians and the sneering of critics, his application of strictly
scientific observation and reasoning carried the day.

Yet a casual observer, long after the fate of the battle was
really settled, might have supposed that it was still in doubt. As
is not unusual in theologic controversies, attempts were made to
galvanize the dead doctritie into the appearance of life. Famous
among these attempts was that made as late as the beginning of
the eighteenth century by two Bremen theologians, Hase and
Iken. They put forth a compilation in two huge folios simul-
taneously at Leyden and Amsterdam, prominent in which work
is the treatise on The Integrity of Scripture, by Johann Andreas
Danzius, Professor of Oriental Languages and Senior Member of
the Philosophical Faculty of Jena. To preface it, there was a
formal and fulsome approval by three eminent professors of the-
ology at Leyden. With great fervor the author pointed out that
"religion itself depends absolutely on the infallible inspiration,
both verbal and literal, of the Scripture text " ; and with impas-
sioned eloquence he assailed the blasphemers who dared question
the divine origin of the Hebrew points. But this was really the
last great effort. That the case was lost is seen by the fact that
Danzius felt obliged to use other missiles than arguments, and
especially to call his opponents hard names. From this period
the old sacred theory as to the origin of the Hebrew points may
be considered as dead and buried.

But the war was soon to be waged on a wider and far more
important field. The inspiration of the Hebrew punctuation
having been given up, the great orthodox body fell back upon
the remainder of the theory, and intrenched this more strongly
than ever — the theory that the Hebrew language was the first of
all languages, spoken by the Almighty, given by him to Adam,
transmitted through Noah to the world after the Deluge, and
that the confusion of tongues was the origin of all the other lan-
guages of the earth. In giving account of this new phase of the
struggle, it is well to go back a little. From the revival of learn-
ing and the Reformation had come the renewed study of Hebrew
in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and thus the sacred doc-
trine regarding the divine origin of the Hebrew language received
additional authority. All the early Hebrew grammars, from that
of Beuchlin down, assert the divine origin and miraculous claims
of Hebrew. It is constantly mentioned as "the sacred tongue** —
ianda lingua. In 1506 Reuchlin, though himself persecuted by a

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298 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

large faction in the Church for advanced views, refers to Hebrew
as ** spoken by the mouth of God/'

This idea was popularized by the 1508 edition of the Margarita
Philosophica, published at Strasburg. That work — in its suc-
cessive editions a mirror of human knowledge at the close of the
middle ages and the opening of modern times — contains a curi-
ous introduction to the study of Hebrew. In this it is declared
that Hebrew was the original speech, *'used between God and
man and between men and angels,*' Its full-page frontispiece
represents Moses receiving from Gk>d the tables of stone written
in Hebrew; and, as a conclusive argument, it reminds us that
Christ himself, by choosing a Hebrew maid for his mother, made
that his mother-tongue.

It must be noted here, however, that Luther, in one of those
outbursts of strong sense which so often appear in his career,
enforced the explanation that the words ''God said" had nothing
to do with the voice or articulation of human language. Still,
he evidently yielded to the general view. In the Boman Church
at the same period we have a typical example of the theologic
method in the statement by Luther's great opponent^ Cajetan,
that the three languages of the inscription on the cross of Calvary
''were the representatives of all languages,*' and he gives as the
reason for this the fact that "the number three denotes perfec-
tion."

In 1538 Postillus made a very important endeavor at a com-
parative study of languages, but with the orthodox assumption
that all were derived from one source, namely, the Hebrew.
Naturally, Comparative Philology blundered and stumbled on in
this path with endless absurdities. The most amazing efforts
were made to trace back everything to the sacred language.
English and Latin dictionaries appeared, in which every word
was traced back to a supposed Hebrew root. No supposition Vas
too absurd in this attempt to square Science with Scripture. It
was declared that, as Hebrew is written from right to lefty it
might be read either way, in order to produce a satisfactory ety-
mology. The whole effort in all this sacred scholarship was, not
to find what the truth is ; not to see how the various languages
are to be classified, or from what source they are really derived,
but to demonstrate what was supposed necessary to maintain the
truth of Scripture, namely, that all languages are derived from
the Hebrew.

This stumbling and blundering, under the sway of this ortho-
dox necessity, is seen among the foremost scholars throughout



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