THE LATER LIFE OF SERVETUS, 1532–1546
WHEN SERVETUS mysteriously disappeared from the German-speaking world immediately after publishing his Dialogues in 1532, he took no one into his confidence; and, as we have seen, he effectually covered his tracks by dropping his old cognomen and adopting a new one from his boyhood home at Villanueva. When he appeared in France it was therefore as Michael Villanovanus (Michel de Villeneuve); and it was twenty-one years before it was discovered that the two names denoted one and the same person. The record of his life during this intervening period is obscure, for the extant data are scanty and more or less inconsistent, being largely his personal testimony given when he was on trial for his life at vienne and geneva, and had strong motives for withholding or misrepresenting important facts. He seems, however, to have gone from Basel (or Hagenau) to Paris, either directly or with an intermediate residence at Lyon.1 From the character of the existing evidence it is impossible to speak positively, but it seems probable that before proceeding to Paris Servetus was for a year or two at Lyon,2 and that he there entered into relations with the publishing trade, and was employed as corrector for the press. Lyon was at this time a seat of wealth, learning and culture. In publishing it was second only to Paris, and the brothers Meichior and Kaspar Trechsel were distinguished for the beauty of the books they printed. The office of corrector was one that called for knowledge of both ancient and modern languages, and was often followed by scholars,3 and Servetus was well qualified to fill it. Erasmus himself had in his time been corrector for the celebrated press of Aldus Manutius at Venice. Whether he came from Lyon, or directly from Germany, we find Servetus in Paris as early as 1534, studying for some time at the College de Calvi,4 though whether this marks the beginning of his medical studies is not quite clear. It will have been in this year that he saw Francis I. touch a great many for the cure of king’s evil, or scrofula, of which he speaks in his edition of Ptolemy the following year.5 In this year too, when Calvin had ventured secretly to return to Paris after having had to flee for safety, Servetus seems to have challenged him to meet him in debate over matters of doctrine. Calvin, as related by his biographer, accepted the challenge, though at the risk of his life, and an hour was appointed at a house in the rue St. Antoine, where Calvin hoped to convince Servetus of his errors; but Servetus, though long waited for, failed to appear — out of fear, it was later charged.6
Servetus now interrupted his studies and returned to Lyon, presumably to earn money with which to continue them.7 His first occupation here was to see through the press for the brothers Trechsel, the most famous publishing house in Lyon,8 a new edition of Ptolemy’s Geography,9 which they had employed him to edit and revise, and on which he had perhaps been occupied in Paris. Ever since the second Christian century this famous work had maintained its place as the standard one on the subject. It had been repeatedly reissued, but the editions now current were based on a very faulty translation of the original Greek, they abounded in errors, and the explorations of the preceding half-century had made them quite out of date. Geography was now the subject of widest popular interest after theology, and a thorough revision was urgently wanted. By his attainments as a scholar and his observations as a traveler Servetus was well fitted for his task. For the basis of his revision he took the edition of Wilibald Pirckheimer (Strassburg, 1525), and he introduced it by an interesting preface.10 He revised the text by comparison with manuscripts and earlier editions, corrected numberless errors as to the names and locations of places, added many notes drawn from his wide reading of authors both ancient and modern, and from his own observations as an extensive traveler, and added the modern names to the classical ones.
He contributed new accounts of the British Isles, as well as of the lands he himself had visited, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, and made penetrating comments upon the character and customs of their inhabitants, with a discriminating comparison and contrast between the Spaniards and the French. He took account of the most recent discoveries in the New World, and deemed it a gross mistake that it had not been named after Columbus.11 As for other lands, he reprinted Pirckheimer’s edition with little change, including, unfortunately for himself as it later proved, the remarks upon the Holy Land. For Pirck heimer himself had taken over without change a passage from an earlier edition (Strassburg, 1522) of the Dutchman Lorenz Friese (Phrisius) to the eflect that upon the evidence of merchants and travelers, Palestine so far from being fertile was uncultivated, sterile, and wholly wanting in charm, and should be pronounced, though a ‘promised’ land, yet a land of no promise.12 This passage, though Servetus denied being the author of it, was at his trial at Geneva made the basis of one of the items in his indictment, that in it he had defamed Moses.13 One other passage betrayed a sceptical mind, and might have brought upon him a charge of lèsc majesté. Speaking of the current rumor that the King of France was curing scrofula by a touch he remarks, ‘1 myself have seen the King touch a great many, but whether they were cured I did not see.’14
Ptolemy had been not only geographer but also astronomer and mathematician, and he had used both these sciences in the service of geography. As his editor Servetus had therefore to acquire some familiarity with both these fields of study, which were to bear fruit a little later. His Ptolemy, though still susceptible of much improvement, marked a substantial advance over any previous edition, and its excellence was at once recognized. The German geographer Sebastian Münster, in the dedication to his Geographia Universalis (Basel, 1540), credits the keen-eyed Michael Villanovanus with detecting many errors that had escaped the notice of Pirckheimer, restoring the text, explaining abstruse points, and elucidating obscure matters by his notes;15 and in Montanus’s edition of Ptolemy (Frankfurt, 1605), the preface acknowledges Servetus’s contributions, as have many writers since. He has indeed even been eulogized as the founder of Comparative Geography and the forerunner of Ritter and von Humboldt in this field.16
Servetus seems to have been employed as corrector at Lyon from two to three years, and not only to have occupied himself here with his studies in geography, mathematics and astronomy, but also to have become deeply interested in medicine, probably enough through correcting the proof-sheets of medical works that were at the time passing through the press. Some of these were by Dr. Symphorien Champier (Campegius, 1472—1539), one of the most celebrated physicians of the time, and founder of the college of medicine at Lyon.17 Servetus was thus inspired to become a physician, and presently became his devoted pupil.18 Dr. Champier was a free-thinking Catholic, and a man of broad culture, who in his time published over a hundred books or tracts on a wide variety of subjects. He was very proud of his attainments, and a man of great personal vanity. Contemporary with him was Dr. Leonhard Fuchs, professor at Tubingen, the most celebrated anatomist of the Protestant world, a botanist of note for whom the Fuchsia was named, also an author of numerous books, something of a theologian, and a rabid Protestant. Fuchs had published a work on the errors of recent physicians (Errata recentiorum medicorum, 1530), so carelessly done that it was itself full of errors. Thereupon Champier published a collection of tracts (1533), not all written by himself, animadverting upon these errors as well as criticizing the positions taken by Fuchs. Fuchs replied with a revised edition of his former work (reentitled Paradoxa medicorum, 1534), ridiculing Champier, and so severely wounding his vanity that the latter took his revenge by getting Fuchs’s work condemned by the Sorbonne and publicly burned (1536); for in his work Fuchs had mingled Lutheran theology with medicine, and so laid him self open to attack from ecclesiastical authority.
It was at this juncture that Servetus entered the lists with an Apology addressed to Fuchs in defence of Champier,19 his first work under his new name. He had a two-fold interest in publishing his tract, since by it he could both discharge a debt of gratitude to the master whose cause he had championed, and from a safe point of vantage attack an objectionable doctrine of the Protestant reformers. For Fuchsius in his work had gone out of his way to advocate Luther’s cardinal doctrine of justification by faith, which Servetus had with such unhappy results already criticized in his first two books. After an introductory fling at Fuchs, therefore, for the fierce petulance of his attack, Servetus devotes his first chapter to the subject of faith and works, refuting Fuchs in much the same vein that he had followed in his Dialogues of four years earlier. He repeats anew his earlier charge that Lutherans do not know very much about the meaning of justification; though it is arresting to note that he now speaks as a loyal son of the Catholic Church.20 The remaining two chapters deal with two questions of medicine, but though they show considerable medical knowledge, they do not concern us here. To this tract Fuchs made no reply.
Before the middle of November Servetus was back in Paris,21 and for something like a year and a half 22 or more he apparently occupied himself with private studies in the two fields that had lately engaged his interest; geography and related subjects, on which he was presently to be giving lectures, and medicine, which he was to make his chosen profession.
As a fruit of his studies during this interval, while as yet only an amateur student of the subject, he published in 1537 a contribution to a hotly disputed question in medicine, his famous little treatise on the use of syrups.23 The medical world of the time was divided into two schools of theory and practice, the Galenists and the Arabists, and they stood in sharp critical antagonism to each other. A controversy had lately arisen between them as to the value of so-called syrups, sweetened infusions used to hasten the curative process. The Galenists held that these were useless; the Arabists used them extensively. Servetus in this work took independent ground, holding that syrups have a number of uses, which he enumerated, but that they ought not to be used indiscriminately. The book evinces deep acquaintance with the writings of Galen in the original Greek, and an original mind, and it became very popular, running through five editions in France and Italy. It soon won him the high praise of his preceptor, Professor Jean Guinter.24
At length Servetus enrolled himself at the College of the Lombards, where he studied (or lectured on 25) mathematics, and as his chief subject pursued medicine under the professors Jacques Sylvius (du Bois), Jean Guinter of Andernach, and Jean Fernel.26 He became a skilful dissector, and together with Andreas Vesalius, later to be recognized as the father of modern Anatomy, he served as pro-sector for Professor Guinter, who in a work published a little later praised him as a man highly accomplished in all departments of letters, and hardly second to any in his knowledge of Galen.27
Of the year, more or less,28 during which Servetus was a medical student at the University of Paris, we have no record save concerning a single episode growing out of some public lectures that he gave. By the usage of the University one was supposed to have the Master of Arts degree before one might enter upon the study of Medicine or give public lectures;29 but despite his testimony at Geneva,30 no other evidence has been discovered that he was ever admitted to a degree.31 The rule, however, was not strictly enforced.32 Taking advantage therefore of the existing laxity, and supported by the reputation he had deservedly won by both his Ptolemy and his two medical publications, Servetus lectured publicly on geography, mathematics and astronomy.33 These three terms perhaps refer less to three distinct subjects of lectures than to three related branches treated under the comprehensive subject of geography, on which his Ptolemy had won him a reputation; for we have already seen that his studies for that work led him into the allied fields of astronomy and mathematics. No subject at that time excited wider popular interest than geography, which the age of discovery had done so much to bring to popular attention, and Servetus’s lectures had a large and respectable hearing. Prominent among his auditors was Pierre Palmier (Paulmier), who had been an extensive traveler and was widely read in the subject, and standing high in royal favor had often been sent on missions by the King. He had ten years before been chosen Archbishop of Vienne, and was later to become Servetus’s patron.
As geography led to astronomy and mathematics, so these in turn bordered on astrology. The line between astronomy and astrology was not yet strictly drawn, and astrologers liked to call themselves mathematicians.34 Now astrology had from time immemorial been a recognized element in the culture of the western world, and in the first third of the sixteenth century it had only lately passed its zenith. Although it had been dealt a mortal blow by the humanist scholar Pico della Mirandola 35 toward the end of the preceding century, and being now forbidden as a capital crime was on the wane, it was still believed in and employed by eminent personages. Princes and free cities had their astrologers to be consulted when important enterprises were under consideration, and professors of astrology lectured at the universities.36 The Emperor Charles V. and Francis I. had their astrologers. The Medicis and Richelieu were given to it; Melanchthon was addicted to it.37 Two branches of astrology were recognized, the so-called natural astrology, and judiciary astrology.38 The former was a descriptive science, treating of the heavenly bodies and their movements. It recognized that bodies here below are more or less influenced by those above, as for example tides and changes of weather; and it was held that there was a similar influence upon human bodies, from which light might be got as to the cause and treatment of bodily ailments. Its use in medical practice was still regarded as legitimate.39 Judiciary astrology, on the other hand, was a predictive science. Holding that the whole fortunes and fate of men are determined in advance by the positions of stars and constellations at the hour of birth, it professed to be able by casting one’s horoscope to foretell future events. It was a form of divination, mingled with superstition, appealing to credulity, widely accepted in popular belief, and extensively used by impostors as a means of livelihood. In short, it was fortune-telling by the stars; and it was so deeply involved in gross superstition that the tide of intelligent opinion was now running strongly against it. Dr. Jean Tagault, Dean of the medical faculty, was active in trying to stamp it out, and not long before this date Jean Thibault, the King’s regular physician and astrologer, had been haled before the Parlement or chief judicial court, condemned, and expelled from the medical profession for practicing without license from the faculty.40 It was under such conditions that Servetus’s lectures were delivered.
So long as the lectures were confined to geography, all went well enough; but when they crossed the border into the field of astrology they entered dangerous ground, and complaints arose. Servetus followed his master, Dr. Champier, in holding a firm belief in the value of astrology in the practice of medicine; but it is by no means unlikely that he had also privately engaged in the practice of judiciary astrology as a ready source of income, and that a rumor of this had reached the Dean’s ears. Professional envy that an uppish young student should have attained such popularity by his writings and his lectures may also have been a factor in what followed.41 By late in February, 1538 the medical faculty of the University learned that Servetus had for some time been publicly lecturing in Paris on judiciary astrology.42 Some of the faculty admonished him to cease from this, but he refused; and when several of them remonstrated with him kindly several times, he answered them disrespectfully. Thereupon the Dean, Dr. Tagault, interrupted him one day in the midst of a lecture, peremptorily telling him that the doctors of the faculty had forbidden discussion of the subject either in lectures or in public disputations, and giving reasons for rejecting it as a delusion. The lectures were therefore discontinued. Angered at this public humiliation, Servetus prepared to defend his cause by a written apology, and put it to press. The Dean and two or three of the other doctors quietly advised him not to publish it, as it would cause him trouble. He disregarded their advice, and in the court-yard of the college, before several students and teachers, made violent threats against the Dean. The medical faculty then petitioned the Parlement to forbid publication, and Servetus was ordered to appear in court the next day, but the matter was adjourned from day to day. Meantime the Dean sought the support of the other faculties and of the whole University, which was readily agreed to on March 4. Some of the doctors in their public lectures retaliated against Servetus by saying that he was nothing but a fraud and an impostor. He began to be apprehensive, and sent his friends to try to get the trouble quieted, though he refused to apologize to the faculty. Impatient at the court’s delay they then had Servetus cited before the Inquisitor as if for heresy.43 The latter really had no jurisdiction, but Servetus obeyed the summons, was readily acquitted, and freely boasted that he would win against the Dean and the doctors. Meantime, smarting at the treatment he had received in the public lectures of the professors, and wounded in his honor, he paid the printers extra to hasten the printing of his Apology,44 before publication should be forbidden by the court, and had distributed a large number gratuitously, being aided in this by the King’s astrologer, Jean Thibault, who had already had his own affair with the medical faculty.45
The Apology consists of two parts. In the first and much longer one Servetus appeals to the teaching of ancient authorities of high repute who testified to the influence of the heavenly bodies upon mundane affairs: Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen and others. If modern teachers oppose astrology, then they have departed from the teachings of their acknowledged masters, and shut their eyes to the light. He ridicules them with the names of ape and sophist, and intimates that they are the plague of their profession. As Galen in his day had against his will and in the face of disapproval of his contemporaries discussed astrology when importuned by his friends, so he himself, when already deep in medical studies, has taken up the subject at the insistence of his friends. He has realized the risk he runs, and has counted the cost.46 In the second part he briefly answers the objections that his opponent has offered: first, that astrologers do not tell the truth, since they do not proceed upon fixed and consistent principles, hence that astrology of this sort is not a science; and secondly, that the certain casting of a horoscope is impossible. To these objections he replies that his opponent does not reason logically, and that his objections betray stupid and intolerable ignorance. This Apology was addressed to the attendants at his lectures, which had been interrupted, and was intended to furnish them materials for defence if they should be attacked.
The trial finally took place on March 18, behind closed doors, the University, the medical faculty, and Servetus, being each represented by counsel. It was not, as is sometimes stated, a criminal trial of Servetus for a capital crime, but a hearing on the faculty’s petition that his Apology be not placed on sale.47 The attorney on behalf of the University pleaded that judiciary astrology was contrary to the laws of God and man, as the defendant well knew; that he had taught it publicly and privately in Paris, and had cast horoscopes for money, and had led several scholars astray; and that he had had an Apology printed which contained astrological predictions. It was therefore asked that he be forbidden henceforth to teach judiciary astrology publicly or privately, and to publish his Apology; and that he confess his wrong, and as far as possible withdraw all his printed Apologies and deposit them with the court. The attorney for the faculty set forth that Servetus had rejected their advice kindly given, and though but a student had charged them with incompetence and called them insulting names, and had published his Apology despite their request; and he asked that Servetus make due reparation for the insults he had offered the faculty, and show them due honor and respect. The attorney for the defence acknowledged the mildness of the action taken by the faculty against Servetus, and explained away the offensive passages in the Apology. His students were called to witness that he had never said a word of judiciary astrology, but only of astrology as related to things in Nature. He had published his Apology only in self-defence against scandalous things said of him by some doctors in their lectures, and was willing to submit all that he had said to the judgment of the court and the theological professors, and to stand corrected if found in the wrong. He then retracted all that he had said or written, and promised not to defend judiciary astrology in future.48 Upon recommendation of the Attorney General the court then pronounced judgment. Servetus was to do all in his power to withdraw the Apologies from circulation and deposit them with the court; and to show the faculty and doctors the respect and obedience due to teachers; and to say or write against them nothing abusive or insulting; and to behave peaceably and quietly. The faculty and doctors were also enjoined to treat Servetus gently and kindly, as parents their children. He was forbidden in any way public or private to profess judiciary astrology, but only, if he likes, astrology touching the influence of the heavenly bodies on the weather and other things in Nature; all on pain of exclusion from the University, and further at the discretion of the court. The whole episode does not show Servetus in a very attractive light, but manifests the characteristic faults of his impetuous nature, self-conceit, quickness of temper, and an apparent failure to realize clearly what he was doing and what it might involve. For in the very text of the Apology itself he boasts of having made astrological predictions, in which he shelters himself behind the authority of Galen and Hippocrates. In all the circumstances it is perhaps strange that the faculty did not seek more serious punishment, instead of contenting themselves with such formal discipline as is given to unruly students. For Servetus, however, this was enough, and as nothing further is heard of him in Paris it is likely that he at once left the University for a more congenial field.
If we may credit his testimony at Vienne,49 Servetus after leaving Paris was for some time at Lyon, thence went to Avignon and back to Lyon, and finally to Charlieu, a little town about forty miles northwest of Lyon, where he practiced medicine for some three years.50 Here he lived at the mansion of the noble la Rivoire family,51 with whose members he had had relations at Lyon. But two incidents are reported of his life at Charlieu: that he contemplated marriage with a young woman of the place, but abandoned the idea because he thought himself not physically fit; and that while returning from a professional visit one night he was set upon by friends of another physician who had a grudge against him. A fight ensued in which both sides were wounded, and he was under arrest for two or three days.52 Soon after this (per haps late in 1540)53 he must have left Charlieu, returning to Lyon,54 where he met his sometime Paris auditor, Archbishop Palmier. He was a scholar and lover of letters, who liked to have the society of scholars about him and to show them favor, and in 1541 he had induced Gaspard Trechsel to remove from Lyon and establish his press at Vienne, Sixteen miles south.55 He now urged Servetus also to take up his residence there, and provided him with an apartment in the palace precincts.56 The society here was stimulating, and included several prelates who were eager students of geography, as well as a fellow-student of Servetus at Paris, Dr. Jean Perrell, now the Archbishop’s personal physician.57
Servetus had cordial relations with the Archbishop, with Guy de Maugiron, Lieutenant General of Dauphin and with the aristocracy in general. He engaged in the practice of medicine, and cured of grave illness the only daughter of Antoine de la Court, the Vice-Bailiff and judge; and he showed great devotion to those ill of the plag 1542.58
If the fifty letters might still be discovered that Servetus wrote from Vienne to Dr. Jean St. Vertunien de la Vau, Protestant physician at Poitiers, and which Scaliger saw a generation or two later,59 we might have a clue to what was really passing in the restless mind of Servetus during this period of external calm. For though he had in his first books sharply criticized some of the teachings of the Church, he had never withdrawn from it, and he had recognized its authority,60 while the Reformed churches had decisively repudiated him. In short, he was still nominally a Catholic, albeit a liberal one. He therefore continued to attend the church services regularly, and abstained from religious discussion. At the Geneva trial he confessed that he had sinned in doing this, but said that he had been forced to do so by his fear of death, and he cited the example of St. Paul in similar circumstances as his warrant.61 His reputation was well established, and here he enjoyed twelve happy years.62
Apart from his medical practice, Servetus continued to act as corrector for the press. At about the time of his leaving Charlieu, he had contracted with the Compagnie des Libraires of Lyon to correct and edit a Bible in six volumes and index for a price of 400 livres tournois (about $80.), and the work extended over four years.63 He also corrected another and very rare Latin Bible, printed by Trechsel at Vienne and published in 1542 by de la Porte at Lyon; and for the firm of Frelion, publishers at Lyon, he corrected, inter alia, the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas in Spanish, and prepared summaries for it;64 and he translated from Latin into Spanish several treatises on grammar, of which none has as yet been identified. He also saw through the press at Lyon three revised editions of his book on Syrups, 1546, 1547, 1548.65 But by far his most important work while at Vienne was his editing of revised editions of his Ptolemy and of Pagnini’s Latin Bible. Ever since his previous edition of Ptolemy he had been diligently preparing a more correct one, in which he might use a freer hand than his publisher had formerly allowed him. The Archbishop had pointed out some errors, and his new publisher was willing to spare no expense in bringing out a faultless edition. The work was difficult, had long been needed though never attempted, numberless errors had crept into the text, and the lapse of time, wars, and modern discoveries, had wrought many changes. Servetus therefore made so many betterments as now to offer not merely a revision but practically a new edition. Apart from such corrections and additions as were needed, the most striking changes were by way of removing objectionable passages. The passage about the promised land of Palestine was omitted on account of the offence it had given, and the whole page was left blank. The skeptical reference to cures of scrofula by the royal touch was rewritten to read, ‘I have heard in various places that a great many were cured.’ 66 The captious reference to Germany was softened down. The new work was printed at Vienne by Trechsel, but published at Lyon by de la Porte, with a dedication dated February 28, 1541/2. This edition was much handsomer than the previous one, and was introduced by a graceful and highly flattering dedication to Archbishop Palmier as a friend and patron of letters, an accomplished student of Geography, a wide traveler, and a generous friend of the editor.67
The other work of Servetus’s Vienne period was in connection with a revised edition of Pagnino’s translation of the Bible.68 Sante Pagnino or Pagnini (Santes or Xantes Pagninus), 1470—1541, was a Dominican monk from Lucca, and had been a pupil of Savonarola. He was one of the company of liberal Catholic humanists in a brilliant intellectual circle at Lyon, where Servetus had undoubtedly known him. A very learned Hebraist, he had published a Hebrew lexicon, and an edition of the Koran in Arabic,69 and it was said that he had devoted twenty-five years of his life to making an accurate and scholarly translation of the Bible into Latin, which is said to have been the first Bible with chapter divisions. Such a work was much needed, for the current Vulgate version was known to have been made from a very faulty text, and to be full of errors. Pagnino’s version had been first published at Lyon in 1527/8 (Servetus had often quoted texts from it in his first book on the Trinity), and already republished at Cologne in 1541; for it was highly esteemed by both Protestants and Catholics for its accuracy, especially in its translation from the Hebrew, and it had been recommended by two Popes, Adrian VI. and Clement VII. But when Pagnino died soon after, he left a large mass of notes, and many marginal corrections on a copy of the recent edition, as though he contemplated a further revision. This copy fell into the hands of the enterprising publisher de Ia Porte of Lyon, who seized the opportunity of publishing a new edition thoroughly revised in the light of these notes and corrections; and he engaged Servetus to be the editor.
Servetus wrote for this work a noteworthy preface,70 in which, after urging that one should first learn Hebrew and familiarize himself with Hebrew history before undertaking to read the prophets, he sets forth his view of the interpretation of prophecy. It has, he says, two meanings. The first and literal meaning relates to the events and persons of the writer’s own time, and has often been disregarded. But this also foreshadows the true meaning, which is the spiritual one, relating to the mysteries of Christ prefigured in the ancient history. In brief marginal notes which he here and there added to Pagnino’s translation, Servetus applied this principle and pointed out the original historical meaning, in order that the mystical or spiritual meaning as applied to Christ might be the more clearly understood as the aim of it all; and he says that he has been at great pains to do this. In all this of course there was nothing heretical, unless to those who, overlooking the historical sense, had considered the mystical one to be the only one involved, and the work was at first well received. But the theologians at Louvain ere long scented heresy in it;71 and when the Council of Trent in 1546, despite the verdict of the best scholarship, adopted the Vulgate as the authentic text of Scripture to be accepted and used by the Church, Pagnino’s superior version was doomed to general oblivion.
According to the publisher’s laudatory preface, this edition had been so much changed and enlarged by incorporating the notes of Pagnino as to be practically a new work; but such does not seem to have been the fact, for comparison with the previous edition shows comparatively few changes, and those, being only verbal or stylistic, not important in character.72 Servetus’s actual contribution to the work has been considerably overestimated. In spite of his use of the historical principle in the interpretation of prophecy, it is going too far to herald him as in any serious sense a pioneer of the Higher Criticism two and a half centuries before Eichhorn. Apart from the preface, his woik (which can not always be confidently distinguished from Pagnino’s) concerns passages mostly in the Psalms and those Prophecies that had been interpreted as messianic, which he wished to show had originally a local and historical meaning, though they are also to be understood in a higher and spiritual sense as referring to Christ.73 Calvin, who made these one of the items in his prosecution of Servetus at Geneva, declared that the 500 livres (about $100) that Servetus received for his services was an extravagant charge for a trifling labor.74
The most important result of Servetus’s work as editor of the Pagnino Bible was its effect upon Servetus himself. It may have had much to do with rekindling his interest in the questions of religion which had so deeply occupied him ten years before, but had since seemed to lie dormant. For henceforth we hear no more of his acting as corrector for the press.75 When not occupied in his medical practice he was therefore probably brooding over his old plan of Christianity restored to its original purity and simplicity by freeing it from the traditions of perverse philosophy and misunderstanding of the Bible. The issue of this period of his life was his magnum opus on the Restoration of Christianity, which was in turn to bring him to a tragic and hideous death.
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