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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/310

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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 Marini, which appeared at Venice in 1593, 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 especially 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