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De Moor VIII:21: The Time of Creation, Part 3a

The Question concerning the Season of the Year in which the World was created, which out AUTHOR treats in § 21, is Problematic, concerning which, with faith and friendship unharmed, one may dispute on the one side or on the other, and concerning which something altogether certain will never be able to be demonstrated absolutely.  The great SPANHEIM, Chronologia Sacra, part I, chapter I, column 4:  Nothing will ever be apodictically, and controversial


…and doubtful it will remain, about what is hidden.[1]


Therefore, whether this or the other Hypothesis is assumed, it is hardly of great importance.  Do you desire to know the reason why this Question is ventilated, seeing that hardly anything certain is able to be determined concerning it?  The same SPANHEIM, in the passage cited, column 1, advises, that this Question is governed in general by the one necessity of fixing a certain terminum à quo,[2] in calculating the times and arranging Epochs; namely, in what season of the year did this World begin, and mankind with it?

Now, lest anyone should cavil, that disputation concerning this matter is to no purpose; seeing that it is not able to be Spring or Autumn all over the world at the same time, but that the seasons of the Year vary according to hemispheres and latitudes:  we observe that it is asked concerning that season of the Year, in which the world was created, with respect to that hemisphere and latitude in the East, where Adam was created, which does not differ greatly from ours.  Or rather, as SPANHEIM, in the passage just now cited, proceeds, being about to determine the State of the Question, to which compass point of Heaven, whether the Solstitial or the Equinoctial do you refer the beginning of Solar motion; or in what part of the Zodiac, in which Sign at the beginning of things the Sun was created and placed by God?

To the Solstice, which is Wintry to us, with the Sun having entered the Sign of Capricorn, no one that I know of refers the Creation of the World.  To the Summer Solstice, following certain Ancient Astrologers, GERHARDUS MERCATOR[3] refers it, Methodo Demonstrationis Temporum, chapter I, so that the Sun was created either in Cancer or in Leo.  The arguments of Mercator, who found almost no followers, are evaluated at length by HENRICUS HARVILLÆUS, Isagoges, Period I, Difficulty XI.  At the beginning, he argues from the Branch of the Olive broken off, which the Dove, having been by Noah out of the Ark, returning, brought with it, Genesis 8:11.  That, in comparison with verses 5-8, 10, he posits to have happened on the fifteenth day of the eleventh month:  moreover, he contends that this leaf of the Olive-tree was a tender sprout, and that hence at that time the Olive-tree was first sprouting:  now, both the vine and the Olive-tree in those places sprout when the Sun is in Taurus; but in that year the same happened later, on account of the cold of the earth from the Flood, namely, with the Sun located in Gemini.  Whence Mercator gathers, that the eleventh month in the time of Noah was May:  and, since he supposes the order of months to have been the same, the beginning of the year to have been the same, at the time of the Flood, as from the beginning of Creation; he thinks that it follows that July was the first month after the entrance of the Sun into Leo.  But the Most Illustrious SPANHEIM rightly observed, in the place cited, column 2:  1.  Nothing is found in the text concerning the first sprouting of the Branch, nothing concerning a tender sprout, but concerning a Leaf of Olive broken off.  2.  It is absurd, that, with the waters covering all things just seven days previously, in so brief a time, and with the soil so cold, the Olive Tree put forth leaves anew.  3.  It is also manifest, that the Olive Tree was able to preserve some sort of verdure under the waters, according to its natural fatness, and according to the innate character of the olive, laurel, cypress, palm, ivy, myrtle, citron, and others ever living.

Most pronounce in favor of one or the other Equinox, and, if not in favor of the Equinoctial points exactly, at least for either the Vernal or Autumnal season.  In favor of the Vernal Equinox many Astronomers argue, hence naming Aries first among the heavenly Signs of the Zodiac.  Thus also the Fathers, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen; of the Latins, Ambrose, Leo I,[4] Isidore of Seville,[5] Bede,[6] etc.  Whom follow, among the More Recent Men, Men of the greatest possible name, Calvin, Luther, Melanchthon, Julius Cæsar Scaliger, Genebrard,[7] à Lapide,[8] Salian, James Cappel,[9] Johann Heinrich Alsted,[10] Gerhard Johann Vossius, Edward Simpson,[11] and others not a few:  see TORNIELLUS’[12] Annales Sacros on the sixth day of the World, § XL, pages 45, 46; and CALOVIUS’ Chronicon Biblicum before the Biblia illustrata, Section II, question I, page 61, where, nevertheless, with the Authors that give sentence in favor of the Vernal Equinox he incorrectly numbers Torniellus, whom see in the place cited, § XLI-XLIII, pages 46, 47.

[1] Manilius, Astrologia, book I, line 145.

[2] That is, boundary from which.

[3] Gerhardus Mercator (1512-1594) was a renowned Belgic geographer and cartographer.  Although he was clearly sympathetic to Lutheranism, he never declared himself, but did move from Catholic Leuven to tolerant Duisburg.

[4] Leo the Great (400-461) is esteemed by some as the first Pope.  Leo is noted for increasing the power of the Roman see, single-handedly turning back the invasion of Attila, and, through his famous Tome, providing a resolution to the problem, being adjudicated by the Council of Chalcedon, of the relationship between the two natures of Christ.

[5] Isidore (c. 560-636) was Archbishop of Seville and a bright and shining light of learning in the intellectual darkness of his age.  He presided over the Second Council of Seville (619), which ruled against Arianism, and the Fourth Council of Toledo, which required bishops to establish seminaries in their principal cities.

[6] Bede (c. 672-735), known as the Venerable Bede, was an English monk whose fame rests largely on his ecclesiastical history of England (c. 731).  He wrote many other works, including commentaries on the Pentateuch, Kings, Esdras, Tobias, the Gospels, Acts, and the Catholic Epistles.  His interpretive work is characterized by his commitment to the tradition of the Fathers, and by his use of the allegorical method of interpretation.

[7] Gilbert Genebrard (1535-1597) was a French Benedictine scholar, specializing in Oriental studies.  He served the Roman Church as a professor of Hebrew at the Collège Royal, and later as Archbishop of Aix.  He is especially noteworthy for his commentary on the Psalms and his translation of Rabbinic works into Latin.

[8] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar.  His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome.  Although his commentaries (covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal.  His knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the commentators that preceded him is noteworthy.

[9] James Cappel (1570-1614) was the older brother of Louis Cappel.  He was Professor of Hebrew and Theology at the Academy of Sedan.

[10] Johann Heinrich Alsted (1588-1638), a German Reformed pastor and theologian, labored as Professor of Philosophy and Divinity at Herborn.  The breadth of his learning led to the production of three encyclopedias.

[11] Edward Simpson (1578-1651) was an Anglican churchman and scholar.  He wrote Chronicon Historiam Catholicam complectens.

[12] Augustine Torniellus (1543-1622) was a member of the Society of Barnabites, a Counter-Reformation order.  His work, Annales Sacri et Profani, cleared up many geographical and chronological difficulties and obscurities, especially in the Old Testament.

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