Article ID: CBB117312428

Galileo and the Case of Psalm 19 (2018)


The Inquisition's sentence against Galileo's heliocentrism as contrary to Scripture poses a fundamental question. Was the claim factual that the Church's traditional interpretation of Scripture opposed heliocentrism? This article researches the unexamined evidence from hundreds of authoritative citations of Psalm 19:5-6, the alleged proof text against heliocentrism. It documents that the exegetical and liturgical traditions consistently interpreted those verses as allegorical about Jesus not literal about the sun. The doctrine at issue was the Incarnation. Opposition to heliocentrism was an idiosyncrasy, prominently of Roberto Bellarmino, who claimed a universal literal exegesis of Psalm 19:5-6 as solar movement. Galileo countered with his own literal exegesis. Neither literalism was Church tradition, which was neither geocentric nor heliocentric but Christocentric. Moreover, the Hebrew of Psalm 19:5-6 was merism, a Semitic figure for totality by polarized opposites. The Inquisition's sentence repeated Bellarmino's from east to west, although heliocentrism was not traditionally contrary to Scripture.

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Authors & Contributors
Clizia Carminati
Anatrini, Leonardo
Bucciarelli, Lucia
Andersen, Peter
Varanini, Laura Simoni
Ago, Renata
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
History of Science
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Science and religion
Galilei, Galileo
Bruno, Giordano
Brahe, Tycho
Campanella, Tommaso
Riccioli, Giovanni Battista
Kepler, Johannes
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
18th century
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome)

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