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690 BOOK REVIEWS Galileo, Bellarmine and the Bible. By RICHARD J. BLACKWELL. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame, 1991. Pp. 272. $29.95 {cloth). Although this well-hound, manageable volume, complete with an artistic seventeenth-century dust jacket, has not received an official ecclesiastical "imprimatur," nevertheless, it is (according to this Dominican reviewer) both free from doctrinal error and filled with true and useful historical, philosophical, and theological information. Seemingly no other case in the history of our western intellectual tradition has generated more controversy, more ill feeling, and more mutual misunderstanding across more lines of intellectual, political, and religious division than the "Galileo affair." Few people today are equipped historically , scientifically, philosophically, and theologically to discuss accurately the wide range of issues surrounding this unfortunate incident. A seasoned veteran of the strong historical, philosophical tradition of the Jesuit-run St. Louis University, and himself an active member of the Roman Catholic Church, Richard J. Blackwell, historian of philosophy and philosopher of science, has done a marvelous service to the academic community hy presenting us with this volume. In this well-researched, well-argued, and very readable manuscript, Blackwell helps to place Galileo's intellectual and ecclesiastical struggle within the broader historical, philosophical, religious, and theological context of rthe late 16th and early 17th centuries. Quoting the words of Olaf Pedersen, Blackwell considers the Galileo affair " not only as an episode in the history of science, but also as an important event in the history of theology" {p. 3). His principal purpose in writing this book is " to study the Galileo affair from this perspective " and, in particular, to understand "the role played by the Bible in the Galileo affair" (p. 3). Without attempting to praise, to blame, or to excuse, Blackwell sets out to understand precisely how it was that the historical, religious, and theological factors came to have such a profound effect on the scientific and philosophical questions of Galileo's time. He argues convincingly that the Roman insistence on upholding the traditional interpretation of certain key biblical passages can he understood adequately only within the historical and religious climate of postTridentine theology, Jesuit obedience, and strict adherence to the Thomistic synthesis of philosophy and theology. Toward this end, Blackwell brings together for the first time certain important texts, concepts , and historical arguments that help to alleviate some of the " murkiness " blurring our view of the Galileo affair, and help to make that incident more intelligible to our modern minds. BOOK REVIEWS 691 Blackwell argues that the Roman hierarchy was not so much concerned with the content of the new astronomy as it was determined to reassert itself as the authentic interpreter of Scripture and tradition. According to Blackwell, the new astronomy challenged not only the philosophy of Aristotle and the theology of Thomas Aquinas, but, perhaps more importantly, it challenged the ecclesiastical authority of the Roman hierarchy in its role as interpreter and teacher of the Apostolic faith. How could the new astronomy be anything but a hypothetical model, when it so clearly contradicted the words of Scripture as inĀ· terpreted by the Church Fathers? How could mere mathematicians and astronomers insist on philosophical propositions that seemed to make the Bible false? No single individual was invested with the authority to interpret the Bible for the whole body of believers, as the Church had so painfully learned from the lessons of the Protestant Reformers. That authority lay solely with the "Church," that is, with the Roman hierarchy, the Pope in union with a council, as was clear from the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent. Moreover, strict obedience was the order of the day as many Jesuit thinkers so agonizingly came to realize. Blackwell divides his own text into seven chapters: (1) Trent and Beyond; (2) Bellarmine's Views Before the Galileo Affair; (3) GaliĀ· leo's Detour into Biblical Exegesis; (4) Foscarini's Bombshell; (5) The Bible at Galileo's Trial (6) The Jesuit Dilemma: Truth or Obedience ; and (7) Reflections on Truth in Science and in Religion. In the first two chapters, he establishes a context for the Galileo affair by discussing :the theological interpretation and importance of the Council of Trent...


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