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Some of the supposed inaccuracies of Luke vanish when careful investigation is made. Some of his natural history details, for instance, have been impugned and the story of the viper that'' fastened '' itself upon St. Paul in Malta has been cited as an example of a story that would not have been told in that way by a man who knew medicine and the related sciences in Luke's time. Because the passage illustrates a number of phases of the discussion with regard to Luke's language I make a rather long quotation from Ramsay:

Take as a specimen with which to finish off this paper the passage Acts xxviii, 9 et seq., which is very fully discussed by Harnack twice. He argues that the true meaning of the passage was not understood until medical language was compared, when it was shown that the Greek word by which the act of the viper to Paul's hand is described, implies "bit" and not merely "fastened upon." But it is a well-assured fact that the viper, a poisonous snake, only strikes, fixes the poison fangs on the flesh for a moment, and withdraws its head instantly. Its action could never be what is attributed by Luke the eye witness to this Maltese viper; that it hung from Paul's hand and was shaken off into the fire by him. On the other hand, constrictors, which have no poison fangs, cling in the way described, but as a rule do not bite. Are we, then, to understand in spite of the medical style and the authority of Professor Blass (who translates "momordit" in his edition), that the viper fastened upon the apostle's hand? Then, the very name viper is a difficulty. Was Luke mistaken about the kind of snake which he saw? A trained medical man in ancient times was usually a good authority about serpents, to which great respect was paid in ancient medicine and custom.

Mere verbal study is here utterly at fault. We can make no progress without turning to the realities and facts of Maltese natural history. A correspondent obligingly informed me some years ago that Mr. Bryan Hook, of Farnham, Surrey (who, my correspondent assures me, is a thoroughly good naturalist), had found in Malta a small snake, Coronella austriaca, which is rare in England, but common in many parts of Europe. It is a constrictor, without poison fangs, which would cling to the hand or arm as Luke describes. It is similar in size to the viper, and so like in markings and general appearance that Mr. Hook, when he caught his specimen, thought he was killing a viper.

My friend, Prof. J. W. H. Trail, of Aberdeen, whom I consulted, replied that Coronella Ivevis or austriaca, is known in Sicily and the adjoining islands; but he can find no evidence of its existence in Malta. It is known to be rather irritable, and to fix its small teeth so firmly into the human skin as to need a little force to pull it off, though the teeth are too short to do any real injury to the skin. Coronella is at a glance very much like a viper; and in the flames it would not be closely .examined. While it is not reported as found in Malta except by Mr. Hook, two species are known there belonging to the same family and having similar habits {leopardinus and zamenis (or coluber) gemonensis). The coloring of Coronella leopardinus would be the most likely to suggest a viper.

The observations justify Luke entirely. We have here a snake so closely resembling a viper as to be taken for one by a good naturalist until he had caught and examined a specimen. It clings, and yet it also bites without doing harm. That the Maltese rustics should mistake this harmless snake for a venomous one is not strange. Many uneducated people have the idea that all snakes are poisonous in varying degrees, just as the vulgar often firmly believe that toads are poisonous. Every detail as related by Luke is natural, and in accordance with the facts of the country.

In a word, then, the whole question as to Luke's authority as a writer, as an eye-witness of many things, and as the relator of many others with regard to which he had obtained the testimony of eye-witnesses is fully vindicated. Twenty years ago many scholars were prone to doubt this whole question. Ten years ago most of them were convinced that the Luke traditions were not justified by recent investigation. Now we have come back once more to the complete acceptance of the old traditions.

Perhaps the most unfortunate characteristic of much nineteenth-century criticism in all departments, even those strictly scientific, was the marked tendency to reject previous opinions for new ones. Somehow men felt themselves so far ahead of oldtime writers and thinkers that they concluded they must hold opinions different from their ancestors. In nearly every case the new ideas that they evolved by supposedly newer methods are not standing the test of time and further study. There had been a continuous belief in men's minds, having its basis very probably on a passage in one of St. Peter's Epistles, that the earth would dissolve by fire. This was openly contradicted all during the nineteenth century and the time when the earth would freeze up definitely calculated by our mathematicians. Now after having studied radioactivity and learned from the physicist that the earth is heating up and will eventually get too hot for life, we calmly go back to the old Petrine declaration. Some of the most distinguished of the German biologists of the present day, such men as Driesch and others, calmly tell us that the edifice erected by Darwin will have to come down because of newly discovered evidence, and indeed some of them go so far as to declare that Darwinism was a crude hypothesis very superficial in its philosophical aspects and therefore acceptable to a great many people who, because it was easy to understand and was very different from what our fathers had believed, hastened to accept it. Nothing shows the necessity for being conservative in the matter of new views in science or ethics or religion more than the curious transition state in which we are with regard to many opinions at the present time, with a distinct tendency toward reaction to older views that a few years ago were thought quite untenable. We are rather proud of the advance that we are supposed to be making along many lines in science and scholarship, and yet over and over again, after years of work, we prove to have been following a wrong lead and must come back to where we started. This has been the way of man from the beginning and doubtless will continue. The present generation are having this curious regression that follows supposed progress strongly emphasized for them.



With the growth of interest in science and in nature study in our own day, one of the expressions that is probably oftenest heard is surprise that the men of preceding generations and especially university men did not occupy themselves more with the world around them and with the phenomena that are so tempting to curiosity. Science is usually supposed to be comparatively new and nature study only a few generations old. Men are supposed to have been so much interested in book knowledge and in speculations and theories of many kinds, that they neglected the realities of life around them while spinning fine webs of theory. Previous generations, of course, have indulged in theory, but then our own generation is not entirely free from that amusing occupation. Nothing could well be less true, however, than that the men of preceding generations were not interested in science even in the sense of physical science, or that nature study is new, or that men were not curious and did not try to find out all they could about the phenomena of the world around them.

The medieval universities and the school-men who taught in them have been particularly blamed for their failure to occupy themselves with realities instead of with speculation. We are coming to recognize their wonderful zeal for education, the large numbers of students they attracted, the enthusiasm of their students, since they made so many handwritten copies of the books of their masters, the devotion of the teachers themselves, who wrote at much greater length than do our professors even now and on the most abstruse subjects, so that it is all the more surprising to think they should have neglected science. The thought of our generation in the matter, however, is founded entirely on an assumption. Those who know anything about the writers of the Middle Ages at first hand are not likely to think of them as neglectful of science even in our sense of the term. Those who know them at second hand are, however, very sure in the matter. The assumption is due to the neglect of history that came in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We have many other similar assumptions because of the neglect of many phases of mental development and applied science at this time. For instance, most of us are very proud of our modern hospital development and think of this as a great humanitarian evolution of applied medical science. We are very likely to think that this is the first time in the world's history that the building of hospitals has been brought to such a climax of development, and that the houses for the ailing in the olden time were mere refuges, prone to become death traps and at most makeshifts for the solution of the problem of the care of the ailing poor. This is true for the hospitals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it is not true at all for the hospitals of the thirteenth and fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Miss Nutting and Miss Dock in their " History of Nursing "l have called attention to the fact that the lowest period in hospital development is during the

1 The material for this chapter was gathered for a paper read before the Medical Improvement Society of Boston in the spring of 1911. In nearly its present form it was published in The Popular SeUntt Monthly for May, 1911. and thanks are returned to the editor of that magazine for permission to reprint it here. The additions that have been made refer particularly to the estimation of Aristotle in the Middle Ages.

•New York, Putnam, 1908,

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