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"Not In The Language Of Astronomers": Isaac Newton, The Scriptures, And The Hermeneutics Of Accommodation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests why Isaac Newton thought it important to include a statement on the interpretation of the Scriptures in his Principia, a work viewed by most as being exclusively devoted to mathematical physics. It begins with an outline of some general principles of scriptural hermeneutics found in Newton?s writings. The chapter discusses Newton?s strategies for interpreting both the Genesis Creation and other scriptural texts that speak about the natural and physical worlds. Particular attention is given to Newton?s deployment of the hermeneutics of accommodation in his interpretation of scriptural passages describing astronomical phenomena and his reconciliation of the Bible with the new knowledge coming from natural philosophy. The chapter shows how Newton?s use of accommodation relates to views he held privately about a fundamental distinction between the abilities of the wise on the one hand and the common people on the other.

Keywords: accommodation; Bible; Genesis Creation; hermeneutics; Isaac Newton; mathematical physics



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