Pope Sylvester II was Pope from 999 to 1003, thus making him officially "Orthodox". Known as the "Scientist Pope", he is the subject of a new book
Pope Sylvester II (999-1003) was known as "the Scientist Pope." Born Gerbert of Aurillac, he rose from peasant beginnings to the pinnacle of the Christian church "on account of his incomparable scientific knowledge" -- not in spite of it. Such is the testimony of men who knew him and wrote during, or right after, his lifetime. They call him "acutely intelligent" and "deeply learned in the study of the liberal arts." He was the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day.
When Gerbert showed an aptitude for mathematics, his abbot sent him south to Spain. He spent three years near Barcelona, whose Christian count had signed a treaty with the Muslim caliph of Cordoba in 940. For more than 35 years, the Muslim and Christian kingdoms of Spain were at peace. Trade and scientific exchanges flourished.
Gerbert was a professor at the cathedral school in Reims, France, for most of his career. He is the first Christian known to teach math using the nine Arabic numerals and zero -- although he called them Hindu numerals, as did his Arabic sources. Using these new numerals, Gerbert devised an abacus, or counting board, that mimics the algorithms we use today for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. It has been called the first computer. In a chronology of computer history, Gerbert's abacus is one of only four innovations mentioned between 3000 B.C. and the invention of the slide rule in 1622.
Just before the First Crusade in 1096 redefined the relationship between the Christian and Muslim worlds, Gerbert was posthumously branded a sorceror and devil-worshipper. Instead of the Scientist Pope, he became known as the Magician Pope. The interests of the Church had changed. Science had lost its central place. Much of what Pope Sylvester II had known and taught would be forgotten for hundreds of years.
The Vatican tried to rehabilitate the Magician Pope in 1602. "Gerbert was nothing but a learned man who was ahead of his time," wrote Cardinal Baronius, the Vatican librarian. "Those who want to efface his name from the catalogue of popes are ignorant fools."
In 1999 Pope John Paul II summed up the official church position. Gerbert, he wrote, was "a learned humanist and wise philosopher, a true promoter of culture ... He reminds us that intelligence is a marvellous gift from the Creator."
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 06:39:56 PM by Jetavan »
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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