Joseph Knabenbauer SJ (1839–1911) and the Question of Evolutionary Origin of Man

  • Ctirad Václav Pospíšil
Keywords: Evolution, Origin of Man, Darwinism, Theology of Creation, History of Theology, Biblical Exegesis, Old Testament, Book of Genesis


The paper is a part of the research that focuses on the Catholic theologians and biologists between 1871 and 1910 who accepted Mivart’s thesis of the evolutionary origin of the human body, or who, on the contrary, tended to reject it. The paper presents J. Knabenbauer SJ (1839–1911). In the 1930s, Czech theologian J. Miklík asserted that Knabenauer accepted Mivart’s position. Knaben- bauer’s study on evolution is analysed. Already in 1877, Knabenbauer shows, in the first two parts of his work, an openness to the reality of evolutionary origin of species in the fauna and flora. In the third part, he deals with Mivart’s thesis. From the philosophical point of view, Knabenbauer admits the possibility of the creation of human body by way of evolution. From the exegetical point of view, he refuses the reading of Gen 2:7 that considered this verse to be an allusion of the origin of the human body from the animal base. Because of this later view, Miklík’s information is to be considered imprecise. Knnabenbauer’s study contains, though, much relevant information that testi es to the Catholic theology and exegesis of his era.