Biblical Account of the Creation and Challenges of the Natural Sciences in the Work of Franz von Hummelauer (1842-1914)

  • Ctirad Václav Pospíšil


The paper is a part of research focused on Catholic theologians and biologists who, in the years 1871–1910, in agreement with the so-called Mivart’s theory, accepted the evolutionary origin of the human body, or did not reject it. It presents the life and work of Franz von Hummelauer, S.J., a Catholic biblical scholar. Three of his writings, dedicated to the problematics of the exegesis of the biblical account of the Creation, are identified. Hummelauer shows a constant respect for the merits of the natural sciences, and there is no trace of fundamentalism in his work. From 1877, he did not cease to accept the contributions of astronomy, and he shows a great openness to the possibility of the evolutional origin of species both in fauna and flora. Although he strictly rejected the hypothesis of the evolutional origin of the human body in 1877, in 1895, he shows much more prudence regarding Mivart’s thesis. If it were possible to exclude the dualism of the instant animation of the body of the first man that came by means of the evolution, the evolutionary origin of the human body would not contradict the biblical account. In his last work on this topic from 1898, Hummelauer constantly shows that the biblical account of the creation has an unequivocal religious informative value and it would be a mistake to search there for statements that would be relevant to the natural sciences.