January 19, 2012

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 1, Volume 16, Records

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), in addition to being an important scientist and mathematician, was an accomplished instrument maker, who in 1597 invented a military compass to assist in artillery bombardments and other military activities. While occupying the chair in mathematics at the University of Padua, Galileo established a workshop where, assisted by the mechanic Marcantonio Mazzoleni, he built precision instruments, above all compasses, which he then sold to supplement his university stipend. This document contains the list of accounts for the workshop. Recorded are the debits and credits of the shop, along with brief notes and comments, all in Galileo’s own hand.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 4: Astronomical Works, that is, all that Appertains to the Copernican System, and to the Project on Longitudes, Volume 1, Astronomy

This codex contains important manuscripts in which Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) defended the Copernican theory that the Earth moves around the sun, which he had confirmed by observation with the telescope he had designed, which offered greatly enhanced magnification compared to older telescopes. The principal documents in the volume are letters, dating from 1614-15, to his friend and student Benedetto Castelli, to the Jesuit priest Piero Dini, and to the grand duchess of Tuscany, Christina of Lorraine. In each of these letters, Galileo discussed the relationship between scientific theory and the Bible. He argued that neither the Bible nor nature could speak falsely, but that theologians should not interfere in purely scientific questions. In his letter to Castelli, Galileo demonstrated his approach to scripture by arguing that the Bible was not intended to be an exact description of reality but was conceived as moral teaching. He also held that the ancient texts of the Bible attributed many anthropomorphic characteristics to the divinity. Proceeding from this basis, Galileo argued that the famous passage in the Bible in which Joshua asked God to stop the sun in order to prolong the day represented a metaphorical rather than a literal truth.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 1, Volume 13, Familiar Correspondence: Letters from Women to Galileo Galilei

This codex contains letters to the Italian scientist, philosopher, and mathematician Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), including those written by his daughter Virginia, a nun in the convent of San Matteo in Arcetri, who had taken the name Sister Maria Celeste. From 1623 to 1633, Virginia faithfully wrote to her father, and her letters are a touching testimony of filial love. In 1633, Galileo was convicted of heresy for arguing the Copernican view that the Earth moves around the sun and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was commuted to life-long house arrest, and in 1634 he was sent to his villa in Arcetri, where he could be near Virginia. By then he was ill and losing his sight. Virginia cared for him, but she died a few months after his arrival in Arcetri. For a time he lost all interest in life, but he eventually returned to his work, completing his last book, Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze (Discourses and mathematical demonstrations relating to two new sciences), in 1638.

January 20, 2012

Tanganyika: Eleven Years in Central Africa

This book is an account of the Central African Mission of 1877–88 to Ujiji by Edward C. Hore, a British master mariner who was one of the six original members of the mission. In 1876-77 the London Missionary Society decided to establish the mission, which left Zanzibar for Ujiji on July 21, 1877. Ujiji is a town in the eastern part of present-day Tanzania, but also the designation for the surrounding region, defined by Hore as “a large tribal territory, bordered west and south by the Tanganyika Lake, north by Urundi, and east by Uhha and the River Ruiche, and occupying a gap in the mountain barrier of the lake, as well as a part of the elevated country itself.” After a very difficult trip across Central Africa in ox-drawn wagons, the party finally arrived at its destination on August 23, 1878. In addition to an account of the mission’s work, the book contains a wealth of information about the geography, geology, hydrology, and flora and fauna of the region. Hore, a keen and sympathetic observer of the peoples he encountered, noted that the African tribes were all, “by providential arrangement, a law of natural selection, or some other powerful influence,” exceptionally well adapted to their environments.

Georgian and Italian Dictionary

Published in Rome in 1629, this Georgian-Italian dictionary was the first book printed in Georgian using moveable type. The dictionary was compiled by an Italian, Stefano Paolini, with the assistance of Niceforo Irbachi Giorgiano, the Georgian ambassador in Rome. It contains 3084 words, printed in three columns: Georgian words in the left column; Italian transliterations (with accents marked) in the middle column; and an explanation of the meaning of each word, in Italian, in the right column. The Georgian alphabet and the Latin equivalents of each of its letters appear on pages 1–2. The dictionary was published by the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, which was established in Rome in the early 17th century for the purpose of spreading Catholicism in non-Catholic countries. Beginning in 1628, the congregation sent missionaries to Georgia, and the dictionary was intended for use by missionaries who needed to learn Georgian. Christianity began its spread into Georgia in the early centuries of the first millennium AD; the resulting Georgian Orthodox Church, founded in the fourth century AD, has been in communion with the Orthodox Churches since the first decade of the 7th century, but has never been subject to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

In Uganda for Christ: The Life Story of the Rev. John Samuel Callis B.A., of the Church Missionary Society

In Uganda for Christ is a biography of the Reverend John Samuel Callis (1870–97), an early Christian missionary to Uganda. Callis was born in England and graduated from Saint Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Moved by the death of his eldest sister, he decided to dedicate his life to the church. After studying theology and working among the poor in London, he was ordained an Anglican priest on May 28, 1893. He served three years as curate outside London and then offered himself to the Church Missionary Society for the Uganda Mission. He departed for Africa on September 3, 1896, and arrived in Frere Town (near present-day Mombasa, Kenya) on October 1. After an 11-week journey inland, Callis arrived at Mengo, near Kampala. He went on to serve in Toro, some 322 kilometers further inland, at that time the Church Missionary Society’s most distant mission from the coast. The book recounts Callis’s work and his friendship with David (Daudi) Kasagama of Toro, who reigned as Omukama (king) Kyebambe VI from 1891 until his death in 1928, and who became a Christian in March 1896. After only three months in Uganda, however, Callis contracted a fever and died on April 24, 1897. The book includes photographs and information about the Batoro, the Bantu-speaking people of Toro, one of four traditional kingdoms located in the territory of present-day Uganda.