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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Naphtali Lewy1   14 May 1878

29 Baker’s Row | Whitechapel | London E.

Sr Hochwohlgeboren | dem Weltberühmten Naturforscher | Charles Darwin

Noch im Jahre 1876 im Monate April hatte ich die Ehre von Er. Hochwohlg. Briefe zu empfangen (in Radom in Polen); nun soll es mich freuen, wenn nachstehender Artikel auch Beifall finde, und Er. Hochwohlg. mit einer Antwort mich zu beehren geruhe.2 Ich gedenke immer ein fassungsreiches Buch über Ihre Theorie in Betreff der Mosaischen Verfassung zu schreiben und eben dieser vorliegender Artikel ist ein Beitrag zu demselben,

“In meinem Werke “Toldot-Adam” (die Abs. des. Mensch.) Wien 1875., habe bewiesen dass die biblische Schöpfungsgeschichte ganz nach der Darwinischen Theorie erklährt und comentirt werden kann, und die Ursprache eignet sich sehr der Transmutationstheorie im Ausdruck und Inhalt.3 Nun wollen wir jetze versuchen im Urtext in Betreff d. Bastardbildung was die Wissenschaft behauptet, dasselbe dort zu finden, und zu beweisen dass die Darwinische Lehre eigentlich uns den Schlüssel gibt zur Biblischen-Geheim Verfassung—

Wollen wir die Haupt-Momente d. Dar. L. hervor heben. In der Abstammung Cap. 9 Bastardbildung heisst es:

1) der frühe Tod der Bastardembryone tritt wahrscheinlich in gleicher Weise bei Pflanzen ein; wenigstens ist es bekannt dass von sehr verschiedenen Arten erzogene Bastarde zuweilen schwach und zwerghaft sind ung jung zu Grunde gehen—.4

2) daselbst: In beiden Fällen kommt die Unfruchtbarkeit in vielerlei vor:5

3) das   die obige Ansicht dass die Sterilität der Bastarde durch das Vermischen zweier Constitutionen zu einer verursacht sei, ist vor kurzem sehr entschieden v. Max Wichura vertreten worden.6

Was die Wissenschaft “Bastard” nennt, das will die Bibel mit dem “unehlichen Kind” bezeichnen; sie heisst es “eine schändliche vermischung תֶּבֶל III Buch Moses Cap 20 V12)7 oder besser für das Vermischen zweier Arten gibt sie den Ausdruck le_rivoh לְרִבְעָה (ibid. Ve. 16)8 und jedes Abkömmling von Blutsverwandeten Eltern welche ihre Blösse aufdecken, das heisst sie “Bastard” (d. Cap 18. Ve 6)9 Nun wollen wir lesen was die Bibel über solche, “Unzucht” verhängt: es heisst (ibid Cap 18. Vers 24) “Vermischt euch nicht (das die Grundbedeutung im Hebrai: von תְמַמְאוּ) mit diesen— —das Land hat sich vermischt und deshalb hat es die Bewohner ausgespieen”—10

Ist etwa hier nich gesagt “dass von verschiedenen Arten erzogene Bastarde schwach, zwerghaft und jung zu Grunde gehen? ist etwa nicht das Ausspeien des Landes, der frühe Tod der Bastardembryone”— ? lesen wir nicht deutlich (das. Cap 20. V. 21) “Wer die Blösse aufgedeckt die werden Kinderlos sterben”11 ist etwa mehr da Geheimnis als die Natur-Lehre nach Darwin? Verhängt nicht die Bibel dasselbe was die Wissenschaft heimsucht? “in beiden Fällen kommt die Unfruchtbarkeit”—? (v das Vers 25)12 Liegt nicht etwa in der Warnung d. Bibel “Ihr müsst Arten von Arten unterscheiden”, was die Wissenschaft droht der “Vermischung”?—

Sagt uns nicht deutlich die Bibel was der Darwinismus uns lehrt? (V. Buch Mos. 28. Ver. II) dass die Sterilität der Bastarde durch das Vermischen zweier Constitutionen zu einer verursacht sei?13 Und eben diesen Fluch spricht aus die Bibel “Mangel an Leibesfrucht u.s.w. und den “Wahnsinn” an Blutsverwandeten Abkömmlinge (c 29. v. 62)14 ist gewiss zu bestätigen mit Darwin’s Theorie!!!.

Wer den Darwinismus anerkennen will, glaube ich, der kan bei dem mosaischen Verfassungen recht getrost bleiben, und zwar noch mit Licht und Wahrheit mehr darin forschen—

Es soll mein grösstes Vergnügen sein wenn Er. Hochwohlg. mit Gunst meine Ansicht anerkenne, und mich wissen lasse (laut obenstehende Adresse) seinen Wohlwollen

Ich habe die Ehre Er Hochwohlg | ganz ergebenster und | gehorsamster Diener | zu zeichnen | Naphtali Lewÿ

29 Bakers Row | Whitechapl London E. | Den 14 Mai 1878—

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
CD’s letter has not been found, but see Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Naphtali Lewy, [26 March – 24 April 1876].
CD’s copy of Lewy’s essay was later lost (ML 1: 365). It was published both in a periodical (Lewy 1874), and in book form (Lewy 1875). Lewy’s thesis is discussed in Colp and Kohn 1996, pp. 1721–4.
Lewy quotes from the German translation of Origin 6th ed. (Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 345; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 249).
See Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 346; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 250.
See Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 347; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 251.
In the German translation of the Bible made by Martin Luther, the first five books are referred to as I to V Mose (Moses); III Mose is Leviticus and V Mose is Deuteronomy. Lewy did not use Luther’s German translation, but seems to be translating directly from the Hebrew. Lev. 20:12: in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.’
Le-rivoh (לְרִבְעָה) means ‘to copulate’. Lev. 20:16 in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.’
In German, Bastard can also be translated ‘hybrid’. Lev. 20:6 in the King James translation reads, ‘And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.’
Lev. 18:25 in the King James translation reads, ‘And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.’
Lev. 20:21 in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.’
Lev. 20:25 in the King James translation reads, ‘Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.’
Deut. 28:2 in the King James translation reads, ‘And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.’
Deut. 28:62 (there is no verse 62 in Deut. 29) in the King James translation reads, ‘And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.’

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Kohn, David. 1996. The aesthetic construction of Darwin’s theory. In The elusive synthesis: aesthetics and science, edited by A. I. Tauber. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lewy, Naphtali. 1874. Toldot adam. Ha-Shahar 6: 3–60.

Lewy, Naphtali. 1875. Toldot adam. Vienna: n.p.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Translation

From Naphtali Lewy1   14 May 1878

29 Baker’s Row | Whitechapel | London E.

Yr Honour | the world-famous scientist | Charles Darwin

Already in the year 1876 in the month of April I had the honour of receiving a letter from Yr Hon. (in Radom in Poland); now I would be pleased if the following argument also met with your approval, and if Yr Hon. would deign to honour me with a reply.2 I have always been meaning to write a comprehensive work about your theory in regard to Mosaic Law and the argument in question is a contribution to the same.

“In my work “Toldot-Adam” (the desc. of man) Vienna 1875., I have demonstrated that the biblical history of creation can be explained and commented on in the light of the Darwinian theory, and that the original language is well suited to the theory of transmutation in expression and content.3 So, we now want to try to find in the original text the very same as what science claims regarding hybridisation, and to show that the Darwinian theory in fact provides us with the key to the secret biblical law—

Let us review the main features of Darwinian theory. In the Origin chap. 9 Hybridism it says:

1) With plants, hybridised embryos probably often perish in a like manner; at least it is known that hybrids raised from very distinct species are sometimes weak and dwarfed, and perish at an early age—.4

2) ibid.: in both cases the sterility occurs in various degrees:5

3) ibid   The above view of the sterility of hybrids being caused by two constitutions compounded into one has been strongly maintained by Max Wichura.6

What science calls a “hybrid”, the Bible refers to as an “illegitimate child”; it calls this “A Shameful Hybridism” תֶּבֶל (III Book of Moses Chap 20 V12)7 or better even for mixing two kinds it offers the expression le _rivoh לְרִבְעָה (ibid. Ve. 16)8 and every offspring of consanguineous parents it calls “bastard” (ibid. Chap 18. Ve 6)9 Now let us see what punishment the Bible inflicts on such “obscenities”: it says (ibid Chap 18. Verse 24) “Mix not ye (this is the original meaning in Hebrew of תְמַמְאוּ) yourselves with any of these things— the land has mixed itself and therefore vomiteth out her inhabitants”—10

Does this not mean the same as “that hybrids from distinct species are weak and dwarfed, and perish at an early age? Isn’t the vomiting out of the land the perishing at an early age of the hybridised embryos”—? don’t we read clearly (ibid. Chap. 20 V. 21), “Who has uncovered nakedness, they shall die childless”11   is this more mysterious than what Darwin teaches on nature? Does not the Bible inflict the same punishment as that pronounced by science? “In both cases sterility is the outcome”—? (v ibid Vers 25)12 Isn’t the warning from the Bible “You must keep kinds apart” the same as what science warns will happen through “hybridisation”?—

Doesn’t the Bible tell us clearly the same as Darwinism teaches us? (V. Book of Mos. 28. Ver. II) that the sterility of hybrids is caused by compounding two constitutions into one?13 And the very curse the Bible pronounces, “lack of offspring etc and “madness” of consanguineous offspring (c 29. v. 62)14 surely confirms Darwin’s theory!!!.

He who wants to recognise Darwinism can in my opinion stick with the Mosaic Law, can even inquire into it more deeply with light and truth.—

It would be a very great pleasure for me if Yr Honour would acknowledge with favour my opinion, and assure me (at the above address) of his goodwill

I have the honour Yr Hon’s | wholly devoted and | most obedient servant | to sign | Naphtali Lewÿ

29 Bakers Row | Whtechapel London E. | On 14 May 1878—

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see pp. QQQQ.
CD’s letter has not been found, but see Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Naphtali Lewy, [26 March – 24 April 1876].
CD’s copy of Lewy’s essay was later lost (ML 1: 365). It was published both in a periodical (Lewy 1874), and in book form (Lewy 1875). Lewy’s thesis is discussed in Colp and Kohn 1996, pp. 1721–4.
Lewy quotes from the German translation of Origin 6th ed. (Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 345; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 249).
See Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 346; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 250.
See Bronn and Carus trans. 1876, p. 347; see also Origin 6th ed., p. 251.
In the German translation of the Bible made by Martin Luther, the first five books are referred to as I to V Mose (Moses); III Mose is Leviticus and V Mose is Deuteronomy. Lewy did not use Luther’s German translation, but seems to be translating directly from the Hebrew. Lev. 20:12: in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.’
Le-rivoh (לְרִבְעָה) means ‘to copulate’. Lev. 20:16 in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.’
In German, Bastard can also be translated ‘hybrid’. Lev. 20:6 in the King James translation reads, ‘And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.’
Lev. 18:25 in the King James translation reads, ‘And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.’
Lev. 20:21 in the King James translation reads, ‘And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.’
Lev. 20:25 in the King James translation reads, ‘Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.’
Deut. 28:2 in the King James translation reads, ‘And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.’
Deut. 28:62 (there is no verse 62 in Deut. 29) in the King James translation reads, ‘And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.’

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Kohn, David. 1996. The aesthetic construction of Darwin’s theory. In The elusive synthesis: aesthetics and science, edited by A. I. Tauber. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lewy, Naphtali. 1874. Toldot adam. Ha-Shahar 6: 3–60.

Lewy, Naphtali. 1875. Toldot adam. Vienna: n.p.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Summary

Believes that weakness of hybrids explains Biblical injunctions against improper unions.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-11509
From
Naphtali Lewy (Halevi)
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Whitechapel
Source of text
DAR 201: 21
Physical description
3pp (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11509,” accessed on 5 March 2021, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-11509.xml

letter