Who Really Discovered the Wheel?
A newly published work, entitled On Discovery, Polydore Vergil [1470-1555], the Italian humanist, garners information from dozens of Greek, Roman, Biblical and Patristic authorities to make the point that many Greek and Roman claims for discovery were false. He shows that ancient Jews or other Asian people were the real pioneers and inventors.1 It’s no surprise that firsts in theology, philosophy, science, literature, law and other fields almost undoubtedly received their impetus from the mind of God. Critical humanism, attempting to ascribe undue glory to ancient favorites, has found a glitch.
Urnammu of Ur [2060-2043 BC] revolted against his suzerain Utukhegal, founded a new Sumerian dynasty and wrote what is, perhaps, the oldest legal code. It was a forerunner of the great Code of Hammurapi.2 It is obvious to the Christian that the idea of codifying law and the procedure of declaring law in treaty form is copied from the Scriptures authored by Moses the Hebrew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
When our Lord spoke to Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus His basic outline was to begin with Moses and explain to them all the Scriptures and things concerning Himself.3 Christ is the focal point of history. The early revelations from God would naturally provide the stimulation for every kind of thought and reflection.
Plagiarism, copyright infringement and other forms of idea-theft are common. Even the Bible has had its many imitators. The Apocryphal books and gospels form a considerable body of bogus material. The Quran is a sloppy counterfeit of the Old Testament. Man desires to be first and to get the credit. Mankind expresses his prejudice in trying to award his early favorites the literary, architectural and engineering honors. It’s appropriate that moderns learn that their favorite heroes, the Greeks and Romans, stole much from earlier civilizations
Rev. Dale K. Dykema
- On Discovery, Polydore Vergil, Edited and translated by Brian P. Copenhaver, The I Tatti Renaissance Library, J.Hankins, General Ed., Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge MA 2002.
- Encyclopedia of World Hist., William Langer, Compiler and Editor, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1972, p.30-31.
- Luke 24:27. The passage, vss. 13-32, sets forth the concept that the entire history of the world is explained in the Person of Jesus Christ. Certainly the law of God, in all of its categories, lays down the original pattern for all temporal kings, judges, philosophers and teachers.