lunedì 20 luglio 2009

Montesquieu, Lettre CXXXIV

Yesterday I returned to the same library, and met a man very different from him whom I had seen the first time. His manner was simple, his countenance intelligent, and his address most courteous. As soon as he understood my desire, he set himself to satisfy it, and even, as I was a stranger, to instruct me.
- “Good father,” said I, “what are those large volumes which fill all that side of the library?”
- “These,” said he, “are interpretations of the Scriptures.”
- “What a quantity there are!” rejoined I; “the Scriptures must have been very obscure formerly, and cannot fail to be very obvious now. Do any doubts remain? Are there any points left in dispute?”
- “Any, good heavens! any!” cried he; “there are almost as many as there are lines.”
- “Indeed!” said I; “then what have all these authors done?”
- “These authors,” he replied, “did not search the Scriptures for what ought to be believed, but for what they themselves believed; they did not regard the Scriptures as a work containing doctrines which they were bound to accept, but as a work which might sanction their own ideas; therefore it is that they have corrupted its meaning, and twisted every text. It is a country which all sects invade as if bent on pillage; it is a battlefield on which hostile nations encounter each other in endless engagements, attacking and skirmishing in every possible manner.
What can I add? Nothing…

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