Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Gerbert, or Pope Sylvester II (reigned 999-1003).

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

One of the most curious phenomena of the Dark Age is that in its most degraded phase the Roman See was occupied by the only Pope who ever had a good knowledge of the science of his time. Catholic boasts that one of their Popes figures in histories of science leave the phenomenon quite unintelligible, and there is still so much reluctance to appreciate the brilliant civilization of Arab Spain that most historians of science - Sarton is a happy exception - do not explain it. The facts afford a decisive proof of the unpopular truth that it was sceptics of Spain who roused Europe from the Dark Age. Gerbert was born in Aquitaine and educated in the abbey of Aurillac.
      This southern province of France, being coterminous with Spain and in close contact with Barcelona, which, though nominally Christian, had an Arab culture, was the first part of Christendom to be awakened [see Abelard]. Even Catholics do not dispute that the brilliant pupil was sent for higher studies to Barcelona, from which the Aquitanians got their zeal for education, and Abbot William of Malmesbury tells us that Gerbert went on from there to the famous colleges of the "Saracens" at Cordova. As the Abbot adds that Gerbert was seduced by the gallantries of Andalusia, his testimony here is rejected by Catholics; but in the only serious study of the life of Gerbert (the Duc de la Salle de Rochemaure's Gerbert, Silvestre II, 1914) it is shown that at least he learned his astronomy at Cordova. He became Pope because he was hired as tutor to the son of Otto II, and as the German Emperors had just begun to dominate the Papacy, his pupil, Otto III, whose dreams of a mighty empire he encouraged, forced him upon the degenerate Romans. He had great ability and would in a better age have made an excellent Pope, but it was an age when even the "noblest" ladies of Rome could not write their names, and what Cardinal Baronius calls the Rule of the Whores (from the Papal palace) was barely over, so Sylvester II found his grave after four years of cruel struggle.


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