Chapter Three of the Book of Catastrophes of
The Bible According to Einstein

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The passage below typifies the rhythmic, "biblical" style of The Bible According to Einstein . It is worth reading aloud and slowly to capture the almost poetic language. Within this framework, the contents are scientifically accurate.

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From the third chapter of the Book of Catastrophes of The Bible According to Einstein.

92                        The Bible According to Einstein
Chapter III: The Black Death

And a mysterious and invisible shadow
passed over the face of Earth.

It was a moonless night in thirteen-hundred-thirty-eight AD. And a ship there in a port was rocked by waves - the next day would it set sail. And it came to pass that a rat ran up the boarding platform - it was a rat that had the devil in it; it was a rat that had the plague in it. And the rat hid in the galleys of the ship and waited so. And in the morning, the sailors got on board. And they were joking and quite cheery - they were happy to head home to Italy. And so the ship left the Middle East. And off into the Mediterranean Sea it sailed.

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      And when the ship arrived in eastern Italy late one afternoon, all sailors went ashore. But the rat stayed in the galley and waited so. When night did come, the rat with evil in it ran down the platform onto land. Along the gutter of a moonlit street the rat did go. And it headed to a grain shop, and there it hid among the bags of wheat and waited so.
      At dawn the shopkeeper, who was not married, unlocked the door and prepared for business. Now in the fur of the rat, a rat flea lived. And out of the fur, it flew. And it landed on the sock of the owner of the shop. A hand came sweeping down and swatted at the sock - but already was the rat flea gone.
      And five days went by. And in the middle of the afternoon, suddenly the owner of the shop felt sick. He started shivering. And he closed up business early and went home. Now the next day, he woke up with a bubo60 near his groin. And he stayed in bed that day. And in the afternoon a fever came. And this was followed by a headache which, like a knife, seemed to cut his head in two. And his tongue was coated white.

.    .    .     .    .     .    .
      That evening badly did he sleep. And he had chills. And in the morning did he vomit. And he had buboes in his armpit and on his neck, but on the left side of his body only. Scared, he got out of bed, staggered out the house, headed to the house of a physician. And although it was a cloudy day, the light did make him close his eyes. "Why was the light so bright?" he thought. A dizziness sank into his brain. And as he walked, he wavered back and forth. And nearby peasants thought him drunk.
      When he awoke, he found himself in the gutter of a street. And there was pain in both his legs and arms and in his back. And his eyes were sore - they were inflamed and red - there seemed to be a fire in his eyes. And his tongue and mouth were dry. His mind could not think straight - he was delirious. Now the chills he had the day before were gone - instead he had a fever so severe that he felt his head would burst. And the color of his tongue had changed from white to yellow.
      And a passerby helped him to his feet and back into his house. And upon his abdomen, he lay in bed. And one bubo opened up and pus came out. And on his stomach were red spots.
      And the next day the passerby came back to see how he was doing. But the gray arms and legs and face were evidence enough - the man was dead.
      And one week later, another in that town did die. And then another, and another. Soon dozens of citizens fell sick. And half of them did die.


60 A bubo is a swelling of a lymph node associated with the bubonic plague.

94                        The Bible According to Einstein

      At night the rats came out. And they crawled along the gutters of the street. They hid in cellars and in sheds. Like a shadow of death, throughout the town they spread.

.    .    .     .    .     .    .
      Nine years went by - it was thirteen-hundred-forty-seven. And the black death was everywhere in Italy and Greece: Sick were two-thirds of the dwellers of the towns and cities. And more than half the sick did die - death came when the plague bacilli infiltrated the liver, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes.
      And in one town, a man in ragged clothes whipped a horse to make it move a cart. And every now and then, he stopped, got off, lifted up a body in the street and heaved it on the cart. And after several hours, on the cart were dead ones in a heap. And the man drove to the outskirts of the town. There he tossed the dead ones, one by one, into a trench. And nearby were other pits full of blue-gray bodies of the dead. The bodies there produced a stench.
      And one year went by. And the black death passed over Europe like the darkness underneath a group of clouds. And France and Spain were decimated. Later in that year, the shadow passed to England. And half the Londoners did die. At the University of Oxford, two-thirds of the students perished. At schools and universities, classrooms were half full. And the teacher who began a course sometimes did not finish it: Substitutes were ushered in to teach what dead teachers would have taught. The curriculum contracted, as there were few professors still alive to instruct in subjects such as geometry and Latin.
      And in Marseilles, late in the evening, a dock worker spied a ship offshore, drifting to the port. It seemed strange that no sailors were standing at the bow. There was no motion on the ship, save the flapping of gray sails with holes. And when the wind blew the ship to shore, the dock worker stepped on board and looked. And what he saw was death - the blue-gray faces, arms and ankles of the dead - it was a ship of death.
      And soon, there were more boats of "ghosts," for people knew not what to do with the infected ones. And so, in seashore towns, the sick were often loaded onto boats and left to drift and die.
      And one year when by. And the black cloud headed north and east and passed over central and eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. And by the end of the year thirteen-hundred-fifty-one AD, two-thirds of Europeans had contracted the disease.
      And in the cities, it was difficult for horse-drawn carriages to pass, as sick were lying in the streets. And in the country, farms grew weeds, as there were few on hand to work the land. An economic disaster struck all of Europe: The production of commodities went down, the supplies of food and clothing shrank, and the price of goods went up.
      And Nature's plague struck indiscriminately - the houses of the rich, along with the huts of peasants, were uninhabited except for bodies left in bed. As paint chipped off and shingles dropped and curtains fell, many homes turned into "haunted houses."

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      And everywhere were dead.
      Some people looked up to the skies for help. Others cursed the Vatican. Some even blamed the government.
      And in a Germanic town, two men in a central square took turns whipping one another. And others thought this strange and stared. And when asked, the two men said, "Man's plight is due to sin. As men, have we have committed sin. Our punishment is by the whip. Only by whipping one another can we obtain forgiveness." And selectively in Europe, men in public places whipped each other. But elsewhere, peasants gathered into groups, fell to their knees, and chanted words of mysticism, while others in the streets hopped from leg to leg in dances resembling those of primitive societies.
      And new religions did arise. And one was based on worship of the clouds. And people prayed to spirits and to devils. And others worshipped idols.
      And everywhere the rate of theft increased, for the economic depression was widespread. But it also increased because many people lost their faith. "If the world is evil, then why not steal?" is what they said.
      And the plague moved as the wind moved. And it arrived in Asia. And there, fifteen-million Chinese perished. And countless other Asians from other countries also died.
      Now this was just the beginning - the plague would rage for decades.61 And relatively minor outbursts would continue for the next three centuries.
      Now this had not been the first such plague - one had struck eight-hundred years before, and in Europe it had lasted fifty years. In biblical times, plagues had struck the world as well. Nor would this be the last such plague. Six-hundred years later in the second half of the nineteenth century, the plague would strike again - mainly on the Asian continent. And in India alone, twelve-million habitants would die.
      And as sure as the Sun rises, sickness shall strike mankind again. And great diseases shall spread across the Earth again. And then man shall face the face of death again.


61 More than twenty-five-million Europeans died from the bubonic plague - one-fourth of the European population. The fourteenth century is the only period in recorded history when the world's population decreased. It dropped from about four-hundred-million people to somewhat more than three-hundred-million people, a decrease of about 20%.

Copyright ©1999 by Jupiter Scientific Publishing Company

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