Some Aspects of Jewish-Christian Theological Interchanges in Holland and England 1640–1700

  • R. H. Popkin
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 119)


One of the most serious theological concerns in the 17th century was that of the conversion of the Jews. This event was seen by Millenarian thinkers as the crucial penultimate event before the commencement of the Thousand Year Reign of Christ on earth. The expectation that the Jews would convert just before the end of days was an age-old Christian hope. From early Christian times until the 17th century all sorts of activities were undertaken to bring this about. Jews were put under legal and financial disabilities; they were exiled if they refused to convert; they were forced to listen to sermons haranguing them to convert; they were given instruction in Christianity; they were forcibly baptized in Spain and Portugal; their children were taken from them so that at least the children would become Christians. An enormous amount of energy, physical, rhetorical and literary, went into these efforts over a millenium and a half, with little substantial result in turning the Jews into true and believing Christians.


Jewish Community Jewish Study Latin Translation Oriental Language Christian World 
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    Popkin, ‘Rabbi Nathan Shapira’s Visit to Amsterdam’, 188–195; Van der Wall, De mystieke chiliast Petrus Serrarius, 176–84. Serrarius said, when he heard Rabbi Shapira’s views ‘my bowels were inwardly stirred within me, and it seemed to me, that I did not hear a Jew but a Christian, and a Christian of no mean understanding, who did relish the things of the Spirit, and was admitted to the mysteries of our Religion’.Google Scholar
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    Popkin, ‘Rabbi Nathan Shapira’s Visit’, 197–205. Ernestine van der Wall and David Katz have found out the details about the fund raising campaign, and its effects. See their papers in the forthcoming publication of the Proceedings of the Menasseh ben Israel Workshop, Israel 1985. Dr. Moshe Idel of Hebrew University has told me that he has found a quite anti-Christian sermon of Shapira’s, delivered in Europe around the time of the visit. On Serrarius’ involvement in the Sabbatian movement, see Van der Wall, De mystieke chiliast Petrus Serrarius, chap. X.Google Scholar
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    Cited in Gustave Cohen, ‘Le Sejour de Saint-Evremond en Hollande (1665–1672)’, in Revue de Litterature Comparée VI (1926), 407, Constantijn Huygens’ letter to Don Francisco de Melos, recommended Rabbi Templo to the Portuguese ambassador, and added a postscript sending greetings to Saint-Evremond.Google Scholar
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  100. 87.
    Such a case is described by Nathaniel Homes, in his ‘A Brief Chronology concerning the Jews, From the Year of Christ 1650, to 1666’, in R.B. (ed.), Two Journeys to Jerusalem, London 1719, 121. (I am grateful to David Katz for this reference.)Google Scholar
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    Cited in Popkin, ‘Menasseh and La Peyrère’ II, 16.Google Scholar
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    See Michael McKeon, ‘Sabbatai Zevi in England’, Association of Jewish Studies Review II (1977), 131–169.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. H. Popkin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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