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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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Jewish Community Jewish Study Latin Translation Oriental Language Christian World 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cf. Christopher Hill, Antichrist in Seventeenth Century England, London 1971, 114–115, and his William Andrews Clark Library Lecture on ‘The Conversion of the Jews’ (forthcoming);Google Scholar
  2. a.
    Peter Toon, editor, The Millenium and the Future of Israel, Cambridge 1970;Google Scholar
  3. b.
    R.H. Popkin, ‘Spinoza and the Conversion of the Jews’ in: C. De Deugd, Spinoza’s Political and Theological Thought, Amsterdam-Oxford 1984, 171;Google Scholar
  4. c.
    David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603–1665, Oxford 1982, chap. 3.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    See R.H. Popkin, ‘Jewish Messianism and Christian Millenarianism’, in Perez Zagorin, editor, Culture and Politics from Puritanism to the Enlightenment, Los Angeles 1980, 67–69;Google Scholar
  6. a.
    Abba Hillel Silver, A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, Boston 1927,Google Scholar
  7. b.
    Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, New York 1969, 244–286.Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    These goals are set forth in a pamphlet by John Dury and/or Samuel Hartlib, Englands Thankful nesse, or An Humble Remembrance presented to the Committee for Religion in the High Court of Parliament... London 1642.Google Scholar
  9. a.
    This work is reprinted in Charles Webster, Samuel Hartlib and the Advancement of Learning, Cambridge 1970, 90–97.Google Scholar
  10. 4.
    Aaron L. Katchen, Christian Hebraists and Dutch Rabbis, Cambridge, Mass 1984, chap. 1, discusses the relations of various Dutch Christians with the Amsterdam rabbis. Unfortunately, the Millenarians are omitted almost entirely.Google Scholar
  11. 5.
    See David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews, chap. 5 and R.H. Popkin, “The First College of Jewish Studies”, Revue des Études Juives CXLIII(1984), 351–364.Google Scholar
  12. 6.
    Cf. Cecil Roth, A Life of Menasseh ben Israel, Philadelphia 1934; Introduction by Henri Mechoulan and Gerard Nahon to Menasseh ben Israel, Espérance d’Israel, Paris 1979, 35–69; Katz, Philosemitism, passim; and Katchen, op. cit., 125–159.Google Scholar
  13. 7.
    His role in the general scholarly world is discussed in Roth, Mechoulan, and Nahon and Katchen, cited above. The paper by Van Rooden in this volume, shows that Menasseh may have been Constantijn L’Empereur’s Hebrew teacher, see p. 58.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    Cf. Roth, Life of Menasseh, 158; Méchoulan and Nahon, op. cit., 58, and Paul Felgenhauer, Bonum Nuncium Israeli qui offertur Populo Israel & Judae in hisce temporibus novissimus de Messiah, Amsterdam 1655, 87–91. Von Franckenberg is supposed to have said that the true light will come from the Jews, their time is near. Each day one will learn from different places of miracles operating in their favor.Google Scholar
  15. a.
    Cf. Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews V, Philadelphia 1967, 24.Google Scholar
  16. 9.
    On Menasseh’s background see H.P. Salomon, ‘The Portuguese Background of Menasseh Ben Israel’s Father as revealed through the Inquisitional Archives at Lisbon’, Studio Rosenthaliana XVII (1983) 105–146. Here new facts are given from Inquisitional archives. Prof. Salomon has recently told me on the basis of new material he has found in Portugal, that Menasseh’s family returned to Lisbon when he was a few months old, and that he spent his early youth there.Google Scholar
  17. 10.
    Dury’s proposal for a college of Jewish Studies was, in part, intended to make Christians aware of all of this.Google Scholar
  18. 11.
    On Rittangel, see Pierre Bayle, Dictionaire historique et critique, art, ‘Rittangelius. J.S.’; and references to him in Charles Webster, The Great Instauration, London 1975;Google Scholar
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    P.T. van Rooden and J.W. Wesselius, ‘J.S. Rittangel in Amsterdam’, Ned. Arch. v. KG 65(1985), 131–52;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. b.
    Ernestine G.E. van der Wall, ‘Johann Stephan Rittangel’s Stay in the Dutch Republic (1641–1642), in this volume pp. 119–34. Rittangel published an edition of the Sefer Yesirah in Amsterdam in 1642.Google Scholar
  21. 12.
    On these figures see J. Minton Batten, John Dury, Advocate of Christian Reunion, Chicago 1944; Turnbull, op. cit., Webster, The Great Instauration, and Samuel Hartlib and the Advancement of Learning;Google Scholar
  22. a.
    Walther Schneider, Adam Boreel, Sein Leben und seine Schriften, Giessen 1911;Google Scholar
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    Ernestine G.E. van der Wall, De mystieke chiliast Petrus Serrarius (1600–1669) en zijn wereld, Leiden 1987 (diss.); ‘Petrus Serrarius (16000–1669) et l’interprétation de l’Ecriture’, Cahiers Spinoza 5, 187–217,Google Scholar
  24. c.
    Petrus Serrarius (1600–1669): ‘An Amsterdam Millenarian Friend of Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel and his Views on the Jews’, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Menasseh ben Israel, April 1985, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (forthcoming).Google Scholar
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    Cf. R.H. Popkin, ‘The Third Force in 17th Century Philosophy: Scepticism, Science and Biblical Prophecy’, Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, 1983-I, 37–41;Google Scholar
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    Joseph Mede, The Works of the Pious and Profoundly Learned Joseph Mede, London 1664, Epistle XLV, p. 985 to Hartlib, and Dury’s response to Mede on the same page.Google Scholar
  27. 14.
    Turnbull, op. cit., 358–359; Webster, The Great Instauration, 48–51; and Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution’, in Religion, the Reformation and Social Change, London 1967, 237–93.Google Scholar
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    See note 11.Google Scholar
  29. 16.
    Cf. Van Rooden’s article in this volume, and Katchen, op. cit., 79 ff.Google Scholar
  30. 17.
    Schneider, op. cit., 43. The source given is the Boreel family records. On Boreel’s investment in Leon’s model, see Dury’s letter to Boreel, 8 Aug. 1649, Hartlib Papers Sheffield, 1/31/1.Google Scholar
  31. 18.
    On Rabbi Judah Leon Templo’s career, and on his model of the Temple, see A.L. Shane, ‘Rabbi Jacob Judah Leon (Templo) of Amsterdam (1603–1675) and his connections with England’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England XXV (1977), 120–136; A.K. Offenberg, ‘Jacob Jehuda Leon (1602–1675) and his Model of the Temple’, in this volume pp. 95–116.Google Scholar
  32. 19.
    In a letter of Boreel’s to Father Marin Mersenne, 3 Sept. 1646, Boreel said he had been working on the Mishna edition since 1639. Much of it ‘avec l’aide d’un Juif que j’ay eu alimenté environ cinq ans pour cette affaire’, Correspondance de Mersenne, Tome XIV (1646), 431.Google Scholar
  33. 20.
    All of this appears in an unpublished letter of Dury to Hartlib about Boreel, Hartlib Papers 1/6/11–13. The letter is published in this volume pp. 145–49.Google Scholar
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    The matter of distribution of copies is discussed in letters from Boreel to Dury and Hartlib in Nov. 1646. Cf. British Library, Ms. Sloane 649, fols. 37 and 39. The letter describes sending copies to Dantzig to sell to the Polish Jews. In a letter of Hartlib’s to Worthington of June 4, 1660, he described sending back 200 or 300 copies of the Mishna edition to Boreel ‘not having sold one of them’. On Jan. 1, 1661, Hartlib reported, T was forced to send back unto him almost the whole impression of the Hebrew copy, there being few or none willing to buy any of them’, in The Diary and Correspondence of John Worthington, ed. by James Crossley in Remains Historical and Literary connected with the Palatine Countries of Lancaster and Chester, published by the Chetham Society, XIII (1847), pp. 199 and 319.Google Scholar
  35. 22.
    Dury to Hartlib, undated, Hartlib Papers, Sheffield, Ms./I/16/12–13.Google Scholar
  36. 23.
    L. Fuks and R.G. Fuks-Mansfeld, Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands, 1585–1815, Part I, Leiden 1984, lists Hebrew editions of the Mishna, but makes no mention of Boreel.Google Scholar
  37. 24.
    Mersenne, Correspondance XIV, 430–431.Google Scholar
  38. 25.
    Dury to Hartlib, undated, Hartlib Papers, Ms. I/6/13.Google Scholar
  39. 26.
    This is listed as #180 in Fuks and Fuks-Mansfeld, op. cit., 129.Google Scholar
  40. 27.
    This is described in Fuks and Fuks-Mansfeld, op. cit., 109. The notorial document is published in M.M. Kleerkooper, De Boekhandel te Amsterdam voornamelijk in de 17de eeuw (Eerste deel) ’s-Gravenhage 1914–16, 410–412.Google Scholar
  41. 28.
    This is mentioned in Fuks and Fuks-Mansfeld, op. cit., 129.Google Scholar
  42. 29.
    These two items in Hebrew are republished in the appendix to this volume with translations by David S. Katz.Google Scholar
  43. 30.
    This work apparently was written because of reports Oldenburg sent Boreel from 1656 onward about an early version of the Three Impostors and Bodin’s Heptaplomares. It was never published, but Oldenburg arranged for Serrarius to have a copy made for Sir Robert Boyle. This copy is in the Boyle Papers at the Royal Society. Henry More also had a copy that he got from Van Helmont. On this see my forthcoming, ‘Could Spinoza have read Bodin?’, Philosophia. Google Scholar
  44. 31.
    See Hartlib to Worthington, June 7, 1659; Worthington to Hartlib, Dec. 1660; Hartlib to Worthington, Jan. 1, 1661; Worthington to Hartlib, June 3, 1661; Hartlib to Worthington, June 11, 1661, in Diary and Correspondence of Worthington XIII, 134, 242, 258, 319-20, 323; Boreel to Dury, 10 Aug 1660, British Library, Sloane Ms. fol. 41–42; Dury to Hartlib 20/30 June 1661 and 5/15 July 1661, Hartlib papers, Sheffield, Ms. 4/4/24 and 4/4/26. See also below, pp. 155–160.Google Scholar
  45. 32.
    Worthington to Hartlib, Dec. 1660, Diary and Correspondence of Worthington XIII, 242-43.Google Scholar
  46. 33.
    Worthington to Hartlib, June 3, 1661, Diary and Correspondence XIII, 320.Google Scholar
  47. 34.
    Dury to Hartlib, Amsterdam 5/15 July 1661, Hartlib Papers, Sheffield Ms. 4/4/26.Google Scholar
  48. 35.
    Guilielmus Surenhusius, Mischna sive Totius Hebraeorum juris... Systema, Amsterdam 1698, Praefatio, unnumbered, 7–8. David S. Katz has located the Latin translation by Rabbi Abendana.Google Scholar
  49. 36.
    Turnbull, op. cit., 262. Rittangel’s arguments with the Amsterdam Jews appear in his three letters, and the Jewish answers published in Joh. Christoph Wagenseil, Tela Ignea Satanae, Altdorf 1681, 327–373.Google Scholar
  50. 37.
    Popkin, ‘First College of Jewish Studies’, 353.Google Scholar
  51. 38.
    Turnbull, op. cit., 251; and Katz, Philo-Semitism, 217–218.Google Scholar
  52. 39.
    Katchen, op. cit., 124–159; and Méchoulan and Nahon, op. cit., 39–51.Google Scholar
  53. 40.
    Cf. Ernestine G.E. van der Wall, ‘Three Letters by Menasseh ben Israel to John Durie’, Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis LXV (1985), 46–62. See especially pp. 59 and 62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 41.
    Popkin, ‘First College of Jewish Studies’, 354.Google Scholar
  55. 42.
    These letters about Boreel are Hartlib Papers, Sheffield, 1/6/11–13. A copy is published in this volume pp. 145–49.Google Scholar
  56. 43.
    John Dury, A Seasonable Discourse Written by Mr. John Dury, upon the earnest requests of many, briefly showing these Particulars: (1) What the Grounds and Methods of Our Reformation ought to be in Religion and Learning; (2) How even in These Times of Distraction, the Work may be Advanced by the Knowledge of Oriental Tongues and Jewish Mysteries, by an Agency for Advancement of Universal Learning, published by Samuel Hart-lib, London 1649. The quotation is on pp. 15–16. The pamphlet is summarized in Popkin, ‘First College of Jewish Studies’, 354 ff.Google Scholar
  57. 44.
    See, for example, Dury’s ‘Epistological discourse to Mr. Sam Hartlib Concerning this Exposition of the Revelation’ that appears as the preface to the translation of Von Franckenberg’s Clavis Apocalyptica, London 1651.Google Scholar
  58. 45.
    Popkin, ‘First College of Jewish Studies’, 355–356.Google Scholar
  59. 46.
    Ibid., 357 and 359. In a letter to Hartlib dated St. James, Jan. 26, 1649 (when he was the librarian), Dury said ‘God doth seeme to dash all our hopes of settlement here, and doth defeat us of all expectations wch wee had to assist public designes and his workes of Jewish Conversion by the Deanes and Chapters revenues, wch the Army will swallow up’, Hartlib Papers, Sheffield, MS 1/7/1–2.Google Scholar
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    See Popkin, ‘First College of Jewish Studies’, 359, and The Historical Catalogue of Printed Bibles Part III.Google Scholar
  61. 48.
    See Crossley’s note in Worthington’s Diary and Correspondence Part II, XXXVI of Chelthen Society, 20.Google Scholar
  62. 49.
    On this, see R.H. Popkin, ‘Rabbi Nathan Shapira’s Visit to Amsterdam in 1657’, in: J. Michman and T. Levie (eds.), Dutch Jewish History, Jerusalem 1984, 197.Google Scholar
  63. 50.
    On this, see R.H. Popkin, ‘Spinoza’s Relations with the Quakers’, Quaker History, LXXIII (1984), 14–28. The Hebrew translation of one of the pamphlets will be published shortly by Michael J. Signer and myself.Google Scholar
  64. 51.
    The published part is in the collection of Hebrew Union College.Google Scholar
  65. 52.
    On this see R.H. Popkin, ‘The Lost Tribes, the Caraites and the English Millenarians’, Journal of Jewish Studies 37 (1986), 213–227; furthermore, the studies mentioned in n. 54.Google Scholar
  66. 53.
    The manuscripts of these translations are in the Ets Haim Collection. The work was published in Hebrew and Latin in Wagenseil’s Tela Ignea Satanae in 1681. Dr. van Rooden, in his dissertation, Constantijn L’Empereur (1591–1648), Professor Hebreeuws en Theologie te Leiden, Leiden 1985, mentions that this work was seen by John Müller in 1641 (188).Google Scholar
  67. 54.
    See Dury’s ‘An Epistolicall Discours to Mr. Thorowgood, Concerning his Conjecture that the Americans are descended from the Israelites’, in Thomas Thorowgood, Jewes in America, or Probabilities that the American are of that Race, London 1650. See also J. van den Berg, ‘Proto-Protestants? The image of the karaites as a mirror of the Catholic-Protestant controversy in the 17th century’ and ‘John Covel’s letter on the Karaites (1677)’, both in this volume; Van der Wall, ‘Johann Stephan Rittangel’s Stay’, pp. 119–134.Google Scholar
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    This is mentioned in Hartlib’s letter to Worthington, Dec. 12, 1655, Diary and Correspondence of Worthington XIII, 78.Google Scholar
  69. 56.
    John Dury, A Case of Conscience, Whether it be lawful to admit Jews into a Christian Commonwealth? Written to Samuel Hartlib, Esq., This work is reprinted in The Harleian Miscellany, London 1806, 438–444. Cf. Van der Wall, ‘Johann Stephan Rittangel’s Stay’, pp. 120–121.Google Scholar
  70. 57.
    See my review-essay of David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews, in The History of European Ideas V (1984), 79–87.Google Scholar
  71. 58.
    On La Peyrère, see R.H. Popkin, The Marrano Theology of Isaac La Peyrère’, Studi Internazionali di Filosofia V (1973) 97–126 and my Isaac La Peyrère (1596–1676). His life, work and influence, Leiden etc. 1987.Google Scholar
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    This is described in the first two books of Du Rappel des Juifs (n.p. 1643).Google Scholar
  73. 60.
    Ibid., Livres III-V.Google Scholar
  74. 61.
    La Peyrère’s picture of the future is totally universalistic, in which everybody will participate no matter what their origins or beliefs.Google Scholar
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    On this, see Popkin, Marrano Theology’, 103–104.Google Scholar
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    Ibid. 105 and note 43.Google Scholar
  77. 64.
    It is included in Isaac Vossius’s list of the works sent to her in Belgium.Google Scholar
  78. 65.
    All of this is covered in detail in my forthcoming volume on La Peyrère.Google Scholar
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    Popkin, ‘Menasseh ben Israel and Isaac La Peyrère II’, Studia Rosen-thaliana XVIII (1984), 13–14.Google Scholar
  80. 67.
    Ibid., 13–14. A student of mine, Ms. Susanne Akerman is doing a dissertation on Christina’s philosophical and religious views. She may unravel what was involved at the time.Google Scholar
  81. 68.
    The information about Menasseh’s return appears in Felgenhauer’s Bonum Nunciam Israeli. The list is in a letter of Menasseh’s included in the work. 89–90.Google Scholar
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    See A.J. Saraiva, ‘Antonio Vieira, Menasseh ben Israel et le Cinquième Empire’, Studia Rosenthaliana VI (1972), 25–56; and Méchoulan and Nahon, op. cit., 53–56.Google Scholar
  83. 70.
    Vieira 43 went to Paris just at the time La Peyrère returned from Scandinavia. Saraiva says they met, but no documentary proof is available.Google Scholar
  84. 71.
    Saraiva, op. cit., 51. The text justifying this is from Menasseh’s Piedra Gloriosa of 1655.Google Scholar
  85. 72.
    The episode with Jean d’Espagne appears in Les Oeuvres de Jean D’Espagne I, La Haye 1674, 470–411. Google Scholar
  86. 73.
    Méchoulan and Nahon, op. cit., 75 puts this neatly by saying ‘Menasseh ben Israel installe tranquillement le messianisme juif dans la Republique des Lettres’.Google Scholar
  87. 74.
    See note 9. As mentioned there, Prof. Salomon recently told me in a telephone conversation that he had found new evidence that indicated that Menasseh’s family returned to Lisbon shortly after his birth, and that Menasseh spent his early years in Lisbon.Google Scholar
  88. 75.
    On this, see Katz, Philo-Semitism, chap. 6.Google Scholar
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    See R.H. Popkin, ‘Menasseh ben Israel and La Peyrère’, Studia Rosenthaliana VIII, esp. 61–63.Google Scholar
  90. 77.
    The texts and citations are given in Popkin, ‘Menasseh and La Peyrère II’, 14–15.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 16.Google Scholar
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    Menasseh ben Israel, Vindiciae Judaeorum, or a Letter in Answer to Certain Questions propounded by a Noble and Learned Gentleman, touching the Reproaches cast on the Nation of Jewes, wherein all objections are candidly, and yet fully cleared, London, 18.Google Scholar
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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
  94. 81.
    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
  95. 82.
    There are many still unpublished letters of Anne Conway, and of Van Helmont and Knorr von Rosenroth, that may tell us about the reasons for Rabbi Abendana’s working on the project.Google Scholar
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    See Shane’s article on Templo, 126.Google Scholar
  97. 84.
    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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    Jacques Basnage, Histoire des Juifs XV, La Haye 1716, 1059.Google Scholar
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    Dury, Quer. Whether the Law of Moses be abrogated or ceased So as that a Jew remaining obedient to the Law of Moses and believing and obeying X. cannot in Truth be called a Christian. Hartlib Papers, Sheffield, 25/4/1–4. Another unpublished paper is entitled, A Doubt Resolved Concerning the Worshipping of God in Jesus Christ, as hee is a Man, Hartlib Papers 27/18/1–6.Google Scholar
  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
  101. 88.
    Cited in Popkin, ‘Menasseh and La Peyrère’ II, 16.Google Scholar
  102. 89.
    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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