Proto-Protestants? The Image of the Karaites as a Mirror of the Catholic-Protestant Controversy in the Seventeenth Century

  • J. Van Den Berg
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 119)


In the seventeenth century and at the beginning of the eighteenth century the Karaites, a Jewish group which had its origins in the eighth century and which was marked by a rejection of the authoritative character of the post-biblical Jewish tradition,1 enjoyed a large amount of interest in Christian circles. This interest was not of a purely historical or scholarly nature: it was bound up with the Catholic-Protestant controversy as it expressed itself in discussions and expositions which to a large degree were determined by more or less overtly formulated polemical arguments. The great confessional cleavage within Christianity was projected upon the cleavage between the traditional Jews (the ‘Rabbinists’) and the Karaites, and consequently, as we shall see, somehow the image of the Karaites was coloured by the confessional views of the various Christian authors who occupied themselves with this subject.


Seventeenth Century Eighth Century Jewish Group Rabbinic Authority Jewish Emancipation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Van Den Berg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeidenThe Netherlands

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