Advertisement

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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Eighth Century Jewish Group Rabbinic Authority Jewish Emancipation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    For the Karaites, see: J. Fürst, Geschichte des Karäerthums, 3 vol., Leipzig 1862–69 (repr. Hildesheim 1975);Google Scholar
  2. a.
    Zvi Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium. The Formative Years, 970–1100, New York and Jerusalem 1959;Google Scholar
  3. b.
    N. Wieder, The Judean Scrolls and Karaism, London 1962;Google Scholar
  4. c.
    S. Szysman, Le Karaïsme, Lausanne 1980 (with thanks to Prof. P.A.H. de Boer, Oegstgeest).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    J.C.H. Lebram, ‘De Hasidaeis. Over Joodse Studien in het oude Leiden’, Voordrachten Faculteitendag 1980, Leiden 1980, 21–31.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Quaestionum ac responsionum liber [I], In Ac. Lugdunensi 1583, 37.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Commentarii in Sacros Bibliorum libros Iosuae, Iudicum, Ruth, Tobiae, Iudith, Esther, Maccabaeorum, Lutetia Parisiorum 1611, 733: Tnsignis Monachorum, religiosorumque nostrorum adumbratio in piis istis priscae legis Asidaeis et Essenis notari potest’.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    ‘Ii certe nostri, qui, cum Iuda, religionem viribus omnibus tuebantur, Christiani fuerunt... quia in venturum Christum credebant... ’, loc. cit.; cf. what Caesar Baronius (though somewhat more cautiously) remarks in his Annales Ecclesiastici I (first ed. 1588), Coloniae Agrippinae 1624, c. 689 ff. For Scaliger’s opinion, see his famous work De emendatione temporum (first ed. 1583), Francofurti 1593, 251 f.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    De Hasidaeis quorum mentio in libris Machabaeorum libellus ad Johan. Utenbogardum, Franekerae 1603, 22, 35. De Hasidaeis was also published (though without the introductory letter) in a work, edited by the Leiden professor J. Trigland: Trium Scriptorum illustrium de tribus sectis Judaeorum syntagma, Delphis 1703, in two parts, of which the second one has as title Syntagmatis de sectis Judaeorum pars secunda. Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Lebram, ‘De Hasidaeis’, 25.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    According to Sixtinus Amama, Serarius saw himself ‘misere flagellatum’ by Drusius: Amama to John Prideaux, 30 July 1619, Syntagma I, ††† (1)vo.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    In this context, Serarius quotes Theodorus Beza on Matth. 4 (without mentioning the source of the quotation): ‘Nec enim ovum ovo similius, quam vos Theologi et Canonistae veteribus illis Pharisaeis’.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    Syntagma I, ‘Serrarii Trihaeresium’ 74 f.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Syntagma I, ‘Serrarii Trihaeresium’ 99; cf. Ioannes Leo Africanus, Africae descriptio IX lib. absoluta (first ed., Italian, 1550), Lugd. Bat. 1632, 127. L. Massignon sees in the Karaites, mentioned by Leo, ‘pseudo-Karaites, juifs non talmudistes’, Le Maroc dans les premières années du XVI e siècle, Alger 1906, 157.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Quaest., 34 f. The same passage is to be found in Quaestionum Ebraicarum libri tres, Franekerae 1599, I, 34 f.; in essence the same work, but with notes. Here, Drusius refers in a note to Leo Africanus.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    Syntagma I, ‘De tribus sectis’ 296; cf. G. Postellus, Linguarum duodecim characteribus differentium alphabetum introductio, Parisiis s.a. [1538], C IIvo.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Syntagma I, ‘De tribus sectis’ 348.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    The text (of the Syntagma as well as of the earlier editions) has Philippus Fredericus — manifestly a misprint. See H.F. Wijnman, “Philippus Ferdinandus, Professor in het Arabisch aan de Leidse Universiteit...”, in Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux VI (1967), 558–580. I thank Dr. H.J. de Jonge, Leiden, for this reference.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Syntagma I, 376 f.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    ‘Bilis mota est Generosi Seni’: Amama in his letter to Prideaux, Syntagma I, ††† (1)v°.Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    Syntagma I, ††† 2ro.Google Scholar
  22. 20.
    ‘Quemadmodum anni tempestates, sic et haereseon dogmata immutantur’.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    Syntagma II, ‘Minerval’ 71–75.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    J. Boucher, Bouquet sacré..., 1613 (?; the year is mentioned in handwriting in a copy of the British Library of which the title-page is missing), 462.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    In 1606, Drusius published his Responsio ad Minerval Serarii, in which again he complained of the accusation of heresy: ‘Abraham haereticus erat Sabiis, Moses idololatris, Christus Pharisaeis: sic ego haereticus sum Serario. Non est discipulus supra magistrum’, Syntagma II, ‘Responsio ad Minerval’ 226. In his turn, in his Rabbini (which appeared together with his Herodes in 1607), Serarius complained of the arrogance of his opponents, their light-heartedness in introducing innovations, their temerity and their impudence towards the Fathers: Syntagma II, ‘Rabbini’ 367.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    R. Simon, Lettres choisies (nouv. éd.), Amsterdam 1730, I, 214;Google Scholar
  27. a.
    cf. R.H. Popkin, ‘Les Caraites et l’émancipation des Juifs’, Dix-huitième siècle 13 (1981), 138.Google Scholar
  28. 25.
    For Léger, see J. Aymon, Monumens authentiques de la religion des Grecs, La Haye 1708, 10 f.Google Scholar
  29. 26.
    J.H. Hottinger, Thesaurus Philologiae, ed. sec. 1659, 42 f.Google Scholar
  30. 27.
    F. Cunaeus, De Republica Hebraeorum libri tres, Lugd.Bat. 1703, 472.Google Scholar
  31. 28.
    Tesjubat Jehudah, sive pro convincendis et convertendis Judaeis libri octo, Lugd.Bat. 1655, 71 ff.Google Scholar
  32. 29.
    For Rittangel, see P.T. van Rooden and J.W. Wesselius, ‘J.S. Rittangel in Amsterdam’, Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis 65 (1985), 131–152; Ernestine G.E. van der Wall, ‘Johann Stephan Rittangel’s Stay in the Dutch Republic (1641–1642)’, in this volume pp. 119–134. Fürst, [III] 47, writes about Rittangel: ‘... durch seine kabbalistische Schwärmerei missleitet hatte er weder für das literarische, noch für das geschichtliche Leben der Karäer einen richtigen Blick...’.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 30.
    J.C. Wolfius, Notitia Karaeorum ex Mardochaei, Karaei recentioris, tractatu haurienda, Hamb. et Lipsiae 1714, 54 (a second ed., with a slightly different title-page, appeared in Hamburg in 1721). For Mordecai, see below, n. 57.Google Scholar
  34. 31.
    Liber Jezirah, Amstelodami 1642, 33.Google Scholar
  35. 32.
    ‘An Epistolicall Discourse of Mr. John Dury to Mr. Thorowgood’, in: Tho. Thorowgood, Iewes in America, or, Probabilities that the Americans are of that Race..., London 1650. The expressions: ’... as Mr Ritangle (of whom I have all the information which I know concerning the Caraits) tels me... ‘, and ‘Mr Ritangle... told me... ‘make it clear that with regard to this point there had been direct contacts between Dury and Rittangel: Iewes, [e2ro, 3vo]. See also Van der Wall, ‘Johann Stephan Rittangel’s Stay’, p. 120 f. For Dury and the Caraites, see also R.H. Popkin, ‘The Lost Tribes, the Caraites and the English Millenarians’, Journal of Jewish Studies 37 (1986), 213–227.Google Scholar
  36. 33.
    Iewes, loc. cit. For the chiliastic aspect, see esp. Popkin, ‘Caraites’, and Popkin, ‘The Lost Tribes’.Google Scholar
  37. 34.
    Hartlib to Worthington, 12 Dec. 1655: D.S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England 1603–1655, Oxford 1982, 216 (quoting from The Diary and Correspondence of Dr. John Worthington I, 1847, 78).Google Scholar
  38. 35.
    See in this volume, J. van den Berg, ‘John Covel’s letter on the Caraites (1677)’, 135–144.Google Scholar
  39. 36.
    Fürst, [III] 48.Google Scholar
  40. 37.
    [W.E. Tentzel], Monatliche Unterredungen einiger guten Freunde von allerhand Büchern und andern annemlicher Geschichten, Leipzig Juli 1691, 572–574. According to Fürst, it was a shortened version of an originally Latin letter.Google Scholar
  41. 38.
    Tentzel was not a professional orientalist or Hebraist, but a scholar with a broad historical interest; a ‘Polyhistor’, according to the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 37, 571 f.Google Scholar
  42. 39.
    The full letter in Antiquitates Ecclesiae Orientalis... quibus praefixa est Jo. Morini... Vita, Londini 1682, 349–396.Google Scholar
  43. 40.
    Cf. his Exercitationum Biblicarum de Hebraei Graecique textus sinceritate libri duo, Parisiis 1660, 307: ‘Anas igitur et Saül se se Talmudi et Talmudicis opposuerunt circiter annum Christi 740 aut 750 ortaque est illo tempore Celebris Karaitarum haeresis atque eodem tempore coeptum est a Iudaeis Talmud explicari, et commentariis illustrari’.Google Scholar
  44. 41.
    See the article ‘Karaites’ in Encyclopaedia Judaica 10 (1971), 761–786 (by J.E. Heller and Leon Nemoy). Yet it must be added, that opinions differ with regard to the background of the movement in earlier history. According to Wieder (Judaean Scrolls, 256), Anan ben David, the eighth-century founder of the movement, canalized existing anti-traditional currents into a major focus of resistance to the hegemony of the rabbinic authorities, while Szyszman (Caraïtisme, 24), in the same way, sees in Anan the person who reorganized all those movements which were the precursors of Karaitism.Google Scholar
  45. 42.
    Antiquitates, 364.Google Scholar
  46. 43.
    ‘Praeter Scripturam autem atque Argumentationem, Haereditaria inter-pretationum (licet non traditionum, qua traditionum) Transmissione, id est avitis explicationibus... utuntur... ’, J. Seldenus, Uxor Ebraica, ed. nova, Francofurti ad Oderam 1673, 8.Google Scholar
  47. 44.
    [R. Simon], Histoire critique du Vieux Testament, [Paris 1678], 199 f.Google Scholar
  48. 45.
    Léon de Modène, Cérémonies et coûtumes qui s’observent aujourd’hui parmi les Juifs. Traduit de Thalien... Avec un Supplement touchant les Sectes des Caraites et des Samaritaines de notre temps, sec. éd. augmentée d’une seconde Partie par le Sieur de Simonville, Paris 1681, ‘Préface’ e IIIIro, vo.Google Scholar
  49. 46.
    Cérémonies, 157 f.Google Scholar
  50. 47.
    Cf. Popkin, ‘Caraïtes’, 141: ‘... l’utilisation des Caraïtes par Simon était ambigue’.Google Scholar
  51. 48.
    Lettres choisies III (2), 10. The name of the learned Jew is not mentioned.Google Scholar
  52. 49.
    Lettres choisies I, 190 note 1.Google Scholar
  53. 50.
    See above, note 6. In the same year, the ‘Diatribe’ was also separately published.Google Scholar
  54. 51.
    Thus J.C. Wolfius, Bibliotheca Hebraea IV, Hamburgi 1733, 1086.Google Scholar
  55. 52.
    For Warner, see Levinus Warner and his legacy... Catalogue of the commemorative exhibition... 1970, Leiden 1970.Google Scholar
  56. 53.
    IV, 1086–1115; see Levinus Warner, 49 f.Google Scholar
  57. 54.
    Syntagma II, 101.Google Scholar
  58. 55.
    Syntagma II, 10.Google Scholar
  59. 56.
    Syntagma II, †3vo, [4ro].Google Scholar
  60. 57.
    For full title, see above, note 30. The Hebrew tract (‘Dod Mordecai’), written by Mordecai ben Nisan in answer to a letter by Trigland of 1698 (see Fürst, [III 58 f., 88–93]), contained an exposition of the history and doctrine of the Karaite movement, which largely concurred with the traditional Protestant view: Mordecai ‘defends the antiquity of Karaism... and its independence from Sadduceeism’, Enc. Jud. 12, c. 314 f.Google Scholar
  61. 58.
    J. Basnage, Histoire des Juifs (nouv. éd.) II, La Haye 1716, 380 f., 384 f.Google Scholar
  62. 59.
    B. Ugolinus, Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum XXII, Venetiis 1759, ‘Lectori’ (not paginated). For Ugolinus (Biagio Ugolini), see Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 3 VI, c. 1106.Google Scholar
  63. 60.
    See Popkin, ‘Caraîtes’, 141 f.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations