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‘Jesus Nazarenus legislator’: Adam Boreel’s defence of Christianity

  • Rob Iliffe
Chapter
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 148)

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the manuscript work on the Christian religion of the Dutch Collegiant Adam Boreel (1602–1665), a copy of which is now among the Boyle Papers of the Royal Society of London.’ Although scholars have been aware of its existence for some time, it has not been studied in any detail. I begin by describing the background to its production and in particular, the efforts of men like John Dury, Samuel Hartlib, and Henry Oldenburg to see it published. Secondly, I offer an account of the order and content of the work and suggest a rough dating for its composition. I also show how Boreel believed that attacks on Christianity could be overcome by means of a series of different types of proof. Finally, I assess its significance in the light of the three-impostors thesis.

Keywords

Human Race Christian Religion True Religion Divine Origin Cartesian Method 
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References

  1. 1.
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  25. 34.
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  26. 35.
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  34. 48.
    Ibid., xv, 249, 396–8, and ibid., xin (4th foliation), fol. 4r. This last note is in a piece which is preceded by a comparative section on the laws of the Jews; Boreel returned to this subject in work which now follows the miscellaneous notes of Vol. xv.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., xv, nos. 153, 196, and 452. See also ibid., xn (3rd foliation), fol. 5Y, and xv, fol. 70, where the individual certainty about Christianity is described as `internal Revelation’. P Nevertheless, see ibid., xv, fols. 3or ff., in which Boreel has written a series of `Theses’ and `Antitheses’, the latter claiming that what can be said about Christianity can also be said about Islam and `the Chinese religion’.Google Scholar
  37. 51.
    Cf. Popkin, `Spinoza and the three imposters’, passim; a similar description was offered by Richard Smith in his `Observations on the report of a blasphemous treatise by some affirmed to have been of late years published in print of three grand impostors’, composed between 1648 and 1671, which is now British Library, Sloane MSS 1024 and 388. Oldenburg took notes on the Queen of Sweden in his commonplace book of 1654–1661; Royal Society, Misc. MS i, pp. 154–72.Google Scholar
  38. 53.
    R.S. Boyle MS xi’, fol. 5v.Google Scholar
  39. 54.
    That is, the bishops referred to the general features of Christ’s doctrine for which Boreel wished to argue. Boreel suggested that this constituted corroborative and continuous evidence that Christ lived and did the things he is said to have done; he did not argue that the bishops’ actual practice conformed to Christ’s precepts.Google Scholar
  40. 55.
    Spinoza, A theologico-political treatise, trans. R. H. M. Elwes (New York: Dover, 1951), 64–8 and 79.Google Scholar
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    See in particular R. Popkin, ‘Spinoza’s relations with the Quakers in Amsterdam’, Quaker history, 70 (1984), esp. p. 27; and H. Siebrand, Spinoza and the Netherlanders: an inquiry into the early reception of his philosophy of religion (Assen and Maastricht, 1988 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob Iliffe
    • 1
  1. 1.Imperial CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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