Advertisement

Christian Interest and Concerns about Sabbatai Zevi

  • R. H. Popkin
Chapter
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 173)

Abstract

English and Dutch millenarians became convinced both from the study of Scripture and from the amazing events unfolding in their countries, such as the Puritan Revolution and the success of the Dutch Rebellion against the Spanish, that the coming of the Messiah was imminent. Some thinkers, like the French Protestant Isaac La Peyrère, believed it would be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus in the flesh, who would come around 1655–56. Others were convinced that the penultimate event, the Conversion of the Jews would take place. Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel traveled to England to negotiate the re-admission of the Jews, where the millenarians were convinced that the Jews would convert when brought in contact with the pure Christianity of the Puritans.

Keywords

Jewish History British Library Anonymous Author Jewish Merchant Turkish Empire 
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.
    On Rabbi Nathan Shapira and his visit to Amsterdam, see R.H. Popkin “Rabbi Shapira’s Visit to Amsterdam in 1657,” Dutch Jewish History, Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on the History of the Jews in the Netherlands (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984) 185205; idem, “Christian Jews and Jewish Christians in the 17th Century,” in R.H. Popkin Gordon Weiner, Jewish Christians and Christian Jews from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment ( Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994 ), 64–67.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    An account of Serrarius’s discussion with the rabbis in Amsterdam in 1664 appears in a letter of John Dury. Ms. Staats-Archiv Zurich, Dureana, E II 457d, fol. 421. Cf. R.H. Popkin, “Two Unused Sources about Sabbatai Zevi and his Effect on European Communities,” Dutch Jewish History II ( Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1989 ) 67–74.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    On Serrarius’s career, see Ernestine G.E. van der Wall, De Mysteike Chialast Petrus Serrarius, en zijn Wereld (Leiden: ICG,1987).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Michael McKeon, “Sabbatai Sevi in England,” Association of Jewish Studies Review 3 (1977), 131–169. See also the items listed in Cecil Roth’s Magna Biblioteca Anglo-Judaica ( Jewish Historical Society of England, London, 1937 ), 392–394.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A New Letter from Aberdeen in Scotland. Sent to a Person of Quality. Wherein is a more full Account of the Proceedings of the Jews, Than path been hitherto Published. By R.R. (1665), 2–3. See, on this, McKeon, “Sabbatai Sevi in England,” 141–42; Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sebi, The Mystical Messiah (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 348–49.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Van der Wall, Petrus Serrarius,esp. chaps. IX—X.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Oldenburg wrote from London to Spinoza on December 8, 1665, “Here everyone spreads a rumor that the Jews having been dispersed for more than two thousand years are to return to their country. Few in this place believe it, but many wish for it. You will tell your friend what you hear and judge of this matter. For myself, so long as this news is not conveyed from Constantinople by trustworthy men, I cannot believe it, since that city is most of all concerned in it.” The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg ed. Marie Boas Hall and Rupert Hall (Milwaukee:University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), 2:467. Further letters show that Oldenburg was getting a flow of data about Sabbatai Zevi from Serrarius and others, which he was sharing with his patron, Robert Boyle.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Oldenburg’s correspondence for 1666 and 1667.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Popkin, “The End of the Career of a Great 17th Century Millenarian: John Dury”, Pietismus and Neuzeit XIV (1988), 203–220.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Popkin, “The End of the Career.” In the same volume, see the article by Ernestine G.E. van der Wall. “A Precursor of Christ, or a Jewish Imposter? Peter Serrarius and Jean de Labadie on the Jewish Messianic Movement around Sabbatai Sebi”, 109–124.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Nathaniel Holmes, “Some Glimpses of Israel’s Calling,” in Miscellanaea (London, 1669). See also R.H. Popkin, “Jewish-Christian Relations in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: The Conception of the Messiah,” Jewish History V (1992), 163–177.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See R.H. Popkin,“A Late 17th Century Gentile Attempt to Convert the Jews to Reformed Judaism”, in Israel and the Nations. Essays Presented in Honor of Shmuel Ettinger ed. S. Almog (Jerusalem: Historical Society of Israel ), 1987, XXV-XLV.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    On this see Susanna Akerman, Queen Christina of Sweden and her Circle ( Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991 ).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    On this see Richard Simon, Lettres choisies nouvelle edition, Tome II (Rotterdam, 1702), letters 1 and 2 to La Peyrère, 1–17.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    On Nayler see Mabel R. Brailsford, A Quaker from Cromwell’s Army: James Nayler (New York: Macmillan, 1927); Emilia Fogelklou, James Nayler, the Rebel Saint, 1616–1660 (London: E. Benn, 1930; Isabel Ross, Margaret Fell, The Mother of Quakerism (London: Longmans Green, 1949), Ch. 8; Chrisopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (London: Temple Smith 1972), Ch. 10.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hanna Swiderska, “Three Polish Pamphlets on the Pseudo-Messiah Sabbatai Zevi”, British Library Journal 15 (1989), 212–216.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    See Popkin, “Jewish-Christian Relations,” esp. 169–70.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J.M. for John Starkey; London, 1680.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Scholem, Sabbatai Sebi,432, note 235.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    It is not listed in Scholem’s enormous bibliography in Sabbatai Sebi. It is listed in Roth’s bibliography, Magna Biblioteca,395, 4-27, and is reported to be in the Mocatta Library.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    London. Printed for the Author; and sold by Tho. Bullock, at the Rose and Crown at Holbourn-Bridge. 1708.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    In most library catalogues and bibliographies it is still listed as being by John Evelyn.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    This copy of the History of the Three Late Famous Imposters is in the British Library, shelf mark Eve. a. 25. See Anderson, An English Consul,213–15 and the notes there.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Evelyn, History of the Three Late Famous Imposters,A2v-A3r. Rycaut had published two works by then.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Paul Rycaut, History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623 to the Year 1677 ( London 1680 ). By the time this appeared, Rycaut’s Turkish career was over, so he did not have to worry about recriminations from various Jews of Smyrna.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Popkin,“The Fictional Jewish Council of 1650: A Great English Pipedream”, Jewish History V (1991), 7–22.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    A list of printings is given in Anderson, An English Consul,294–96.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Evelyn, History of the Three Late Famous Imposters,unnumbered 6th page.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
  31. 31.
    It takes up 41–1 l 1.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rycaut, History,201.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Anderson, An English Consul,24.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
  35. 35.
  36. 36.
    A German woodcut of the time shows Sabbatai Zevi and James Nayler as the two great imposters. The British Library has acquired some Polish pamphlets about Sabbatai Zevi, in which he is called a “Turkish imposter or a Jewish quaker” and in which the excited reaction of the Quakers in Bristol to the news about the Jewish Messiah is described. See Swiderska, “Three Polish Pamphlets”Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    A young Israeli scholar, Jacob Barzai, is preparing a study of the role of Menasseh’s ideas on the Sabbatian movement. He has found that Menasseh’s Hope of Israel was published in Smyrna in Spanish in 1657 by these new arrivals.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rycaut, History,201.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ibid.,202.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    The revised text without the names appears on 207. The list of names of those made princes by Sabbatai appears in Evelyn, The History, 65–66 Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid.,219.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    I have used the copy of this rare work that is in the collection of the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA. The only other copy in the US is at Harvard. There are a few copies in England including one at the British Library.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Anon., The Devils of Delphos, 1. Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid.,2. The sermon by Dr. Offspring Blackall was “The Way of Trying Prophets.” A Sermon Preached before the Queen at St.James’s, November 9, 1707,published in London at the time.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid.,6–7.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    On this see the excellent book by Hillel Schwartz, The French Prophets. The History of a Millenarian Group in Eighteenth-Century England ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Devil of Delphos,9.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ibid.,56.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
  50. 50.
  51. 51.
    Thomas Emes was the first of the French prophets to die in late December 1707. Lacy and others predicted he would be resurrected on May 25, 1708. This became a critical matter within the movement, and a major reason for opponents to challenge the movement when the prophesied resurrection did not occur. See Schwartz, French Prophets, chap.IV, “The Legacy of Dr. Thomas Emes”. Schwartz discusses many critical responses of the time to the French prophets, but does not mention the Devils of Delphos.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Devils of Delphos,72–73.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Ibid.,73.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    John Mason inspired the millenarian group called the Philadelphians. On him see Christopher Hill, “John Mason and the End of the World,” in Puritanism and Revolution ( New York: Panther, 1969 ), 311–23.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    This discussion is from page 75 to 110. On the events and people involved see Schwartz, The French Prophets,Ch. I.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    When the first French prophets came to London in 1706, Buckeley and Lacy were among their first followers. Buckeley was a baronet and Lacy a wealthy Presbyterian. Lacy became one of the most important prophets in the movement, and Buckeley a leading defender of the group. See Schwartz, The French Prophets, 75–76 and passim..Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ibid.,110.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Charles Leslie, “A Short and Easy Way with the Jews,” in his Theological Works vol. 1 (London, 1721), 52.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Popkin,“The Fictional Jewish Council.”Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    McKeon, “Sabbatai Sevi in England,” 161.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    There were German editions in 1760 and 1761 and an edition in the 1720s is mentioned.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    The English edition, The History of Infamous Imposters, was published in 1683 at London. In 1686 another edition, The Lives and Actions of Several Notorious Counterfeits: who, from the most abject and meanest of the people, have usurped ye titles of emperours, kings, and princes, containing the history of twelve informers,appeared in London.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    See the accounts of his life in J.F. and L.G. Michaud, Biographie universelle nouvelle edition, tome XXXVI (Paris, 1854), 268–269; J.S.F. Hoefer, Nouvelle Biographie Générale tome XLII (Paris, 1971), 471–473; E. Haag and E. Haag, La France Protestante tome VII (Paris, 1857 ), 463–464.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    See Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi,bibliographical item 55 on 941.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Ydele verwachtinge der Joden getoont in den persoon van Sabethai Zevi (Amsterdam 1669).Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Rocoles, Les Imposteurs,501.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Ibid.,537–566.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Ibid.,544–556.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Ibid.,566 ff.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Johann Baptista von Rocoles, Geschichte, erkwurdigen Beitreiger ed. Johann Friedrich Joachim (Halle, 1761).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. H. Popkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington University, St. Louis and UCLAUSA

Personalised recommendations