Monday, 21 November 2011

English cleric's view of Jews pretending to be Christians, 1676

This extract from The Present State of the Jews by Lancelot Addison, a chaplain to King Charles II was published in 1676. Addison spent seven years as a chaplain in Tangier, although apparently sections of his book are simply repetitions of the translation of an earlier work by Johannes Buxtorf.

I have absolutely no idea why they illustrated the book with an Indian.

I think there is some interesting, and funny, stuff in here. I am surprised Addison is sanctimonious. I would think an Englishman of that time would have a good understanding of the need to bend in the wind to survive. Perhaps a plagiarist shouldn’t be so self-righteous.

“And yet it cannot be denied but that there are several Jews who make use of a scandalous complyance in this particular. Of which sort are many of those who coming within the cognizance and power of the Papal Inquisition, can joyn themselves to a Crucifix and Rosary, as well as to the Zizith and Tephillim.

And I am assured that some Jews have gone herein so far as to enter into Holy Orders, and the Profession of a Religious Life, who yet coming to places where the Jews have publick Toleration, have joyned themselves to the Synagogue.

And of this, we have a very late instance of two Jews, who in Spain having for several years professed the Religion of Saint Dominique coming to Legorn in their Fryar-Habits, they instantly changed their Cowl for a Ganephe, and of idle Fryers became progging Jews.

Another Jew (of my acquaintance, who for about five years had studied Physick at Saragoza in Spain) being asked how he could comply with the Religion, he merrily made this reply, That his complyance was only the work of his Nerves and Muscles, and that his Anatomy told him nothing of the heart was therein concerned.

Another Jew who in Malaga counterfeited Christianity so well as to be intrusted with the Sale of Indulgences, having made a good Market thereof in Spain, came with what he had left to a Christian City in Barbary, where his Indulgences being all bought up by the Irish and others of the Papal persuasion, he declared his Religion. The Papists who had bought his Indulgences impeach him to the Governor for a Cheat, and clamour to have him punished according to demerit. The Jew pleaded the Laws of the free Port, that he had neither imported nor sold any thing but his professed Merchandise, and therefore desired (and obtained) the Liberty and Priviledges of such as traffick'd to that Port. I report nothing but matter of personal knowledg.”

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