Thursday, October 21, 2010

John Toland:

The Irish philosopher & the Jewish identity /

Ο Ιρλανδός φιλόσοφος & η Εβραϊκή ταυτότητα

John Toland

«Thus therefore the Jewish Christians were ever bound to observe the Law of Moses, and the Gentile Christians, who liv'd among them, only the Noachic precepts of abstinence from blood and things offer'd to Idols.»

«Έτσι, συνεπώς, οι εξ Ιουδαίων Χριστιανοί ήταν πάντα δεσμευμένοι να τηρούν το Νόμο του Μωυσή και οι εξ Εθνικών Χριστιανοί, οι οποίοι ζούσαν ανάμεσά τους, μόνο τις επιταγές του Νώε περί αποχής από αίμα και ειδωλόθυτα».
John Toland,
Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland, on the Same Foot with All Other Nations. Containing Also, a Defence of the Jews Against All Vulgar Prejudices in All Countries.
[Λόγοι για την Πολιτογράφηση των Εβραίων στη Μεγάλη Βρετανία και στην Ιρλανδία, ως Συμβάδισμα με Όλα τα Άλλα Έθνη. Επίσης, Υπεράσπιση των Εβραίων Κατά Όλων των Χυδαίων Προκαταλήψεων σε Όλες τις Χώρες],
(1714), p./σ. 65
[English/Αγγλικά, PDF]

«Toland was acutely aware that what was at stake in the relationship between Jews and Christians was the profoundly divergent interpretation of a common scriptural tradition. As Jacob Katz has persuasively argued, it is insufficient to describe the difference between Jews and Christians as one between two groups that happen to have different faiths. What gives the relationship its poignancy, and all too often its tragic character, is that Jews and Christians view themselves as the sole legitimate interpreters of a tradition they both share. In Christian eyes, the new dispensation inaugurated by Christ meant that the Church was now the novus Israel, and that it had inherited the legitimacy that used to belong to the Synagogue; in Jewish eyes, the claim that Christ was the Messiah was unfounded, and His coming still awaited. A secularised, lay-version of history of the kind suggested by Toland could not supersede the believer's conviction that all history is ultimately sacred, i.e., ordained by God. This is a difficulty Toland himself was aware of, and I would suggest that one of the points of his Nazarenus was to confront the issue head on. In this book, Toland is trying to heal the centuries-old rift between Jews and Christians by suggesting that the 'original plan of Christianity' was that there should be a 'union without uniformity, between Jew and Gentile.' The Jews were supposed to retain the Mosaic law, and the Gentiles to conform to the Noachic precepts. I shall not discuss the historical merit of this thesis, but it does have considerable intellectual and philosophical merit. Instead of adjudging victory to one side in this contest, Toland is trying to define a 'third point' that could unexpectedly allow the reconciliation of the antagonists. One could of course argue that by reasoning in terms of an 'original plan of Christianity', Toland is in fact giving a better deal to Christians than to Jews. But this is ignoring the converse point that, in order to keep the balance equal, he no less forcefully argues that the Gentiles 'must in some manner become Jews before they can be reckon'd good Christians.'»
* Pierre Lurbe,
«John Toland and the Naturalization of the Jews»
Ο Τζον Τόλαντ και η Πολιτογράφηση των Εβραίων»],
Eighteenth-Century Ireland / Iris an dá chultúr,
Vol./Τόμ. 14 (1999), pp./σσ. 47, 48.

«The challenges of anti-Trinitarianism (varieties of Arianism, Socinianism and Unitarianism) were serious and potentially revolutionary. Traditional examinations of anti-Trinitarianism have treated it as a significant but ultimately unimportant event in the history of the period. Such studies have been too internalist, simply committed to narrating the complexity of the theological positions and counter-positions between Trinitarian and anti-Trinitarian. Such theological complexity has reinforced the historiographical irrelevance of the Socinian contribution to the political thought of the period. In contradiction to this neglect I should like to suggest that the Socinian or Unitarian polemic of the 1690s was a crucial movement in the development of the Enlightenment idea of religion. H. R. Trevor-Roper in a seminal essay on the religious origins of the Enlightenment in Religion, the Reformation and Social Change (1967) argued that Socinianism, as an Erasmian hermeneutical enterprise, was a central tributary of the Enlightenment. In describing Socinianism as the heir of Erasmus, Trevor-Roper delivered two historiographical blows: the first, that Socinianism not Calvinism was dynamic in the process of modernity, and second, that this movement was politically non-radical or conservative. Accepting J. G. A. Pocock’s point that the roots of the English Enlightenment drew from a soil fertile in the language of religion, the suggestion is that Socinianism should be examined, not just as a scriptural method, but also for the radical non-orthodox historical dimensions and models proposed in its polemic. In stepping outside of the Judaeo-Christian saeculum and appealing to other religious pasts, Socinianism opened the door to a radical religious position epitomized in the attempt by John Toland to syncretize the claims of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran in his Nazarenus (1718). From the Socinian and Unitarian insistence on the value of a history of monotheism developed the radical interest in other religions. Onto the investigation of the comparative structures of different religions men like Stubbe and John Toland grafted the classical idea of civil religion.»
* Daily Mail Times,
«Images of Islam 1660-1730»,
posted on/αναρτήθηκε στις 13-Oct/Οκτ-2010.

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