2004
Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1781-7838
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1792

Abstract

Abstract

Studies in the Jewish reception of Christian theological discussions beyond the proper field of polemics are rare and only in their beginnings. Until now, scholars have often argued that Portuguese Jews discussed Christian concepts of divine foreknowledge and human free will because they were either struggling with their own Christian past or sought to help their ‘New Jewish’ coreligionists to turn into reliable members of the Amsterdam Sephardic community. This article uses the example of the Catholic , and the Protestant fight over Predestination before and after the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) to argue that Portuguese Jews such as Menasseh ben Israel and Daniel Levi de Barrios recognised the cross-confessional dimension of the Christian debates on divine grace; they used their Iberian background and knowledge to order and explain what they observed; and they displayed their position as outsiders to deconstruct religious boundaries, imagine alternative religious landscapes, and finally re-insert themselves into their newly created religious maps and orders. The argument is based on a close reading of one chapter of the last volume of Menasseh ben Israel’s (1651) as well as Daniel Levi de Barrios’s poem (1680).

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