Christian Erudition in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and the Hebrew State

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Abstract: In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as Jewish-Christian relations were being evaluated throughout Europe, a number of scholarly works important enough to be included in the catalogue of the regal library in Paris were published on the subject of the polity of the ancient Hebrews. These works sought to form an understanding of the political structures and ideas of Jewish antiquity, considering them as relevant models for contemporary politics. Each of the thinkers who took part in this scholarly effort had a different agenda and came to different conclusions, and this article demonstrates the unique approaches of three central figures: Cornelius Bertram, Carlo Sigonio, and Petrus Cunaeus. However varied the motives and findings of the thinkers themselves, they showed a desire to recover the political wisdom of the ancient Hebrews and of Hebrew texts.

Biography: Francois Laplanche is an intellectual historian of Christianity in the modern period. He received his Doctor of Theology in 1955 and in 1984 completed a doctorate in the humanities. He published Scripture, the Sacred and History: Erudits and Politics before the Protestant Bible in France in the seventeenth century in 1986 and The Bible in France: between myth and critique in 1994. He has also collaborated on various multi-volume works such as the Dictionary of Religious Movements in Contemporary France and the History of Christianity. Laplance is an honorary Director of the National Center for Scientific Research, the largest governmental research organization in France. He lives in Angers, France.

Volume 3, Number 1 (Winter 2008) pp. 5-18