Monday, June 23, 2014

What Strauss thinks Reimarus read of the English Deists

In his description of the inspirations of Hermann Samuel Reimarus, David Friedrich Strauss mentions not only the obvious cases, such as Spinoza's Theological Political Tractatus (esp on prophecy), or Pierre Bayle's Historical Dictionary in the 1st edition, esp. on Abraham (cf. the entries on Sara and Abimelech) and King David, but a whole raft of English Deists---Strauss is clear (p.40) that the Deists were more like popular writers and journalists than scientists---to wit:

The laundry list like enumeration hides some of the dependency in these writings. For example, the 2nd volume of Morgan's Moral Philosopher was a response to John Leland's The Divine Authority of the Old and New Testament Asserted, published in London (2nd ed 1739; 4th enlarged edition of 1739 in 5 vols: volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, volume 4, volume 5), which in turn was a response to Tindal's Christianity as old as the Creation.

This presentation also hides the temporal information, which will require a separate pass to sort out.

Of course Reimarus had read more than that: Charles Blount and Shaftsbury are mentioned as well (p.42f). Blount's supposed commentary on Apollonius of Tyana of 1680 was rapidly suppressed, with the effect that few English copies are now extant. However, the French translation (by Marc Michel Rey & Jean-Louis Castilhon) and re-issue in 1779 in Amsterdam in four volumes (volume 1, volume 2volume 4) made the notes available more widely.

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