Three English tellings of the Sabbatai Zevi story

  • Richard H. Popkin


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  1. 1.
    Cf. Michael McKeon, “Sabbatai Sevi in England,”Association of Jewish Studies Review, 3 (1977): 131–69. See also the items listed in Cecil Roth'sMagna Biblioteca Anglo-Judaica, Jewish Historical Society of England (London, 1937), 392–94.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A New Letter from Aberdeen in Scotland. Sent to a Person of Quality. Wherein is a more full Account of the Proceedings of the Jews, Than hath been hitherto Published. By R.R., 1665, 2–3. See, on this, McKeon, “Sabbatai Sevi in England,” 141–42, and Gershom Scholem,Sabbatai Sebi, The Mystical Messiah (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 348–49.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. Ernestine G.E. Van der Wall,De Mystieke Chiliast Petrus Serrarius (1600–1669) en zijn Wereld (Leiden: ICG Printing, Dordrecht, 1987), chaps. 9–10.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Oldenburg wrote from London to Spinoza on 8 December 1665: “Here everyone spreads a rumor that the Jews having been dispersed for more than two thousand years are to return to their country. Few in this place believe it, but many wish for it. You will tell your friend what you hear and judge of this matter. For myself, so long as this news is not conveyed from Constantinople by trustworthy men, I cannot believe it, since that city is most of all concerned in it.”The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, ed. Marie Boas Hall and Rupert Hall (Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), 2: 467. Further letters show that Oldenburg was getting a flow of data about Sabbatai Zevi from Serrarius and others, which he was sharing with his patron, Robert Boyle.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    R.H. Popkin, “The End of the Career of a Great 17th Century Millenarian: John Dury,”Pietismus und Neuzeit 14 (1988): 203–220.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Van der wall, chaps. 10–12.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cf. R.H. Popkin,”A Late 17th Century Gentile Attempt to Convert the Jews to Reformed Judaism,” in S. Almog,Israel and the Nations. Essays Presented in Honor of Shmuel Ettinger (Jerusalem, 1987), 25–45.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Published in 1669 by Henry Herringman at the Sign of the Anchor in the Lower Walk of the New Exchange.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The most recent printing is in the Augustan Reprint series published by the William Andrews Clark Library of UCLA in 1968.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    London, 1680, J.M. for John Starkey.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Scholem,Sabbatai Sevi, The Mystical Messiah, 432, n. 235.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    It is not listed in Scholem's enormous bibliography inSabbatai Sebi. It is listed in Roth's bibiography,Magna Biblioteca, 395, no. 27, and is reported to be in the Mocatta Library.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    London. Printed for the author; and sold by Tho, Bullock, at the Rose and Crown at Holbourn-Bridge in 1708.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    In most library catalogues and bibliographies it is still listed as being by John Evelyn.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    This copy of theHistory of the Three Late Famous Imposters is in the British Library, shelf mark “Eve. a. 25”. Cf. Anderson,English Consul in Turkey, 213–15 and the notes there.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Evelyn,Three Late Famous Imposters, A2v–A3r. Rycaut had published two works by then.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Paul Rycaut,History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623 to the Year 1677, London 1680. By the time this appeared, Rycaut's Turkish career was over, so he did not have to worry about recriminations from various Jews of Smyrna.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    R.H. Popkin, “The Fictional Jewish Council of 1650: A Great English Pipedream,”Jewish History 5/2 (1991): 7–22.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    A list of printings is given in Anderson,English Consul in Turkey, 294–96.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Evelyn,Three Late Famous Imposters, unnumbered 6th page.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
  23. 23.
    Pp. 41–111.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Rycaut,History, 201.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Anderson,English Consul in Turkey, 24.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
    A German woodcut of the time shows Sabbatai Zevi and James Nayler as the two great imposters. The British Library has acquired some Polish pamphlets about Sabbatai Zevi, in which he is called a “Turkish imposter or a Jewish quaker” and in which the excited reaction of the Quakers in Bristol to the news about the Jewish Messiah is described. Cf. Hanna Swiderska, “Three Polish Pamphlets on Pseudo-Messiah Sabbatai Zevi,”The British Library Journal 15 (1989): 212–16.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    A young Israeli scholar, Dr. Barzai, is preparing a study of the role of Menasseh's ideas on the Sabbatian movement. He has found that Menasseh'sHope of Israel was published in Smyrna in Spanish in 1657 by these new arrivals.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rycaut,History, 201.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., 202.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    The revised text without the names appears on 207. The list of names of those made princes by Sabatai appears in Evelyn,The History, 65–66Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., 219.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    London. Printed for the author; and sold by Tho, Bullock, at the Rose and Crown at Holbourn-Bridge in 1708. I have used the copy of this rare work that is in the collection of the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA. The only other copy in the US is at Harvard. There are a few copies in England, including one at the British Library.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    The Devils of Delphos, 1.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid., 2. The sermon by Dr. Offspring Blackall was “The Way of Trying Prophets.” A Sermon Preached before the Queen at St. James's, November 9, 1707, published in London at the time.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ibid., 6–7.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    On this, see Hillel Schwartz,The French Prophets. The History of a Millenarian Group in Eighteenth-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Devil of Delphos, 9.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ibid., 56.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
  42. 42.
  43. 43.
    Thomas Emes was the first of the French prophets to die in late December 1707. Lacy and others predicted he would be resurrected on 25 May 1708. This became a critical matter within the movement, and a major reason for opponents to challenge the movement when the prophecized resurrection did not occur. See Schwartz,French Prophets, chap. 4, “The Legacy of Dr. Thomas Emes.” Schwartz discusses many critical responses of the time to the French prophets but does not mention theDevils of Delphos. Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid., 72–73.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid., 73.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    John Mason inspired the Millenarian group called the Philadelphians. See Christopher Hill, “John Mason and the End of the World,” inPuritanism and Revolution, Panther ed. (1969), 311–23.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    This discussion is from page 75 to 110. On the events and people involved see Hillel Schwartz,French Prophets, chap. 1.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    When the first French prophets came to London in 1706, Buckeley and Lacy were among their first followers. Buckeley was a baronet and Lacy a wealthy Presbyterian. Lacy became one of the most important prophets in the movement, and Buckeley a leading defender of the group. Cf. Schwartz,French Prophets, 75–76 and passim.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ibid., 110.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Charles Leslie, “A Short and Easy Way with the Jews,” in hisTheological Works (London, 1721) 1: 52.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Popkin, “The Fictional Jewish Council,” 7–22.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    McKeon,Sabbatai Sevi in England, 161.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haifa University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. Popkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington UniversitySt. Louis and UCLAUSA

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