“The Mystery of this Restitution of All Things”: Isaac Newton on the Return of the Jews

  • S. Snobelen
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 175)


In one of his early eighteenth-century manuscripts, under the heading “Of ye... Day of Judgmt & World to come,” Isaac Newton declares that “the mystery of this restitution of all things is to be found in all the Prophets.” To this he adds: “which makes me wonder wth great admiration that so few Christians of our age can find it there.”2 What was this prophetic “mystery” that such a small number of his contemporaries could discover? He goes on to explain:

For they understand not that ye final return of ye Jews captivity & their conquering the nations <of ye four Monarchies> & setting up a peaceable righteous & flourishing Kingdom at ye day of judgment is this mystery. Did they understand this they would find it in all ye old Prophets who write of ye last times as in ye last chapters of Isaiah where the Prophet conjoyns the new heaven & new earth wth ye ruin of ye wicked nations, the end of allcc:l troubles weeping & of all troubles, the return of ye Jews captivity & their setting up a flourishing & everlasting Kingdom.


Seventeenth Century Jewish People Early Eighteenth Century Strong Nation Lengthy Duration 
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  1. 1.
    Research for this paper was made possible by a Queen Elizabeth II British Columbia Centennial Scholarship and a Commonwealth Scholarship for the United Kingdom. I would like to acknowledge the kind permission of the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem; the Provost and Fellows of King’s College, Cambridge; Fondation Martin Bodmer, Geneva; the Warden and Fellows of New College, Oxford; and Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan for permission to quote from manuscripts in their archives. I would also like to thank Matt Goldish and Scott Mandelbrote for their kind assistance.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jewish National and University Library (Jerusalem) Yahuda MS 6, f. 12r. Transcriptions given herein represent deletions as strike-outs, while insertions are enclosed within angle brackets and (since Newton himself uses square brackets) my own editorial expansions are placed within braces.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Yahuda MS 6, f. 12r.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Although there exists no previous extended study of this subject, see Franz Kobler, “Newton on the Restoration of the Jews,” Jewish Frontier (March 1943), 21–3; Frank E. Manuel, The Religion of Isaac Newton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 67; and David Castillejo, The Expanding Force in Newton’s Cosmos (Madrid: Ediciones de Arte y Bibliofilia, 1981), 37–8, 54–5.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See the microfilm collection released by Chadwyck-Healey of Cambridge, along with the catalogue Sir Isaac Newton: A Catalogue of Manuscripts and Papers Collected and Published on Microfilm by Chadwyck-Healey, ed. Peter Jones (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1991 ). A new project to publish Newton’s theological manuscripts, under the direction of Rob Iliffe and Scott Mandelbrote, promises to provide even greater access.Google Scholar
  6. On Mede and his crucial role in introducing premillenarian exposition in England, see Robert G. Clouse, “The Rebirth of Millenarianism,” Puritans, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600 to 1660,ed. Peter Toon (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1970), 42–65. On Protestant apocalyptic thought in the seventeenth century, see Richard H. Popkin, ed., Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought 1650–1800 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988); Katherine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain 1530–1645 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979); Paul Christianson, Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978); and Bryan W. Ball, A Great Expectation: Eschatological Thought in English Protestantism to 1660 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975). The importance of millenarian thought to many intellectuals in this period is demonstrated in Popkin’s seminal “The Third Force in Seventeenth-Century Thought: Skepticism, Science and Millenarianism,” The Prism of Science: The Israel Colloquium,ed. Edna Ullmann-Margalit, vol. 2. (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1986), 21–50.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    This development was one legacy of what historian George H. Williams calls the “acute Hebraicization” of the Reformation (Williams, Radical Reformation,3rd ed. [Kirksville: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1992], 12). Several helpful studies that treat belief in the return of the Jews during the early modern period include Avihu Zakai, “The Poetics of History and the Destiny of Israel: The Role of the Jews in English Apocalyptic Thought During the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 5 (1996), 313–50; Nabil I. Matar, “John Locke and the Jews,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 44 (1993), 45–62; “The Controversy over the Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought, 1701–1753,” Durham University Journal 80 (1988), 241–56; “Milton and the Idea of the Restoration of the Jews,” Studies in English Literature 27 (1987), 109–24; “The Idea of the Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought: Between the Reformation and 1660,” Durham University Journal 78 (1985), 23–35; “The Idea of the Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought, 1661–1701,” Harvard Theological Review 78 (1985), 115–48; Christopher Hill, “`Till the Conversion of the Jews,”’ Millenarianism and Messianism,12–36; Regina Sharif, “Christians for Zion, 1600–1919,” Journal of Palestine Studies 5 (1976), 123–41; Mayir Vreté, “The Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought 1790–1840,” Middle Eastern Studies 8 (1972), 3–50.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Vreté, “The Restoration of the Jews,” 15.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Important works in this genre include Andrew Willet, De universali i novissima Iudæorum vocatione (Cambridge, 1590); Thomas Draxe, The worldes resurrection or the general calling of the Jewes (1608); and Thomas Brightman, Apocalypsis Apocalypseos (Frankfurt, 1609). See Vreté, “Restoration of the Jews,” 15–16, 45–6.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Finch], The worlds great restauration or calling of the Jews, and (with them) of all nations and kingdoms of the earth to the faith of Christ (London, 1621).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mede presented the influential interpretation that the drying up of the Euphrates during the sixth vial stood for the collapse of the Turkish Empire, which would allow “the kings of the east” (the Jews) to return to their land (Mede, The key of the Revelation,tr. Richard More [London, 1643] part 2, 118–20 and “Compendium” sigs. Ss2v, Ss3r, Ss4r; see also the comments in the preface by William Twisse, who argues that the return of the Jews to Israel would so enrage the Turks as to set in motion the battle of Armageddon [Key, sigs. B2r, a3r]). For additional background on Mede’s views, see Vreté, “Restoration of the Jews,” 17–18.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Matar, “Restoration of the Jews, 1661–1701”; and “Restoration of the Jews, 1701–1753.” Thus, Newton’s acceptance of the literal, Restorationist view must be placed against the backdrop of his own period, as from 1660 increasing numbers of exegetes involved in the conservative theological reaction of the Restoration opposed the idea of a literal return of the Jews to Israel (this is not to say that opposition did not exist earlier as well). Matar concludes that this anti-Restorationist movement was at its strongest in the 1690s (Matar, “Restoration of the Jews, 1661–1701,” 134–46).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    One illustrative example of this is Pierre Allix (on whom, see Matt Goldish, “The Battle for `True’ Jewish Christianity: Peter Allix’s Polemics against the Unitarians and Millenarians,” unpublished typescript).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England 1603–1655 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982) and the studies by Matar cited above in note 7.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    For a fuller treatment of this, see Matt Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Isaac Newton ( Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1998 ), 26–32.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    John Harrison, The Library of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), items 1018, 1019, 1020, 1021 and 1022.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Harrison, Library of Newton, item 873. On Newton and the Kabbalah, see Matt Goldish, “Newton on Kabbalah,” in The Books of Nature and Scripture: Recent Essays on Natural Philosophy, Theology, and Biblical Criticism in the Netherlands of Spinoza’s Time and the British Isles of Newton’s Time, James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin, eds., ( Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994 ), 89–103.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Harrison, Library of Newton, item 1300.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    The mere possession of such works, or course, does not necessarily imply assent with their content on the part of the owner. Newton often used his books simply as historical sources and it is clear that in the case of the Kabbalah he saw its teachings as metaphysical, paganized corruptions (King’s College [Cambridge], Keynes MS 3, p. 33; Fondation Martin Bodmer [Geneva] MS, 4, f. 4r; 4A, ff. 40r-41 r; where no consistent foliation exists in this manuscript, I number folios from the inserted type-written chapter divisions). Newton also rejected the emanationist philosophy presented in the Kabbalah (see Manuel, Religion of Newton, 46, 6871 ).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Harrison, Library of Newtonitems 321, 322, 351, 888, 937, 1148, 1230, 1389, 1470.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Harrison, Library of Newton,item 206. This Bible shows signs of dog-earing and contains Latin annotations in Newton’s hand (Trinity College, Cambridge, shelf mark NQ.8.22).Google Scholar
  22. See especially Babson College MS 434; Babson MS 435; Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin) MS HRC 132; Yahuda MS 2.4 and portions of the Bodmer MS, Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Michigan) ASC MS.N47 HER; Public Record Office (London) Mint Papers 19/3 and Yahuda MSS 10, 13.2, 14, 15, 28. A portion of Newton’s writings on the Temple was published as a chapter in his Chronology of ancient kingdoms amended (London, 1728), 332–46. All of this is in addition to the material on the Temple and Jewish ritual in Newton’s prophetic manuscripts, including Yahuda MS 1 and Keynes MS 5. See also the summary of Jewish, Mishnaic and Christian Hebraist sources cited in Newton’s works given in Frank E. Manuel, Isaac Newton, Historian (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1963), 268. Manuel also discusses Newton’s use of Christian Hebraist sources (Manuel, Religion of Newton,85–6). Newton shared his interest in the Jewish Temple with men such as Henry More, John Locke and William Whiston (see Matar, “Locke and the Jews,” 61).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    In his interpretations of prophecies, Newton believed that the Temple was the scene of the visions of Revelation (Yahuda MS 7.3c, f. 6r; Keynes MS 5, ff. Vr, 6r); in his millenarian beliefs, he held that the Jerusalem Temple would be rebuilt in the Kingdom age (Newton, Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John [London, 1733 ], 133 ).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Harrison, Library of Newton,items 673, 842, 945, 1295, 1454, 1469, 1470, 1482, 1484, 1521, 1545, 1713 and 1714. Newton also possessed a work on Jewish coinage (item 467).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ezekiel 40–48. See Trinity College, Cambridge, Adv.d.1.102 (Harrison, Library of Newton,item 188).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Keynes, “Newton, the Man,” Newton Tercentenary Celebrations ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947 ), 30.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Richard H. Popkin, “Some Further Comments on Newton and Maimonides,” in Essays on the Context, Nature, and Influence of Isaac Newton’s Theology,James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin, eds., (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1990), 1–7; “Newton and Maimonides,” in A Straight Path. Studies in Medieval Philosophy and Culture,ed. Ruth Link-Salinger, et al (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1988), 216–29; José Faur, “Newton, Maimonides, and Esoteric Knowledge,” Cross Currents: Religion and Intellectual Life 40 (1990), 526–38.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Newton. This work appeared as I was preparing my final draft and I was gratified to find general agreement between my paper and Goldish’s discussion of the relevant issues in his very valuable study. While I have not had time to assess Goldish’s book in detail, I have included some updates in my footnotes in light of his work.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Harrison, Library of Newton,items 132, 133, 461, 749, 861, 862, 1348.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Manuel, Isaac Newton, Historian,92–3.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    The best study of Newton’s Chronology remains Manuel’s masterful Isaac Newton, Historian.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    These include Jean de la Rocque, Voyage dans la Palestine (Amsterdam, 1718); Paul Lucas, Voyage du Sieur Paul Lucas au Levant (Paris, 1704), Henry Maundrell, A journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem (Oxford, 1721); and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Relation d’un voyage du Levant (Lyon, 1717). See Harrison, Library of Newton,items 918, 987, 1041 and 1322.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Harrison, Library of Newton, item 11.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Newton refers to Mede with approbation in his early treatise on Revelation, which dates from the 1670s (Yahuda MS 1.1a, ff. 8r (bis),28r (bis); Yahuda MS, f. lr; Yahuda MS 1.3, f. 51 r; Yahuda MS 1.4, f. 36v). Newton also refers to More and Hugo Grotius in Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 28r, and further acknowledges his debt to Mede in Yahuda MS 14, f. 85r and Keynes MS 5, ff. Ir, 2r and to Grotius in Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 33v and Keynes MS 2, 21, 22 and 91. Further to these examples, Newton mentions (in a positive light) the prophetic exposition of William Lloyd, Bishop of Worcester, in Yahuda MS 7.1c, ff. 2r, 4r, 5v, 8r.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Perhaps wishing he had found references to his own prophetic works in the Observations,Whiston said of Newton that other than using Mede, he “seems to have digged long in the deepest Mines of Scripture and Antiquity for his precious Ore himself; and very rarely to have condescended to make use of others on these Occasions” [Whiston, Six dissertations (London, 1734), 270].Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    For example, in 1736 Whiston acted as an agent for a Protestant benefactor sending financial relief to the community of Jews in Duke’s Place, by Aldgate in London [Whiston, Memoirs of the life and writings of Mr. William Whiston, 2nd ed. (London, 1753), 1:2981 Earlier, in 1729, Whiston had raised money for a converted Jew named Abraham Elias (British Library, Add. MS. 28, 104, f. 28). Goldish shows that another of Newton’s disciples, John Theophilus Desaguliers, enjoyed close personal contact with the London Portuguese Jew Jacob de Castro Sarmento (Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Newton, 36). Goldish also notes that many of Newton’s Protestant associates had contact with Jews and that Newton’s lack of such contact appears atypical (Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Newton, 33–4).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Moving beyond Newton’s circle to a wider phenomenon, Matar argues that very few of the Restorationist exegetes of seventeenth century ever personally encountered Jews (Matar, “Restoration of the Jews, 1661–1701,” 116). Nevertheless, Goldish is probably correct to suggest that Newton, who lived into an age that saw increasing numbers of Jews in London, represented “an extreme of dissociation from living Jews” (Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Newton,34).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    See the early intimations in Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 30r; Yahuda MS 1.1b, f. 4r; Yahuda MS 1.2, ff. 25r, 27r; Yahuda MS 1.4, f. 106r. For the later period, see the note on Daniel’s 2300 days scribbled on the back of a letter from George Needham dated 16 May 1725 (Mint Papers, 19/ 5, f. 12v).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    See for example ASC MS.N47 HER, 10–24 and Bodmer MS, “Sketches, notes and outlines for `Of the Church,”’ f. 7r;Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 145r.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Yahuda MS 6, f. 12r (cited at the beginning of this paper). Accordingly, the number of references to the return of the Jews in Newton’s manuscripts is too numerous to cover exhaustively in this paper.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Newton, Observations,133; Yahuda MS 1.4, f. 106r. It must be stressed, however, that such use of the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha is a rare occurrence in Newton’s writings.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Whiston also followed his one-time mentor in using this inductive, quantitative argument for prophecy. See my “The Argument over Prophecy: An Eighteenth-Century Debate between William Whiston and Anthony Collins,” Lumen 15 (1996), 195–213.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Yahuda MS 7.1e, f. 27r; Yahuda MS 7.1f, f. 3r.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Keynes MS 5, f. 137r, 138r; Yahuda MS 1.8, f. 5r.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Yahuda MS 8.2, f. 7r.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Keynes MS 5, f. 32r (see also ff. 35r-36r).Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Keynes MS 5, f. 29r.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 8r (see also Bodmer MS, “Additional Chapters,” f. 50r and Yahuda MS 7.2g, f. 2r).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Allix, An examination of several Scripture prophecies, which the Reverend M.W. hath applyed to the Times after the coming of the Messiah (London, 1707), 45, in Allix, Two treatises. I. A confutation of the hopes of the Jews concerning the last redemption. II. An answer to Mr. Whiston’s late treatise on the Revelations (London, 1707). Newton owned a copy of this work (Harrison, Library of Newton,item 30).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 157r.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Bodmer MS, “Sketches, notes and outlines for `Of the Church,”’ f. 7r.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    ASC MS. N47 HER, 4–7 (quotation from page 4). On page 4 of this manuscript, Newton concludes that “God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob extends to ye resurrection”.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    ASC MS. N47 HER, 6, 4.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Yahuda MS 6, f. 15r. Newton makes a similar assertion in Yahuda MS 10, f. lr-v.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    This is the position taken by Allix in his Examination of several Scripture prophecies,27–40.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 142r-143r; see also Yahuda MS 7.1j, f. 24r.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 143r.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    See also Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 144r.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 144r-145r.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Yahuda MS 7.2g, f. 2r; Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 158r; New College Oxford MS 361.3, ff. 89r-v; ASC MS.N47 HER, 13.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    ASC MS.N47 HER, 10.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Yahuda MS 7.1c, f. 4v.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    The Israelites in the days of the antient Prophets, when the ten Tribes were led into captivity, expected a double return; and that at the first the Jews should build a new Temple inferior to Solomon’s,until the time of that age should be fulfilled; and afterwards they should return from all places of their captivity, and build Jerusalem and the Temple gloriously“ (Newton, Observations,132–3).Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    See the list of scriptural texts in ASC MS.N47 HER, 9.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Newton was particularly struck by the forty-ninth verse of this chapter, which speaks of a foreign army coming against Israel “as swift as the eagle flieth.” In one place Newton wrote out this passage and underlined the word “eagle” (ASC MS.N47 HER, 9), which he identifies elsewhere as the Roman Empire. Newton’s reasons for this identification included the fact that “a flying Eagle was the standard of a Roman Legion” and that the apocryphal work Esdras uses the eagle as a symbol of Rome (Keynes MS 5, f. 31r; see also f. 19v).Google Scholar
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    Newton, Observations,13.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Bodmer MS, 1, ff. lr-2r.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 22r, 22v; Bodmer MS, 7, f. 2r; Newton, Observations,13–14.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 8r. Newton gave almost identical lists of deficiencies in his exposure of the failings of Christianity (see, for example, Keynes MS 3).Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    While it never appears as a major theme in his writings, Newton does nevertheless occasionally speak of the Jews crucifying Christ (Bodmer MS, 1, f. 8r; Keynes MS 9, f. lr, fragment Br). He also refers to the Jews as “Christ’s enemies” (Keynes MS 5, f. 64r; Yahuda MS 7.2a, f. 3r).Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 2r.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Yahuda MS 1.4, f. 168r. On the Jews mistaking the Messiah at his first coming for a temporal king, see also Bodmer MS, 1, f. 8r.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Newton, Observations,13–14.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 2v.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Yahuda MS 1.1a, f. 3v.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Yahuda MS l.1a, f. 5r.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 8r; Bodmer MS, 7, f. 3r; Bodmer MS, “Additional chapters,” f. 49r; Bodmer MS, “Sketches, notes and outlines for `Of the Church,”’ f. 7r; Yahuda MS 1.2, f. 25r; Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 123r-124r, 152r, 158r; ASC MS.N47 HER, 4,13.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f 158r.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 158r.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 158r.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f 8r.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 123r-124r.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. lr. These references to the indignation are found in Daniel 8:19, 11:30 and 11:36.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. lr.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    For example, the term appears three times in Keynes MS 5 (ff. 137r-v) and in each case is not specifically defined. Many other examples could be cited.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. lr. This same material is presented again in Bodmer MS, 1, f 22v.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Keynes MS 5, ff. Iv-r, 6r.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    We know that Newton interpreted this chapter in this way, since he includes it in at least two lists of verses describing the Restoration of the Jews to their land (Bodmer MS, “Sketches, notes and outlines for `Of the Church,”’ f. 7r; Newton, Observations,134). The chapter also appears in Yahuda MS 6, f. 12r.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Bodleian MS Locke c.27, L 88r; Yahuda MS 8.2, f. 7r.Google Scholar
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    Keynes MS 5, f. 138r.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Bodmer MS, “Sketches, notes and outlines for `Of the Church,”’ f 7r.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f 19r.Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    ASC MS. N47 HER, 6, 4.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Yahuda MS 6, L 8r.Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 145r.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Yahuda MS 7.2g, f. 3v (cf. f. 4r); Bodmer MS, 1, f. 23r.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    Newton’s heading for these verses is: “Contingit hmc gentium congregatio et perditio proxime post conversionem & reductionem filiorum Israel de captivitate” (Yahuda MS 8.2, f. 6r; cf. Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 124r, 147r). In this same place he also specifies that Armageddon would occur before all the Jews had returned (Yahuda MS 8.2, f. 6r). Newton appears less interested in establishing whether the Jews’ conversion or return would come first. His follower Whiston, however, clearly states that he believes the Jews would return first in unbelief (Whiston, “Of the Restoration of the Jews,” Sermons and Essays upon Several Subjects [London, 1709], 224), thus providing an exception to Matar’s conclusion that for Protestant Restorationists, “[t]he Restoration was predicated on the Jews’ renunciation of their faith and their ethnic identity” (Matar, “Restoration of the Jews, 1701–1753,” 242).Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    Mede, Key,Part 2, 118.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    Yahuda MS 7.1k, ff. 8r-9r.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    Newton believed that the Turks were the prophetic “King of the North,” the power that would invade the land of Israel in the latter days (Keynes MS 5, f. 137r).Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    Yahuda MS 9, f. 123r.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    Bodmer MS, “Additional Chapters,” f. 53r.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    Keynes MS 5, f. 137r.Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    Yahuda MS 6, f. 11r.Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    Ibid. (underlining as in original).Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    Yahuda MS 7.1c, f. 4v; Yahuda MS 7.1k, 5r; Yahuda MS 7.1n, f. 23v; Bodmer MS, 7, f. 2r.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    Bodmer MS, 7, f. 2r.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    Newton, Observations,133.Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    See Yahuda MS 6, ff. 12r-19r, which is also the most detailed account of the Millennium in Newton’s writings.Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    Yahuda MS 6, ff. 10r, 13r-19r; Yahuda MS 9.2, f. 143r.Google Scholar
  112. 112.
    On this, see also my “Caution, Conscience and the Newtonian Reformation: The Public and Private Heresies of Newton, Clarke and Whiston,” Enlightenment and Dissent 16 (1997), 15184.Google Scholar
  113. 113.
    Yahuda MS 7.1f, ff. 1r, 3r, 4r; Yahuda MS 7.1i, ff. 6r, 8r; Yahuda MS 7.2g, ff. 2r, 4r; Yahuda MS 9.1, f. 44r; Yahuda MS 9.2, ff. 144r, 145r; Keynes MS 5, f. 137r; New College Oxford MS 361.3, f. 89r—v.Google Scholar
  114. 114.
    Yahuda MS 10.2, lr.Google Scholar
  115. 115.
    Yahuda MS 6, f. 11r. True to his premillenarianism, Newton sees a literal resurrection at the beginning of the thousand years.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
    Yahuda MS 1.4, f. 106r.Google Scholar
  117. 117.
    Bodmer MS, 4A, f. 2r. Elsewhere in this manuscript Newton states that the purity of the primitive Church lasted only until the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan, that is, the beginning of the post-Apostolic age (Bodmer MS, 5, f. 2r; 8, f. 2r).Google Scholar
  118. 118.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 2r; Newton, Observations,130–1.Google Scholar
  119. 119.
    Newton, Observations,132–3.Google Scholar
  120. 120.
    Newton, Observations,133–4.Google Scholar
  121. 121.
    Bodmer MS, 1, f. 23r; Yahuda MS 7.2g, f. 3v; Newton, Observations,133.Google Scholar
  122. 122.
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    See also Castillejo, Expanding Force,37. While Newton almost always only gave the starting dates for prophetic time periods, on the back of an undated letter he recorded 2132, 2370 and other dates for the end of the 2300 years (Yahuda MS 7.3o, f. 8r).Google Scholar
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    That his suggested dates for the end begin in the twentieth century, may be explained in part by his references to the duration of world history as 6000 years and his summation of the Jew’s captivity lasting 2000 years. Newton, who often looked for symmetry, may have been thinking of the balance of periods suggested by 2000 years of the Jews from Abraham to AD 70, and 2000 years for the Gentiles - an idea that has certainly gained in popularity among Protestant prophetic exegetes in the twentieth century. Also, his firm conviction that the Church - both Catholic and Protestant - was still deep in an apostasy that would not be remedied for some time, suggested to him a long time period.Google Scholar
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    On Newton’s commitment to the prophecy argument, see James E. Force, “Newton’s `Sleeping Argument’ and the Newtonian Synthesis of Science and Religion,” in Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: A Longer View of Newton and Halley,ed. Norman J.W. Thrower (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 109–27. Many intellectuals like Newton and Robert Boyle were concerned about combating the perceived rise in unbelief through the development of a series of apologetic arguments. For Newton, the Restoration, though far away in time, formed an important part of his arsenal against deism and infidelity. The later premillenarian Joseph Priestley also saw the Jewish Restoration playing this important prophetic and apologetic role. In citing the example of the dispersion of the Jews, predicted throughout the Old Testament starting with Moses, Priestley notes that “if this remarkable people should be restored to their own country, and become a flourishing nation in it, which is likewise foretold, few persons, I think, will doubt of the reality of a prophetic spirit” (Priestley, Letters to a philosophical unbeliever,2nd ed. [Birmingham, 1787], 192). The confidence that eighteenth-century expositors such as Newton, Whiston and Priestley showed in the special importance of this great prophetic sign offers an early example of what has become, with the passage of time and the subsequent events of history, a wider phenomenon. In 1998, fifty years after the modern establishment of the State of Israel and the realization of the hopes of many millenarians, the Restoration is firmly fixed as a leading element of the prophetic culture of large numbers of Protestants and Jews.Google Scholar
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    Whiston, in his reply to the Anti-Restorationist and anti-premillenarian Allix, wrote: “I observe that the Restoration of the Jews to their own Land in general, and the Rebuilding of their Temple, with the Restoration of their Sacrifices, according to Ezekiel’s Description and Model, is not a thing of Doubt or Uncertainty in the Prophetick Writings, but the thing that above all others they every where foretell and describe, in the plainest and most emphatical Words imaginable. ‘Tis not want of undoubted Proof and Evidence, but want of firm Belief of, or of careful and impartial Enquiries into the Sacred Writings hereto relating, that can occasion Christians or Jews to disbelieve, or once hesitate about this Point in general” (Whiston, “Of the Restoration of the Jews,” 222).Google Scholar
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    Certainly allowances must be made for the different temperaments of the two, including Newton’s professed irenicism, but the logic of Newton’s own prophetic chronologies meant that open preaching would be pointless, as Whiston himself observed (Whiston, Historical memoirs of the life of Dr. Samuel Clarke [London, 1730], 157). See also my “Caution, Conscience and the Newtonian Reformation,” 157–9, 166–8, 177–84.Google Scholar
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    This is to be compared with the fact that Newton in the late 1710s and early 1720s provided material support to a charity devoted to French Catholic converts to Protestantism (Mint Papers 19/2, f. 106v; New College Oxford MS 362.2, f. 68v; An account of the establishment for relieving poor proselytes,5th edn, [London, 1722], 31).Google Scholar
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    Writing in 1943 against the poignant backdrop of emerging revelations about the Holocaust, Kobler not only presents Newton as an early example of a believer in the Restoration, and suggests that Newton saw Britain as playing a role in this, but he also provides two examples of later prophetic works on the Restoration that cite Newton’s Observations. Kobler shows that both Samuel Collet’s Treatise of the Future Restoration of the Jews and Israelites to Their own Land (1747) and James Bicheno’s The Restoration of the Jews: The Crisis of All Nations (1800) use the material on the Restoration in the Observations. Bicheno’s work includes an appeal to Great Britain to assist in this Restoration (Kobler, “Newton on the Restoration of the Jews,” 23).Google Scholar
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    The Newtonians Whiston and Samuel Clarke both followed the Restorationist approach of their mentor. See Whiston, An essay on the Revelation of Saint John, so far as concerns the past and present times (Cambridge, 1706), 303–95; The accomplishment of Scripture prophecies; “Of the Restoration of the Jews,” 222–34; and Memoirs,vol. 2, passim; Samuel Clarke, A discourse concerning the connexion of the Prophecies in the Old Testament and the application of them to Christ (London, 1725), 20, 23, 26–7, 41, 46–7. See also Robert Clayton, An enquiry into the time of the coming of the Messiah, and the restoration of the Jews (London, 1751). Clayton, the Bishop of Clogher, had come under the theological influence of Newton and Clarke.Google Scholar
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    On the role of prophetic expectations in the British sponsorship of Jewish settlement in Palestine in the nineteenth century, see Vreté, “Restoration of the Jews.” For more on the place of the Newtonian Restorationists Whiston, Clarke and Clayton in this history, see Matar, “Restoration of the Jews, 1701–1753,” 242–4).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Snobelen
    • 1
  1. 1.Cambridge UniversityUK

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