Senior Fellow: October 2015–February 2016
Research Project: Jacob ben Amran, Porta Veritatis (1621). Towards a Critical Edition of a Clandestine and Sceptical Unpublished Latin Treatise
Paolo Bernardini will prepare a critical edition of the ‘Porta Veritatis’, a seventeenth century Latin manuscript with quotations in Hebrew. There is no printed version of this text, and the authorship of Jacob ben Amran still has yet to be established. The work might have been written in Venice between 1621 and 1634. It is contemporary with the writings of Rabbi Simone Luzzatto, who worked in a context where sceptical ideas were circulating, influencing Jews and Christians alike. Since the manuscript appeared and was passed on in the United Provinces before and during Spinoza’s time, Spinoza may have been aware of it. Some sceptical elements in the ‘Porta Veritatis’ can be found in its textual criticism: there are empirical and rational arguments against the ‘evidence’ of the Gospel narrative, there is methodological doubt about a large number of ordinary as well as miraculous performances by Christ, and there are attacks on logical fallacies of some episodes in the Gospels.
Paolo Bernardini is professor of early modern European history at Insubria University in Como/Italy.