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An "Epistle" of Joshua Ibn Vives of Allorqui
by [?]

“The campaign against the malignity of Paul de Santa Maria was opened by a young man who had formerly sat at his feet, Joshua ben Joseph Ibn Vives, from the town of Lorca or Allorqui, a physician and Arabic scholar. In an epistle written in a tone of humility as from a docile pupil to a revered master, he deals his apostate teacher heavy blows, and under the show of doubt he shatters the foundations of Christianity. He begins by saying that the apostasy of his beloved teacher to whom his loyal spirit had formerly clung, has amazed him beyond measure and aroused in him many serious reflections. He can only conceive four possible motives for such a surprising step. Either Paulus has been actuated by ambition, love of wealth, pomp, and the satisfaction of the senses, or else by doubt of the truth of Judaism upon philosophic grounds, and has renounced therefore the religion which afforded him so little freedom and security; or else he has foreseen through the latest cruel persecutions of the Jews in Spain, the total extinction of the race; or, finally, he may have become convinced of the truth of Christianity. The writer enters therefore into an examination based upon his acquaintance with the character of his former master, as to which of these four motives is most likely to have occasioned the act. He cannot believe that ambition and covetousness prompted it, “For I remember when you used to be surrounded by wealth and attendants, you sighed regretfully for your previous humble station, for your retired life and communion with wisdom, and regarded your actual brilliant position as an unsatisfactory sham happiness. Neither can Allorqui admit that Paulus had been disturbed by philosophic scepticism, for to the day of his baptism he had observed all the Jewish customs and had only accepted that little kernel of philosophy which accords with faith, always rejecting the pernicious outward shell. He must also discard the theory that the sanguinary persecution of the Jews could have made Paulus despair of the possible continuation of the Jewish race, for only a small portion of the Jews dwelt among Christians, while the majority lived in Asia and enjoyed a certain independence. There remains only the conclusion that Paulus has tested the new dogmas and found them sufficient…. Allorqui therefore begs him to communicate his convictions and vanquish his pupil’s doubts concerning Christianity. Instead of the general spread of divine doctrine and everlasting peace which the prophets had associated with the advent of the Messiah, only dissension and war reigned on earth. Indeed, after Jesus’ appearance, frightful wars had but increased…. And even if Allorqui conceded the Messiahship of Jesus, the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection, and all incomprehensible miracles, he could not reconcile himself to the idea of God becoming a man. Every enlightened conception of the Deity was at variance with it.”

[Page 77 et seq. Volume 8, Second half, Graetz’ History of the Jews.]

Marrano..–See Verse xix., Line 7th of “Epistle.”

The enforced recipients of baptism who remained in Spain formed a peculiar class, outwardly Christians, inwardly Jews. They might have been called Jewish-Christians. They were looked upon with suspicion by the Christian population, and shunned with a still more intense hatred by the loyal Jews who gave them the name of Marranos, the accursed. [Page 73.]

“Master, if thou to thy prides’ goal should come, Where wouldst thou throne–at Avignon or Rome?” Verse xxviii. 7, 8.

This sentence occurs in another Epistle to Paulus by Profiat Duran.

Verses 29 and 30 are paraphrases from an epistle to Paulus by Chasdai Crescas.

“These are burning questions, from which the fire of the stake may be kindled. Christianity gives itself out as a new revelation in a certain sense completing and improving Judaism. But the revelation has so little efficacy, that in the prolonged schism in the Church, a new divine message is already needed to scatter the dangerous errors. Two Popes and their partisans fulminate against each other bulls of excommunication and condemn each other to profoundest hell. Where is the truth and certainty of revelation?” [Graetz’ History of the Jews.]