Feb 04, 2016 - Sale 2404

Sale 2404 - Lot 160

Price Realized: $ 2,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(JUDAICA.) [Horwitz, Jonathan.] Mock and Absurd Philosophy: or, a Word to the Reasonable. 96 pages. 12mo, contemporary boards, moderate wear, rebacked; uncut; markings of the Meadville Theological School on backstrip, endpapers and elsewhere. Boston, 1811

Additional Details

A carefully reasoned philosophical argument for the existence of God, and a refutation of atheism. The author does not venture into scripture or the discussion of any particular religion until the final ten pages, where he argues that "no nation, except the Jews, are obliged to observe the Jewish laws," and that these laws were a burden rather than a blessing from God: "Thus God was so far from being partial to the Jews . . . as the only favorites of heaven, that on the contrary, he encumbered them with so many laws . . . and he even dispersed them among all nations, to be to all an everlasting testimony of the creation of the world, of the existence of God, and his power to command nature according to his pleasure" (page 88). He moves on to an appeal for religious tolerance across faiths: "If religion is a bond which binds the individuals of each nation in particular, humanity goes farther, by tying and uniting together the individuals of all" (page 89), with examples of this spirit among the "Evangelists," Jews, and "Mussulmen" (page 90), adding that Adam, Noah, Zoroaster, Confucius, Brama, Socrates, and Jesus "taught the same truth" (page 92). He concludes that "we are all unitarians" (page 95).
The author, Jonathan Horwitz (1783-1852), was a Jewish immigrant to Philadelphia who had prepared the text for the first Hebrew Bible in America in 1814, and later taught Oriental languages. This very unusual pamphlet appears to be the first product of the American Jewish community to call for religious synthesis and ecumenical tolerance. Marcus, Supplement to Rosenbach 36; Shaw & Shoemaker 23408; Singerman 0211.