OROBIO (DE CASTRO), I. (B.) Israel Vengé, ou Exposition naturelle des Prophéties Hébraïques que les Chrétiens appliquent à Jésus, leur prétendu Messie. Par Isaac Orobio. Londres, 1770. (4), iv, -243, (1) pp. Small 8vo. Contemporary half calf, spine gilt in compartments, red label with gilt lettering, paper covered boards.
Ira O. Wade, The clandestine organization and diffusion of philosophic ideas in France from 1700 to 1750, chapter viii; not in L’Illuminismo francese alla Fondazione Feltrinelli; not in Schosler; not in Peignot.
Very rare first edition of this work which contains portions of Orobio’s strongest anti-Christian work, the Prevenciones divinas contra la vana idolatria de las gentas and which was used as important ammunition by French atheists against Christianity.
Isaac Orobio de Castro was born in Braganza, Portugal and became an important Spanish doctor and a professor of metaphysics. He was arrested by the Inquisition for secretly practicing Judaism. After three years in prison he escaped to France and became professor of pharmacy at Toulouse. Finally, deciding to abandon living as a Christian, he moved to Holland where he became one of the leading intellectual figures in the Spanish-Portugese Jewish community. His most famous works are an extremely rationalistic and scholastic answer to Spinoza in geometrical form, Certamen Philosophicum Propugnatum Veritatis Divinae ac Naturalis (1684) and his own defense of Judaism in a famous debate with Philip van Limborch. Limborch was troubled by Orobio’s anti-Christian views and debated with him (in the presence of van Limborgh’s friend, John Locke): the debate was published shortly after Orobio died and one of Locke’s first publications was a long review of this debate. Throughout his works, Orobio de Castro showed an extreme acute understanding of metaphysics, using his knowledge of Spanish Scholasticism to buttress his religion against freethinkers and liberal and orthodox Christians. Some of his arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity are close to Spinoza’s arguments against the plurality of substance. Many of Orobio’s writings circulated in manuscript, which were sometimes copied at the instigation of leading representatives of the Sephardi social elite in Western Europe, mainly in the first third of the eighteenth century. At the same time, deists such as Anthony Collins and Jean Lévesque de Burigny began to show interest in his anti-Christian writings and to buy copies of his works in Amsterdam. Some of these works were translated into French and circulated in manuscript, becoming major assets of clandestine French literature. His critiques of Christianity were praised by Voltaire and Holbach published a translation of some of Orobio’s polemical writings against Christianity under the title Israel Vengé (see: Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. v, pp. 552-553 and The Dictionary of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Dutch Philosophers, vol. ii, pp. 756-761). The book was probably printed in Amsterdam by Marc-Michel Rey.