Prades, Jean Martin De

Prades, Jean Martin de a French theologian, was born about the year 1720 at Castel-Sarrasin. He was destined to the ecclesiastical career, studied first in the country, then went to Paris and lived there in several seminaries, among others in that of Saint-Sulpice. He became acquainted with the authors of the Encyklopèdie, and furnished several articles to their work. He came into repute by a thesis which he defended at the Sorbonne for the doctorate of theology (Nov. 18, 1751). It contained the boldest assertions concerning the nature of the soul, the origin of good and evil, the origin of society, natural and revealed religion, the miracles, etc. His parallel of the cures performed by Jesus and those of Esculapius seemed particularly scandalous. The thesis was condemned forthwith by several prelates and by pope Benedict XIV. The Sorbonne, after having at first approved it, reconsidered its action, and declared it impious. Parliament ordered the arrest of the author at the request of the advocate-general D'Ormesson, whereupon De Prades fled to Holland (1752), and there published his Apology (1752, 3 pts. 8vo), to which Diderot added a refutation of a mandement of the bishop of Auxerre. Voltaire recommended Prades to the king of Prussia, who appointed him his lector, and bestowed upon him a life-rent and two canonries, one at Oppeln, the other at Glogau. The bishop of Breslau finally prevailed upon him to retract solemnly the principles he had defended (April 6, 1754). He became archdeacon of the chapter of Glogau. He died in 1782. Prades left, besides, an Abrégé de l'Histoire ecclesiastique de Fleuri (Berlin, 1767, 2 vols. small 8vo), supposed to be translated from the English, and to which Frederick II wrote a preface. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, s.v. See Brotier, Examen de l'Apologie de l'Abbé de Prudes (1753); Feller, Dict. Hist. s.v.; Jervis, Hist. of the Church of France, 2, 332-334.

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