Troki, Isaac Ben-abraham

Troki, Isaac ben-Abraham a Jewish scholar, who derived his name from his native place, Troki, a town in the Russian province of Wilna, was born in 1533. At the period in which this character lived, Poland was not only the seat of Jewish learning, but also the scene of action of the different sects to which the Reformation gave rise. "In the earlier years of the religious Reformation of the 16th century, the skepticism which had prevailed so generally in Rome and the Italian states, chiefly among the higher clergy, and perhaps most intensely in the highest, tainted the Italian mind, and imparted a peculiar stamp of heterodoxy to the adherents of the Reformation in that country. The court of Rome had sagaciously put off the garb of pagan laxity, which it had worn so jauntily since the revival of letters. The Council of Trent, while reviewing every article of Roman theology, having stated in its canons the fundamental articles of Christian faith with a clearness that was indeed much needed, gave strict instructions to all the licensed preachers of their Church, and so enabled them to assume a new appearance of sound faith, at least in those particulars which would contrast not only with their former heterodoxy, now to be concealed, but with the open heterodoxy of certain fugitive Italian Protestants. These persons found congenial society among the Jews in Poland, who, while heroically adhering to the letter of the Mosaic law, had nevertheless not accepted the-more fully unfolded verity of Christian revelation. Heretics they were in the eye of Rome, and the persecution that haunted them drove them at once into the arms of the Polish Karaites; for, like them, and even more than they, these protesters against Rome hated tradition and all human authority. Like the Karaites, they were sturdy Monotheists in the same narrow sense. They outran Arius in the race of unbelief. Their own Socino left his name to a sect just as Sadok had left his; and Socino, with his principal followers, chose Poland to be at once their asylum and their citadel. From that time it became the center of Socinialism in Europe. In Poland the Jew and the Christian both enjoyed religious liberty, and for once the most orthodox of the Israelites and the least orthodox of the Christians could fraternize on one point, and on only one. One of those Jews was Isaac. He was brought up in the study of Talmudism as a branch of Jewish learning, and in the faith of the Karaite, cold withal, until quickened and elevated under the impulse of persecution. Young Isaac, to whom Hebrew was vernacular, was also liberally educated in the Latin and Polish languages. In these languages he read the chief controversial writings, as they were issued by their eminent authors, against the Church of Rome. He carefully studied the Catholic- Polish version of the Bible, made by Leonard from the Vulgate, which appeared in Cracow in 1561, and again in 1575 and 1577; the Calvinistic- Polish version, called the Radzivil Bible, and published in 1563; and the Socinian version, made also from the original texts, by the celebrated Simon Budny, which was published at Nieswicz, in Lithuania, in 1570; as well as the writings of Nicholas Paruta, Martin Chechowiz, and Simon Budny, the heads of Unitarianism in Poland. As all these sects, who differed from each other on almost every other point, agreed in their attack upon the Jews and their faith, the rabbi set to work on a confutation of Christianity. He read the New Test., in Budny's version, with the cool and orderly habit of a hard-working student. Every passage on which he could fix a doubt or hazard a denial was marked as it stands in the sacred book and for the purpose of controversy. The entire stock of all Christian cavils with which educated Jews, at least, are familiar, combined with the objections of the Socinians, were brought to bear on the New Test. by direct attack on all the leading sentences in relation to the person, life, and ministry of Christ. The work, written in Hebrew, under the title of Confirmation of the אמונה הזוק and which has a world-wide celebrity, Isaac finished in 1593, when sixty years of age. The work is interesting for its quotations from some little-known Christian and polemical works in the Polish language, and because it has been made use of by critical writers upon the New Test. from Voltaire to Strauss; for the former at least acknowledges in his Melanges, 3, 344: "Il a rassemble toutes les difficultes que les incredules ont prodiguees depuis.... Enfin, incredules les plus determines nont presque rien allegui qui ne soit dans ce rempart de la foi du rabbin Issac." The book is divided into two parts — the first, which is devoted to an examination of the objections raised by Christians against Judaism, and which is subdivided into fifty chapters, discusses very minutely the interpretation of the Messianic passages of the Old Test. and their application to Christ as the predicted Messiah; while the second part is taken up with a critical examination of the statements made in the sundry books of the New Test. Troki died in 1594. His work was first published by Wagenseil, with a Latin translation, in his collection of The, Fiery Darts of Satanm (Tela Jgneaa Satance) (Altdorf, 1681), from a MS. obtained from an African Jew, which was imperfect. A reprint of this vitiated text without the Latin translation appeared in Amsterdam in 1717s and in Jerusalem in 1845. The best edition, however, is that edited by rabbi D. Deutsch, with a German translation (Sohran, 1865). Besides this German translation, there is another by M. Gelling (Hamb. 163L-33). It was translated into Spanish by Isaac Athia, and into Italian by M. Luzzatto. The work has also been redefined by Müller, Coifutatio Libri Chizuk Enzuwta, comprised in his Judcismus ex Rabbinorum Scriptis Detectuts, etc., Refutatus (ibid. 1644); by GouSsset, Ternio Controvers. adversus Judaeos, Oppositus R. Isaac Chissuk Emuna (Dordrecht, 1688), which, however, was not satisfactory to the duke Louis of Orleans (d. 1752), who wrote another refutation; by Gebhard, Centum Loca N.T. Vindicata adversus Chissuk Emuna (Greifswalde, 1699); Storr, Evangelische Glaubenskraft. Gegen das Werk Chissuk Emuna (Tub. 1703); and by Kidder [Bp.], in his Demonstration of the Messiah (2d ed. Lond. 1726). See Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 4:639 sq.; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, 26:10; Fürst, Bibl. Jud. 2, 138; 3, 448, De' Rossi, Dizionario Storico (Germ. transl.), p. 320 sq. id. Biblioth. Antichristiana, p. 42 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. s.v.; Steinschneider, Catal. Libr. Hebr. in Bibl. Bodl. col. 1074 sq., and his Jewish Literature, p. 212; Etheridge, Introd. to Hebr. Lit. p. 444; Rule, Hist. of the Karaite Jews, p. 170 sq. Basnage, Hist. des JuiJs (Taylor's transl.), p. 772; Geiger, Isaak Tamroki, ein Apologet des Judenth. am Ende des 16ten Jahrhdts. (Breslau, 1853; reprinted in his Nachgelassenie Schriften, 3, 178, Berlin, 1876); id. Probenjkidischer Vertheidiqung geen christliche Angriffe, in Liebermann's Kalender, 1854; Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 9:490 sq.; Becker, in Saat amf Honffung (Etlang. 1870), 7:154 sq.; Fürst, in the same quarterly (ibid. 1871), 8:224 sq. (B. P.)

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