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Colenda Digital Repository
Le livre des trois imposteurs; [manuscript] :; avec son histoire ou La reponse à la dissertation de Mr. de la Monnoye sur ce traité de tribus impostoribus, imprimée à la Haye chez Henry Scheurler et dans J.G. Krause Umständlishe Bücher-Historie Part II p.284 seq. on y a ajouté le jugement de Mr. de la Croze et de quelques autres autheurs et aussi une collection de quelques autheurs qui ont ecrit sur ce traité.
- Le livre des trois imposteurs [manuscript] : avec son histoire ou La reponse à la dissertation de Mr. de la Monnoye sur ce traité de tribus impostoribus, imprimée à la Haye chez Henry Scheurler et dans J.G. Krause Umständlishe Bücher-Historie Part II p.284 seq. on y a ajouté le jugement de Mr. de la Croze et de quelques autres autheurs et aussi une collection de quelques autheurs qui ont ecrit sur ce traité.
- This clandestine manuscript circulated widely at the beginning of the 18th century under the alternate titles Traité des trois imposteurs and l'Esprit de Spinoza. The text was one of the most notorious treatises that attacked the traditional foundations of organized religion and of revelation. The treatise targets all three Abrahamic religions and accuses their founding prophets (Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad) of manipulating popular ignorance to obtain political power. The treatise exhibits a number of deist, pantheist, and atheist traits: it seeks to arrive at the understanding of God solely through reason and not through received tradition or sacred texts; the work argues that God is an infinite being that encompasses all existing corporeal and incorporeal substances; and it is critical of all alleged prophecies and supernatural phenomena, which, according to the text, are signs of ignorance of natural laws. This French version is based loosely on an earlier Latin manuscript De tribus impostoribus that circulated in the sixteenth century. The direct reference to René Descartes (f. 26r) and indirect allusions to the works of Thomas Hobbes, Gabriel Naudé, François La Mothe Le Vayer, and Baruch Spinoza point to the fact that this text did not come into existence until the end of the seventeenth century or the beginning of the eighteenth century. The authorship of the work is also widely disputed: some scholars have argued that it was composed by a disciple of Spinoza, others have claimed that it was a work of a radical Huguenot exile, still others suggest it was composed by a libertin erudit or by a disabused Catholic. This version of the text is divided into six chapters: I.De Dieu, II.Des raisons qui ont parlé les hommes à ses figures un Etre Supreme ou un Dieu, III.De ce que signifie le mot de religion, comment et pourquoi il s'en est glisse un si grand nombre dans le monde, IV.De verités evidentes, V.De l'ame, VI.Des esprits. This copy contains two inscriptions on f. 1v: the first references Jac. Frider. Reimannus [Jacob Friedrich Reimmann]; the second argues that this treatise was written by the secretary of Frederik II against Pope Gregory IX and references Voltaire's L'abregé de l'histoire universelle. A list of 73 references to authors who have discussed this treatise (f. 2r-3r) and a table of contents (f. 3v-4v) precede the text. Several responses to the treatise are included after the main text. The first piece following the treatise is a response to a critique composed by Bernard de la Monnoye. There is also a brief reaction by Maturin Veyssière de La Croze, royal librarian in Berlin, who claims to have seen a copy of this manuscript in 1706 in Frankfurt. Following La Croze's comments, there are several excerpts from various authors who have mentioned this work. The authors cited are Pietro Pomponazzi, Christian Kortholt, and J.F. Reimmann; two critical articles from the theological periodical Unschuldige Nachrichten from 1733 are also included.
- 44 leaves : paper; 197 x 167 (180 x 150) mm. bound to 203 x 170 mm.
- (OCoLC)ocn230810115; (OCoLC)230810115; (PU)4316207-penndb-Voyager
- French, with associated materials in Latin (f. 36r-37r, f. 38v-39v) and in German (f. 37v-38v, f. 39v).
- Formerly owned by F. F. Pappe (inscription, f. i recto).; Formerly owned by Henry Charles Lea (bookplate inside upper cover and inscription dated 1888, f. ii recto).
- [France or Germany, after 1733].
- Deism -- Early works to 1800.; Atheism -- Early works to 1800.; Pantheism -- Early works to 1800.; Rationalism -- Early works to 1800.; Religion -- Controversial literature -- Early works to 1800.; Underground literature -- France -- 18th century.; Codices.; Treatises.; Polemics.; Manuscripts, French; 18th century.; Manuscripts, European.
- Personal Name:
- Lea, Henry Charles,; Pappe, F. F.
- Call Number:
- Ms. Codex 1187
- Penn in Hand: Selected Manuscripts