Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 31

Offprint from

On the History and Culture of Polish Jewry

Volume 20
Editor: David Engel; Associate Editors: David Assaf and Elchanan Reiner


The Institute for the History of Polish Jewry and Israel-Poland Relations The Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center Tel Aviv University 2006


Pawe Maciejko

Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

While the mature form of the Frankist doctrine expounded in The Book of the Words of the Lord has elicited much scholarly attention, early Frankist sources remain largely unanalyzed. The majority of these early sources were composed during the public disputations in Kamieniec Podolski in 1757 and in Lwow in 1759.1 Because these documents were composed for the use of the Christian public, part of the material has a clearly rhetorical, momentary character; it was meant to persuade an audience, not to express a theological doctrine. Some of the theses put forward during the disputations were promptly dropped as soon as the debates ended and were never really professed by the Frankists. Moreover, it is not clear whether and to what extent the manifestos and petitions presented in the name of the Frankists were really composed by the people who signed them. All of the manifestos were written in Latin or in Polish, and they exhibit traces of the knowledge of Christian theology, which would not normally have been expected from Jews. Some scholars have claimed that the ostensibly Frankist theses advanced during the disputations were not Frankist at all but were composed entirely by Catholic theologians and rephrased only slightly so that they would resemble Jewish documents. Majer Baaban, for example, assumed that the points for the debate had been formulated by Polish priests and then given to the Frankists, who lled in the gaps with quotations from Jewish sources.2
1 2

Research at the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig. On the disputations see Majer Baaban, LeToledot haTenuah haFrankit, Tel Aviv 1935, pp. 137y50, 209y66. Majer Baaban, Studien und Quellen zur Geschichte der frankistischen Bewegung in Polen, in Livre dhommage a la memoire du Dr. Samuel Poznanski, Warsaw 1927, p. ` 210.


Pawe Maciejko

Aleksander Kraushar went even further, claiming that Catholic theologians who knew Hebrew and could work with Talmudic sources orchestrated the entire debate in advance.3 However, there are several signicant discrepancies between the points raised in the disputations and ofcial Catholic doctrine. Observers also noted that the Frankists were less than explicit about their acceptance of some articles of Christian belief.4 For instance, although the Frankists stated that they believed the Messiah had already come, none of the theses concerning the Messiah mentioned the name of Jesus. As Bernard Weinryb has pointed out, had the theses really been formulated by the Lwo w clergymen, there would have been no reason for them to avoid mentioning Christ or Jesus. 5 In the analysis that follows, I shall argue that the manifestos and theses do contain elements of the original Frankist doctrine and that at least some of the points were formulated on the basis of Jewish tradition, both orthodox and heterodox. However, as some tenets explicitly professed by the Frankists were indubitably Christian, the status of the Christian elements deserves more detailed attention.

Polemics and Beliefs On the most obvious level, Christian ideas were used by the Frankists for polemical purposes. The overt aim of the disputations was to demonstrate the conformity of the position of the Contra-Talmudists with major tenets of Christianity. The tactics employed for this purpose were threefold. First, the Frankists mocked rabbinic Judaism, attempting to show that the Talmud is full of obvious incongruities and irrationalities. Second, they challenged

Aleksander Kraushar, Frank i frankisci polscy, 1726y1816: Monograa historyczna osnuta na zrodach archiwalnych i rekopismiennych, Krakow 1895, 1:150y51. An English translation of Kraushars book entitled Jacob Frank: The End of the Sabbataian Heresy, translated and annotated by Herbert Levy, appeared in 2001. The translation is untrustworthy, and Levys introduction is preposterous. According to Stanisaw Zaaski, Jezuici w Polsce, Krakow 1908, 3:674, the Frankists were supplied with theological arguments against the Talmudists by Father Konstanty Awedyk and other Jesuits in Lwow. The role of the Jesuits was often debated; see for instance Zygmunt Lucjan Sulima [Walery Przyborowski], Historya Franka i Frankistow, Krakow 1893, pp. 113, 145. Jonathan Eibeschutz was also reportedly supported by the Jesuits in Prague. See for example the reports of the Papal Nuncio in Warsaw: Bishop Serra to Cardinal Torrigiani, 30 January 1760, Archivio Segreto Vaticano, the Vatican [hereafter: ASV], Arch. Nunz. Di Varsavia, 94, Relazione della Causa e Processo di Frenk, fos. 155v. B. D. Weinryb, The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish Community in Poland from 1100 to Recent Times, Philadelphia 1973, p. 378, n. 32.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

the morality of the Jewish religion. Third, they wanted to demonstrate the Talmuds anti-Christian character. In all three respects, the manifestos and the live debate drew heavily upon standard tools of Christian anti-Jewish polemics. As Jacob Katz has observed, a typical technique of Christian apologetics was to take various dicta of the Talmud at their face value and assert that all that is said in them about Gentiles applies, without qualication, to Christians. 6 In Kamieniec, the Frankists utilized the very same technique. Good examples of this procedure are found in their reading of Sanhedrin 58b R. Hanina said: If a heathen smites a Jew, he is worthy of death as a statement proving that the Jews undermine the authority of Christian rulers, and of Sanhedrin 59a R. Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death as an attack upon Christian theologians.7 Along the same lines, the Frankists argued that the Hebrew term akum (an acronym for idolater, heathen) in rabbinic writings refers to Christians. Hence they claimed, for instance, that the Talmud forbids Jews to save Christians in danger or to take care of Christian sick. In the event, the term akum was sometimes used synonymously with Gentile, and the Shulhan Aruch does list categories of people who are not to be assisted in danger, including among them also the akum, idol worshippers;8 however, the very same passage of the Shulhan Aruch was commonly used by halachists to dene the Christians as a specic group of Gentiles, to whom the Talmudic statements against idolaters did not apply.9 It is clear that in these cases the
6 7

8 9

Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times, Oxford 1961, p. 107. See Franciszek Kazimierz Kleyn, Coram judicio recolendae memoriae Nicolai de stemmate Jelitarum a Dembowa Gora Dembowski... Pars III: De decisoriis Processus inter indeles Judeas Dioecesis camenecensis, in materia judaicae eorum perdiae, aliorumque muto obiectorum A. D. 1757 expedita ac in executis pendens, Lwow 1758, sig. O2yP3. The existing foliation is unreliable; I provide instead the numbers of the signatures. Part I, De Praeparatoriis Processus, and Part II, De Instructoriis Processus, were never published. For the Jewish response to this procedure, see letter of Abraham haKohen of Zamosc, 3 Tevet 5517 [= 26 December 1756], reproduced in Jacob Emden, Sefer Shimush, Amsterdam (Altona?) 1759, fo. 1v. Shulkhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 425, 5. The locus classicus is a gloss from Beer haGolah, Rabbi Moses Rivkess commentary to the Shulhan Aruch: The rabbis said this in relation to the pagans of their own times only, who worshipped stars and the constellations and did not believe in the Exodus or in creatio ex nihilo. But the people in whose shade we, the people of Israel, are exiled and amongst whom we are dispersed do in fact believe in creatio ex nihilo and in the Exodus and in the main principles of religion, and their whole aim and intent is to the Maker of heaven and earth, as the codiers have written (...) So far, then, from our not


Pawe Maciejko

Frankists deliberately misrepresented Judaism for the purpose of polemics and that this kind of argument was simply part of the rhetorical layer of the debate. The debate also had a deeper layer, however, for the Frankist manifestos reveal a substantial knowledge of Christian theological literature and employ a very specic theological terminology. Here are some examples from the Kamieniec disputation. Thesis two reads: The books of Moses and the other books of the Old Testament can be compared to a richly dressed Maiden, whose face is covered and whose beauty cannot be seen. These books are full of the hidden wisdom of God, they speak of things mysterious and of the future, and therefore, they cannot be comprehended by human reason without the assistance of Divine Grace. The thesis uses the technical notion of aska Boska osobliwa (the standard Polish rendering of gratia efcax, efcacious grace) and alludes to the Epistle to the Romans. Similarly, thesis four (On the basis of the Holy Bible of the Old Testament, we believe that there is One God, without beginning or end, maker of Heaven and Earth and all things known and unknown) is a loose paraphrase of the Nicene Creed. Further, thesis nine introduces the notion of Original Sin, while thesis six enunciates not only the Incarnation, but also the sinlessness of the incarnated God.10 All these are unquestionably Christian concepts, and it is unlikely that the Jews would have been able to phrase them in such technical language on their own accord. The question remains, however, whether these elements and terms served only as a convenient linguistic costume adopted for the purpose of the disputations, or whether some Christian tenets were genuinely incorporated into the Frankist system of belief. Oddly enough, the very same scholars who maintained that the theses for the disputations were composed by Christian priests tended to prefer the rst option and argued that many of the tenets expressed during the debates were in fact Jewish heretical notions. Heinrich Graetz stated, for example, that the Frankist manifesto was sufciently vague
being forbidden to save them, we are on the contrary obliged to pray for their welfare. Moses Rivkes, commentary on Shulhan Aruch, Hoshen Mishpat 425, quoted in Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance, p. 165 (Katzs reference to section 525 is a misprint). Early halachists in fact held Christianity to be a form of idolatry. Only in the thirteenth century did Rabbi Menahem Meiri create a new halachic category standing between Jews and idolaters, nations governed by religion. See Louis Jacobs, A Tree of Life: Diversity, Flexibility, and Creativity in Jewish Law, Oxford 1984, p. 72. 10 See Kraushar, Frank i frankisci polscy, 1:78y79.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

in its explanation of the Sabbatean and kabbalistic doctrines to lead the bishop to suppose that it was written in consonance with the Catholic Faith, 11 while Baaban argued that the majority of the theses for the Kamieniec disputation were based on the ideas of the Do nmeh.12 Were Christian elements only a useful weapon against rabbinic Judaism? Or did the Frankists really take over some Christian notions into their own creed? In order to answer these questions I shall turn now to the notion of the Trinity.

Trinitarian Notions in Frankism Some form of the concept of the Trinity appears in almost all documents from the early period of Frankism, and I believe that the emphasis put on this notion by far exceeded the purely rhetorical needs of selling Frankism to the Christians. The Kamieniec disputation opened with the reading of a proclamation signed by Yehudah Leyb Krysa and Salomon Schorr on behalf of the rest of the Frankists. The proclamation begins with the doxology to the Trinity and mentions the unity of the three persons of God in a few other places.13 The denunciation of Frank to the Christian authorities in Warsaw begins with the invocation of the Trinity 14 and quotes Franks followers as stating, Following the teaching of the Zohar we reached some understanding of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, but we doubted for a long time, and concealed our understanding from the Talmudists and even from each other, because the Talmudists persecuted those who believe in the Holy Trinity. 15 In the same denunciation Franks early activity is presented as going from town to town and teaching kabbalah, which is [the teaching] that there is one God in three persons. 16 According to the protocol of the investigation before the ecclesiastical court in Warsaw, Frank was initiated into the mystery of the Trinity by a rabbi in Smyrna.17 Reportedly, Frank advised his followers
11 Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews, trans. Bella Loewy, London 1901, 5:297; cf. also

12 13

14 15 16 17

idem, Frank und die Frankisten; eine Sekten-Geschichte aus letzten Halfte des vorigen Jahrhunderts, Breslau 1868, p. 23. Baaban, LeToledot haTenuah haFrankit, 1:155; idem, Studien und Quellen, p. 29. See Gaudenty Pikulski, Zosc zydowska przeciwko Bogu i blizniemu, prawdzie i sumieniu, na objasnienie talmudystow, na dowod ich zaslepienia i religii dalekiej od Prawa Boskiego przez Mojzesza danego, Lwow 1760, p. 172. Ibid., p. 327. Ibid., p. 339; see Kraushar, Frank i frankisci, 1:177, 189. Ibid., p. 329. ASV, Nunz. Varsavia, 94, Relazione della Causa e Processo di Frenk, fo. 148r.


Pawe Maciejko

imprisoned in 1755 to present their beliefs in terms of two main points: the acceptance of the Trinity and the rejection of the Talmud.18 Indeed, the belief in the Trinity was considered the most important, constitutive element of Frankism: an ecclesiastical privilege given to the Frankists in 1757 dened the group as the Israelites believing in the Trinity. 19 The importance of the notion is attested also by the reactions of the Frankists opponents: when the sectarians arrived in Lanckorona, a Jewish mob chased them throwing stones and yelling shilush, shilush! (the Trinity, the Trinity!).20 Characteristically, the point concerning the Trinity was the only one the rabbis refused even to discuss during the Lwo disputation. This refusal was not the result only w of the potentially contentious nature of the issue: the rabbis took up equally controversial topics of the Incarnation and the coming of the Messiah. In Frankist sources, the thesis concerning the Trinity has several different articulations, which reect interesting discrepancies. The rst formulation appears in the Latin manifesto submitted to the Kamieniec consistory on 2 August 1756. The relevant point reads as follows: Deus est trinus in personis, quae personae secundum divinitatem sunt individuae (God is in three persons inseparable as to their divinity).21 The contemporary Polish translation of this point, supplied by Franciszek Kazimierz Kleyn in Coram Judicio, is phrased in a slightly different manner: Bog [iest] w trzech Osobach natura nierozdzielny (God [is] in three persons inseparable in 22 one nature). The thesis put forward during the hearing at the Kamieniec consistory in September 1756 was an expanded version of this formulation: Wierzemy, z Bo ieden iest bez pocza tku y konca, we trzech Osobach e g sobie rownych, y nierozdzielnych, y zgodnych (We believe that there is one God, without beginning and end, in three persons, equal to each other, inseparable, and [acting] in accord).23 Despite the discrepancies, these three formulations reect the same understanding, are based on Christian
18 Konstanty Awedyk, Opisanie wszystkich dworniejszych okolicznosci nawrocenia do

19 20 21

22 23

wiary s. Contra-Talmudystow albo historia krotka ich poczetki i dalsze sposoby przystepowania do wiary s. wyrazajaca, Lwow 1760, p. 16. Graetz, Frank und die Frankisten, p. 42; see also idem, Geschichte der Juden von den altesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart, Leipzig 1897, 10:392y93. See Kraushar, Frank i frankisci, 1:72. Biblioteka Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, MS 85, Manifestacja zydow kontratalmudystow w dniu 2 VIII 1756 w sadzie biskupim w Kamiencu Podolskim zozona, fos. 247ry250v; see also Kleyn, Coram judicio, sig. M3. Kleyn, Coram judicio, sig. N2. Ibid., sig. P4yP5.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

theological literature, and were most likely prepared by a Christian. However, the thesis presented during the actual disputation in June 1757 was phrased in a completely different manner. The Polish version reads: Wierzemy, z e sa trzy oblicza w Bogu, i nie ma w Niem zadnego podziau (We believe that there are three faces within God, without him being divided).24 This is paralleled by the Hebrew and Aramaic: Anachnu maaminim she yesh El echad biTelat partsun sheShavin da leDa beli shum perud (We believe that there is one God in three countenances [partsun], equal to each other, and inseparable one from another).25 In order to appreciate the novelty of this formulation one has to look at the way the notion of the Trinity was dened in earlier theological literature and during the earlier Jewish-Christian debates in Poland. Polish theological works routinely render the word persona as osoba; to the best of my knowledge the Frankist thesis is the only document that talks about three faces (oblicza) of God. During medieval disputations, the hypostases of the Trinity were following the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition treated as the modi of divine substance. Only fourteen years before the Frankist debates, during the public disputation in Brody in 1743, the point concerning the Trinity was posited by Bishop Kobielski within the framework of the dialectic of substance and attribute, and the Jews rejected it by pointing to the Aristotelian argument that the understanding of the hypostases as attributes would lead to divisions within the Godhead, which in turn could not have been reconciled with Gods perfection: Deus caret distinctione propter excessum perfectionis; sin secus, non esset perfectus. 26 It might be assumed that if the point had indeed been formulated by a Christian priest, he would have relied on the existing Christian sources just as the priests relied on the existing Polish and Latin theological literature when describing other elements of the Frankist doctrine. The explanation for the highly unusual formulation of the point in Polish can be found in the Hebrew version of the thesis for the disputation. While the
24 Ibid., sig. T3. 25 Emden, Sefer Shimush, fo. 38r. 26 See List Jasnie W[ielmoznego] Xiedza Biskupa uckiego i Brzeskiego do Starszych

uczonych Caej Synagogi Brodzkiey in Franciszek Antoni Kobielski, Swiato na ydowskich miane, oswiecenie narodu niewiernego, to iest Kazania w Synagogach Z Lwow 1746, pp. 3y4; N. M. Gelber, Die Taufenbewegung unter den polnischen Juden in XVIII Jahrhundert, Monatsschrift fur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 68 (1924):233.


Pawe Maciejko

word oblicze is unprecedented in the earlier Polish literature on the Trinity, it can be seen as a literal translation of the term Hebrew partsuf. The term is of kabbalistic provenance and is usually rendered as face or countenance. Doing away with the rationalistic tradition of earlier debates that took place in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Frankists framed the discussion in kabbalistic terms and phrased their thesis as a collection of zoharic passages. Here is a section of the Frankist argument:27 We believe that there is one God in three countenances (partsufin), equal to each other, and inseparable one from another. The Old Testament (haTorah haYeshanah), as well as the Prophets, taught us about this truth. The Zohar says, The Torah commences with the letter bet; this letter has two parallel lines and a third joining them. These represent three supernatural essences, which are unified in one. 28 This belief in the Trinity in God is grounded in the Holy Scripture and is proved in numerous places. Here, we would like to summon only a few instances. Moses said (Genesis 1:2), And a wind from God (Elohim) moved upon the face of the waters. If there was only one Person in the Godhead, Moses would have said, a wind from the Lord, or a wind from El, etc. But he wanted to state the Trinity of aspects unified in God already at the beginning of his teaching. Further (Genesis 1:26), God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. On this the Zohar comments, They are two and one is joined to them and then they are three, and when they become three they are one. 29 And elsewhere (Genesis 3:22): And the Lord God (Elohim) said, Behold, the man has become like one of us. Had there been no three aspects, wouldnt it have been said, the Lord said...? What is the reason for [the appearance of the word] Elohim? This proves Gods Trinity. When [the Bible] says (Genesis 11:5) And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men built and Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language etc. To whom does the Lord speak? Not to the angels, who are His servants, to whom he can give orders, and whom he does not need to ask. But God said it to His coaspects, who are of the same standing.... Another proof of multiplicity of aspects in God:
27 Emden, Sefer Shimush, fos. 38ry47r; cf. Kleyn Coram judicio sig. M7yN5. 28 Cf. Zohar III, 36a. 29 Zohar III, 162a.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

God said to Moses: Come up to the Lord. Concerning the passage Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4), the Zohar states: These three are one.30 Various tripartite formulations of the mystery of the Godhead are indeed abundant in Jewish, especially kabbalistic sources. Already the Fathers of the Church claimed that the rabbis knew about the Trinity but hid this knowledge from ordinary Jews.31 The references to a threefold division within the Godhead are very common in the Zohar and in kabbalistic writings, and the Frankist argument makes use of this tradition. The exact text of the Jewish response to this point during the live disputation is not extant, but we know for certain that the rabbis purported to show that the Trinity of which the Frankists had spoken was not the Christian Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the Sabbatean Trinity of the three knots of faith.

Sabbateanism and the Three Knots of Faith The concept of the knots of faith, kishrei deMehemnuta, appears in the Zohar as an appellation of the serot and refers in particular to the symbolic juxtaposition of the three serot Hesed, Gevurah, and Tiferet.32 The Zohar encompasses also another triune notion, telat Dragei deMehemnuta (three rungs of faith), referring to the conguration of the three aspects (partsum) of the Godhead: the Holy Ancient One (atika kadisha), the Holy King (malka kadisha), and the Divine Presence (shechinah).33 Although the two concepts initially functioned separately, in the Sabbatean writings of controversial late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century kabbalist Nehemiah Hiya Hayon they became confused, and the knots of faith became identied with the three partsum.34 For Hayon, belief in the triune character of the Godhead became the central
30 Zohar II, 43b. 31 This idea appeared also during the hearing in Warsaw in 1760. See ASV, Nunz. Varsavia,

94, Relazione della Causa e Processo di Frenk, fo. 148r: the [concept of] the Holy Trinity is well known among the Jews. 32 See Isaiah Tishby, Kudsha Brich Hu, Oraita veYisrael Kulo Chad Mekor haImrah beFerush Idra Raba leRaMCHa"L, Kiryat Sefer 50 (1975):669. For other appearances in the Zohar, see Yehuda Liebes, Perakim beMilon Sefer haZohar (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1976), s. v. Kishra. 33 Tishby, Kudsha Brich Hu, pp. 669y70. 34 See Nehemiah Hiya Hayon, Oz leElohim, Berlin 1713, fo. 87vy88r, rst mentioned in this context in Tishby, Kudsha Brich hu, p. 670 n. 18. Cf. also ibid., fo. 79r.


Pawe Maciejko

article of the true faith of Israel: whoever does not accept the Trinity does not have a share in the World to Come.35 Obviously this position provoked immediate accusations of infusing Judaism with Christian notions. Against these charges, Hayon retorted that the similarity between the true kabbalistic concept of the Trinity and the Christian Trinity is due to the fact that the Christians confused the true notion. According to Hayon, it was only because the Jews did not want to resemble Christians that the rabbis backed off from acknowledging the triune character of the Godhead. As Yehudah Liebes has pointed out, this understanding of the character of the Trinity in the Christian religion, as well as the line of defence against the rabbinic accusation of Christian leanings, is grounded in the strategy of Hayons teacher, Abraham Miguel Cardoso.36 Already the rst opponents of Abraham Cardoso, his brother Isaac and Isaac Orobio de Castro, argued that some elements of Cardosos theology, notably the doctrine of the suffering Messiah and the messianic reading of Isaiah 53, are in fact Christian ideas dressed in Jewish language. Although Cardoso claimed to base his doctrine on the reading of traditional Jewish sources and explicitly attacked Christianity, some similarities between his teachings and those of the Christian theologians could not be denied, and his opponents argued that his treatises could supply arguments for Christian anti-Jewish writings.37 Cardoso decided to explain the parallels by reference to the fact that the Christians received their traditions from the sages of Israel and presented Christian theology as a kind of misreading of the legitimate Jewish tradition; as Cardoso himself put it, The disciples of Jesus were not procient in the depths of theosophy [hochmat haElohut] and therefore confused many issues. 38 This line of thought, however, went
35 See Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit sheMekorah beShabbetaut, in idem., Sod

haEmunah haShabbetait, Jerusalem 1995, p. 225; cf. also idem., HaYesod haIdeologi shebeFulmus Hayon, ibid., pp. 49y52. 36 See Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit, p. 226. 37 Y. H. Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto, Seattle 1981, p. 340; Yosef Kaplan, From Christianity to Judaism: The Story of Isaac Orobio de Castro, Oxford 1989, pp. 214y215. 38 Gershom Scholem, Hadashot LiYdiat Avraham Kardoso, in idem., Mehkarei Shabbetaut, Tel Aviv 1991, p. 407. A similar idea in mentioned in Sefer Toledot Yeshu: Jesus and his disciples were kabbalists but their kabbalah was lled with mistakes. See Gershom Scholem, The Beginnings of the Christian Kabbalah, in Joseph Dan, ed., The Christian Kabbalah: Jewish Mystical Books and their Christian Interpreters: A Symposium, Cambridge, MA 1997, p. 28.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

further. Although Cardoso considered Christianity the worst and most foolish religion ever conceived,39 he admitted that there are certain tenets of the true faith that were lost in mainstream Judaism but preserved in Christianity. In particular, the Christian idea of the Trinity is only a corruption of the secret of the divinity which the ancient sages had known but which had subsequently been forgotten among most Jews. 40 The very few Jews who did not forget about the secret of the divinity were for Cardoso, of course, Sabbatean kabbalists. The discussion of the notion of Trinity in Cardoso and Hayon sheds interesting light on the case of the Frankists. First, strategies of the polemics employed by the rabbis against the Frankists are a ipside of the tactics used against Cardoso and Hayon. For the adversaries of Cardoso and Hayon, links between Sabbateanism and Christianity served as proof that Sabbatean messianism was untrue. However, rabbinic opponents of the Frankists could not invoke this line of argumentation: acting in the context of public disputations before a Christian audience, they could not decry Sabbateanism for its Christian elements. Accordingly, they attempted to dissociate the two completely, showing that Sabbateanism is entirely incompatible with the Christian religion. If Cardoso and Hayon aimed at demonstrating that the idea of the Trinity in Christianity is in fact a distorted Jewish notion, the Jewish opponents of the Frankists managed to turn the tables on their adversaries, arguing that the thesis about the triune Godhead put forth during the Kamieniec disputation did not in fact refer to the Christian but to the Sabbatean Trinity. According to the rabbis, the Frankists were using kabbalistic terminology in order to present the Sabbatean notion of the three knots of faith, assuming that the Christian listeners would identify (or confuse) the Sabbatean Trinity with the Christian one. I am convinced that the source of the Frankist understanding of the Trinity is Cardoso, probably mediated through the tradition of the Donmeh. However, the issue is more complicated. The majority of scholars now agree that Cardosos opponents, Isaac Cardoso and Isaac Orobio, were in fact right: some crucial tenets of Abraham Cardosos theology were indeed
39 Abraham Miguel Cardozo, Selected Writings, trans. D. J. Halperin, New York 2001, p.

64. As Halperin has noted, according to Cardoso Jewish-Islamic monotheism is in some respects inferior to paganism and perhaps also to Deism but not to Christianity. 40 Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court, p. 338 n. 80; cf. Scholem, Hadashot LiYdiat Avraham Kardoso, pp. 408y409.


Pawe Maciejko

derived from Christianity. Cardoso a former Marrano who received an extensive Christian education and only subsequently returned to Judaism never fully succeeded in divorcing himself from Christian notions, and some Christian elements remained conspicuous in all his writings.41 One may therefore argue that the Frankist notion of the Trinity was ultimately based on Christian sources, which had earlier been incorporated into the Sabbatean tradition and were no longer recognized as Christian by the Frankists.

Jewish Sectarians and the Trinity Even more important is another aspect of the understanding of the Trinity in the earlier Sabbatean literature. Abraham Miguel Cardoso used the term partsuf not only in his discussion of the three countenances of The Holy Ancient One, the Holy King, and the Divine Presence, which he understood as the Sabbatean as opposed to the Christian Trinity. Characteristically, he employed the very same terminology when describing beliefs that were properly Christian. Given that the Jewish-Christian debate concerning the Trinity was conducted with reference to the Aristotelian doctrine of substance, Jewish authors describing the Christian trinitarian belief tended to render the word persona as toar (attribute).42 In contrast, Cardoso consistently used the term partsuf. For example, Cardosos treatise Zeh eli veAnvehu includes a chapter on Christian doctrine entitled Mah hi emunatam shel haNotsrim veOvdei avodah zarah. At the very beginning of this section Cardoso offered quite an accurate presentation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, stating, The Christians... posit that the First Cause [consists of] three countenances (partsum). 43
41 Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court, p. 338. 42 See, for example, The Refutation of the Christian Principles by Hasdai Crescas, trans.

Daniel Lasker, Albany 1992, p. 37: The Christian belief posits that the divine substance encompasses three attributes; cf. also Proat Duran, Sefer Kelimat haGoyim, quoted in Daniel Lasker, Jewish Philosophical Polemics against Christianity in the Middle Ages, New York 1977, p. 74: They all agree that their assumption of the Trinity refers only to the attributes, which they call persons. 43 See Abraham Miguel Cardoso, Derush Zeh eli veAnvehu, in Gershom Scholem, Mehkarim uMekorot leToledot haShabbetaut veGilgulehah, Jerusalem 1974, p. 348. David J. Halperin translates this sentence as, The First Cause, they say, is one Deity in three Persons; A. M. Cardozo, Selected Writings, New York 2001, p. 204. For the unusual character of this formulation, see ibid., p. 31; cf. also E.R. Wolfson, Construction of the Shekhinah in the Messianic Theosophy of Abraham Cardoso, Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 3 (1998):38, n. 86.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

For Abraham Cardoso, the similarities between his own position and that of the Christians did not play any important role; the issue came up only in the context of refuting his Jewish adversaries. Having concluded that the Christian beliefs derive, through multiple distortions, from the true doctrine known to the kabbalists, he went on to use kabbalistic terminology in summarizing Christian theology. I believe that the Frankists consciously or unconsciously emphasized and elucidated the idea already present in embryonic form in Cardoso and the teachings of the leader of the Donmeh, Beruchiah: the conviction that not only some essential elements of esoteric Jewish lore were preserved in Christianity as well as in Judaism but that other elements were lost in mainstream Judaism and preserved only in Christianity. This proposition leads to the hypothesis of the existence of a Judaeo-Christian Sabbatean group put forward by Yehudah Liebes, who argued that in the 1720s the syncretic element of Sabbateanism became so pronounced that the movement could have been seen as clandestine Christianity within Judaism. 44 On the basis of documents belonging to the Moravian Church rst published by Gustav Dalman at the end of the nineteenth century,45 Liebes described a sect, reportedly established in the 1680s, that existed in various European countries as well as in the Ottoman Empire. In 1772 a follower of this sect by the name of Simon approached Pastor Burgmann, one of the leaders of the Lutheran community in London, and asked how a man can achieve redemption of the soul. Simon gave Burgmann some details about the sects internal functioning and put him in touch with a certain Baruch, a Hungarian Jew living in Amsterdam. Through Simon and Baruch, Burgmann exchanged letters with the Amsterdam branch of the sect. The pastor decided to work toward the conversion of the sectarians and asked a preacher of the Moravian Church in London, Latrobe, for help. However, shortly after the Moravians sent a mission to Amsterdam, the Jews broke off the correspondence, and all efforts to renew contacts proved unsuccessful. After disclaimers that he had not seen the original documents and relied only on ve letters published by Dalman, Liebes concluded that the sources are authentic, that the sect actually existed, and that it can be identied with the Sabbatean circle gathered around Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschutz and
44 Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit, p. 221. 45 G[ustav] D[alman], Dokumente eines christlichen Geheimbundes unter den Juden im

achtzenten Jahrhundert, Saat auf Hoffnung: Zeitschrift fur die Mission der Kirche an Israel 27 (1890):18y37.


Pawe Maciejko

his son Wolf. Though admitting that the boundaries between the Eibeschutz circle and the Frankists were often blurred, Liebes nevertheless juxtaposed the two groups. In his view, the sectarians who gathered around Eibeschutz renewed either knowingly or unknowingly the ideology of the Judaeo-Christians of the rst centuries of the Common Era and located themselves at the pole opposite the followers of Jacob Frank, who became Christians ofcially and by appearance but not by conviction. 46 On the basis of my research in the Moravian Church archives in Herrnhut, I have become convinced that the documents reproduced by Dalman and discussed by Liebes are actually a contemporary eighteenthcentury forgery.47 According to Dalman, in 1780, after the cessation of the correspondence between Pastor Burgmann and the sectarians, the entire batch of documents, including the originals of the letters sent by the Jews of Amsterdam to the pastor, was forwarded to the archives of the Moravian Brudergemeine. Dalmans article purports to be a publication of these originals.48 However, in the event the letters published by Dalman are not the letters of the Jews to Burgmann but German translations of documents originally written in English, sent to Herrnhut by Latrobe, the preacher of the Moravian Church in London. Latrobes version purports to be a translation from German, but the German versions housed in Herrnhut were executed for the use of the governing body of the Church, the Elders Conference of Unity;49 the originals of the correspondence between Burgmann and the Jews are not extant. All existing documents are in Latrobes handwriting; names of towns and people are given in a code, which was sent separately to the Conference.50 Dalman published more or less one-third of the material. He deciphered the code, gave the appropriate locations and names, and transliterated fragments
46 Liebes Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit, p. 213. 47 I have been informed that a similar conclusion was reached by Professor Sid Leiman

in a paper delivered at the Gershom Scholem memorial conference in Jerusalem (8y10 December 1997). I have not seen this paper and do not know if and to what extent our research overlaps. 48 See Dalmans introduction to the letters, Dokumente eines christlichen Geheimbundes, p. 19. 49 Herrnhut, Unitatsarchiv (hereafter UA), R.16.4, Protokolle der U[nitats] A[ltesten]k[onferenz] z[um]T[hema] Burgman und Latrobe. 50 The documents are currently stored in box R.16, Judenmission. The collection includes the protocols of the debates of the Elders Conference of Unity (UAC) on the issue, letters and reports of Latrobe, as well as German translations of some of Latrobes reports.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

of Latrobes version that were written in Hebrew. He also heavily edited many passages, switched (or left out) some paragraphs, and combined separate letters into a single document. Although Dalmans publication is unreliable, it is still true that Latrobe wrote to his superiors in Herrnhut about the sect. In August 1773 Latrobe reported to the Conference that he had been approached by Pastor Burgmann, who had established contact with a Jewish sect and received, under the most solemn seal of secrecy, information regarding the sects Christian leanings. Despite the seal of secrecy, Burgmann promised to pass everything he learned on to Latrobe and suggested that the Brudergemeine, and especially the Moravian Churchs specialist for the mission to the Jews, Samuel Lieberkuhn, should become involved in the conversion effort.51 After receiving additional information, Latrobe described the sect as follows: There was at present a number of Jews in Amsterdam, in Germany & in Hungary who believed in our Sav[iour] and rejoiced in his bleeding wounds. That they were however convinced that they should remain for the present in secret, and continue in fellowship with the Jews till our Sav[iour] gave them an opening to make themselves publicly known & they could be formed into a Congr[egation] consistent with their principles. They have formed societies in which they privately built one another up.... They correspond with one another but under ctitious names. The rabbi in Amsterdam knows of it but is afraid to meddle with it, lest a re might break out among the Jews which he will not be able to quench. It seems their plan is that our Sav[iour] will form from them in his own time into a Congr[egation] of Israel unmixed with the Gentiles.52 Shortly thereafter, Latrobe prepared a long report on the sects history.53 He described how in the 1680s and 1690s three eminent rabbis Rabbi Chay
51 Latrobe to UAC, 24 August 1773, UA, R.16.6, Latrobes Verbindung mit den Juden

1773y1780, no. 8.
52 An undated letter (after September 1774) of Latrobe to the UAC, Herrnhut, UA, R. 16.6,

Latrobes Verbindung mit den Juden 1773y1780, no. 11.

53 UA, R.16.6.d; a German translation of this report was published by Dalman, Dokumente

eines christlichen Geheimbundes, p. 21y27. Dalman omitted the beginning of the report (part of which he included in another document). At the end of the report he added a paragraph from a different letter. I quote from the original; page references to Dalmans publication are given here for comparison.


Pawe Maciejko

Chayon 54 (= Nehemiah Hiya Hayon) from Constantinople, Rabbi Krokoffer from Prague, and Rabbi Sender from Moravia had an identical dream, in which they were told to go to the house of Rabbi Megalle Amukot [= Rabbi Nathan Shapira of Krako in Pintschoff [Pinczo w] w]. They arrived on the very same day, Tisha beAv (the day on which the Messiah was supposed to be born and the alleged birthday of Shabtai Tsvi). At the house of Rabbi Megalle Amukot they engaged in a conversation on religious issues. Suddenly a heavenly voice was heard, saying in Hebrew, Go and baptize yourself in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 55 Although the rabbis were initially apprehensive and worried that the order might have come from the forces of evil, the voice repeated the order two more times, the last time pronouncing the ineffable Name of God. Thus the rabbis became convinced that the message indeed came from God, and they baptized themselves in the mikveh. Here, Latrobe commented, the Church of Christ took its beginning in Israel without any of them having ever read the New Testament. 56 The three rabbis each went home, preached Christianity to some of their students, and converted around 100 people. However, they did not think that anything other than baptism and sincere belief in the Holy Trinity was required of them; they did not gather for prayer nor study the Gospels, and they did not know of the communion. On his deathbed Rabbi Megalle Amukot reportedly prophesied that a child born in his family would be given the name Jonathan and would bring salvation to Israel. The boy was born and secretly baptized; he was given a traditional Jewish upbringing and told that he was a Christian only on his fourteenth birthday. Thereafter he studied Christian doctrine (even attending the University of Leipzig) while at the same time pursuing a successful rabbinic career. Eventually he went to Prague, established the fundamental doctrines of Christ, and administered the Sacrament [of communion]. 57 Thus, the sect in the proper sense was established in Bohemia and spread to Hungary, Germany, and Poland. Latrobes next report offers an insight into the inner functioning of the
54 I give the names of people and of places according to the code key attached to the

documents UA, R.16.4.e.

55 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 4; cf. Dalman, Dokumente eines christlichen Geheimbundes, p. 22. 56 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 4; cf. Dalman, Dokuments eines christlichen Gehemibundes, p. 22. 57 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 8; cf. Dalman, Dokuments eines christlichen Gehemibundes, p. 27. In

Dalman this passage is corrupted. The fragment refers, of course, to Jonathan Eibeschutz.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

sect. A candidate was rst presented with rabbinic anti-Christian works, Sefer Nitsahon and Sefer Hizuk Emunah. If he succeeded in refuting Jewish apologetics and recognized the mystical truth of Christianity despite Jewish counterarguments, he was allowed to progress to the next step, which included a Christological exposition of the Old Testament and reading from the Gospels in Hebrew translation. The candidate was taught the doctrine of the Trinity and instructed about the atonement for sins through Christ. If he completed all tests successfully he was baptized by three members of the sect and allowed to take part in the Eucharist. The followers of the sect were supposed to remain externally Jewish and were sworn not to reveal their crypto-Christianity to any Christian.58 They did not permit rebaptism in an ofcial Christian church on the grounds that doing so would amount to denying the validity of their own baptism.59 Similarly, the members of the sect were forbidden to take Communion at ofcial Christian churches.60 Latrobes third report describes the stories of the two brothers, Simon and Baruch, who initially came into contact with Pastor Burgmann in London. It presents a dialogue between Simon and Rabbi Prossnitz during which Simon expressed his intuition that Christianity might be the true religion. Rabbi Prossnitz wrote about this conversation to Rabbi Jonathan in Prague; on Simons arrival in that city Rabbi Jonathan took care of the young man and taught him the doctrine of the Trinity, because this was the hardest point for a Jew.61 Shortly thereafter Rabbi Jonathan died, reciting on his deathbed the formula of the Trinity.62

Missionaries, Sabbateans, and Frankists I do not intend to summarize here the full content of Latrobes reports, which I am hoping to analyze in a separate publication. Instead I shall concentrate on those aspects of the material that are most important for
58 UA, R.16.6.d, fos. 9y10; cf. Dalman, Dokumente eines christlichen Gehemibundes,

pp. 27y29.
59 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 15. 60 Simon was expelled from the sect because he revealed its secret to Burgmann and took

communion at a Christian church.

61 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 12. This fragment was omitted by Dalman. 62 The last paragraph of this letter, including the formula of the Trinity, was included

by Dalman in the rst letter he reproduced; see Dokumente eines christlichen Geheimbundes, p. 27. For analysis of the formula see Liebes, Al Kat Sodit YehuditNotsrit, pp. 229y231.


Pawe Maciejko

the discussion of Frankism. Contrary to what Dalman stated and Liebes accepted, the documents preserved in Herrnhut are not the original letters of the Jews to Burgmann, and the very existence of the Judaeo-Christian sect in Amsterdam must be questioned. Because the members of the alleged sect had not been urged to convert ofcially (in fact they had been forbidden to do so), Liebes described the tendency of the reports as antimissionary. 63 This characterization, however, is only partly accurate. The aim of the Judenmission of the Moravian Church and of other Protestant Churches was not to convert individual Jews, but to evangelize Jewry as a whole, in preparation for a future mass conversion to Christianity.64 The missionaries attached much more importance to distributing Christian books in Jewish languages and to acquainting Jews with selected Christian notions (notably with the doctrine of the Trinity) than to actual conversions. The concept of the evangelization of the Jews through the creation of Jewish-Christian communities that observed some Jewish and some Christian customs and remained separate from gentile Christians is well attested in missionary literature. The idea of the gradual initiation of a Jewish candidate into the Christian mysteries strangely overlaps with the method of proselytizing designed by Samuel Lieberku hn, to which I shall return below. Several aspects of the reports clearly reect the religious preferences of the Moravians: the documents emphasize that the Christianity professed by the alleged Jewish group fully agrees with Lutheranism, and it is said of Rabbi Jonathan that he must have journeyed to a Protestant country in order to get foundation in sound doctrine. 65 Moreover, some of the sects rituals and linguistic usages resemble the rites and terminology characteristic of the Herrnhuter Bruder alone; they are absent in other Christian groups or denominations. For instance, the alleged sectarians did not allow noninitiates to be present when they prayed Pater Noster, and they expected newlyadmitted members to watch the Eucharist before they were allowed to take part in it. Already Latrobe observed in his commentary that the sect seems to have acquired some usages from the [Moravian] Brotherhood and tried to explain these similarities by suggesting variously that its members might have had knowledge of the old Moravian Brotherhood or had encountered
63 Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit, p. 213. 64 See C. M. Clark, The Politics of Conversion: Missionary Protestantism and the Jews in

Prussia 1728y1941, Oxford 1995, p. 7.

65 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 7.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

travelling missionaries, or that they had received direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit.66 Whatever the case, the documents were composed by someone who had intimate knowledge of the internal functioning of the Brudergemeine, most likely either by Burgmann or by Latrobe, and the Jewish sect in Amsterdam seems to be a gment of the imagination reecting the missionary program of the Moravians. However, Latrobes reports reveal knowledge of the world of mideighteenth-century Jewish heretical movements far beyond the average. The overt tendency of the reports is anti-Sabbatean; although some of the members of the alleged sect were said to have been temporarily lured by Sabbateanism, the sectarians made a clear distinction between themselves and the followers of Shabtai Tsvi and mention that they suffered... because they were remarked as having a particular fellowship together, therefore the Jews believed that they were also Sabbateans [Sabsazebiten]. 67 Virtually all the major personalities of Bohemian, Moravian, and German Sabbateanism are mentioned in the reports by name and are said to belong to the sect.68 Many of these names and other specic details could not have been gleaned only from the widely available printed accounts of the movement.69 Whoever was behind the composition of the documents must have been personally acquainted with Sabbateans and must have relied on some oral information regarding internal Jewish debates. Thus, we may assume at least some of the elements present in Latrobes reports do in fact reect discussions among the Sabbateans if not the actual tenets professed by heretical Jewish groups.
66 UA, R.16.6.e, fo. [1r]. 67 UA, R.16.6.d, fo. 5; the fragment is also quoted by Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit,

p. 220, on the basis of Dalman.

68 Liebes devoted a large part of his essays to this issue; see the sections on Hayon,

Eibeschutz, and Meir Eisenstadt. Liebes, Al Kat Sodit Yehudit-Notsrit, pp. 223y37. Because the relevant portion was not published by Dalman, the name of Leibele Prossnitz was omitted. 69 See, for example, Karl Anton, Kurze Nachricht von dem falschen Messias Sabbathai Zebhi und den neulich seinetwegen in Hamburg und Altona entstandenten Bewegungen zu besserer Beurtheilung derer bisher in den Zeitungen und andern Schriften davon bekandt gewordenen Erzalungen, Wolfenbuttel 1752; idem, Nachlese zu seiner letzteren Nachricht von Sabbathai Zebbi worin zugleich das Ende dieser Streitigkeit erzahlt wird, Braunschweig 1753. On Jonathan Eibeschutzs crypto-Christianity, see Friedrich David Magerlin, Geheime Zeugnisse vor die Wahrheit der Christlichen Religion aus vier und zwanzig neuen und selten judischen Amuleten oder Anhang-Zetteln gezogen, Frankfurt 1756.


Pawe Maciejko

The upheaval surrounding Shabtai Tsvis messianic claims and his subsequent conversion to Islam in 1666 affected Christian millenarian speculations and led various Christian missions to the Jews to intensify their efforts in European countries.70 Although a hundred years later many of these missionary activities had subsided, emissaries of Christian churches still travelled through Europe and had contacts with Sabbateans. For instance, missionaries of the Institutum Judaicum et Muhammedicum from Halle, who journeyed through Central and Eastern Europe in the 1730s and 1740s, reported numerous encounters with Sabbateans, including with Jonathan Eibeschutz in Prague.71 As a result, the news of the Frankist conversion spread very quickly in missionary circles, reaching all the way to England. In June 1759, immediately after the disputation in Lwo an anonymous w, correspondent of the well-known periodical The Gentlemans Magazine published a letter entitled Friendly Address to the Jews. The author of the letter stated, I was surprised to see an account that some thousands of Jews in Poland and Hungary had lately sent to the Polish bishop of Guesna [Gniezno] to inform him of their desire to embrace the Roman Catholic Religion.... If indeed you begin to think that the Christian religion is true, if you believe the Messiah is already come the rst time, in his aficted state, then embrace the Protestant religion, that true Christianity which is delivered to us in the New Testament, or covenant, without the false traditions and wicked intentions and additions of the Popes, who have entirely perverted the truth, and corrupted primitive Christianity.72
70 Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, the Mystical Messiah, 1626y1676, London 1973, pp.

94y102; 153y157; cf. R. H. Popkin, Christian Interests and Concerns about Sabbatai Zevi, in Matt Goldish and R. H. Popkin, eds., Jewish Messianism in the Early Modern World, Dordrecht 2001, pp. 91y106; Jacob Barnai, The Spread of the Sabbatean Movement in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in Sophia Menache, ed., Communication in the Jewish Diaspora, Leiden 1996, p. 322. 71 For a preliminary survey, see Gershom Scholem, Yediot al ha-Shabbetaim beSifrei ha-Missionarim be-Meah 18, in idem., Mehkarei Shabbetaut, pp. 609y30; on Eibeschutz, see especially pp. 618, 622y23. Cf. also Jan Doktor, W poszukiwaniu zydowskich kryptochrzescijan: Dzienniki ewangelickich misjonarzy z ich wedrowek po Rzeczypospolitej w latach 1730y1747, Warsaw 1999, pp. 28y29. Doktors work offers much new and interesting material but suffers from an uncritical attitude to the sources. 72 The letter has been published by Kurt Wilhlem, An English Echo of the Frankist Movement,, Journal of Jewish Studies 16 1967:189y91. I follow this edition.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

After the passage the author engaged in eschatological speculation concerning the restoration of the Jews to their own land before the nal stage of Redemption. On the basis of numerological calculations and the antipapal exegesis of Daniel (9:24y27), he pointed to the chiliastic year 1865, only a hundred years ahead, and promised that after their conversion to Protestantism the Jews will be transported to the Holy Land on English ships. Although there is no direct evidence that the report in The Gentlemans Magazine was known to Latrobe or Burgmann in London, we must note that its author shared the important assumption that informed the accounts of the Moravian missionaries: the belief that pure Judaism, freed from rabbinic superstitions and additions, conrms the truth of Christianity uncorrupted by papal deformations. This assumption lay at the basis of the Brudergemeines mission to the Jews and shaped the Moravians attitude toward the Sabbateans and the Frankists. There is evidence that the Brudergemeine had direct contacts with the Sabbateans in general and the Frankists in particular. In 1743 the patron of the Brudergemeines compound at Herrnhut, Count Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, preached that no pagan nation would accept Christianity until the Jews were converted. In response to this sermon the missionary Samuel Lieberkuhn was sent to Amsterdam, where he established rm contacts with the Jewish community, probably including some Sabbateans.73 Lieberkuhns method consisted in avoiding discussing the divinity of Jesus and concentrating instead on demonstrating the truth of the Trinity on the basis of Jewish sources and showing that the Christian religion can save believers from the consequences of sin. It was also assumed that the converted Jews should, at least initially, form a community separate from gentile Christians and be allowed to retain some Jewish customs after the baptism.74 Although Zinzendorf eventually rejected Lieberkuhns method, accused the missionary of being a Unitarian, and recalled him from Amsterdam, this last element was accepted as a basic principle of the Moravian mission to the Jews.75 In February 1746 Zinzendorf ofciated at the marriage ceremony of a converted Jew from Poland, David Kirchoff, and Magdalene Grundbeck. The marriage
73 See J. E. Hutton, A History of Moravian Missions, London 1922, pp. 146y50. 74 See UA, R.16.8, Lieberkuhn, Kurze Nachricht von der Methode. 75 UA, R.16.7, Einwendungen Zinzendorfs gegen die Methode Lieberkuhns und

Lieberkuhns Bemerkungen dazu; Zinzendorfs Antworten auf einige Satze uber Lieberkuhns Arbeitsmethode und Lieberkuhns Gegenbemerkungen.


Pawe Maciejko

was conducted according to a Judaeo-Christian rite designed specially for this occasion. The newlyweds were accompanied by twelve married couples that were supposed to represent the twelve Tribes of Israel. The room was decorated with Hebrew inscriptions, and Lieberkuhn gave a speech in Hebrew. Zinzendorf also delivered a sermon hailing the establishment of a new community of Jewish Christians.76 Initially, Zinzendorf intended to send Kirchoff to Amsterdam as a replacement for Lieberkuhn. However, he soon changed his mind, and after a few years Kirchoff went instead to Poland.77 It was during this trip that the Moravian missionary encountered the Frankists.78 In his initial report Kirchoff described the events surrounding Bishop Dembowskis death and reported that he had encountered a large number of Jews who believed that the Messiah had already come but did not believe that Jesus was a Messiah. Although the true identity of the Messiah was unknown to them, he reported, they were convinced that the exile is drawing to an end. He also mentioned that many Jews read the Gospels.79 The second report brought a change: Kirchoff stated that more than 15,000 Jews (including 50 rabbis) openly declared that the true Messiah already has come and Jesus of Nazareth is this Messiah. These believing Jews were ready to convert to Christianity ofcially, but did not know in which Christian denomination they could nd the pure evangelical truth. They embarked upon the study of various Christian books but were forced to take a shortcut and convert to Roman Catholicism because of unrest among the Jews.80 Kirchoffs account refers to the baptism of the Frankists in Lwow in 1759; there is also some evidence that the missionary witnessed the disputation
76 For the description of the rite see , UA, R.16.1.a.2, Esthers und Davids Trauung;



79 80

R.22.53.19, Lebenslauf Benjamin David Kirchoffs. Cf. also Johann de Le Roi, Die Evangelische Christenheit und die Juden, Karlsruhe 1884, 1:371. On the choice of the missions destination see Johann de Le Roi, Judenmissionsbestrebungen der Brudergemeine, Dibre Emeth oder Stimmen der Wahrheit 5/27 (1871):65y85. Interestingly, the Moravian Brethren are also mentioned in Frankist sources. See, for example, a fragment of Ksiega Sow Panskich, no. 2097, quoted in Kraushar, Frank i frankisci, 1:322, otherwise lost, which mentions the Phlipovtsy (the Old Believers), the Herrnhuter (the Moravian Brethren), and the Ammonites (perhaps the Mennonites). Report of 4 February 1758, UA, R.19.B.d.2.a.42, David Kirchoffs Diarium aus Pohlen, fo. 17v. UA, R.16.7. [Lieberkuhn], Einige Nachrichten von dem gegenwartigen Zustand der Juden und den Bemuhungen der Bruder ihre Bekehrung zu befordern. A fragment of this report is also quoted in De Le Roi, Die Evangelische Christenheit 1:341y43.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

itself.81 The number of converts is inated, and it might be assumed that other elements of the report were also manipulated in order to meet the expectations of the leaders of the Brudergemeine. It seems that Kirchoff changed his initial assessment that the Jews believed in the coming of the Messiah but rejected the Messiahship of Jesus and replaced it with the statement that the Jews had declared that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Kirchoffs report is much more a reection of the missionary program of the Moravian Church than a faithful account of the actual facts. The missionaries were all too ready to nd in Judaism material that conrmed their assumptions, predispositions, and prejudices. Still, as far as Christian observers were concerned, they offered unparalleled knowledge of Jewish internal debates, and, in a backhanded way, they inuenced the Jews as well. It is well attested that Yiddish and Hebrew texts distributed by missionaries were not always recognized as Christian by their Jewish readers. The case in point is the brochure Or leEt Erev, circulated by the Halle Pietists. The Yiddish text does not give the name of the author or the place of publication; it does not refer explicitly to Jesuss identity with the Jewish Messiah until the nal pages; and it bases much of its argument on Jewish precepts. There are testimonies suggesting that some readers did not grasp the understated Christian motifs or read the booklet through to the end.82 Although the missionary propaganda did inuence the Jews, the character of this inuence did not exactly full the expectations of the missionaries. As for the Frankists, there is evidence that well before the disputations Frank read the Gospel either in Hebrew or in Yiddish,83 and it is extremely likely that the copy in his possession was one of those printed and distributed by the Institutum. It is quite doubtful, however, that his understanding of the New Testament would have found appreciation among the missionaries. All of these facts shed interesting light on the documents published by Latrobe. I would suggest the possibility that through the encounters with Kirchoff and other missionaries some Sabbatean and Frankist elements indeed ltered through to the Moravians. There is no doubt that most of the tenets and rites of the alleged Judaeo-Christian sect described by Latrobe are projections of the expectations of the missionaries. Other elements,
81 See UA, R.19.B.d.2.a.42, David Kirchoffs Diarium aus Pohlen, fos. 32r-v, 35v. 82 Clark, Politics of Conversion, pp. 74y75. 83 See Franks testimony at the inquisition in Warsaw, ASV, Arch. Nunz. di Varsavia, 94,

fo. 149v.


Pawe Maciejko

however, amazingly concur with what we know about the doctrines of the Frankists. I shall now turn to the description of the ideas present in the Frankist chronicle, Rozmaite adnotacyie, przypadki, czynnosci, i anektody 84 Panskie.

Christian References in the Frankist Chronicle Rozmaite adnotacyie is a collection of 109 short, numbered entries recording the history of the sect from Franks birth until his arrival in Offenbach in 1786. Most of the entries cover the period up to Franks release from Czestochowa in 1772.85 One of the most interesting features of the work is a characteristic linguistic pattern. Frank, his wife, and his daughter (but not his sons 86) are never mentioned by name: Frank is always called Pan (Lord, nobleman), his wife as Jejmosc s.p. (The late Lady); his daugther Eve is normally referred to as Jejmosc (Lady) and once as Najswietsza 87 Panna (The Holy Maiden). Franks disciples are sometimes described by the standard Sabbatean term prawowierni (true believers).88 This word, however, appears in only four of 109 entries 89 and denotes Sabbateans in general as against Franks immediate followers.90 The word kompania (company, party) appears in this sense only in the last few records, which were probably added to the main body of the text much later.91 It seems that at the early stages of the movement the Frankists lacked a collective term describing themselves. Whenever it does not mention concrete names, the text prefers to use collective pronouns (most frequently nasi, ours), the words ludzie or osoby (people, persons), or numerals (three [people] heard...). The
84 Jan Doktor, ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, przypadki, czynnosci i anekdoty panskie, Warsaw

85 86 87 88

89 90 91

1996. For an earlier edition of this manuscript and a Hebrew translation see Hillel Levine, ed., HaKronika Teudah leToledot Yaakov Frank uTenuato, Jerusalem 1984. Levines transcription is often unreliable. Doktor, Rozmaite adnotacje, nos. 1y84 and fragments of nos. 104y107. Ibid., no. 35. It is often difcult to distinguish when a Frankist source refers to Franks wife and when to his daughter. On this term see Gershom Scholem, Redemption through Sin, in idem., The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, New York 1971, p. 79; idem., Sabbatai Sevi, pp. 749y65, passim. Nos. 17, 32, 33, 71. Doktor, ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, no. 71. Ibid., nos. 102y109. The term kompania is commonly used in the texts from Brunn and Offenbach.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

term Kontratalmudystowie [Contra-Talmudists] appears only once, in the context of the hearing at the Lwow consistory; it seems to have been devised for the use of Catholic hearers rather than as an authentic expression of Frankist self-perception: Our [people] said they were Contra-Talmudists, and so they brought the hatred of the Jews upon themselves.92 In turn, the word Zydzi (Jews) is reserved for the rabbinic opponents of the Frankists and is never used as a self-designation.93 The text treats the disputations in a very cursory way: the events in Kamieniec are covered in three short entries,94 while the debate in Lwo is w 95 mentioned in only one line. However, the text hints at Franks approval of the Kamieniec disputation 96 and ascribes to him the responsibility for sending a few brothers to Lwo for disputations with the Jews. 97 The attitude to w conversion also deserves special attention. According to Rozmaite adnotacyie Frank had a vision that he would enter the Christian religion together with twelve followers already in 1755, much earlier than the encounters with the Catholic clergy.98 Furthermore, he supposedly announced his intention to convert to Christianity to the Aga in Bucharest in 1757.99 All of Franks dealings with the Christians (including his ultimate acceptance of baptism) are presented as a result of the assistance of the Holy Spirit.100 Even if all these are later embellishments, they signal attempts to project Christian elements back into the earliest phase of the development of the movement. In other words, even if the conversions themselves were an unintended outcome of the course of events or the effect of an external pressure, they certainly were eventually incorporated into Frankist doctrine and presented as a result of conscious planning and divine guidance. In this context, the most interesting feature is the employment of the term Wiara (faith) or Wiara Swieta (Holy Faith). The term was so widely used in earlier Sabbatean literature that it often became synonymous with
Ibid., no. 22. Ibid., nos. 22, 28, 47, 94. Ibid., nos. 26y28. Ibid., no. 61. Ibid., no. 26: On 2 July there were famous disputations in Kamieniec Podolski and the Lord said: Adonaini [sic!] is in Kamieniec among them. 97 Ibid., no. 47. 98 Ibid., no. 23. The point does not appear anywhere until the negotiations preceding the Lwow debate of 1759. 99 Ibid., no. 37. 100 Ibid., nos. 7, 20, 23.
92 93 94 95 96


Pawe Maciejko

Sabbateanism as such.101 This usage has attracted the attention of scholars, who have pointed to striking similarities between the Christian and Sabbatean understandings of the concept. For instance, when discussing the relationship of Christianity and Sabbateanism in general terms, Gershom Scholem tended to emphasize the inuence exerted by Judaism upon Christian millenarian movements rather than vice versa. Only when analyzing the concept of faith did he acknowledge an opposite process. The concept of faith in Nathan of Gaza has, according to Scholem, a distinctly Christian avour 102 and is radically different from the traditional Jewish understanding of this notion: pre-Sabbatean, traditional Judaism had never entertained the idea of a pure faith, dissociated from specic works yet endowed with redemptive power, as a supreme religious value. 103 Nathan clearly stated that man is saved only by his pure faith in the Messiah and not by merits or good deeds.104 Moreover, Israel is expected to accept the redemptive mission of the Messiah without any signs or miracles.105 Nathans understanding of the notion of faith was further developed by Cardoso, who asserted that the very essence of the Jewish religion hinges on faith in the coming of the Messiah: Whoever does not believe that Shabtai Tsvi can be the Messiah, even if he is not, does not believe in the Messiah of Israel! 106 The rst Jewish opponents of Sabbateanism already noted similarities between the Sabbatean and the Christian understanding of the notion of faith; thus Rabbi Jacob Sasportas commented on a letter of Nathan of Gaza: This is the faith of the Christians. 107 Scholems analysis shows that both for the Christians and for the Sabbateans faith contradicts rationality and demands acceptance of an unexplainable paradox. Although reverberating with Christian overtones, Sabbatean faith also possesses certain unique characteristics. In contrast to the Christian notion, it refers not to the imminent redemption brought by the
101 The term Holy Faith as a technical reference to Sabbateanism was used as early as

1666; see Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, pp. 283y84.

102 Ibid., p. 211. 103 Ibid., p. 796. 104 Ibid., p. 212; cf. also Yeshayahu Tishby, ed., Sefer Tsitsat Novel Tsevi, Jerusalem 1954,

105 Ibid., p. 282y83. 106 Abraham Cardosos letter to his brother Isaac, quoted in Yerushalmi, From Spanish

Court, p. 327.
107 Tishby, ed., Sefer Tsitsat Novel Tsevi, p. 202.


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

Messiah, but to the internally paradoxical nature of his mission. Whereas a Christian has to believe in the redemptive value of Gods suffering and death, a Sabbatean is confronted with a much more complex paradox of a saint who sins. While Christianity demands a rejection of the traditional (or rational) understanding of what is possible and what is not, Sabbateanism leads to the obfuscation of the difference between what is good and what is evil. Frankism is, in this interpretation, the result of drawing ultimate consequences from such an understanding of the concept of faith. Drawing the ultimate consequence leads not only to immoralism, but also to the impossibility of reconciling true religious identity with an external social role: It was precisely at this point that Messianism was transformed into nihilism. Having been denied the political and historical outlets it had originally anticipated, the new sense of freedom now sought to express itself in the sphere of human morality. The psychology of the radical Sabbatians was utterly paradoxical and Marranic. Essentially its guiding principle was: Whoever is as he appears to be cannot be a true believer. In practice this meant the following: The true faith cannot be a faith which men publicly profess.108 Accordingly, Sabbateanism opens up a possibility of being internally Jewish while externally professing another religion. Indeed, late Sabbateanism crystallised in two separate, if interconnected, sects demonstrating this possibility: the Donmeh of Salonika (outwardly Muslim) and the Frankists in Poland (outwardly Roman Catholic). Scholems analysis is here extremely helpful, because it makes it possible to delineate the boundaries not only between Frankism and Christianity but also between Frankism and Sabbateanism and the tradition of the Donmeh. In Rozmaite adnotacje, faith certainly does not mean Sabbateanism sensu largo: there are true believers [Sabbateans], who are already in the Faith and true believers, who are not yet in the Faith.109 The notion is used not in the context of Sabbateanism but with reference to Christianity as entering the Faith. However, entering the Faith 110 does not mean simply being baptized.
108 Scholem, Redemption through Sin, in Messianic Idea, p. 109. 109 Doktor, ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, no. 32. 110 Ibid., no. 71, which describes how Frank sent a letter ordering the followers to enter

the religion (in Kraushars version to enter the religion of Edom) and mentions the


Pawe Maciejko

Faith does not denote Christianity as such, but only Christianity as accepted by the Frankists. Christianity, whose mystical sense was acknowledged in Frankism, was not tantamount to Christianity as professed by the Roman Catholic Church or by any other Christian denomination. The Frankists did seem to believe that there is a mystery in Christianity, but they doubted that Christians knew this mystery. Jesus was included in the Frankist creed but communicated directly with Frank, without any Christian intermediaries.111 Ritual Christian objects were believed to carry magical energy that was often not revealed to their Christian users.112 Christian sacraments were considered to have real power and were not treated as only external ceremonies. One of Franks followers was mistakenly given two wafers during a Communion; later that night he saw in a dream two sources of wine opening in him, and his wife saw a two-color rainbow.113 Sick Frankists were eager to receive baptism and extreme unction and treated the healing powers of the sacraments with the utmost seriousness.114 But the Frankists did not believe that the Church had a monopoly on the bestowal of sacraments: long after the ofcial baptisms in Lwow and Warsaw they continued to administer their own, secret baptisms, sometimes more than once for one person.115 The names of the closest followers were given by Frank himself: in 1759 Frank chose twelve men as Brothers and gave them the following names: Peter (2), Jacob the Greater, Jacob the Lesser, Bartholomew, Luke, Thaddeus, Matthew, John (2), Andrew, and Paul. The list of names is obviously based on the names of the Apostles. Philip, Thomas, and Simon the Canaanite are replaced by an additional John, an additional Peter, and Luke (the Evangelist?). Only in some cases do the names given by Frank overlap with names given to the same people during their Catholic baptisms (Franks ukasz (Luke) was rst baptized under the name of Franciszek (Francis)).116 In a reference to the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 7:14) and the New Testament (Matthew 1:23),117 Frank
receipt of a letter from Germany expressing the will to enter the Holy Faith. No. 93 reads, All Jews who are true believers will enter the Faith. Doktor, ed., Ksiega sow Panskich, no. 504. See, for example, references to crucixes; Doktor, ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, no. 44. Ibid., no. 72. See Pikulski, Zosc zydowska, p. 319; Kraushar, Frank i frankisci, 1:156. See Doktor, ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, an unnumbered entry from Czestochowa, p. 92. Ibid., no. 43. During the interrogation Frank argued for the divinity of the Messiah on the basis of Isaiah 7:14; see Kraushar, Frank i frankisci, 1:187.

111 112 113 114 115 116 117


Christian Elements in Early Frankist Doctrine

gave his rst-born son, who was called Leyb and baptized as Jan (John),118 the name Emmanuel.119 I believe that the Frankists attitude to Christianity is in many respects a mirror reection of the missionaries attitude to Judaism. If Latrobe and his like attempted to demonstrate that Christian notions are present in esoteric Jewish lore, the Frankists seemed to have found elements of the pristine Jewish tradition in Christianity. Both the missionaries and the Frankists sought the establishment of separate communities of Jewish Christians. In February 1759 the Frankists submitted to the Lwow consistory a petition specifying the conditions for baptism. This petition (which, in contrast to all other Frankist supplications and manifestos, was not published contemporaneously and was suppressed in Christian accounts of the movement) requested permission not to shave their beards, to wear Jewish clothes, to marry only within the group, to observe Shabbat (aside from Sunday), to keep Jewish names (alongside Christian ones), to refuse to eat pork, and to study Hebrew writings, in particular the Zohar.120 Interestingly, most of the points overlap with what the missionaries were ready to grant them. For instance, the Pietist missionary Johann Georg Widmann told his Jewish interlocutors that the Institutum Judaicum allows Jewish converts not to shave their beards, to avoid eating pork, to use Hebrew in the liturgy, and to wear traditional clothes. The missionaries considered these customs as purely ritual and therefore did not see any problems with retaining them after conversion.121 For the Frankists, however, neither Jewish nor Christian rites were theologically neutral. If Christian kabbalists whose works inuenced Christian perceptions of Frankism 122 believed that they understood Jewish tradition better than the Jews themselves, the Frankists seemed to believe that they understood Christianity better than the Christians.

118 Ibid. 1:209. 119 Doktor ed., Rozmaite adnotacje, no. 35. The name Emmanuel is not commonly used in

120 Abraham Brawer, Galitsia veYehudehah, Jerusalem 1956, p. 207. 121 Excerpts of Widmanns and Manitiuss reports from the 1731 journey to Poland have

been published in Doktor, W poszukiwaniu zydowskich kryptochrzescijan, p. 162.

122 See Pawe Maciejko, Jewish and Christian Perspective on Frankism, Polin 19