ISAAC NEWTON

 

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SIR ISAAC NEWTON ON THE BIBLE

by
Dr. A. Zahoor

In 1690 Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) wrote a manuscript on the corruption of the text of the New Testament concerning I John 5:7 and Timothy 3:16. It was entitled, "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture." Due to the prevailing environment against criticism, he felt it unwise to profess his beliefs openly and felt that printing it in England would be too dangerous. Newton sent a copy of this manuscript to John Locke requesting him to have it translated into French for publication in France. Two years later, Newton was informed of an attempt to publish a Latin translation of it anonymously. However, Newton did not approve of its availability in Latin and persuaded Locke to take steps to prevent this publication.

Below are excerpts from "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture".

Newton on I John 5:7

Newton states that this verse appeared for the first time in the third edition of Erasmus's New Testament.

"When they got the Trinity; into his edition they threw by their manuscript, if they had one, as an almanac out of date. And can such shuffling dealings satisfy considering men?....It is rather a danger in religion than an advantage to make it now lean on a broken reed.

"In all the vehement universal and lasting controversy about the Trinity in Jerome's time and both before and long enough after it, this text of the "three in heaven" was never once thought of. It is now in everybody’s mouth and accounted the main text for the business and would assuredly have been so too with them, had it been in their books.

"Let them make good sense of it who are able. For my part, I can make none. If it be said that we are not to determine what is Scripture what not by our private judgments, I confess it in places not controverted, but in disputed places I love to take up with what I can best understand. It is the temper of the hot and superstitious art of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries, and for that reason to like best what they understand least. Such men may use the Apostle John as they please, but I have that honour for him as to believe that he wrote good sense and therefore take that to be his which is the best." [1]

Newton on I Timothy 3:16

"In all the times of the hot and lasting Arian controversy it never came into play....they that read "God manifested in the flesh" think it one of the most obvious and pertinent texts for the business."

"The word Deity imports exercise of dominion over subordinate beings and the word God most frequently signifies Lord. Every lord is not God. The exercise of dominion in a spiritual being constitutes a God. If that dominion be real that being is the real God; if it be fictitious, a false God; if it be supreme, a supreme God." [1]

Newton also wrote a discussion on two other texts that Athanasius had attempted to corrupt. This work has not been preserved. He believed that not all the books of the Scriptures have the same authority.

Issac Newton was born in Lincolnshire in 1642 and educated at Cambridge. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1672, and was a member of the Gentleman's Club of Spalding. Newton became Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, where he was instrumental in fixing the gold standard. Newton was elected President of the Royal Society in 1703. Sir Isaac Newton held unitarian views and was a follower of Arius.

Reference
1.
A. Wallace, "Anti-Trinitarian Biographies," Vol. III, pp. 428-439, 1850.

Other Related References
2.
Alton, "Religious Opinions of Milton, Locke, and Newton," 1833.
3. Green, "Sir Isaac Newton's Views," 1871.
4.
Newton, "Sir Isaac Newton Daniel," 1922.
5. MacLachlan, "The Religious Opinions of
Milton, Locke, and Newton," 1941.
6. Channing, W.E., "The Character and Writing of
Milton," 1826.
7. M. `Ata ur-Rahim, "Jesus: A Prophet of Islam," 1983.

Some other famous Unitarians in Christianity are: Milton (1608-1674), John Locke (1632-1704), John Biddle (1615-1662), Michael Servetus (1511-1553), Francis David (1510-1579), Lelio Francesco Maria Sozini (1525-1562), Fausto Paolo Sozini (Socianus, 1539-1604), Thomas Emlyn (1663-1741), Theophilus Lindsey (1723-1808), Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), and William Ellery Channing (1780-1842). Among the most famous early Unitarians in Christianity are: Arius (250-336 A.D.), Iranaeus (130-200), Tertullian (160-220), Origen (185-254), Diodorus, and Lucian (d. 312). Their biographies are contained in References 1 and 7.

Below is a brief account of a famous physician and a scientist, before and after Newton, who had strong religious opinion on the Trinity.

Michael Servetus (1511-1553), born in Spain, received a degree in Medicine from Toulouse in 1534. He was one of the first European to write about the principle of the circulation of the blood [see earlier work by Ibn Al-Nafis (1213-1288)]. Servetus wrote three important works: 'The Errors of Trinity' (1531), 'Two Dialogues on Trinity' (1531), and 'The Restoration of Christianity'. Luther publicly condemned him in 1539. Servetus followed the views held by the early apostles who belonged to the Antiochene school of Christianity, and he supervised the printing of a Bible in 1540. Servetus corresponded with Calvin for more than twenty years. As a result of bitter conflict, Calvin had him arrested in Milan, and after a quick trial Servetus was burned to the stakes. Servetus is regarded by many as the "founder of modern Unitarianism." [7]

Theophilus Lindsey is known as the organiser of the first Unitarian congregation in England. On April 17, 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Priestly attended the first Unitarian service conducted by Lindsey in London. Jospeh Priestly is known as the discoverer of Oxygen. Priestly's main contribution to the unitarians in England was comprehensive argument, both historical and philosophical, in support of the unity of God. Joseph Priestly produced his most important and influential work, 'History of the Corruptions of Christianity' in two volumes. Priestly affirmed the humanity of Jesus, but denied the immaculate conception. He also denied the validity of the doctrine of Trinity. Priestly's house was burned by a mob and so was a hotel where the mob mistakenly thought Priestly was present. His book was publicly burned in Holland. Joseph Priestly sailed for America with Benjamin Franklin in 1794, where they opened some of the first Unitarian churches in and around Philadelphia [7].

For another perspective on Sir Isaac Newton's activities, visit an external link Isaac Newton.

 

Links from Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200 (Real Audio Format):

RA 200.K27 Later Unitarians I - Servetus
RA 200.K28 Later Unitarians II - Francis David
RA 200.K29 Later Unitarians III - Sozini and Socianus
RA 200.K30 Later Unitarians IV - John Briddle
RA 200.K31 Later Unitarians V - Emlyn and Lindsey
RA 200.K32 Later Unitarians VI - Joseph Priestly
RA 200.K33 Later Unitarians VII: William Channing

RA 200.K22 Deification of Jesus: Its Evolution IV - Early Unitarians
RA 200.K23 Deification of Jesus: Its Evolution V - Early Unitarians (cont)
RA 200.K24 Deification of Jesus: Its Evolution VI - The Council of Nicaea (325)
RA 200.K25 Deification of Jesus: Its Evolution VII - Other Major Councils
RA 200.K26 Deification of Jesus: Its Evolution VIII - Later Councils

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Footnotes Last Updated: February 2, 2000.

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ISAAC NEWTON

Courtesy: From Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln
Copyright © 1982, 1983 by the Authors, p. 489, A Dell Book, All Rights Reserved.


Isaac Newton was born in Lincolnshire in 1642 descended from "ancient Scottish nobility," he insisted, although no one seems to have taken this claim very seriously. He was educated at Cambridge, elected to the Royal Society in 1672, and he made Boyle's acquaintance for the first time the following year. In 1689-90 he became associated with John Locke and an elusive enigmatic individual named Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. Descended from Genevan aristocracy, Fatio de Duillier seems to have wafted with cavalier insouciance through the Europe of his time. On occasion he appears to have worked as a spy, usually against Louis XIV of France. He also appears to have been on Intimate terms with every important scientist of the age. And from the time of his appearance in England he was Newton's single closest friend. For at least the next decade their two names were inextricably linked.

In 1696 Newton became warden of the Royal Mint and was subsequently instrumental in fixing the gold standard. In 1703 he was elected president of the Royal Society. Around this time he also became friendly with a young French Protestant refugee named Jean Desaguliers, who was one of the Royal Society's two curators of experiments. In the years that followed Desaguliers became one of the leading figures in the astonishing proliferation of Freemasonry throughout Europe. He was associated with such leading Masonic figures as James Anderson, the Chevalier Ramsay, and Charles Radclyffe. And in 1731, as master of the Masonic lodge at The Hague, he presided over the initiation of the first European prince become a member of "the craft." This prince was Francois, duke Lorraine – who after his marriage to Maria Theresa of Austria became Holy Roman Emperor.

[On page 131 of the Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Isaac Newton is listed as "The Grand Master" of 'Prieure de Sion' during the period 1691-1727, succeeding Robert Boyle. Newton was succeeded by Charles Radcliffe. All of them are recognized as leading scientists of their time. Elswhere in this book, it is stated that the 'Ordre de Sion' (Order of Zion) was renamed 'Prieure de Sion' in 1188, a year after the defeat of the Crusaders by the army of Saladin (Sultan Salahuddin). The 'Order of Zion' was founded by Godfroi de Bouillon in 1090, nine years before he conquered Jerusalem. The Order was the leading force behind the Crusades.].

There is no record of Newton himself having been a Freemason. At the same time, however, he was a member of a semi-Masonic institution, the Gentleman's Club of Spalding - which included such notables as Alexander Pope. Moreover, certain of his attitudes and works reflect interests shared by Masonic figures of the period. Like many Masonic authors, for example, he esteemed Noah more than Moses as the ultimate source of esoteric wisdom. As early as 1689 he had embarked on what he considered one of his most important works, a study of ancient monarchies. This work, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, attempted to establish the origins of the institution of kingship as well as the primacy of Israel over other cultures of antiquity. According to Newton ancient Judaism had been a repository of divine knowledge, which had subsequently been diluted, corrupted, and largely lost. Nevertheless, he believed that some of it had filtered down to Pythagoras, whose "music of the spheres" he regarded as a metaphor for the law of gravity. In his attempt to formulate a precise scientific methodology for dating events in both Scripture and classical myth, he employed Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece as a pivotal event; and like other Masonic and esoteric writers, he interpreted that quest as an alchemical metaphor. He also endeavored to discern Hermetic "correspondences" or correlations between music and architecture. And like many Masons he ascribed great significance to the configuration and dimensions of Solomon's temple. The dimensions and configuration of the temple he believed to conceal alchemical formulas; and he believed the ancient ceremonies in the temple to have involved alchemical processes.

Such preoccupations on Newton's part were something of a revelation to us. Certainly they do not concur with his image as it is promulgated in our own century -- the image of the scientist who, once and for all, established the separation of natural philosophy from theology. In fact, however, Newton, more than any other scientist of his age, was steeped in Hermetic texts and, in his own attitudes, reflected Hermetic tradition. A deeply religious person, he was obsessed by the search for a divine unity and network of correspondences inherent in nature. This search led him into an exploration of sacred geometry and numerology--a study of the intrinsic properties of shape and number. By virtue of his association with Boyle, he was also a practicing alchemist --who in fact attributed a paramount importance to his alchemical work.' In addition to personally annotated copies of the Rosicrucian manifestos, his library included more than a hundred alchemical works. One of these, a volume by Nicolas Flamel, he had laboriously copied in his own hand. Newton's preoccupation with alchemy continued all his life. He maintained a voluminous and cryptic correspondence on the subject with Boyle, Locke, Fatio de Duillier, and others. One letter even has certain key words excised.

If Newton's scientific interests were less orthodox than we had at first imagined, so were his religious views. He was militantly, albeit quietly, hostile to the idea of the Trinity. He also repudiated the fashionable Deism of his time, which reduced the cosmos to a vast mechanical machine constructed by a celestial engineer. He questioned the divinity of Jesus and avidly collected all manuscripts pertaining to the issue. He doubted the complete authenticity of the New Testament, believing certain passages to be corruptions interpolated in the fifth century. He was deeply intrigued by some of the early Gnostic heresies and wrote a study of one of them. [Newton was also a supporter of the Socinians, a religious group who believed that Jesus was divine by office rather than by nature. They were Arian in orientation. Newton himself was described as an Arian.].

Prompted by Fatio de Duillier, Newton also displayed a striking and surprising sympathy for the Camisards, or Prophets of Cevennes, who shortly after 1705 began appearing in London. So called because of their white tunics, the Camisards, like the Cathars before them, had arisen in the south of France. Like the Cathars they were vehemently opposed to Rome and stressed the supremacy of Gnosis, or direct knowledge, over faith. Like the Cathars they queried Jesus' divinity. And like the Cathars they had been brutally suppressed by military force -- in effect, an eighteenth-century Albigensian Crusade. Driven out of the Languedoc, the heretics found refuge in Geneva and London.

A few weeks before his death, Newton, aided by a few intimate friends, systematically burned numerous boxes of manuscripts and personal papers. With considerable surprise his contemporaries noted that he did not, on his deathbed, request last rites.


Courtesy: From Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln; Copyright © 1982, 1983 by the Authors, p. 489, A Dell Book, All Rights Reserved. First published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape Ltd. ISBN 0-440-13648-2.
About the Book: "Enough to seriously challenge many traditional Christian beliefs, if not alter them." -  
Los Angeles Times Book Review.


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"Christianity is always adapting itself into something which can be believed."   - T.S. Eliot

"Preaching of the Scriptures is a suspicious thing. He who keeps close to the Scriptures will ruin the Catholic faith." and "...which is a book if anyone keeps close to, he will quite destroy the Catholic Church."
            - Fra Fulgentio repriminded by the Pope in his two letters; in Tetradymus by J. Toland

"First of all, believe that God is One and that He created all things and organised them and out of what did not exist made all things to be, and He contains all things but alone is Himself uncontained...."
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"If through my falsehood God's truthfulness abounds to His glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner."       - Paul in Romans 3:7

"But now he that hath a purse, let him take it and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garments and buy one." (Luke 22:36)       - Jesus' commandment to his followers

 

Sir Isaac Newton
An Historical Account of Jesus
The history of the Gospel of Barnabas
Selected Chapters from the Gospel of Barnabas
The Bible Through Time: Texts and Versions
Development of Judeo-Christian Scriptures
Development of The New Testament
Rewriting The Bible
The Other Christians
Who was Jesus (pbuh)?
The Origin of Christmas
Christmas Season
Early Unitarian Churches in Malabar, Abyssinia and Ireland
In the Land of Christ Christianity Is Dying
What Did Jesus Really Say?
Refutation of Christian Polemics
Answering Missionaries

 

 

 

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