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June 7, 1965

Jean Astruc Physician-Theologian

Author Affiliations

Northampton, Mass

JAMA. 1965;192(10):921. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080230127036

To the Editor:—  The editorial on Jean Astruc (JAMA192:249 [April 19] 1965) focuses attention on an interesting and controversial historical character. The same man whose scholarship literally unlocked the key to the Scriptures was reportedly described by Voltaire as, "Miser, débauché, and possessed with the devil."Astruc's work followed that of many theologians and philosophers. Ibn Ezra, the Spanish-Jewish philosopher of the 12th century, hinted at contradictory passages in the Bible but the bigotry of his age prevented him from openly announcing his discoveries. Benedict Spinoza, excommunicated from the Jewish colony in Amsterdam in 1656, earned his living as a lens grinder and in 1670 published anonymously his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. In the Tractatus Spinoza said that the Pentateuch was not the work of Moses but a natural book written by many men. The Tractatus created an immediate sensation, was promptly placed in the Index Purgatorius, and was the

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