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The Jewish Indian theory and Protestant use of Catholic thought in the early modern Atlantic

Crome, AP (2016) The Jewish Indian theory and Protestant use of Catholic thought in the early modern Atlantic. In: Puritans and Catholics in the Trans-Atlantic World 1600-1800. Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World . Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 112-130. ISBN 1137368985


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It is tempting to accuse Thomas Thorowgood’s Jewes in America, or, Probabilities that the Americans are of that Race (1650) of a narrow parochialism. ‘Britain’, he began, ‘has woon [sic] the gospel glory from all other countries … it was the first of all the provinces that established Christianity by law … our Lucius was the first Christian king … our K. Henry the Eight was the first of all princes who brake that yoke of Antichrist’.1 Aside from betraying its author’s high view of monarchy (Charles I’s execution forced Thorowgood to delay publication and choose a new dedicatee), the passage reveals confidence in a nation blessed by God and enjoying international pre-eminence in the gospel.2 It is easy to see how Thorowgood’s position could be used to support the idea of England as an elect nation, a new Israel leading the world into a Protestant utopia. Yet Thorowgood did not stop with Henry’s breaking of Antichrist’s yoke. Instead, he fixed his historical lens further into the past, reminding readers of the many European supports that English faith had received. The English were not natives of their own land, instead being a collection of Jutes and Angles who emigrated from Germany. It was in this continental setting that they were educated in the faith. Following the English Catholic antiquarian Richard Verstegan, Thorowgood reminded his readers that these original immigrants, who constituted a ‘first England’ in ancient Germany, were initially converted to Christianity through interactions with the Jewish community on the continent.

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