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  • From Feminism To Biblical Criticism: The Theological Trajectory of François Poulain de la Barre

More Christians have perished by the hands of Christians than by the hands of the Heathen & Infidels.

—François Poulain de la Barre, 1720.

Fifteen years ago, Richard Popkin observed that the application of the Cartesian standard of true philosophical knowledge to the study of the Bible was one of the major intellectual innovations of the late seventeenth century. Popkin’s chief examples were Spinoza, Isaac la Peyrière, and John Toland, as well as Catholic polemicists such as Richard Simon and Pierre Nicole, and liberal Calvinists like Jean Leclerc. 1 All these authors had their own, highly particular reasons to engage in a critical examination of Scripture. In this paper I will discuss yet another road to a critical theology, related to several of those just mentioned, but also quite distinct from them inasmuch as it was motivated in the first place by the attempt to refute the Scriptural objections to the equality of the sexes. The author in question, François Poulain de la Barre (Paris, 1647 - Geneva, 1723), was a former Sorbonne student of theology who had embraced Cartesianism. 2 What makes Poulain’s theological trajectory particularly intriguing is that he moved from Sorbonne theology to Cartesianism and egalitarian feminism, and then to Genevan Calvinism after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and finally to the brink of Deism.

Poulain’s feminism was part of a broader Cartesian social philosophy, in which he applied Descartes’s radical doubt to the social conventions of his age, argued that the mind, being noncorporeal, “has no sex,” and put to use the egalitarian elements in [End Page 367] Cartesian epistemology, as well as the notion of natural equality found in the discourse of Natural Jurisprudence, in order to subvert the legitimacy of social inequality. 3 His Cartesian-feminist treatises, published in the 1670s, are now fairly well-known, but his audacious theological opinions have received but scant attention, 4 perhaps because in his early books theology is not discussed as a separate subject. However, in 1720, toward the end of his life, Poulain devoted an entire book-length treatise to the interpretation of Scripture, which has to my knowledge never been discussed in the historiography of Biblical criticism.

A brief survey of Poulain’s life can throw some light on the sources of his theological interests. 5 As a schoolboy, he embarked on a church career and, in 1666, obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Sorbonne. Shortly thereafter he left the university; this was not unusual because the great majority of the clergy did not pursue their university education beyond the bachelor’s degree. 6 Poulain, however, turned away from scholastic philosophy once and for all. He later complained that his education had left him with “empty names” instead of real knowledge, a complaint frequently made by dissatisfied university students in those days. We shall see, however, that he made good use of his theological knowledge during the rest of his life. In the next decade, Poulain published the three Cartesian-feminist treatises referred to above, which are generally judged the most radical and egalitarian published in Europe before the eighteenth century: De l’Égalité des deux Sexes (1673), De l’Éducation des Dames (1674), and De l’Excellence des Hommes (1675), a mock refutation of himself, followed by a firm rebuttal of his own “refutation.” 7 For all we know, Poulain was not able to make a living as an author, even though his books were reissued several times. 8 In February 1679, he acceded to the priesthood and shortly thereafter he left Paris to become a village priest in northern France. Poulain’s decision to take holy orders can hardly be explained in terms of his previous intellectual trajectory. Nor does his move from Paris to a remote village appear as a logical or desirable one for an enterprising intellectual such as Poulain, except for the bare necessity to make a living. 9

From 1680 to 1688, Poulain served as a village priest. In 1688 he left his last charge, in the tiny hamlet of Versigny, and returned to Paris. Why he abandoned his position is not documented, but it seems probable that he got into trouble over doctrinal orthodoxy after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Perhaps he also wished to avoid collaboration in the forced conversion of Huguenots. 10 Both motives are probable; in his later Genevan treatise Poulain criticized many aspects of Roman Catholicism but he kept harping on two points: the abhorrent and cruel “spirit of persecution” and it’s sinister theological twin, the “absurd” dogma of transsubstantiation, which had tormented the conscience of many a sincere Catholic. Apparently it was in Paris, in 1688 or 1689, that Poulain became converted to Calvinism. In the latter year, he left (or fled) the French capital and went to Geneva, where he was admitted as a habitant in December 1689, and married into a patrician family shortly thereafter. At first he made a living by giving private French lessons, but in 1708 he was given a permanent teaching position in the Collège. In 1716, he obtained the status of bourgeois of the City for himself and his son. 11 In 1720, Poulain published a theological treatise, Doctrine des protestants sur la liberté de lire l’Ecriture Sainte. He died in 1723, at the age of seventy-five. [End Page 368]

The focus in all of Poulain’s writings was the quest for a rational Christianity purged of all supernaturalism. I will show that the audacious theological opinions he formulated in the 1670s were the product of the conjunction of his egalitarian views with his philosophical ideas. Cartesianism provided the method, whereas feminism provided the substance of his critical attitude toward the Christian tradition. Moreover, Poulain also displays some familiarity with Hobbes’s and Spinoza’s theological views. Almost all the main elements of Poulain’s rational Christianity can be found in his feminist treatises. However, his Genevan book, written almost a half-century later, goes beyond his early writings in its extensive discussion of Biblical interpretation, centered on the issue of the Eucharist. In the final years of his life, Poulain apparently felt the need to return to theological issues that he had wrestled with as a village priest in the 1680s, or perhaps as early as his student days at the Sorbonne. In a way, his last book reads like a settling of accounts with himself. His basic position, an irenic, rationalist Christianity, had not changed very much over the years. In the European context of 1720, his views were perhaps not very shocking or even quite common, at least within the restricted orbit of Enlightened Protestant culture. We shall see, however, that Poulain’s theology, as well as that of his son, was more frankly rationalist in tone and less apologetic than the Arminian Calvinism that came to dominate the Genevan Academy from 1710 to 1730.

I. Among The Catholics: France, 1660–1689

Cartesians frequently became involved in theological controversies, most notably about the Eucharist, but also about Scriptural interpretation. 12 They were often suspected of heterodoxy, and the menace of censorship was never far away. 13 Poulain was well aware of this: in an “avertissement,” printed at the end of his first book, he asserted that his views were in no way contrary to Scripture, if only the latter was read correctly. In his third book, ironically titled De l’excellence des hommes (1675), Scripture is discussed at greater length. At the beginning, Poulain gives his readers a hint about the tactics of public debate, observing that the question of the equality of the sexes is important and curious, “and serves to decide a number of other curious questions, chiefly in Morality, Jurisprudence, Theology and Politics, which one cannot discuss freely in a book”(Ex., 3–4). 14 He also observes that reason has always been persecuted, and that the wise man/woman does not disturb the public peace and therefore discusses certain things only in private (Educ., 184, 262, 343, 353).

To begin with, Poulain presents the following objections to the prevailing patriarchal interpretations of Genesis (Ex., 15–30, 45–46): (1) Adam was created before Eve; yes, says Poulain, but the animals were created before Adam. (2) The preference for the older over the younger only comes from human custom. (3) The text of Genesis does not tell us why God created Adam first. (4) Eve was fashioned out of Adam’s rib; yes, but Adam was made out of “mud and slime,” definitely less noble materials. Moreover, all subsequent women were not born from parts of men, but rather the other way around. (5) Eve was created as Adam’s “helpmate”; yes, but a helpmate (“aide”) is not the same thing as a servant. After all, princes are called the “aides” of their subjects, and subjects of their princes. (6) Next comes the story of the Fall. The vulgate Bible speaks of Eve’s subordination, but the translations made on the Hebrew text, such as the Polyglot Bible, “accepted by all the learned,” do not [End Page 369] support such a reading (Ex., 22). (7) Moreover, the patriarchal reading is illogical. Adam has just committed a grave sin, it is therefore highly implausible that God will grant him a new privilege, that of ruling Eve, instead of meting out a just punishment. (8) The Biblical text nowhere affirms that Eve is despoiled of her original right of domination over nonhuman nature.

Except for the last three, the above arguments are probably taken from the feminist literature of the preceding decades, where the patriarchal reading of Genesis was frequently criticized. 15 Poulain further contends that “apart from custom,” there is no reason why women should not officiate as pastors or ministers in the church. Generally speaking, the “exterior Estates established by man . . . only confer a new name on those who are invested with them, without changing their nature” (Ex., 62). 16 What Scripture really teaches about these matters is that political authority, rank, estate, and honor are no more than human vanity. And so it is with the pretended “rule” of men over women. Poulain does not deny that all public functions mentioned in the Bible are fulfilled by men. He explains this as follows: (1) God tolerates human conventions when they are not directly contrary to his will (Ex., 66). (2) When the Bible discusses human conventions, it is couched in the language of particular times and places. Poulain’s elaboration of the last point tells us something about his way of reading the Bible. He begins by observing that the Old Testament Jewish Laws were “national,” they were made for the “genie” of a particular people (Ex, 67). The patriarchal bias in the Pauline texts in the New Testament is explained in the same fashion: “Like all the Orientals and the Romans the Jews were extremely jealous of their authority, and as they were the masters of their women, it is no wonder that the Apostle, pursuing his altogether Christian policy of accommodating to everyone, has counseled submission and silence to the women, for the sake of peace in the family” (Ex, 68). 17

Poulain’s treatment of these Biblical texts is strikingly akin to Spinoza’s approach in the Tractatus theologico-politicus (1670). Like Spinoza, Poulain characterizes the Jewish laws as historically specific and refuses to attribute any universal validity to the social and cultural teachings of the Bible; thus, those teachings are reduced to the status of adaptations to the customs of particular times and places. 18 Coming back to Adam and Eve, Poulain’s final conclusion is that no necessary truths can be inferred at all from the story of the Fall. Commenting on Paul’s first letter to Thimotheus, Poulain asserts:

The arguments of the Apostle to accommodate to custom are not at all essential reasons, but rather simple conventions taken from a story of long ago and a personal circumstance that might equally well be used against the men. For if the first man would have been created after the woman . . . and if he had been directly seduced, something which is in no way impossible, and if from that time onwards men would have been under the domination of women . . . then they would have been told, likewise, that they ought not to lord it over their wives . . . When thoroughly examined, this kind of reasoning proves nothing at all

(Ex., 73). 19

Eve’s seduction is thus relegated to the status of a historically contingent event. Poulain seems on the verge of denying the universal significance of the Fall of Man, all the more so because he never dwells on the sinful condition of mankind and consistently upholds an eudemonistic vision of human nature. He depicts the “first age of the [End Page 370] world” as an age of innocence, which only later became corrupted when a greedy minority managed to monopolize power and riches (Ex., 295–329). It is also noteworthy that Poulain’s critique is not confined to the Old Testament. Only the prescription of Charity, attributed to Christ himself, is left untouched. Poulain next attacks the “prejudice” that God is masculine, drawing on the humanist critique of simple anthropomorphic representations of God as a visible being, such as a “King” or “Lord” (Ex., 67; Egal., 31). 20 However, the feminist argument flows over into a more comprehensive philosophical critique of all representations of God in terms of the concepts of human philosophy:

What philosophers have thought about Divine nature is founded on what they have known about the nature of the Mind. For we observe that those who believe that the Mind is corporeal, only of a more subtle nature than the other bodies, also believe that the Divinity is an extremely subtle body whose agency is diffused through all matter in order to impart movement to it. And those who, on the contrary, uphold the opinion that our Soul is a non-corporeal entity, likewise contend that God is of the same nature: however, the former as well as the latter agree in judging the conduct of God according to their own nature, taking away what they believe to be not perfect

(Educ., 270–71). 21

It is obvious that the second group of philosophers are the Cartesians. The first option, God as an “extremely subtle body” that pervades the universe looks like a garbled version of Hobbes’s materialism and Spinoza’s theology, interpreting Spinoza’s conception of God in materialist terms and expressing his notion of immanence in the Cartesian terminology of “subtle matter.” 22 It seems clear that Poulain here confused Hobbesian and Spinozist ideas. His own position appears to be that we cannot have any sort of substantial knowledge about the real nature of God, an opinion famously defended by Hobbes in his criticism of Descartes, as well as in De Cive. 23 In the Education, Poulain recommends Descartes’s Meditations as the basic textbook of metaphysics, but in the passage under discussion he posits that in the final analysis Descartes’s idea of God is dependent on his view of the mind as the essence of human nature. Perhaps Poulain’s criticism developed out of the inner tension in Descartes’s conviction that we can understand the idea of God but cannot grasp His true essence. 24 Poulain seems to opt for one side of the dilemma, thus reducing the Cartesian concept of the Deity to yet another, albeit extremely subtle, form of anthropomorphism.

On the thorny issue of the authority of Scripture, Poulain is ambiguous. In De l’Égalité, he asserts “that the books of Scripture are no less authentic than any other books we have” and refers in a somewhat offhand way to “what was at all times believed by the entire Church” (Egal., 68–69). Elsewhere he says that the “assent of all the ages” demonstrates the truth of the Bible and that we ought to remain in the Christian faith because we were reared in it. But in Poulain’s discussion of patriarchal discourse, it is precisely this type of reasoning that is singled out for a devastating critique. In Cartesian epistemology, it was possible to argue for the universality of the (“innate”) idea of God, but to infer the truth of Scripture from universal consent would have seemed absurd to Descartes, who had emphasized the cultural variability of religious doctrines in his Discours de la Méthode. Moreover, the injunction to remain in the religion one was born in, which is also found in Descartes’s [End Page 371] provisional morality, was a standard maxim of sixteenth and seventeenth-century sceptics, as both Poulain and his readers would know full well, just as they would know that “the assent of all the ages” was not a self-evident maxim but a hotly contested philosophical issue. 25 It appears, then, that Poulain’s observations on universal consent have to be understood ironically, and all that remains of his “defense” of the authority of Scripture is the affirmation of its authenticity.

Poulain does not tell us much about the sources of his ideas, but he was certainly aware of the controversies over Biblical interpretation then raging in France and Europe, both between and among Catholics and Protestants. His criticisms of the moral prescriptions of the Old Testament have something in common with the Saumurian position in the Protestant camp, but they are more uncompromisingly rationalist: reason alone, not the New Testament, is invoked to “correct” the Old Testament, and Poulain also criticized the New Testament when it contradicted the rational standard of equality. The secular, nontheological inspiration of Poulain’s critique also makes it distinct from Saumurian Protestantism which, at least in theory, acknowledged the superiority of Scripture over Reason. 26 Nowhere in Poulain’s work is Revelation consulted as an independent source of truth. Scripture, Poulain says, “only has to provide men with a rule for their conduct, according to the idea of justice it imparts, and it leaves everyone at liberty to judge the natural and true state of affairs according to his lights” (Egal, 7). 27 The idea of justice, however, can also be comprehended by unaided reason because it is founded on “the order of nature which makes all human beings equals” (Egal., 54). This echoes Grotius’s position on the autonomous truth of natural law, but Grotius also recognizes the autonomous significance of Revelation in such matters as the Old Testament prophecies and the veridical power of miracles. 28 Poulain does not.

Given the way Poulain employs Biblical criticism to combat deeply ingrained prejudices, he may have been inspired by Richard Simon’s first publication, an anonymous pamphlet (1670) in defense of the Jews of Metz who were accused of the ritual murder of a Christian child. Simon criticized an anachronistic interpretation of an Old Testament text in order to refute an anti-Jewish prejudice. 29 Poulain may well have heard of this notorious case in which an innocent Jew was burnt at the stake and the Parliament of Metz censured by the King. 30 Poulain’s approach also has something in common with that of his fellow Cartesian Malebranche, who also contended that the language of Scripture was accommodated to popular usage in order to explain (away) the passages of the Bible that contradicted his philosophical views. 31 Malebranche, however, was chiefly interested in natural science and epistemology and did not dispute the validity of the moral prescriptions of the Bible; nor did Richard Simon who, for all his historical criticism, had a profound respect for the teachings of Scripture. 32 In their disparate ways, Simon, Malebranche, and Poulain were all drawing on the notion of accommodation, a doctrine that had been framed earlier in the century by Bellarmino and Descartes, and possibly went back much further. 33 There remains the influence of Hobbes and Spinoza. By the 1660s, Hobbes was quite well known in France. Some of his books were available in French translations, and Poulain may of course have consulted Hobbes’s Latin Opera, published in 1668. 34 Moreover, it is apparent from other parts of Poulain’s treatises that he was familiar with Hobbes’s views. 35 However, it is far less clear how Poulain got wind of Spinoza’s opinions because in the early 1670s only a few men in France were conversant with [End Page 372] Spinoza’s philosophy. At any rate, Poulain’s writings show that the early dissemination of Spinoza’s ideas may have gone beyond the extremely restricted circles mentioned in Paul Vernière’s classic study of the reception of Spinoza in France. 36

In the end, it is hard to see what remains of God in Poulain’s critical discourse, except for the rather abstract notion of the Creator or First Cause and an identification of God’s will with Reason and Justice. It is also not clear what remains of the Biblical message except for the moral teachings of charity, truth, and justice. Christianity is true, Poulain incessantly repeats, because the divine service is pure and worthy of God, and its maxims are reasonable and well suited to promote peace in society (Educ., 272). Philosophically, the existence of God is demonstrated by the order of the world (Egal., 87). The argument from design was of course a perfectly orthodox one, and it was probably one of the few ideas to which all schools and denominations subscribed. 37 However, two observations on Poulain’s use of this argument are in order. (1) It was frequently invoked to justify the existing social hierarchy, but for Poulain it represented the natural order of the world which included his egalitarian view of society. (2) In Poulain, God is portrayed as the Creator “on whom everything depends,” but there is no discussion of providence. In these matters, his position is close to Deism and miles away from the preoccupation with questions of providence and grace in the contemporary debate between Arnauld and Malebranche. 38 Poulain’s writings recall Spinoza’s Tractatus in their agressively rationalist tone, their hatred of persecution, and their impassioned defence of the freedom of expression. Poulain repeatedly insists on the peaceful resolution of religious controversies (Ex., 294–95; Educ., 95–7, 127, 147, 183). Muslims and Heathen should not be forcibly converted: “the Idolater has within himself a sovereign reason, which, when awakened by the exhortations of a Christian, situates itself so to speak in the middle between two Religions, and decides which of the two has the best claims”(Educ, 143). 39 The most pernicious sort of men, Poulain tells his readers in the concluding pages of the Education, are those who employ “insults, threats, torture and the stake (le fer et le feu) in order to force others to assent to their opinions”(Educ., 343). Poulain may have lacked Bayle’s philosophical subtlety, but his principled condemnation of coercion clearly prefigures the latter’s Commentaire philosophique, published a decade later.

II. Among The Calvinists: Geneva, 1689–1723

In the 1690s, when Poulain had just settled in Geneva, Cartesian philosophy was well entrenched in the Academy, but the introduction of a Saumurean, rationalist theology was keenly contested. 40 In 1679, Geneva had subscribed to the severely orthodox Helvetian Consensus, but that decision had remained highly controversial, and in 1694 an outspoken Arminian, Jean-Alphonse Turrettini, was appointed to the ministry. Turrettini’s appointment was a sign of changes to come, but in the 1690s the orthodox party in Geneva, as elsewhere in Europe, still regularly sought to blacken their opponents as Socinians. 41 In 1696, Poulain was himself suspected of Socinianism, perhaps not unjustly. The suspicion arose in connection with the accusations of Socinian “dogmatizing” against a certain Delorme. The Delorme affair reached the Compagnie des Pasteurs, the Consistory, and finally the Petit Conseil of the City, and both Delorme and Poulain were subjected to prolonged questioning. Delorme was ordered to leave [End Page 373] the city within a month. Poulain must have lived through some anguished weeks, for the decision to expel Delorme was taken on 16 January and Poulain was interrogated on 20 February. His declaration of orthodoxy apparently satisfied the committee, since no further steps were taken against him. 42 Poulain’s profession of orthodoxy was almost certainly a dissimulation of his true opinions. All the same, he must have been thoroughly frightened, which may explain why he did not publish anything for over twenty years.

After the turn of century, the theological climate in Geneva became more relaxed and from 1706 new ministers no longer had to sign the Consensus but were only “exhorted” orally not to teach anything contrary to it. 43 That is not to say that there now existed full religious liberty: in that very same year the vineyard-owner André-Robert Vaudenet was expelled from the city for holding Deist opinions. However, in his case, political factors played a role, and it is very probable that Deist and Atheist ideas were discreetly discussed in certain circles in Geneva in the first decade of the eighteenth century. 44 Between 1706 and 1725, when the Formula Consensus was abrogated altogether, a rationalistic Protestantism got the upper hand. The new climate of opinion would certainly have been more congenial to Poulain, who in 1708 obtained a permanent position as a teacher in the second class of the Collège, where the pupils were groomed for the Academy. 45 One of Poulain’s pupils was his own son, Jean-Jacques, who went through the highest classes of the Collège in 1709–1711, entered the Academy in May 1711, and graduated in philosophy in 1714 and in theology in 1717. 46 His doctoral theses exhibit so many parallels and textual affinities with his father’s writings that we may regard them as a result of a close collabaration between father and son. Poulain Jr. was supervised by Jean-Antoine Gautier and Jean-Alphonse Turrettini, major representatives of Cartesian philosophy and Arminian theology, respectively. Moreover, there were dedications to Jean-Robert Chouet, who had introduced Cartesianism in the Academy and was now first syndic of the City, to Pierre Gautier, a former first syndic, as well as to members of the prominent Tremblay and Chapeaurouge families. 47 In 1715, Jean-Jacques Poulain published an expanded French version of his philosophical theses. 48 The Poulains, we may conclude, had good relations with the Genevan patriciate as well as with its intellectual vanguard, as represented by the Chouet-Gautier-Turrettini group. 49 Poulain Jr.’s theses are interesting in several respects. In his study of the introduction of Cartesianism in the Genevan Academy, Michael Heyd singles them out as a major example of the application of Cartesian doubt to moral and social matters, and he notes Poulain Jr.’s fiery denunciations of “prejudice.” 50 Heyd seems to have been unaware of the identity of Jean-Jacques’s father, but a comparison among Poulain’s seventeenth-century treatises, Jean-Jacques’s theses, and Poulain’s 1720 book demonstrates manifold affinities, and sometimes close textual parallels.

Taking a closer look at Poulain Jr.’s writings, another conclusion emerges. His rationalism is more outspoken than that of Turrettini himself: “The natural religion, which is the touchstone of all the Others, teaches us our Duties to God, following the plain Lights of Reason . . . The natural Light is the first Revelation, and the Judge of every other one.” 51 “Today, true Theologians, like Philosophers, destroy more than they construct.” 52 In Poulain Jr., there is almost no trace of a positive apologetic theology. This is surely significant, since apologetic arguments, as well as attacks on incredulity and Atheism occupied a prominent place in the theology of [End Page 374] Turrettini. 53 Moreover, most defendants of theses subscribed to their professor’s views, and in many cases the bulk of the text was actually drafted by Turrettini himself. 54 In twenty-two out of the thirty-one theses in theology defended under Turrettini between 1710 and 1730, apologetic arguments are prominent, and sixteen contain attacks on atheism and incredulity. An explicit defense of miracles is found in four cases, and attacks on Deism in two. 55 Poulain Jr’s theses are among the small minority in which none of these arguments is found. Insofar as he partakes in the defense of Christianity, it is by pointing to the concourse of Reason and Revelation: his ideal is the Theologo-Philosophus, which arrives at the truth of natural religion by means of right reason, and at belief in Christ by means of “faith illuminated by right reason.” 56 In Genevan philosophical theses, Hobbist utilitarian ethics were frequently criticized. Out of a sample of thirty-two philosophical dissertations defended between 1698 and 1733, ten contained antiutilitarian theses (Hobbes is censured twice), of which seven were defended in the 1712–1721 period, under the Cartesian professors Jean-Antoine Gautier and Etienne Jallabert. 57 However, in Poulain Jr.’s theses, no antiutilitarian arguments are found. His own view was that “Everything that is really useful for us, without harming others, is good and permissible.” 58 This line of thinking, the Christian rehabilitation of a moderate self-love, which can be traced back to seventeenth-century Protestant theologians like Laplacette and Abbadie (and on the Catholic side, of course, to Nicole), was not unusual in Geneva: it was present in Turrettini and, somewhat later, in the natural-law philosophy of Jean Barbeyrac and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui. 59 What is unusual, however, is the absence of any compensatory argument against utilitarianism.

Generally, the rationalist temper of Genevan theology in the early decades of the eighteenth century should not be overdrawn. Apologetic arguments, as well as strictures against Atheism and an overly critical spirit, abounded. A good case is Jean-Frédéric Ostervald, whose Biblical commentary (1720) was printed in all editions of the Genevan Bible from 1724 onward. 60 Ostervald warns his readers that they must trust the Bible even in those places where they cannot rationally understand its message: “God has spoken, and that is sufficient.” 61 It is against this backgroud that we must evaluate Poulain’s last book. 62 But not exclusively so, since the Doctrine des Protestants was in a certain way Poulain’s theological autobiography. It moves in two temporal contexts, the early eighteenth-century Genevan milieu and Poulain’s French experiences during 1660–1688. For example, Poulain’s repeated affirmations that hatred and persecution are wrong in themselves surely echoed the opinions of Turrettini, which were in turn indebted to earlier Protestant polemics, above all to Pierre Bayle. 63 However, we should also read them as a commentary on Poulain’s own unpleasant experiences as a village pastor at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and, finally, as a restatement of arguments found in his early feminist writings. Likewise, Poulain’s lengthy critique of transubstantiation was clearly indebted to a long tradition of Protestant polemics, but, at the same time, it reflected the anguished conscience of the Catholic pastor who had to say Mass but could not bring himself to believe the Eucharistic doctrine of his Church. According to Poulain, a great number of priests were plagued by such doubts, especially those with some intellectual training, there even were priests, he contended, who had totally discarded the dogma of transubstantiation but continued to celebrate the Mass (Doc., 137–38). This seems a fair diagnosis of Poulain’s own plight in the 1680s. [End Page 375]

In the second part of the book, Poulain seeks to demonstrate that a careful reading of Scripture supports the Protestant doctrine of the Eucharist. To that end, he establishes several rules of interpretation. First, right reason commands us to read the Bible in the same spirit and following the same rules as in reading all good books. Second, we must read the Bible without any preconceived ideas, as if nobody had ever read it before us. Generally, we should not only rely on isolated passages but also interpret sentences in their proper context. Furthermore, we should take into account the “prejudices and customs of the Jews as well as the Gentiles to which the New Testament frequently refers” (Doc., 270–80). In this connection, it is of great importance to avoid an anachronistic reading: earlier texts ought not to be interpreted in the light of later ones (Doc., 241–42). We shall see that Poulain, in keeping with this rule, reads the New Testament against the background of the Old, not the other way around. Finally, Poulain posits the necessity to distinguish properly between the literal and the figural or metaphorical meaning of a text: “One takes a Discourse . . . to be figural . . . when, taking its terms . . . literally, the resultant meaning is repugnant to sound Reason” (Doc., 276–77). Subsequently, this rule is applied to Christ’s words this is my body, this in my blood, spoken to the Apostles at the Last Supper, which took place at the approximate date of the Jewish Passover, the meal established to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. On that occasion, “the Jews were accustomed to eat the bitter herbs, and during the meal, the family father would say: behold the herbs our Fathers ate in the Desert, in order to say, behold how were, or, like that were the herbs our Fathers ate in the Desert (Doc., 282).” 64 In the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Christ made constant allusions to Jewish custom. What he meant to say was that, just like the bread he pointed at, his body would be broken on the Cross in the near future. Poulain buttresses his reading with an Old Testament example, the passage where Ezekiel (5:1–6), burning and dispersing his cut-off hair, says “behold Jerusalem,” referring to the devastation of the City in the future. The words this is my body, spoken by later Christians celebrating the Eucharist, must naturally be taken to refer to the past. The Eucharist, then, is a memorial service instituted by Christ, and the words spoken are signs of the inner act of remembering Christ’s sacrifice (Doc., 304). This might seem more Zwinglian than Calvinist, 65 but in the context of Poulain’s entire treatise it appears more like Socinianism: speaking of Christ, Poulain frequently refers to our Lord or Saviour but consistently manages to avoid the expression “the Son,” and on the issue of the Trinity he is about as loquacious as a Carthusian monk. Perhaps we might characterize Poulain’s stance as Socinianism by omission.

The issue of transubstantiation logically leads to the question of miracles. The Catholics have turned the Eucharist into a spurious miracle, since miracles, Poulain maintains, cannot be contrary to reason and experience: “impossible and unbelievable things are not the objects of faith” (Doc., 324, 342). Where Christ has performed miracles, Poulain goes on to say, these are clearly indicated as such in the Bible, and “miracles should certainly not be multiplied without necessity.” Once more, Poulain’s treatment of a major issue is only partly similar to Genevan rationalist theology. Turrettini and Poulain agree on the general statement that “impossible things” cannot be part of the faith, but, apart from that, Turrettini dwells at length on the importance of the Biblical miracles as proofs of the truth of Christianity. 66 Poulain, however, employs, apart from a perfunctory acknowledgment of Christ’s miracles, only negative [End Page 376] qualifications in his discussion of the supernatural. On a related issue, the significance of Old-Testament prophecies, a similar difference between Poulain and Turrettini emerges. The latter highly valued the Old Testament miracles because they pointed toward Christ. 67 Poulain, on the contrary, explicitly states that earlier texts may not be interpreted in the light of later ones (Doc., 241–42).

Poulain ends the Doctrine des Protestants with the sarcastic observation that in the eyes of the Heathen, the Jews and the Muslims, the Christians, or at least the Catholics, appear as Déophages, “God-eaters,” and according to many, “they can no longer have a God, having consumed him so many times, and for so long” (Doc., 439). Poulain’s treatment of transubstantiation clearly reflects a long history of Protestant polemics. He resumes all previous arguments: the Romish doctrine was unknown to the early Church, it is scandalous, contrary to common sense as well as to right reason, and underpinned by an erroneous exegesis. Poulain’s explanation of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in terms of the transformation of the Jewish Passover ceremony rests on a purely historical-critical reading of the text. His critical method is virtually identical to that developed by Jean LeClerc from the 1680s onward. 68 It is perhaps not entirely accidental that LeClerc, reviewing Poulain’s book in his Bibliothèque Ancienne et Moderne, praised it abundantly for its solid reasoning as well as its irenic message. 69

III. On The Threshold Of Deism

We have seen that Poulain’s theological rationalism was more thorough and less apologetic than the mainstream Turrettinean school in Geneva. Looked at from a broader, European vantage point, Poulain’s theological views were by 1720 not so radical as they had been in the 1670s. His impassioned protest against persecution and coercion now sounded much like Bayle, his critical method followed the lead of Jean LeClerc, and he did not question revelation in an equally trenchant way as John Toland had done in the 1690s. 70 But apart from that, the differences between Toland and Poulain are not great, and Poulain’s position is generally closer to Toland than to Locke, who emphatically affirmed the crucial role of miracles as proofs of Christianity. 71 Having been accused of Socinian leanings, Poulain must have known the difference between Unitarianism and Trinitarianism quite well. That may account for his avoidance of any positive or negative statement about the divinity of Christ. On the relation between Reason and Revelation, he is also somewhat evasive. Poulain’s standard formula is “Reason and the Gospel,” but Reason is always used to correct Scripture, never the other way around: here, his position is clearly Socinian. Moreover, we have an indication that Poulain was well aware of what he was doing. In the draft of his 1716 application for the status of bourgeois, adressed to the Petit Conseil of the City, he wrote that “the study of ‘belles lettres’ and good philosophy had led him to that of Holy Scripture and [those two sources of enlightenment had led him to] the recognition of the Truth and the Foundations of the Reformation.” On second thought, Poulain deleted the words “those two sources of enlightenment had led him to,” and added the words “by those means to,” so that the passage could now be taken to mean that he went from philosophy to Scripture and thence to the truth of the Reformed faith. 72

In the final analysis, Poulain appears to stand on the threshold of Deism: Reason and Justice are his real God, and the Trinity is silently dropped. However, he [End Page 377] did not find the words, nor perhaps the resolve, to take the last step toward an explicitly Deist position. Afterall, he was an old man and would not have wished to endanger the career of his son. Already in his early French writings, Poulain had warned that the wise should be moderate and speak their mind only to the wise: what he said in private conversations we may suspect, but cannot know. What makes his theological trajectory difficult to judge is the long silence between his early French and his late Genevan writings. The young Poulain was a contemporary of Spinoza, the old of Montesquieu. As a young man, he put together an egalitarian social philosophy in which Cartesianism and feminism complemented and radicalized each other. Poulain’s feminism definitely contributed to the early formulation of his heterodox theological ideas, but his concern with theological questions may well go back to his student days, and it certainly continued into the final years of his life. On the other hand, only feeble echoes of his early egalitarian and feminist views survived in his and his son’s Genevan writings. In the end, the critique of theology was the most enduring part of Poulain’s intellectual career. His impassioned condemnation of religious coercion is a case in point: it can be found in his writings of the 1670s, it was clearly reinforced by his experience at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, as well as by the Socinian affair in 1696, it reappears in the writings of his son, and it is vigorously reasserted in his last book. Viewed in this way, Poulain’s theological trajectory not so much echoes but rather parallels Bayle’s and LeClerc’s. More generally, his theological position was probably representative of many who stood unresolved in the twilight zone between rational Christianity and Deism.

Siep Stuurman

Siep Stuurman is Professor of European History at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He is currently working on a book on “François Poulain de la Barre and the invention of modern equality.”


1. Richard H. Popkin, “Cartesianism and Biblical Criticism,” in Problems of Cartesianism, ed. Thomas M. Lennon, John M. Nicholas, and John W. Davis (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 1982), 61–81.

2. Also spelled Poullain; I use Poulain, following the author himself in his 1674 book (see note 7 below).

3. See Siep Stuurman, “Social Cartesianism: François Poulain de la Barre and the Origins of the Enlightenment,” Journal of the History of Ideas 58 (1997): 617–40.

4. See Madeleine Alcover, Poullain de la Barre: une aventure philosophique (Paris-Seattle-Tübingen: Papers on French Seventeenth-Century Literature, 1981), 79–92; and Marie Louise Stock, Poullain de la Barre: A Seventeenth-Century Feminist (Ph.D. diss.: Columbia Univ., 1961), 82–86.

5. On Poulain’s life, see: Stock, Poullain: A Seventeenth-Century Feminist, 1–90; and Alcover, Poullain: une aventure philosophique, 9–20.

6. L. W. B. Brockliss, French Higher Education in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 5.

7. Discours Physique et Moral de l’Égalité des deux Sexes, où l’on voit l’importance de se défaire des Préjugez (Paris: Jean Dupuis, 1673) ; De l’Éducation des Dames pour la Conduite de l’Esprit dans les Sciences et dans les Moeurs. Entretiens (Paris: Jean Dupuis, 1674) ; De l’Excellence des Hommes contre l’Egalité des Sexes (Paris: Jean Dupuis, 1675). Quotations in this article are from these editions (hereafter Egal., Educ., and Ex., respectively; and cited parenthetically in the text, except for the Égalité, where I refer to De l’Égalité des deux sexes [Paris: Fayard, 1984]).

8. Two of his books have no dedication; the Education is dedicated to the Grande Mademoiselle; Poulain probably had no patron.

9. Stock, Poullain: A Seventeenth-Century Feminist, 47–48, alludes to vocational idealism as well, but there is no direct evidence in support of this. Stock relies on Poulain’s frequent praise of charity, modesty, and simplicity, which can, however, be interpreted in a quite different way (as I show in this paper).

10. See Stock, Poullain: A Seventeenth-Century Feminist, 50–56, for the few sources on this part of Poulain’s life.

11. The bourgeois enjoyed full economic rights, but they could not hold high political office. See Gabriella Silvestrini, Alle Radici del Pensiero di Rousseau (Milano: Franco Angeli, 1993), 25–26.

12. See Richard H. Watson, “Transsubstantiation among the Cartesians,” in Problems of Cartesianism, 127–48; and Steven M. Nadler, “Arnauld, Descartes, and Transsubstantiation: Reconciling Cartesian Metaphysics and Real Presence,” Journal of the History of Ideas 49 (1988): 229–46. See also note 1 above.

13. See Trevor McClaughlin, “Censorship and Defenders of the Cartesian Faith in Mid-Seventeenth Century France,” Journal of the History of Ideas 40 (1979): 563–81.

14. “et elle sert à decider de quantité d’autres questions curieuses, principalement dans la Morale, la Iurisprudence, la Theologie et la Politique, dont on ne peut parler librement dans un livre.”

15. Inversions of Genesis 2 and 3 were quite common in the Renaissance Querelle des femmes. See Ian MacLean, Woman Triumphant. Feminism in French Literature 1610–1652 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 25–26; in Poulain’s time such arguments are found in Apologie de la science des dames (Lyon: B. Coral, 1662), 98–100; Elisabeth Marie Clément, Dialogue de la princesse sçavante et de la dame de famille (Paris: B. Loyson, 1664), 160–61; Jacquette Guillaume, Les Dames illustres où par bonnes et fortes raisons il se prouve que le sexe féminin surpasse en toutes sortes de genre le sexe masculin (Paris: Thomas Jolly, 1665), 202–3; and, after Poulain, in D. I. B. Descrues, Les Entretiens de Theandre et d’Ismenie sur un ancien et fameux differend (Paris: R. Pepie, 1687), 12.

16. This argument clearly echoes Pascal’s treatment of rank as a merely exterior condition. See Stuurman, “Social Cartesianism,” 635–36, on Poulain’s indebtedness to Jansenism.

17. “Ainsi les Juifs comme tous les Orientaux et les Romains estans extrémement jaloux de leur authorité et maistres de leur femmes, ce n’est pas une merveille que l’Apostre suivant sa Politique toute Chrétienne, de s’accomoder à tout le monde, ait tant recommandé aux femmes la soûmission et le silence, pour la tranquillité des familles.”

18. Spinoza, Traité des autorités théologique et politique, trans. M. Francès (Paris: Gallimard, 1954), 69, 92, 100, 127–133, 199; Richard H. Popkin, “Spinoza and Bible Scholarship,” in The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza, ed. Don Garret (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), 383–407, esp. 396–400, which argues that it was precisely the reduction of Old Testament law to a purely historical phenomenon that distinguished Spinoza from previous Biblical criticism.

19. “Ce ne sont point des raisons essentielles dont se sert l’Apostre pour s’accomoder à la coûtume, mais de simples convenances, tirées d’une Histoire éloignée, et d’un fait personnel, qui pourroit aussi servir contre les hommes. Car si le premier avoit esté crée aprés la femme . . . et qu’il eust été seduit immediatement, comme cela n’estoit nullement impossible, et que depuis ce temps-là les hommes eussent esté sous la puissance des femmes . . . on leur diroit de mesme, qu’ils ne doivent point dominer sur leurs femmes . . . Des raisons de cette nature ne prouvent rien quand on examine les choses à fond.”

20. The point that God cannot be a “visible entity” had been forcefully made by Grotius. See Henning von Reventlov, “L’exégèse humaniste de Hugo Grotius,” in Le Grand Siècle et la Bible, ed. Jean-Robert Armogathe (Paris: Beauchesne, 1989), 151.

21. “Ce que les Philosophes ont pensé de la nature Divine, est fondé sur ce qu’ils ont sçu de la nature de l’esprit. Car nous voyons que ceux qui croyent que l’Esprit est un corps seulement plus subtil que les autres, croyent pareillement que la Divinité est un corps extremement subtil et agissant répandu dans toute la matiere pour luy donner le mouvement. Et ceux au contraire qui soutiennent que nostre Ame est quelque chose de non corporel, soûtiennent aussi que Dieu est de mesme nature: mais les uns et les autres s’accordent à juger de Dieu par eux-mesmes, en ostant ce qu’ils croyent avoir d’imparfait.”

22. On Spinoza’s conception of God, see Alan Donagan, “Spinoza’s Theology,” in The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza, 343–82, esp. 354.

23. Thomas Hobbes, De Cive. The English Version, entitled in the first ed. Philosophical Rudiments Concerning Government and Society, ed. H. Warrender (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 190–91; Richard Tuck, “Hobbes and Descartes,” in Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes, ed. G. A. J. Rogers and Alan Ryan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 11–41, esp. 39–40; Arrigo Pacchi, “Hobbes and the Problem of God,” Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes, 171–87.

24. See Jean-Marie Beyssade, “The Idea of God and the Proofs of His Existence,” in The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995), 174–99, esp. 187–92.

25. See J. S. Spink, French Free-Thought from Gassendi to Voltaire (London: Athlone Press, 1960), 25.

26. Walter Rex, Essays on Pierre Bayle and Religious Controversy (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1965), 111; François Laplanche, “Débats et combats autour de la Bible dans l’orthodoxie réformée,” in Le Grand Siècle et la Bible, 117–40, esp. 126–35; Laplanche, “La Bible chez les Réformés,” in Le Siècle des Lumières et la Bible, ed. Yvon Belaval and Dominique Bourel (Paris: Beauchesne, 1986), 459–80.

27. “elle [Scripture] n’est que pour servir de regle aux hommes dans leur conduite, selon les idées qu’elle donne de la justice, elle laisse à chacun la liberté de juger comme il peut de l’état naturel et veritable des choses.”

28. Von Reventlow, “Grotius,” 142, 151–54.

29. [Richard Simon], Factum servant de réponse au livre intitulé Abrégé du procès fait au Juifs de Metz (Paris, 1670), reprinted in Joseph Reinach, Raphaël Levi: Une erreur judiciaire sous Louis XIV (Paris: Delagrave, 1898), 119–35, esp. 121–22. The original edition of Simon’s Factum is extremely rare; it was reprinted in De Sainjore, Bibliothèque critique ou Recueil de diverses pièces critiques (Basel: Christian Wackerman, 1709), vol. 1, 109–31.

30. See Reinach, Raphaël Levi, 13–65.

31. See Joseph Beaude, “Malebranche et la Bible,” in Le Grand Siècle et la Bible, 735–44.

32. See Henri Margival, Essai sur Richard Simon (Geneva: Slatkine, 1970), 125–30; Paul Auvray, Richard Simon, 1638–1712 (Paris: P.U.F., 1974), 42–44; Marie-Hélène Cotoni, L’Exégèse du Nouveau Testament dans la philosophie française du dix-huitième siècle (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1984), 26–27; and John D. Woodbridge, “Richard Simon: Le ‘père de la critique biblique’,” in Le Grand Siècle et la Bible, 193–206, esp. 203–4.

33. See Vincent Carraud, “Descartes et la Bible,” in Le Grand Siècle et la Bible, 285.

34. See Georges Lacour-Gayet, “Les traductions françaises de Hobbes sous le règne de Louis XIV,” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 12 (1899): 202–7; Quentin Skinner, “Thomas Hobbes and his Disciples in France and England,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 8 (1965–66): 153–67.

35. See Stuurman, “Social Cartesianism,” 633–34.

36. See Paul Vernière, Spinoza et la pensée française avant la Révolution, 1e partie: Le XVIIe siècle (Paris: P.U.F., 1954), 91–111; P. Saverio Mirri, Richard Simon e il metodo storico-critico di B. Spinoza (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1972), 54–69.

37. See Alan C. Kors, “Monsters and the Problem of Naturalism in French Thought,” Eighteenth-Century Life 21 (1997): 23–47.

38. See Steven M. Nadler, Arnauld and the Cartesian Philosophy of Ideas (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1989), 179–84. In France, Deism was virtually absent before 1670, and in the 1670s it was still quite rare. See C. J. Betts, Early Deism in France (The Hague, Boston and Lancaster: Nijhoff, 1984).

39. “Il faut donc que l’Idolatre ait en luy une souveraine raison, laquelle estant eveillée par les avertissements d’un Chrétien, se mette pour ainsi dire au milieu des deux Religions, et decide laquelle des deux merite mieux d’estre embrassée.” Precisely this view was denounced in 1670 by Richard Simon, who ascribed it to a Saumurian professor with Socinian leanings. Letter to Dirois, Lettres choisies de M. Simon, ed. Bruzen la Martinière, 4 vols. (Amsterdam: Pierre Mortier, 1730), 3:14–19.

40. See Michael Heyd, Between Orthodoxy and the Enlightenment. Jean-Robert Chouet and the Introduction of Cartesian Science in the Academy of Geneva (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1982) ; Martin I. Klauber, “Reason, Revelation, and Cartesianism: Louis Tronchin and Enlightened Orthodoxy in Late Seventeenth-Century Geneva,” Church History 59 (1990): 326–39; Martin I. Klauber, Between Reformed Scholasticism and Pan-Protestantism: Jean-Alphonse Turretin (1671–1737) and Enlightened Orthodoxy at the Academy of Geneva (London and Toronto: Associated Univ. Presses, 1994) ; and Maria Cristina Pitassi, De l’Orthodoxie aux Lumières: Genève 1670–1737 (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1992).

41. On the “Socinian scare”, see Robert E. Sullivan, John Toland and the Deist Controversy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1982), 82–108.

42. Archives d’Etat, Geneva: R 17: Registre de la Compagnie des Pasteurs 1690–1698, 58 (16 June 1693), 61 (18 August 1693); R 68: Registre Consistoire 1693–1698, 154 (16 January 1696), 160 (6 February 1696), 161 (20 February 1696), 179 (11 June 1696); RC 196: Registre des Conseils, 56 (1 February 1696). Stock (Poullain: A Seventeenth-Century Feminist, 73) mentions the affair only in passing; Alcover (Poullain: une aventure philosophique, 18–19) underscores the gravity of the accusation, but she did not look into the Delorme affair.

43. Klauber, Reformed Scholasticism, 143–47.

44. Klauber, Reformed Scholasticism, 65–66.

45. See Le Collège de Genève, 1559–1959 (Geneva: A. Jullien, 1959), 24–25.

46. Le Livre du Recteur de l’Académie de Genève, 1559–1878, ed. Suzanne Stelling-Michaud, 6 vols. (Genève: Droz, 1972), 3:38.

47. Jean-Jacques de la Barre, Cogitationes Philosophicae (Geneva: Fabri and Barrillot, 14 September 1714); Cogitationes Theologicae (Geneva: Fabri and Barrillot, 27 September 1717).

48. Jean-Jacques de la Barre, Pensées ou Thèses Philosophiques (Geneva: Fabri and Barrillot, 1715).

49. See Heyd, Between Orthodoxy and the Enlightenment, 188.

50. Heyd, Between Orthodoxy and the Enlightenment, 197.

51. “La RELIGION NATURELLE, qui est la pierre de touche de toutes les Autres, nous enseigne nos Devoirs envers Dieu, suivant les simples Lumières de la Raison . . . La Lumière naturelle est la première Révélation, et le Juge de toute autre.” J.-J. de la Barre, Pensées, nos. 270, 286.

52. “Ut philosophi, ita veri Theologi hodie plura destruunt quam astruunt,” J.-J. de la Barre, Cogitationes Theologicae, no. 27.

53. See Klauber, Reformed Scholasticism, 81–99, 105–27; Maria-Cristina Pitassi, “L’apologétique raisonnable de Jean-Alphonse Turrettini,” in Apologétique 1680–1740 (Geneva: Labor and Fides, 1991), 99–118, esp. 106, 115–17.

54. See Henri Heyer, Catalogue des Thèses de Théologie soutenues à l’Académie de Genève pendant les XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles (Geneva: Georg and Cie., 1898), lv–lxii. When the defendant himself had written the theses, he was mentioned as “author et respondens.” Poulain’s son was among this minority.

55. The dissertations examined are listed in Heyer, Catalogue, nos. 279, 280, 281, 283, 284, 290, 292, 296, 297, 299, 305, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 315, 316, 321, 322, 323, 325, 328, 331, 332, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 341 (I have examined all of these, except no. 296).

56. J.-J. de la Barre, Cogitationes Theologicae, nr. 28.

57. Dissertations defended by Chambier (1712), Saracenus (1712), Lullin (1713), Coste (1714), Prades (1716), Tronchin (1716), Dury (1721), Jallabert (1731), Maurice (1732), and De la Rive (1733). On Gautier and Jallabert, see Heyd, Between Orthodoxy and the Enlightenment, 193–95, 220–26.

58. J.-J. de la Barre, Pensées, no. 207, see also nos. 195, 206, 219, 278, 279.

59. See Helena Rosenblatt, Rousseau and Geneva (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997), 13–14, 94–96.

60. Laplanche, “La Bible chez les Réformés,” 460.

61. Jean-Frédéric Ostervald, Argumens et Réflexions sur les Livres et sur les Chapitres de la Sainte Bible, 1e partie (Neufchatel: J. D. Griesser, 1720), Discours préliminaire.

62. La Doctrine des Protestants sur la liberté de lire l’Ecriture Sainte, le service Divin en Langue entenduë, l’invocation des Saints, le Sacrement de l’Eucharistie, Justifiés par le Missel Romain et par des Réflexions sur chaque Point, avec Un commentaire philosophique sur ces paroles de Jésus-Christ, ‘Ceci est mon Corps; ceci est mon Sang’, Mathh. chap. XXVI, V, 26 (Genève: Fabri and Barrillot, 1720) (hereafter cited Doc. and parenthetically in the text).

63. Jean Alphonse Turrettini, Sermon sur la Charité, 29 November 1696 (Geneva: De Tournes, 1697), 27, 49–51; and, almost forty years later, Turrettini, Sermon sur le Jubilée de la Réformation établie il y a deux-cent ans dans l’Eglise de Genève, 21 August 1735 (Geneva: Fabri and Barrillot, 1735), 12–13.

64. “les Juifs mangeoient des Herbes amères; et en les mangeant, le Père de Famille disoit, voilà les Herbes que nos Pères ont mangé dans le Désert, pour dire, voilà comme ont été, ou telles ont été les Herbes que nos Pères ont mangé dans le Désert.”

65. See Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 187–90.

66. See, e. g., Turrettini, “Sermon sur le Jubilée de la Réformation de la très-illustre et très-florissante République de Zürich,” in Samuel Werenfels, Sermons sur des Vérités importantes de la Religion (Basel: J. L. Koenig, 1720), 467–536, esp. 491 (this sermon was also published as a separate tract in Geneva in 1719); Klauber, Reformed Scholasticism, 107–27.

67. Klauber, Reformed Scholasticism, 113.

68. See Maria Cristina Pitassi, Entre Croire et Savoir. Le problème de la méthode critique chez Jean le Clerc (Leiden: Brill, 1987), 11–19, 51–60.

69. Jean Le Clerc, Bibliothèque Ancienne et Moderne, 29 vols. (Amsterdam: Wetstein, 1721), 15:214–29.

70. John Toland, Christianity not Mysterious (London: Buckley, 1696), 38, 42.

71. See John Locke, “A Discourse of Miracles,” in The Works of John Locke, 10 vols. (London, 1823; reprint, Aalen: Scientia, 1963), 9:256–265; also relevant are the two “Vindications” of the Reasonableness of Christianity, in which Locke defended himself against the charge of Socianism, Works, 7:159–424.

72. Archives d’Etat, Geneva, Archives de Familles, 1st series: Poulain de la Barre. “l’étude des belles lettres et de la bonne Philosophie l’aians conduit à celle des S.S. Ecritures [et ces deux Sources de lumière lui ayant fait] et à reconnoitre par ce moyen la Vérité et les Fondemens de la Réformation.”

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