Bible, Jews, Revolution: The 'Pour et contre la bible' (1801) of Sylvain Maréchal
Wed, September 12, 2012 • 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM • Institute of Historical Studies, Garrison Hall, 4th floor
A lecture by Sheila Delany (Emerita, Simon Fraser University)
When the atheist revolutionary scholar and activist Sylvain Maréchal (1750-1803) published his detailed study of Jewish and Christian scriptures in 1801, the project was motivated by more than love of literature. Although Jewish emancipation had been voted nearly a decade earlier, various issues of Jewish life and legal status remained on the public agenda, so that Maréchal’s representation of the Jews in his appreciative but iconoclastic analysis reveals some still-current attitudes and arguments. For Christianity, Maréchal’s vitriolic portrait of its myths, ideology and social consequences continues a lifetime of writing against the baneful effects and irrational tenets of all religions, especially Catholicism. With the restoration of Catholic privilege in these early days of the Napoleonic imperium, Pour et contre made a passionate intervention against the religious revival and new conservatism that spelled the end of the French Revolution for this lifelong militant atheist and political radical.