Bible, Jews, Revolution: The ‘Pour et contre la Bible’ (1801) of Sylvain Marechal
Wed, September 12, 2012 • 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM • IHS meeting space (GAR fourth floor)
Well-known medievalist Sheila Delany (English, Simon Fraser University, emerita 2006), who has just published “Anti-Saints” (2011) a study of Sylvain Marechal’s atheist rewriting of the thirteenth-century ‘Golden Legend,’ will speak on another work by Marechal: “Bible, Jews, Revolution: The ‘Pour et contre la Bible’ (1801) of Sylvain Marechal.”
“Bible, Jews, Revolution: The ‘Pour et contre la Bible’ (1801) of Sylvain Marechal”
When the atheist revolutionary scholar and activist Sylvain Marechal (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 Marechal’s representation of the Jews in his appreciative but iconoclastic analysis reveals some still-current attitudes and arguments. For Christianity, Marchal’s vitriolic portrait of its myths, ideology and social consequences continues a lifetime of his 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.