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Khazars
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/26/20

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Khazar Khaganate, c. 650–969
Khazar Khaganate, 650–850
Status: Khazar Khaganate
Capital: Balanjar (c. 650–720); Samandar (720s–750); Atil (750 – c. 965–969)
Common languages: Khazar
Religion: Tengrism; Buddhism; Judaism[1]; Christianity; Islam; Paganism; Religious syncretism[2]
Qaghan
• 618–628" Tong Yabghu
• 9th century: Bulan
• 9th century: Obadiah
• 9th century: Zachariah
• 9th century: Manasseh
• 9th century: Benjamin
• 10th century: Aaron
• 10th century: Joseph
• 10th century: David
• 11th century: Georgios
Historical era: Middle Ages
• Established: c. 650
• Sviatoslav's sacking and razing of Atil: 969
Area
850 est.[3]: 3,000,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
900 est.[4]: 1,000,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi)
Population
• 7th century[note 1]: 1,400,000
Currency: Yarmaq
Preceded by: Western Turkic Khaganate; Old Great Bulgaria
Succeeded by: Cumania; Pechenegs; Kievan Rus

History of the Turkic peoples pre-14th century

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Tiele people: The Tiele (Chinese:[x]; pinyin: Tiělè, Turkic *Tegreg "[People of the] Carts"[2]), also transliterated as Dili (Chinese:[x]), Chile (Chinese: [x]), Zhile (Chinese: [x]), Tele (Chinese: [x]) or Gaoche (Chinese: [x]), were a tribal confederation of Turkic ethnic origins living to the north of China and in Central Asia, emerging after the disintegration of the confederacy of the Xiongnu. Chinese sources associate them with the earlier Dingling.

-- Tiele people, by Wikipedia


Göktürks: The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks (Old Turkic: [x] romanized: Türük Bodun; Chinese: [x] Tūjué; Wade-Giles: T'u-chüeh) were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan (d. 552) and his sons, succeeded the Rouran Khaganate as the main power in the region and established the Turkic Khaganate, one of several nomadic dynasties which would shape the future geolocation, culture, and dominant beliefs of Turkic peoples.

-- Göktürks, by Wikipedia


Part of a series on the History of Tatarstan

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The Khazars (/ˈkɑːzɑːrz/, /ˈxɑː-/; Kuzarim;[6] Turkish: Hazarlar; Azerbaijani: Xəzərlər; Bashkir: Хазарҙар; Tatar: Хәзәрләр, Xäzärlär; Xazar; Persian: خزر‎; Ukrainian: Хоза́ри, Khozáry; Russian: Хаза́ры, Khazáry; Hungarian: Kazárok; Greek: Χάζαροι, Házaroi; Latin: Gazari[7][note 2]/Gasani[note 3][8]) were a semi-nomadic Turkic people with a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that in the late 6th century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia.[9] The Khazars created what for its duration was the most powerful polity to emerge from the break-up of the Western Turkic Khaganate.[10] Astride a major artery of commerce between Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Khazaria became one of the foremost trading empires of the medieval world, commanding the western marches of the Silk Road and playing a key commercial role as a crossroad between China, the Middle East and Kievan Rus'.[11][12] For some three centuries (c. 650 – 965) the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus.[13]

Khazaria long served as a buffer state between the Byzantine Empire and both the nomads of the northern steppes and the Umayyad Caliphate, after serving as Byzantium's proxy against the Sasanian Persian empire. The alliance was dropped around 900. Byzantium began to encourage the Alans to attack Khazaria and weaken its hold on Crimea and the Caucasus, while seeking to obtain an entente with the rising Rus' power to the north, which it aspired to convert to Christianity.[14] Between 965 and 969, the Kievan Rus' ruler Sviatoslav I of Kiev conquered the capital Atil and destroyed the Khazar state.

Determining the origins and nature of the Khazars is closely bound with theories of their languages, but it is a matter of intricate difficulty since no indigenous records in the Khazar language survive, and the state was polyglot and polyethnic. The native religion of the Khazars is thought to have been Tengrism, like that of the North Caucasian Huns and other Turkic peoples.[15] The polyethnic populace of the Khazar Khaganate appears to have been a multiconfessional mosaic of pagan, Tengrist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshippers.[16] The ruling elite of the Khazars was said by Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Daud to have converted to Rabbinic Judaism in the 8th century,[17] but the scope of the conversion within the Khazar Khanate remains uncertain.[18]

Proposals of Khazar origins have been made regarding the Bukharan Jews, the Muslim Kumyks, Kazakhs, the Cossacks of the Don region, the Turkic-speaking Krymchaks and their Crimean neighbours the Karaites, to the Moldavian Csángós, the Mountain Jews, Subbotniks and others.[19][20][21] The late 19th century saw the emergence of the theory that the core of today's Ashkenazi Jews are descended from a hypothetical Khazarian Jewish diaspora which migrated westward from modern-day Russia and Ukraine into modern-day France and Germany. Linguistic and genetic studies have not supported the theory of a Khazar connection to Ashkenazi Jewry. The theory still finds occasional support, but most scholars view it with considerable skepticism.[22][18] The theory is sometimes associated with antisemitism[23] and anti-Zionism.[24]

Etymology

Gyula Németh, following Zoltán Gombocz, derived Khazar from a hypothetical *Qasar reflecting a Turkic root qaz- ("to ramble, to roam") being an hypothetical retracted variant of Common Turkic kez-;[25] however, András Róna-Tas objected that *qaz- is a ghost word.[26] In the fragmentary Tes and Terkhin inscriptions of the Uyğur empire (744–840) the form Qasar is attested, although uncertainty remains whether this represents a personal or tribal name, gradually other hypotheses emerged. Louis Bazin derived it from Turkic qas- ("tyrannize, oppress, terrorize") on the basis of its phonetic similarity to the Uyğur tribal name, Qasar.[note 4] Róna-Tas connects qasar with Kesar, the Pahlavi transcription of the Roman title Caesar.[note 5]

D. M. Dunlop tried to link the Chinese term for "Khazars" to one of the tribal names of the Uyğur Toquz Oğuz, namely the Gésà.[27][28] The objections are that Uyğur Gesa/Qasar was not a tribal name but rather the surname of the chief of the 思结 Sijie tribe (Sogdian: Sikari) of the Toquz Oğuz, and that in Middle Chinese the ethnonym "Khazars", always prefaced with the word Tūjué (Tūjué Kěsà bù:突厥可薩部; Tūjué Hésà:突厥曷薩), is transcribed with characters different from those used to render the Qa- in the Uyğur word 'Qasar'.[note 6][29][30]

After their conversion it is reported that they adopted the Hebrew script,[note 7] and it is likely that, although speaking a Turkic language, the Khazar chancellery under Judaism probably corresponded in Hebrew.[note 8] In Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam, Gazari, presumably Khazars, are referred to as the Hunnic people living in the lands of Gog and Magog and said to be circumcised and omnem Judaismum observat, observing all the laws of Judaism.

While the Khazar language went extinct centuries ago, modern Turkic languages still refer to the Caspian Sea as the "Khazar Sea" (cf. Khazar University and Khazar Islands in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Linguistics

Main article: Khazar language

Determining the origins and nature of the Khazars is closely bound with theories of their languages, but it is a matter of intricate difficulty, since no indigenous records in the Khazar language survive, and the state was polyglot and polyethnic.[note 9][note 10] Whereas the royal or ruling elite probably spoke an eastern variety of Shaz Turkic, the subject tribes appear to have spoken varieties of Lir Turkic, such as Oğuric, a language variously identified with Bulğaric, Chuvash, and Hunnish (the latter based upon the assertion of the Persian historian al-Iṣṭakhrī that the Khazar language was different from any other known tongue).[note 11][note 12] One method for tracing their origins consists in analysis of the possible etymologies behind the ethnonym "Khazar".

History

Tribal origins and early history


The tribes[note 13] that were to comprise the Khazar empire were not an ethnic union, but a congeries of steppe nomads and peoples who came to be subordinated, and subscribed to a core Turkic leadership.[31] Many Turkic groups, such as the Oğuric peoples, including Šarağurs, Oğurs, Onoğurs, and Bulğars who earlier formed part of the Tiĕlè (鐵勒) confederation, are attested quite early, having been driven West by the Sabirs, who in turn fled the Asian Avars, and began to flow into the Volga-Caspian-Pontic zone from as early as the 4th century CE and are recorded by Priscus to reside in the Western Eurasian steppelands as early as 463.[32][33] They appear to stem from Mongolia and South Siberia in the aftermath of the fall of the Hunnic/Xiōngnú nomadic polities. A variegated tribal federation led by these Turks, probably comprising a complex assortment of Iranian,[note 14] proto-Mongolic, Uralic, and Palaeo-Siberian clans, vanquished the Rouran Khaganate of the hegemonic central Asian Avars in 552 and swept westwards, taking in their train other steppe nomads and peoples from Sogdiana.[35]

The ruling family of this confederation may have hailed from the Āshǐnà (阿史那) clan of the West Türkic tribes,[36] although Constantine Zuckerman regards Āshǐnà and their pivotal role in the formation of the Khazars with scepticism.[note 15] Golden notes that Chinese and Arabic reports are almost identical, making the connection a strong one, and conjectures that their leader may have been Yǐpíshèkuì (Chinese:乙毗射匱), who lost power or was killed around 651.[37] Moving west, the confederation reached the land of the Akatziroi,[note 16] who had been important allies of Byzantium in fighting off Attila's army.

Rise of the Khazar state

An embryonic state of Khazaria began to form sometime after 630,[38][39] when it emerged from the breakdown of the larger Göktürk Khaganate. Göktürk armies had penetrated the Volga by 549, ejecting the Avars, who were then forced to flee to the sanctuary of the Hungarian plain. The Āshǐnà clan whose tribal name was Tür(ü)k, appear on the scene by 552, when they overthrew the Rourans and established the Göktürk Qağanate.[note 17] By 568, these Göktürks were probing for an alliance with Byzantium to attack Persia. An internecine war broke out between the senior eastern Göktürks and the junior West Turkic Khaganate some decades later, when on the death of Taspar Qağan, a succession dispute led to a dynastic crisis between Taspar's chosen heir, the Apa Qağan, and the ruler appointed by the tribal high council, Āshǐnà Shètú (阿史那摄图), the Ishbara Qağan.

By the first decades of the 7th century, the Āshǐnà yabgu Tong managed to stabilise the Western division, but upon his death, after providing crucial military assistance to Byzantium in routing the Sasanian army in the Persian heartland,[40][41] the Western Turkic Qağanate dissolved under pressure from the encroaching Tang dynasty armies and split into two competing federations, each consisting of five tribes, collectively known as the "Ten Arrows" (On Oq). Both briefly challenged Tang hegemony in eastern Turkestan. To the West, two new nomadic states arose in the meantime, Old Great Bulgaria under Kubrat, the Duōlù clan leader, and the Nǔshībì subconfederation, also consisting of five tribes.[note 18] The Duōlù challenged the Avars in the Kuban River-Sea of Azov area while the Khazar Qağanate consolidated further westwards, led apparently by an Āshǐnà dynasty. With a resounding victory over the tribes in 657, engineered by General Sū Dìngfāng (蘇定方), Chinese overlordship was imposed to their East after a final mop-up operation in 659, but the two confederations of Bulğars and Khazars fought for supremacy on the western steppeland, and with the ascendency of the latter, the former either succumbed to Khazar rule or, as under Asparukh, Kubrat's son, shifted even further west across the Danube to lay the foundations of the First Bulgarian Empire in the Balkans (c. 679).[42][43]

The Qağanate of the Khazars thus took shape out of the ruins of this nomadic empire as it broke up under pressure from the Tang dynasty armies to the east sometime between 630 and 650.[37] After their conquest of the lower Volga region to the East and an area westwards between the Danube and the Dniepr, and their subjugation of the Onoğur-Bulğar union, sometime around 670, a properly constituted Khazar Qağanate emerges,[44] becoming the westernmost successor state of the formidable Göktürk Qağanate after its disintegration. According to Omeljan Pritsak, the language of the Onoğur-Bulğar federation was to become the lingua franca of Khazaria[45] as it developed into what Lev Gumilev called a 'steppe Atlantis' (stepnaja Atlantida/ Степная Атлантида).[46] Historians have often referred to this period of Khazar domination as the Pax Khazarica since the state became an international trading hub permitting Western Eurasian merchants safe transit across it to pursue their business without interference.[47] The high status soon to be accorded this empire to the north is attested by Ibn al-Balḫî's Fârsnâma (c. 1100), which relates that the Sasanian Shah, Ḫusraw 1, Anûsîrvân, placed three thrones by his own, one for the King of China, a second for the King of Byzantium, and a third for the king of the Khazars. Although anachronistic in retrodating the Khazars to this period, the legend, in placing the Khazar qağan on a throne with equal status to kings of the other two superpowers, bears witness to the reputation won by the Khazars from early times.[48][49]

Khazar state: culture and institutions

Royal Diarchy with sacral Qağanate


Khazaria developed a Dual kingship governance structure,[note 19] typical among Turkic nomads, consisting of a shad/bäk and a qağan.[50] The emergence of this system may be deeply entwined with the conversion to Judaism.[51] According to Arabic sources, the lesser king was called îšâ and the greater king Khazar xâqân; the former managed and commanded the military, while the greater king's role was primarily sacral, less concerned with daily affairs. The greater king was recruited from the Khazar house of notables (ahl bait ma'rûfīn) and, in an initiation ritual, was nearly strangled until he declared the number of years he wished to reign, on the expiration of which he would be killed by the nobles.[note 20][52][53][note 21] The deputy ruler would enter the presence of the reclusive greater king only with great ceremony, approaching him barefoot to prostrate himself in the dust and then light a piece of wood as a purifying fire, while waiting humbly and calmly to be summoned.[54] Particularly elaborate rituals accompanied a royal burial. At one period, travellers had to dismount, bow before the ruler's tomb, and then walk away on foot.[55] Subsequently, the charismatic sovereign's burial place was hidden from view, with a palatial structure ('Paradise') constructed and then hidden under rerouted river water to avoid disturbance by evil spirits and later generations. Such a royal burial ground (qoruq) is typical of inner Asian peoples.[56] Both the îšâ and the xâqân converted to Judaism sometime in the 8th century, while the rest, according to the Persian traveller Ahmad ibn Rustah, probably followed the old Tūrkic religion.[57][note 22]

Ruling elite

The ruling stratum, like that of the later Činggisids within the Golden Horde, was a relatively small group that differed ethnically and linguistically from its subject peoples, meaning the Alano-As and Oğuric Turkic tribes, who were numerically superior within Khazaria.[58] The Khazar Qağans, while taking wives and concubines from the subject populations, were protected by a Khwârazmian guard corps, or comitatus, called the Ursiyya.[note 23][note 24] But unlike many other local polities, they hired soldiers (mercenaries) (the junûd murtazîqa in al-Mas'ûdî).[59] At the peak of their empire, the Khazars ran a centralised fiscal administration, with a standing army of some 7–12,000 men, which could, at need, be multiplied two or three times that number by inducting reserves from their nobles' retinues.[60][note 25] Other figures for the permanent standing army indicate that it numbered as many as one hundred thousand. They controlled and exacted tribute from 25 to 30 different nations and tribes inhabiting the vast territories between the Caucasus, the Aral Sea, the Ural Mountains, and the Ukrainian steppes.[61] Khazar armies were led by the Qağan Bek (pronounced as Kagan Bek) and commanded by subordinate officers known as tarkhans. When the bek sent out a body of troops, they would not retreat under any circumstances. If they were defeated, every one who returned was killed.[62]

Settlements were governed by administrative officials known as tuduns. In some cases, such as the Byzantine settlements in southern Crimea, a tudun would be appointed for a town nominally within another polity's sphere of influence. Other officials in the Khazar government included dignitaries referred to by ibn Fadlan as Jawyshyghr and Kündür, but their responsibilities are unknown.

Demographics

It has been estimated that from 25 to 28 distinct ethnic groups made up the population of the Khazar Qağanate, aside from the ethnic elite. The ruling elite seems to have been constituted out of nine tribes/clans, themselves ethnically heterogeneous, spread over perhaps nine provinces or principalities, each of which would have been allocated to a clan.[52] In terms of caste or class, some evidence suggests that there was a distinction, whether racial or social is unclear, between "White Khazars" (ak-Khazars) and "Black Khazars" (qara-Khazars).[52] The 10th-century Muslim geographer al-Iṣṭakhrī claimed that the White Khazars were strikingly handsome with reddish hair, white skin, and blue eyes, while the Black Khazars were swarthy, verging on deep black, as if they were "some kind of Indian".[63] Many Turkic nations had a similar (political, not racial) division between a "white" ruling warrior caste and a "black" class of commoners; the consensus among mainstream scholars is that Istakhri was confused by the names given to the two groups.[64] However, Khazars are generally described by early Arab sources as having a white complexion, blue eyes, and reddish hair.[65][66] The ethnonym in the Tang Chinese annals, Āshǐnà (阿史那), often accorded a key role in the Khazar leadership, may reflect an Eastern Iranian or Tokharian word (Khotanese Saka âşşeina-āššsena 'blue'): Middle Persian axšaêna ('dark-coloured'): Tokharian A âśna ('blue', 'dark').[6] The distinction appears to have survived the collapse of the Khazarian empire. Later Russian chronicles, commenting on the role of the Khazars in the magyarisation of Hungary, refer to them as "White Oghurs" and Magyars as "Black Oghurs".[67] Studies of the physical remains, such as skulls at Sarkel, have revealed a mixture of Slavic, other European, and a few Mongolian types.[64]

Economy

The import and export of foreign wares, and the revenues derived from taxing their transit, was a hallmark of the Khazar economy, although it is said also to have produced isinglass.[68] Distinctively among the nomadic steppe polities, the Khazar Qağanate developed a self-sufficient domestic Saltovo[69] economy, a combination of traditional pastoralism – allowing sheep and cattle to be exported – extensive agriculture, abundant use of the Volga's rich fishing stocks, together with craft manufacture, with a diversification in lucrative returns from taxing international trade given its pivotal control of major trade routes. The Khazars constituted one of the two great furnishers of slaves to the Muslim market (the other being the Iranian Sâmânid amîrs), supplying it with captured Slavs and tribesmen from the Eurasian northlands.[70] It was profits from the latter which enabled it to maintain a standing army of Khwarezm Muslim troops. The capital Atil reflected the division: Kharazān on the western bank where the king and his Khazar elite, with a retinue of some 4,000 attendants, dwelt, and Itil proper to the East, inhabited by Jews, Christians, Muslims and slaves and by craftsmen and foreign merchants.[note 26] The ruling elite wintered in the city and spent from spring to late autumn in their fields. A large irrigated greenbelt, drawing on channels from the Volga river, lay outside the capital, where meadows and vineyards extended for some 20 farsakhs (c. 60 miles).[71] While customs duties were imposed on traders, and tribute and tithes were exacted from 25 to 30 tribes, with a levy of one sable skin, squirrel pelt, sword, dirham per hearth or ploughshare, or hides, wax, honey and livestock, depending on the zone. Trade disputes were handled by a commercial tribunal in Atil consisting of seven judges, two for each of the monotheistic inhabitants (Jews, Muslims, Christians) and one for the pagans.[note 27]

Khazars and Byzantium

See also: Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 and Third Perso-Turkic War

Byzantine diplomatic policy towards the steppe peoples generally consisted of encouraging them to fight among themselves. The Pechenegs provided great assistance to the Byzantines in the 9th century in exchange for regular payments.[72] Byzantium also sought alliances with the Göktürks against common enemies: in the early 7th century, one such alliance was brokered with the Western Tűrks against the Persian Sasanians in the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628. The Byzantines called Khazaria Tourkía, and by the 9th century referred to the Khazars as 'Turks'.[note 28] During the period leading up to and after the siege of Constantinople in 626, Heraclius sought help via emissaries, and eventually personally, from a Göktürk chieftain[note 29] of the Western Turkic Khaganate, Tong Yabghu Qağan, in Tiflis, plying him with gifts and the promise of marriage to his daughter, Epiphania.[74] Tong Yabghu responded by sending a large force to ravage the Persian empire, marking the start of the Third Perso-Turkic War.[75] A joint Byzantine-Tűrk operation breached the Caspian gates and sacked Derbent in 627. Together they then besieged Tiflis, where the Byzantines may have deployed an early variety of traction trebuchets (ἑλέπόλεις) to breach the walls. After the campaign, Tong Yabghu is reported, perhaps with some exaggeration, to have left some 40,000 troops behind with Heraclius.[76] Although occasionally identified with Khazars, the Göktürk identification is more probable since the Khazars only emerged from that group after the fragmentation of the former sometime after 630.[38][39] Some scholars argued that Sasanian Persia never recovered from the devastating defeat wrought by this invasion.[note 30]

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Khazar Khaganate and surrounding states, c. 820 (area of direct Khazar control in dark blue, sphere of influence in purple).

Once the Khazars emerged as a power, the Byzantines also began to form alliances with them, dynastic and military. In 695, the last Heraclian emperor, Justinian II, nicknamed "the slit-nosed" (ὁ ῥινότμητος) after he was mutilated and deposed, was exiled to Cherson in the Crimea, where a Khazar governor (tudun) presided. He escaped into Khazar territory in 704 or 705 and was given asylum by qağan Busir Glavan (Ἰβουζήρος Γλιαβάνος), who gave him his sister in marriage, perhaps in response to an offer by Justinian, who may have thought a dynastic marriage would seal by kinship a powerful tribal support for his attempts to regain the throne.[77] The Khazarian spouse thereupon changed her name to Theodora.[78] Busir was offered a bribe by the Byzantine usurper, Tiberius III, to kill Justinian. Warned by Theodora, Justinian escaped, murdering two Khazar officials in the process. He fled to Bulgaria, whose Khan Tervel helped him regain the throne. Upon his reinstalment, and despite Busir's treachery during his exile, he sent for Theodora; Busir complied, and she was crowned as Augusta, suggesting that both prized the alliance.[79][80]

Decades later, Leo III (ruled 717–741) made a similar alliance to co-ordinate strategy against a common enemy, the Muslim Arabs. He sent an embassy to the Khazar qağan Bihar and married his son, the future Constantine V (ruled 741–775), to Bihar's daughter, a princess referred to as Tzitzak, in 732. On converting to Christianity, she took the name Irene. Constantine and Irene had a son, the future Leo IV (775–780), who thereafter bore the sobriquet, "the Khazar".[81][82] Leo died in mysterious circumstances after his Athenian wife bore him a son, Constantine VI, who on his majority co-ruled with his mother, the dowager. He proved unpopular, and his death ended the dynastic link of the Khazars to the Byzantine throne.[citation needed] By the 8th century, Khazars dominated the Crimea (650–c. 950), and even extended their influence into the Byzantine peninsula of Cherson until it was wrested back in the 10th century.[83] Khazar and Farghânian (Φάργανοι) mercenaries constituted part of the imperial Byzantine Hetaireia bodyguard after its formation in 840, a position that could openly be purchased by a payment of seven pounds of gold.[84][85]

Arab–Khazar wars

Main article: Arab–Khazar wars

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the Khazars fought a series of wars against the Umayyad Caliphate and its Abbasid successor. The First Arab-Khazar War began during the first phase of Muslim expansion. By 640, Muslim forces had reached Armenia; in 642 they launched their first raid across the Caucasus under Abd ar-Rahman ibn Rabiah. In 652 Arab forces advanced on the Khazar capital, Balanjar, but were defeated, suffering heavy losses; according to Persian historians such as al-Tabari, both sides in the battle used catapults against the opposing troops. A number of Russian sources give the name of a Khazar khagan from this period as Irbis and describe him as a scion of the Göktürk royal house, the Ashina. Whether Irbis ever existed is open to debate, as is whether he can be identified with one of the many Göktürk rulers of the same name.

Due to the outbreak of the First Muslim Civil War and other priorities, the Arabs refrained from repeating an attack on the Khazars until the early 8th century.[86] The Khazars launched a few raids into Transcaucasian principalities under Muslim dominion, including a large-scale raid in 683–685 during the Second Muslim Civil War that rendered much booty and many prisoners.[87] There is evidence from the account of al-Tabari that the Khazars formed a united front with the remnants of the Göktürks in Transoxiana.

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Caucasus region, c. 740

The Second Arab-Khazar War began with a series of raids across the Caucasus in the early 8th century. The Umayyads tightened their grip on Armenia in 705 after suppressing a large-scale rebellion. In 713 or 714, Umayyad general Maslamah conquered Derbent and drove deeper into Khazar territory. The Khazars launched raids in response into Albania and Iranian Azerbaijan but were driven back by the Arabs under Hasan ibn al-Nu'man.[88] The conflict escalated in 722 with an invasion by 30,000 Khazars into Armenia inflicting a crushing defeat. Caliph Yazid II responded, sending 25,000 Arab troops north, swiftly driving the Khazars back across the Caucasus, recovering Derbent, and advancing on Balanjar. The Arabs broke through the Khazar defence and stormed the city; most of its inhabitants were killed or enslaved, but a few managed to flee north.[87] Despite their success, the Arabs had not yet defeated the Khazar army, and they retreated south of the Caucasus.

In 724, Arab general al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah al-Hakami inflicted a crushing defeat on the Khazars in a long battle between the rivers Cyrus and Araxes, then moved on to capture Tiflis, bringing Caucasian Iberia under Muslim suzerainty. The Khazars struck back in 726, led by a prince named Barjik, launching a major invasion of Albania and Azerbaijan; by 729, the Arabs had lost control of northeastern Transcaucasia and were thrust again into the defensive. In 730, Barjik invaded Iranian Azerbaijan and defeated Arab forces at Ardabil, killing the general al-Djarrah al-Hakami and briefly occupying the town. Barjik was defeated and killed the next year at Mosul, where he directed Khazar forces from a throne mounted with al-Djarrah's severed head[citation needed]. In 737, Marwan Ibn Muhammad entered Khazar territory under the guise of seeking a truce. He then launched a surprise attack in which The Qaghan fled north and the Khazars surrendered.[89] The Arabs did not have resources to influence affairs of Transcaucasia.[89] The Qağan was forced to accept terms involving conversion to Islam, and to subject himself to the Caliphate, but the accommodation was short-lived as a combination of internal instability among the Umayyads and Byzantine support undid the agreement within three years, and the Khazars re-asserted their independence.[90] The suggestion that the Khazars adopted Judaism as early as 740 is based on the idea that, in part, it was, a re-assertion of independence with regard to both Byzantium and the Caliphate, while conforming to a general Eurasian trend to embrace a world religion.[note 31]

Whatever the impact of Marwan's campaigns, warfare between the Khazars and the Arabs ceased for more than two decades after 737. Arab raids continued until 741, but their control in the region was limited as maintaining a large garrison at Derbent further depleted the already overstretched army. A third Muslim civil war soon broke out, leading to the Abbasid Revolution and the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 750.

In 758, the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur attempted to strengthen diplomatic ties with the Khazars, ordering Yazid ibn Usayd al-Sulami, one of his nobles and the military governor of Armenia, to take a royal Khazar bride. Yazid married a daughter of Khazar Khagan Baghatur, but she died inexplicably, possibly in childbirth. Her attendants returned home, convinced that some Arab faction had poisoned her, and her father was enraged. Khazar general Ras Tarkhan invaded south of the Caucasus in 762–764, devastating Albania, Armenia, and Iberia, and capturing Tiflis. Thereafter relations became increasingly cordial between the Khazars and the Abbasids, whose foreign policies were generally less expansionist than the Umayyads, broken only by a series of raids in 799 over another failed marriage alliance.

Rise of the Rus' and the collapse of the Khazarian state

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Trade routes of the Black Sea region, 8th–11th centuries

By the 9th century, groups of Varangian Rus', developing a powerful warrior-merchant system, began probing south down the waterways controlled by the Khazars and their protectorate, the Volga Bulgarians, partially in pursuit of the Arab silver that flowed north for hoarding through the Khazarian-Volga Bulgarian trading zones,[note 32] partially to trade in furs and ironwork.[note 33] Northern mercantile fleets passing Atil were tithed, as they were at Byzantine Cherson.[91] Their presence may have prompted the formation of a Rus' state by convincing the Slavs, Merja and the Chud' to unite to protect common interests against Khazarian exactions of tribute. It is often argued that a Rus' Khaganate modelled on the Khazarian state had formed to the east, and that the Varangian chieftain of the coalition appropriated the title of qağan (khagan) as early as the 830s: the title survived to denote the princes of Kievan Rus', whose capital, Kyiv, is often associated with a Khazarian foundation.[92][93][note 34][note 35] The construction of the Sarkel fortress, with technical assistance from Khazaria's Byzantine ally at the time, together with the minting of an autonomous Khazar coinage around the 830s, may have been a defensive measure against emerging threats from Varangians to the north and from the Magyars on the eastern steppe.[note 36][note 37] By 860, the Rus' had penetrated as far as Kyiv and, via the Dnieper, Constantinople.[96]

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Site of the Khazar fortress at Sarkel (aerial photo from excavations conducted by Mikhail Artamonov in the 1950s).

Alliances often shifted. Byzantium, threatened by Varangian Rus' raiders, would assist Khazaria, and Khazaria at times allowed the northerners to pass through their territory in exchange for a portion of the booty.[97] From the beginning of the 10th century, the Khazars found themselves fighting on multiple fronts as nomadic incursions were exacerbated by uprisings by former clients and invasions from former allies. The pax Khazarica was caught in a pincer movement between steppe Pechenegs and the strengthening of an emergent Rus' power to the north, both undermining Khazaria's tributary empire.[98] According to the Schechter Text, the Khazar ruler King Benjamin (ca.880–890) fought a battle against the allied forces of five lands whose moves were perhaps encouraged by Byzantium.[note 38] Although Benjamin was victorious, his son Aaron II faced another invasion, this time led by the Alans, whose leader had converted to Christianity and entered into an alliance with Byzantium, which, under Leo VI the Wise, encouraged them to fight against the Khazars.

By the 880s, Khazar control of the Middle Dnieper from Kyiv, where they collected tribute from Eastern Slavic tribes, began to wane as Oleg of Novgorod wrested control of the city from the Varangian warlords Askold and Dir, and embarked on what was to prove to be the foundation of a Rus' empire.[99] The Khazars had initially allowed the Rus' to use the trade route along the Volga River, and raid southwards. See Caspian expeditions of the Rus'. According to Al-Mas'udi, the qağan is said to have given his assent on the condition that the Rus' give him half of the booty.[97] In 913, however, two years after Byzantium concluded a peace treaty with the Rus' in 911, a Varangian foray, with Khazar connivance, through Arab lands led to a request to the Khazar throne by the Khwârazmian Islamic guard for permission to retaliate against the large Rus' contingent on its return. The purpose was to revenge the violence the Rus' razzias had inflicted on their fellow Muslim believers.[note 39] The Rus' force was thoroughly routed and massacred.[97] The Khazar rulers closed the passage down the Volga to the Rus', sparking a war. In the early 960s, Khazar ruler Joseph wrote to Hasdai ibn Shaprut about the deterioration of Khazar relations with the Rus': 'I protect the mouth of the river (Itil-Volga) and prevent the Rus arriving in their ships from setting off by sea against the Ishmaelites and (equally) all (their) enemies from setting off by land to Bab.'[note 40]

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Sviatoslav I of Kiev (in boat), destroyer of the Khazar Khaganate.[note 41]

The Rus' warlords launched several wars against the Khazar Qağanate, and raided down to the Caspian sea. The Schechter Letter relates the story of a campaign against Khazaria by HLGW (recently identified as Oleg of Chernigov) around 941 in which Oleg was defeated by the Khazar general Pesakh.[100] The Khazar alliance with the Byzantine empire began to collapse in the early 10th century. Byzantine and Khazar forces may have clashed in the Crimea, and by the 940s emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus was speculating in De Administrando Imperio about ways in which the Khazars could be isolated and attacked. The Byzantines during the same period began to attempt alliances with the Pechenegs and the Rus', with varying degrees of success. Sviatoslav I finally succeeded in destroying Khazar imperial power in the 960s, in a circular sweep that overwhelmed Khazar fortresses like Sarkel and Tamatarkha, and reached as far as the Caucasian Kassogians/Circassians[note 42] and then back to Kyiv.[101] Sarkel fell in 965, with the capital city of Atil following, c. 968 or 969.

In the Russian chronicle the vanquishing of the Khazar traditions is associated with Vladimir's conversion in 986.[102] According to the Primary Chronicle, in 986 Khazar Jews were present at Vladimir's disputation to decide on the prospective religion of the Kievan Rus'.[103] Whether these were Jews who had settled in Kyiv or emissaries from some Jewish Khazar remnant state is unclear. Conversion to one of the faiths of the people of Scripture was a precondition to any peace treaty with the Arabs, whose Bulgar envoys had arrived in Kyiv after 985.[104]

A visitor to Atil wrote soon after the sacking of the city that its vineyards and garden had been razed, that not a grape or raisin remained in the land, and not even alms for the poor were available.[105] An attempt to rebuild may have been undertaken, since Ibn Hawqal and al-Muqaddasi refer to it after that date, but by Al-Biruni's time (1048) it was in ruins.[note 43]

Aftermath: impact, decline and dispersion

Although Poliak argued that the Khazar kingdom did not wholly succumb to Sviatoslav's campaign, but lingered on until 1224, when the Mongols invaded Rus',[106][107] by most accounts, the Rus'-Oghuz campaigns left Khazaria devastated, with perhaps many Khazarian Jews in flight,[108] and leaving behind at best a minor rump state. It left little trace, except for some placenames,[note 44] and much of its population was undoubtedly absorbed in successor hordes.[109] Al-Muqaddasi, writing ca.985, mentions Khazar beyond the Caspian sea as a district of 'woe and squalor', with honey, many sheep and Jews.[110] Kedrenos mentions a joint Rus'-Byzantine attack on Khazaria in 1016, which defeated its ruler Georgius Tzul. The name suggests Christian affiliations. The account concludes by saying, that after Tzul's defeat, the Khazar ruler of "upper Media", Senaccherib, had to sue for peace and submission.[111] In 1024 Mstislav of Chernigov (one of Vladimir's sons) marched against his brother Yaroslav with an army that included "Khazars and Kassogians" in a repulsed attempt to restore a kind of 'Khazarian'-type dominion over Kyiv.[101] Ibn al-Athir's mention of a 'raid of Faḍlūn the Kurd against the Khazars' in 1030 CE, in which 10,000 of his men were vanquished by the latter, has been taken as a reference to such a Khazar remnant, but Barthold identified this Faḍlūn as Faḍl ibn Muḥammad and the 'Khazars' as either Georgians or Abkhazians.[112][113] A Kievian prince named Oleg, grandson of Jaroslav was reportedly kidnapped by "Khazars" in 1079 and shipped off to Constantinople, although most scholars believe that this is a reference to the Cumans-Kipchaks or other steppe peoples then dominant in the Pontic region. Upon his conquest of Tmutarakan in the 1080s Oleg Sviatoslavich, son of a prince of Chernigov, gave himself the title "Archon of Khazaria".[101] In 1083 Oleg is said to have exacted revenge on the Khazars after his brother Roman was killed by their allies, the Polovtsi/Cumans. After one more conflict with these Polovtsi in 1106, the Khazars fade from history.[111] By the 13th century they survived in Russian folklore only as 'Jewish heroes' in the 'land of the Jews'. (zemlya Jidovskaya).[114]

By the end of the 12th century, Petachiah of Ratisbon reported travelling through what he called "Khazaria", and had little to remark on other than describing its minim (sectaries) living amidst desolation in perpetual mourning.[115] The reference seems to be to Karaites.[116] The Franciscan missionary William of Rubruck likewise found only impoverished pastures in the lower Volga area where Ital once lay.[71] Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, the papal legate to the court of the Mongol Khan Guyuk at that time, mentioned an otherwise unattested Jewish tribe, the Brutakhi, perhaps in the Volga region. Although connections are made to the Khazars, the link is based merely on a common attribution of Judaism.[117]

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The Pontic steppes, c. 1015 (areas in blue possibly still under Khazar control).

The 10th century Zoroastrian Dênkart registered the collapse of Khazar power in attributing its eclipse to the enfeebling effects of 'false' religion.[note 45] The decline was contemporary to that suffered by the Transoxiana Sāmānid empire to the east, both events paving the way for the rise of the Great Seljuq Empire, whose founding traditions mention Khazar connections.[118][note 46] Whatever successor entity survived, it could no longer function as a bulwark against the pressure east and south of nomad expansions. By 1043, Kimeks and Qipchaqs, thrusting westwards, pressured the Oğuz, who in turn pushed the Pechenegs west towards Byzantium's Balkan provinces.[119]

Khazaria nonetheless left its mark on the rising states and some of their traditions and institutions. Much earlier, Tzitzak, the Khazar wife of Leo III, introduced into the Byzantine court the distinctive kaftan or riding habit of the nomadic Khazars, the tzitzakion (τζιτζάκιον), and this was adopted as a solemn element of imperial dress.[note 47] The orderly hierarchical system of succession by 'scales' (lestvichnaia sistema:лествичная система) to the Grand Principate of Kyiv was arguably modelled on Khazar institutions, via the example of the Rus' Khaganate.[121]

The proto-Hungarian Pontic tribe, while perhaps threatening Khazaria as early as 839 (Sarkel), practiced their institutional model, such as the dual rule of a ceremonial kende-kündü and a gyula administering practical and military administration, as tributaries of the Khazars. A dissident group of Khazars, the Qabars, joined the Hungarians in their migration westwards as they moved into Pannonia. Elements within the Hungarian population can be viewed as perpetuating Khazar traditions as a successor state. Byzantine sources refer to Hungary as Western Tourkia in contrast to Khazaria, Eastern Tourkia. The gyula line produced the kings of medieval Hungary through descent from Árpád, while the Qabars retained their traditions longer, and were known as "black Hungarians" (fekete magyarság). Some archaeological evidence from Čelarevo suggests the Qabars practised Judaism[122][123][124] since warrior graves with Jewish symbols were found there, including menorahs, shofars, etrogs, lulavs, candlesnuffers, ash collectors, inscriptions in Hebrew, and a six-pointed star identical to the Star of David.[125][126]

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Seal discovered in excavations at Khazar sites. However, rather than having been made by Jews, these appear to be shamanistic sun discs.[note 48]

The Khazar state was not the only Jewish state to rise between the fall of the Second Temple (67–70 CE) and the establishment of Israel (1948). A second state in Yemen also adopted Judaism in the 4th century, lasting until the rise of Islam.[127]

The Khazar kingdom is said to have stimulated messianic aspirations for a return to Israel as early as Judah Halevi.[128] In the time of the Egyptian vizier Al-Afdal Shahanshah (d. 1121), one Solomon ben Duji, often identified as a Khazarian Jew,[note 49] attempted to advocate for a messianic effort for the liberation of, and return of all Jews to, Palestine. He wrote to many Jewish communities to enlist support. He eventually moved to Kurdistan where his son Menachem some decades later assumed the title of Messiah and, raising an army for this purpose, took the fortress of Amadiya north of Mosul. His project was opposed by the rabbinical authorities and he was poisoned in his sleep. One theory maintains that the Star of David, until then a decorative motif or magical emblem, began to assume its national value in late Jewish tradition from its earlier symbolic use by Menachem.[129]

The word Khazar, as an ethnonym, was last used in the 13th century by a people in the North Caucasus believed to practice Judaism.[130] The nature of a hypothetical Khazar diaspora, Jewish or otherwise, is disputed. Avraham ibn Daud mentions encountering rabbinical students descended from Khazars as far away as Toledo, Spain in the 1160s.[131] Khazar communities persisted here and there. Many Khazar mercenaries served in the armies of the Islamic Caliphates and other states. Documents from medieval Constantinople attest to a Khazar community mingled with the Jews of the suburb of Pera.[132] Khazar merchants were active in both Constantinople and Alexandria in the 12th century.[133]

Religion

Tengrism


Main article: Tengrism

Direct sources for Khazar religion are not many, but in all likelihood they originally engaged in a traditional Turkic form of cultic practices known as Tengrism, which focused on the sky god Tengri. Something of its nature may be deduced from what we know of the rites and beliefs of contiguous tribes, such as the North Caucasian Huns. Horse sacrifices were made to this supreme deity. Rites involved offerings to fire, water, and the moon, to remarkable creatures, and to "gods of the road" (cf. Old Türk yol tengri, perhaps a god of fortune). Sun amulets were widespread as cultic ornaments. A tree cult was also maintained. Whatever was struck by lightning, man or object, was considered a sacrifice to the high god of heaven. The afterlife, to judge from excavations of aristocratic tumuli, was much a continuation of life on earth, warriors being interred with their weapons, horses, and sometimes with human sacrifices: the funeral of one tudrun in 711-12 saw 300 soldiers killed to accompany him to the otherworld. Ancestor worship was observed. The key religious figure appears to have been a shaman-like qam,[134] and it was these (qozmím) that were, according to the Khazar Hebrew conversion stories, driven out.

Many sources suggest, and a notable number of scholars have argued, that the charismatic Āshǐnà clan played a germinal role in the early Khazar state, although Zuckerman dismisses the widespread notion of their pivotal role as a 'phantom'. The Āshǐnà were closely associated with the Tengri cult, whose practices involved rites performed to assure a tribe of heaven's protective providence.[135] The qağan was deemed to rule by virtue of qut, "the heavenly mandate/good fortune to rule."[136][note 50]

Christianity

Khazaria long served as a buffer state between the Byzantine empire and both the nomads of the northern steppes and the Umayyad empire, after serving as Byzantium's proxy against the Sasanian Persian empire. The alliance was dropped around 900. Byzantium began to encourage the Alans to attack Khazaria and weaken its hold on Crimea and the Caucasus, while seeking to obtain an entente with the rising Rus' power to the north, which it aspired to convert to Christianity.[14]

On Khazaria's southern flank, both Islam and Byzantine Christianity were proselytising great powers. Byzantine success in the north was sporadic, although Armenian and Albanian missions from Derbend built churches extensively in maritime Daghestan, then a Khazar district.[137] Buddhism also had exercised an attraction on leaders of both the Eastern (552–742) and Western Qağanates (552–659), the latter being the progenitor of the Khazar state.[138] In 682, according to the Armenian chronicle of Movsês Dasxuranc'i, the king of Caucasian Albania, Varaz Trdat, dispatched a bishop, Israyêl, to convert Caucasian "Huns" who were subject to the Khazars, and managed to convince Alp Ilut'uêr, a son-in-law of the Khazar qağan, and his army, to abandon their shamanising cults and join the Christian fold.[139][note 51]

The Arab Georgian martyr St Abo, who converted to Christianity within the Khazar kingdom around 779-80, describes local Khazars as irreligious.[note 52] Some reports register a Christian majority at Samandar,[note 53] or Muslim majorities.[note 54]

Judaism

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The Khazar "Moses coin" found in the Spillings Hoard and dated c. 800. It is inscribed with "Moses is the messenger of God" instead of the usual Muslim text "Muhammad is the messenger of God".

The conversion of Khazars to Judaism is reported by external sources and in the Khazar Correspondence, although doubts persist.[141] Hebrew documents, whose authenticity was long doubted and challenged,[note 55] are now widely accepted by specialists as either authentic or as reflecting internal Khazar traditions.[note 56][note 57][note 58][143] Archaeological evidence for conversion, on the other hand, remains elusive,[note 59][note 60] and may reflect either the incompleteness of excavations, or that the stratum of actual adherents was thin.[note 61] Conversion of steppe or peripheral tribes to a universal religion is a fairly well attested phenomenon,[note 62] and the Khazar conversion to Judaism, although unusual, would not have been unique.[note 63] Other scholars have concluded that the conversion of the Khazar elite to Judaism never happened. A few scholars, Moshe Gil, recently seconded by Shaul Stampfer,[note 64] dismiss the conversion as a myth.[141][146]

Jews from both the Islamic world and Byzantium are known to have migrated to Khazaria during periods of persecution under Heraclius, Justinian II, Leo III, and Romanus Lakapēnos.[147][148] For Simon Schama, Jewish communities from the Balkans and the Bosphoran Crimea, especially from Panticapaeum, began migrating to the more hospitable climate of pagan Khazaria in the wake of these persecutions, and were joined there by Jews from Armenia. The Geniza fragments, he argues, make it clear the Judaising reforms sent roots down into the whole of the population.[149] The pattern is one of an elite conversion preceding large-scale adoption of the new religion by the general population, which often resisted the imposition.[138] One important condition for mass conversion was a settled urban state, where churches, synagogues or mosques provided a focus for religion, as opposed to the free nomadic lifestyle of life on the open steppes.[note 65] A tradition of the Iranian Judeo-Tats claims that their ancestors were responsible for the Khazar conversion.[150] A legend traceable to the 16th-century Italian rabbi Judah Moscato attributed it to Yitzhak ha-Sangari.[151][152][153]

Both the date of the conversion, and the extent of its influence beyond the elite,[note 66] often minimised in some scholarship,[note 67] are a matter of dispute,[note 68] but at some point between 740 and 920 CE, the Khazar royalty and nobility appear to have converted to Judaism, in part, it is argued, perhaps to deflect competing pressures from Arabs and Byzantines to accept either Islam or Orthodoxy.[note 69][note 70]

History of discussions of Khazar Jewishness

The earliest surviving Arabic text that refers to Khazar Jewishness appears to be that of ibn Rustah, a Persian scholar who wrote an encyclopedic work on geography in the early tenth century.[154] It is believed that ibn Rustah derived much of his information from the works of his contemporary Abu al Jayhani based in Central Asia.

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The 10th century Kievian Letter has Old Turkic (Orkhon) inscription word-phrase OKHQURÜM, "I read (this or it)".

Christian of Stavelot in his Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam (c. 860–870s) refers to Gazari, presumably Khazars, as living in the lands of Gog and Magog, who were circumcised and omnem Judaismum observat—observing all the laws of Judaism.[note 71] New numismatic evidence of coins dated 837/8 bearing the inscriptions arḍ al-ḫazar (Land of the Khazars), or Mûsâ rasûl Allâh (Moses is the messenger of God, in imitation of the Islamic coin phrase: Muḥammad rasûl Allâh) suggest to many the conversion took place in that decade.[note 72] Olsson argues that the 837/8 evidence marks only the beginning of a long and difficult official Judaization that concluded some decades later.[note 73] A 9th-century Jewish traveller, Eldad ha-Dani, is said to have informed Spanish Jews in 883 that there was a Jewish polity in the East, and that fragments of the legendary Ten Lost Tribes, part of the line of Simeon and half-line of Manasseh, dwelt in "the land of the Khazars", receiving tribute from some 25 to 28 kingdoms.[155][156][157] Another view holds that by the 10th century, while the royal clan officially claimed Judaism, a non-normative variety of Islamisation took place among the majority of Khazars.[158]

By the 10th century, the letter of King Joseph asserts that, after the royal conversion, "Israel returned (yashuvu yisra'el) with the people of Qazaria (to Judaism) in complete repentance (bi-teshuvah shelemah)."[159] Persian historian Ibn al-Faqîh wrote that 'all the Khazars are Jews, but they have been Judaized recently'. Ibn Fadlân, based on his Caliphal mission (921–922) to the Volga Bulğars, also reported that 'the core element of the state, the Khazars, were Judaized',[note 74] something underwritten by the Qaraite scholar Ya'kub Qirqisânî around 937.[note 75] The conversion appears to have occurred against a background of frictions arising from both an intensification of Byzantine missionary activity from the Crimea to the Caucasus, and Arab attempts to wrest control over the latter in the 8th century CE,[160] and a revolt, put down, by the Khavars around the mid-9th century is often invoked as in part influenced by their refusal to accept Judaism.[161] Modern scholars generally[note 76] see the conversion as a slow process through three stages, which accords with Richard Eaton's model of syncretic inclusion, gradual identification and, finally, displacement of the older tradition.[note 77][165]

Some time between 954 and 961, Ḥasdai ibn Shaprūṭ, from al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), wrote a letter of inquiry addressed to the ruler of Khazaria, and received a reply from Joseph of Khazaria. The exchanges of this Khazar Correspondence, together with the Schechter Letter discovered in the Cairo Geniza and the famous plato nizing dialogue[166] by Judah Halevi, Sefer ha-Kuzari ('Book (of) The Khazari'), which plausibly drew on such sources,[note 78] provide us with the only direct evidence of the indigenous traditions[note 79] concerning the conversion. King Bulan[note 80] is said to have driven out the sorcerers,[note 81] and to have received angelic visitations exhorting him to find the true religion, upon which, accompanied by his vizier, he travelled to desert mountains of Warsān on a seashore, where he came across a cave rising from the plain of Tiyul in which Jews used to celebrate the Sabbath. Here he was circumcised.[note 82] Bulan is then said to have convened a royal debate between exponents of the three Abrahamic religions. He decided to convert when he was convinced of Judaism's superiority. Many scholars situate this c. 740, a date supported by Halevi's own account.[169][170] The details are both Judaic[note 83] and Türkic: a Türkic ethnogonic myth speaks of an ancestral cave in which the Āshǐnà were conceived from the mating of their human ancestor and a wolf ancestress.[172][note 84][173] These accounts suggest that there was a rationalising syncretism of native pagan traditions with Jewish law, by melding through the motif of the cave, a site of ancestral ritual and repository of forgotten sacred texts, Türkic myths of origin and Jewish notions of redemption of Israel's fallen people.[174] It is generally agreed they adopted Rabbinical rather than Qaraite Judaism.[175]

Ibn Fadlan reports that the settlement of disputes in Khazaria was adjudicated by judges hailing each from his community, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Pagan.[176] Some evidence suggests that the Khazar king saw himself as a defender of Jews even beyond the kingdom's frontiers, retaliating against Muslim or Christian interests in Khazaria in the wake of Islamic and Byzantine persecutions of Jews abroad.[177][note 85] Ibn Fadlan recounts specifically an incident in which the king of Khazaria destroyed the minaret of a mosque in Atil as revenge for the destruction of a synagogue in Dâr al-Bâbûnaj, and allegedly said he would have done worse were it not for a fear that the Muslims might retaliate in turn against Jews.[175][178] Ḥasdai ibn Shaprūṭ sought information on Khazaria in the hope he might discover 'a place on this earth where harassed Israel can rule itself' and wrote that, were it to prove true that Khazaria had such a king, he would not hesitate to forsake his high office and his family in order to emigrate there.[note 86]

Albert Harkavy noted in 1877 that an Arabic commentary on Isaiah 48:14 ascribed to Saadia Gaon or to the Karaite scholar Benjamin Nahâwandî, interpreted "The Lord hath loved him" as a reference "to the Khazars, who will go and destroy Babel" (i.e., Babylonia), a name used to designate the country of the Arabs. This has been taken as an indication of hopes by Jews that the Khazars might succeed in destroying the Caliphate.[180]

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Islam

In 965, as the Qağanate was struggling against the victorious campaign of the Rus' prince Sviatoslav, the Islamic historian Ibn al-Athîr mentions that Khazaria, attacked by the Oğuz, sought help from Khwarezm, but their appeal was rejected because they were regarded as 'infidels' (al-kuffâr:pagans). Save for the king, the Khazarians are said to have converted to Islam in order to secure an alliance, and the Turks were, with Khwarezm's military assistance, repelled. It was this that, according to Ibn al-Athîr, led the Jewish king of Khazar to convert to Islam.[104]

Claims of Khazar ancestry

Claims of Khazar origins for peoples, or suggestions that Khazars were absorbed by them, have been made regarding the Slavic Judaising Subbotniks, the Muslim Karachays, Kumyks, Kazakhs, Avars, the Cossacks of the Don region, the Turkic-speaking Krymchaks and their Crimean neighbours the Karaites to the Moldavian Csángós, the Hungarians, the Mountain Jews and others.[19][181][20][21] Turkic-speaking Crimean Karaites (known in the Crimean Tatar language as Qaraylar), some of whom migrated in the 19th century from the Crimea to Poland and Lithuania have claimed Khazar origins. Specialists in Khazar history question the connection.[182][183][note 87] Scholarship is likewise sceptical of claims that the Tatar-speaking Krymchak Jews of the Crimea descend from Khazars.[184]

Crimean Karaites and Krymchaks

Main articles: Crimean Karaites and Krymchaks

In 1839, the Karaim scholar Abraham Firkovich was appointed by the Russian government as a researcher into the origins of the Jewish sect known as the Karaites.[185] In 1846, one of his acquaintances, the Russian orientalist Vasilii Vasil'evich Grigor'ev (1816–1881), theorised that the Crimean Karaites were of Khazar stock. Firkovich vehemently rejected the idea,[186] a position seconded by Firkovich, who hoped that by 'proving' his people were of Turkish origin, would secure them exception from Russian anti-Jewish laws, since they bore no reasonability for Christ's crucifixion.[187] This idea has a notable impact in Crimean Karaite circles.[note 88] It is now believed that he forged much of this material on Khazars and Karaites.[188] Specialists in Khazar history also question the connection.[183][note 87] Brook's genetic study of European Karaites found no evidence of a Khazar or Turkic origin for any uniparental lineage but did reveal the European Karaites' links to Egyptian Karaites and to Rabbinical Jewish communities.[189][190]

Another Turkish Crimean group, the Krymchaks had retained very simple Jewish traditions, mostly devoid of halakhic content, and very much taken with magical superstitions which, in the wake of the enduring educational efforts of the great Sephardi scholar Chaim Hezekiah Medini, came to conform with traditional Judaism.[191]

Though the assertion they were not of Jewish stock enabled many Crimean Karaites to survive the Holocaust, which led to the murder of 6,000 Krymchaks, after the war, the many of the latter, somewhat indifferent to their Jewish heritage, took a cue from the Crimean Karaites, and denied this connection in order to avoid the antisemitic effects of the stigma attached to Jews.[192]

Ashkenazi-Khazar theories

Main article: Khazar hypothesis of Ashkenazi ancestry

Several scholars have suggested that the Khazars did not disappear after the dissolution of their Empire, but migrated west to eventually form part of the core of the later Ashkenazi Jewish population of Europe. This hypothesis is greeted with scepticism or caution by most scholars.[note 89][note 90][note 91] The German Orientalist Karl Neumann, in the context of an earlier controversy about possible connections between Khazars and the ancestors of the Slavic peoples, suggested as early as 1847 emigrant Khazars might have influenced the core population of Eastern European Jews.[note 92]

The theory was then taken up by Albert Harkavi in 1869, when he also claimed a possible link between the Khazars and Ashkenazi,[note 93] but the theory that Khazar converts formed a major proportion of Ashkenazi was first proposed to a Western public in a lecture by Ernest Renan in 1883.[note 94][193] Occasional suggestions emerged that there was a small Khazar component in East European Jews in works by Joseph Jacobs (1886), Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, a critic of anti-Semitism (1893),[194] Maksymilian Ernest Gumplowicz,[note 95] and by the Russian-Jewish anthropologist Samuel Weissenberg.[note 96] In 1909 Hugo von Kutschera developed the notion into a book-length study,[196][197] arguing Khazars formed the foundational core of the modern Ashkenazi.[196] Maurice Fishberg introduced the notion to American audiences in 1911.[195][198] The idea was also taken up by the Polish-Jewish economic historian and General Zionist Yitzhak Schipper in 1918.[note 97][199] Israel Bartal has suggested that from the Haskalah onwards polemical pamphlets against the Khazars were inspired by Sephardi organizations opposed to the Khazaro-Ashkenazim.[200]

Scholarly anthropologists, such as Roland B. Dixon (1923), and writers like H. G. Wells (1920) used it to argue that "The main part of Jewry never was in Judea",[note 98][201] a thesis that was to have a political echo in later opinion.[note 99][202] In 1932, Samuel Krauss ventured the theory that the biblical Ashkenaz referred to northern Asia Minor, and identified it with the Khazars, a position immediately disputed by Jacob Mann.[203] Ten years later, in 1942, Abraham N. Polak (sometimes referred to as Poliak), later professor for the history of the Middle Ages at Tel Aviv University, published a Hebrew monograph in which he concluded that the East European Jews came from Khazaria.[note 100][note 101][204] D.M. Dunlop, writing in 1954, thought very little evidence backed what he regarded as a mere assumption, and argued that the Ashkenazi-Khazar descent theory went far beyond what "our imperfect records" permit.[205] Léon Poliakov, while assuming the Jews of Western Europe resulted from a "panmixia" in the first millennium, asserted in 1955 that it was widely assumed that Europe's Eastern Jews descended from a mixture of Khazarian and German Jews.[note 102] Poliak's work found some support in Salo Wittmayer Baron and Ben-Zion Dinur,[note 103][note 104] but was dismissed by Bernard Weinryb as a fiction (1962).[note 105] Bernard Lewis was of the opinion that the word in Cairo Geniza interpreted as Khazaria is actually Hakkari and therefore it relates to the Kurds of the Hakkari mountains in southeast Turkey.[208]

The Khazar-Ashkenazi hypothesis came to the attention of a much wider public with the publication of Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe in 1976,[209] which was both positively reviewed and dismissed as a fantasy, and a somewhat dangerous one. Israeli historian Zvi Ankori argued that Koestler had allowed his literary imagination to espouse Poliak's thesis, which most historians dismissed as speculative.[114] Israel's ambassador to Britain branded it "an anti-Semitic action financed by the Palestinians", while Bernard Lewis claimed that the idea was not supported by any evidence whatsoever, and had been abandoned by all serious scholars.[209][note 106] Raphael Patai, however, registered some support for the idea that Khazar remnants had played a role in the growth of Eastern European Jewish communities,[note 107] and several amateur researchers, such as Boris Altschüler (1994),[183] kept the thesis in the public eye. The theory has been occasionally manipulated to deny Jewish nationhood.[209][212] Recently, a variety of approaches, from linguistics (Paul Wexler)[213] to historiography (Shlomo Sand)[214] and population genetics (Eran Elhaik, a geneticist from the University of Sheffield)[215] have emerged to keep the theory alive.[216] In broad academic perspective, both the idea that the Khazars converted en masse to Judaism, and the suggestion they emigrated to form the core population of Ashkenazi Jewry, remain highly polemical issues.[217]

One thesis held that the Khazar Jewish population went into a northern diaspora and had a significant impact on the rise of Ashkenazi Jews. Connected to this thesis is the theory, expounded by Paul Wexler, that the grammar of Yiddish contains a Khazar substrate.[218] In 2018, Kevin Alan Brook cited genetic data to argue against the claim that Ashkenazim have any amount of Khazarian ancestry.[219]

Use in anti-Semitic polemics

According to Michael Barkun, the Khazar hypothesis never played any major role in anti-Semitism,[220] although he writes that histories of the latter rather oddly overlook the influence it has exercised on American antisemites since the restrictions on immigration in the 1920s.[note 108][note 109] Maurice Fishberg and Roland B Dixon's works were later exploited in racist and religious polemical literature in both Britain, in British Israelism, and the United States.[195][note 110] Particularly after the publication of Burton J. Hendrick's The Jews in America (1923)[221] it began to enjoy a vogue among advocates of immigration restriction in the 1920s; racial theorists[222] like Lothrop Stoddard; anti-Semitic conspiracy-theorists like the Ku Klux Klan's Hiram Wesley Evans; anti-communist polemicists like John O. Beaty[note 111] and Wilmot Robertson, whose views influenced David Duke.[224] According to Yehoshafat Harkabi (1968) and others,[note 112] it played a role in Arab anti-Zionist polemics, and took on an anti-semitic edge. Bernard Lewis, noting in 1987 that Arab scholars had dropped it, remarked that it only occasionally emerged in Arab political discourse.[note 113] It has also played some role in Soviet anti-Semitic chauvinism[note 114] and Slavic Eurasian historiography; particularly, in the works of scholars like Lev Gumilev,[226] it came to be exploited by the White supremacist Christian Identity movement[227] and even by terrorist esoteric cults like Aum Shinrikyō.[228]

Genetic studies

See also: Ashkenazi Jews § Genetic origins, Genetic studies on Jews, and Khazar theory of Ashkenazi ancestry § Genetics

The hypothesis of Khazarian ancestry in Ashkenazi has also been a subject of vehement disagreements in the field of population genetics,[note 115] wherein claims have been made concerning evidence both for and against it. Eran Elhaik argued in 2012 for a significant Khazar component in the paternal line based on the study of Y-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews using Caucasian populations—Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijani Jews—as proxies.[note 116] The evidence from historians he used has been criticised by Shaul Stampfer[229] and the technical response to such a position from geneticists is mostly dismissive, arguing that, if traces of descent from Khazars exist in the Ashkenazi gene pool, the contribution would be quite minor,[230][231][232][233][note 117] or insignificant.[234][235] One geneticist, Raphael Falk, has argued that "national and ethnic prejudices play a central role in the controversy."[note 118] According to Nadia Abu El-Haj, the issues of origins are generally complicated by the difficulties of writing history via genome studies and the biases of emotional investments in different narratives, depending on whether the emphasis lies on direct descent or on conversion within Jewish history. The lack of Khazar DNA samples that might allow verification also presents difficulties.[note 119]

In literature

The Kuzari is an influential work written by the medieval Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (c. 1075–1141). Divided into five essays (ma'amarim), it takes the form of a fictional dialogue between the pagan king of the Khazars and a Jew who was invited to instruct him in the tenets of the Jewish religion. The intent of the work, although based on Ḥasdai ibn Shaprūṭ's correspondence with the Khazar king, was not historical, but rather to defend Judaism as a revealed religion, written in the context, firstly of Karaite challenges to the Spanish rabbinical intelligentsia, and then against temptations to adapt Aristotelianism and Islamic philosophy to the Jewish faith.[237] Originally written in Arabic, it was translated into Hebrew by Judah ibn Tibbon.[166]

Benjamin Disraeli's early novel Alroy (1833) draws on Menachem ben Solomon's story.[238] The question of mass religious conversion and the indeterminability of the truth of stories about identity and conversion are central themes of Milorad Pavić's best-selling mystery story Dictionary of the Khazars.[239]

H.N. Turteltaub's Justinian, Marek Halter's Book of Abraham and Wind of the Khazars, and Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road allude to or feature elements of Khazar history or create fictional Khazar characters.[240]

Cities associated with the Khazars

Cities associated with the Khazars include Atil, Khazaran, Samandar; in the Caucasus, Balanjar, Kazarki, Sambalut, and Samiran; in Crimea and the Taman region, Kerch, Theodosia, Yevpatoria (Güzliev), Samkarsh (also called Tmutarakan, Tamatarkha), and Sudak; and in the Don valley, Sarkel. A number of Khazar settlements have been discovered in the Mayaki-Saltovo region. Some scholars suppose that the Khazar settlement of Sambat on the Dnieper refers to the later Kyiv.[note 120]

See also

• Gog and Magog
• History of Kiev
• Kuzari
• List of Khazar rulers
• List of Jewish states and dynasties
• List of Turkic dynasties and countries
• Red Jews
• Rus' Khaganate
• Rus'–Byzantine War (860)
• Rus'–Byzantine War (907)
• Rus'–Byzantine War (941)
• Rus'–Byzantine War (968-971)
• Turkic peoples
• Turkish Jews
• Yarmaq

Notes

1. This figure has been calculated on the basis of the data in both Herlihy and Russell's work.[5] (Russell 1972, pp. 25–71)
2. "The Gazari are, presumably, the Khazars, although this term or the Kozary of the perhaps near contemporary Vita Constantini... could have reflected any of a number of peoples within Khazaria." (Golden 2007b, p. 139)
3. "Somewhat later, however, in a letter to the Byzantine Emperor Basil I, dated to 871, Louis the German, clearly taking exception to what had apparently become Byzantine usage, declares that 'we have not found that the leader of the Avars, or Khazars (Gasanorum)'..." (Golden 2001a, p. 33)
4. Golden 2007a, p. 16 and n.38 citing L. Bazin, 'Pour une nouvelle hypothèse sur l'origine des Khazar,' in Materialia Turcica, 7/8 (1981–1982): 51–71.
5. Compare Tibetan dru-gu Gesar (the Turk Gesar) (Golden 2007a, p. 16).
6. Kěsà (可薩) would have been pronounced something like kha'sat in both Early Middle Chinese/EMC and Late Middle Chinese/LMC, while Hésà (曷薩) would yield γat-sat in (EMC) and xɦat sat (LMC) respectively, where final 't' often transcribes –r- in foreign words. Thus, while these Chinese forms could transcribe a foreign word of the type *Kasar/*Kazar, *Gatsar, *Gazr, *Gasar, there is a problem phonetically with assimilating these to the Uyğur word Qasar/ Gesa (EMC/LMC Kat-sat= Kar sar= *Kasar) (Golden 2007a, p. 17).
7. Ibn al-Nadīm commenting on script systems in 987–88 recorded that the Khazars wrote in Hebrew (Golden 2007b, p. 148).
8. "The chancellery of the Jewish state of the Khazars is therefore also likely to have used Hebrew writing even if the official language was a Turkic one." (Erdal 2007, pp. 98–99)
9. "there must have been many different ethnic groups within the Khazar realm ... These groups spoke different languages, some of them no doubt belonging to the Indo-European or different Caucasian language families." (Erdal 2007, p. 75, n.2)
10. The high chancery official of the Abbasid Caliphate under Al-Wathiq, Sallām the interpreter (Sallam al-tardjuman), famous for his reputed mastery of thirty languages, might have been both Jewish and a Khazar Wasserstein 2007, p. 376, and n.2, referring to Dunlop 1954, pp. 190–193.
11. "Oğuric Turkic, spoken by many of the subject tribes, doubtless, was one of the linguae francae of the state. Alano-As was also widely spoken. Eastern Common Turkic, the language of the royal house and its core tribes, in all likelihood remained the language of the ruling elite in the same way that Mongol continued to be used by the rulers of the Golden Horde, alongside of the Qipčaq Turkic speech spoken by the bulk of the Turkic tribesmen that constituted the military force of this part of the Činggisid empire. Similarity, Oğuric, like Qipčaq Turkic in the Jočid realm, functioned as one of the languages of government." (Golden 2006, p. 91)
12. al-Iṣṭakhrī 's account however then contradicts itself by likening the language to Bulğaric (Golden 2007a, pp. 13–14, 14 n.28).
13. "The word tribe is as troublesome as the term clan. It is commonly held to denote a group, like the clan, claiming descent from a common (in some culture zones eponymous) ancestor, possessing a common territory, economy, language, culture, religion, and sense of identity. In reality, tribes were often highly fluid sociopolitical structures, arising as 'ad hoc responses to ephemeral situations of competition,' as Morton H. Fried has noted." (Golden 2001b, p. 78)
14. Dieter Ludwig, in his doctoral thesis Struktur und Gesellschaft des Chazaren-Reiches im Licht der schriftlichen Quellen,(Münster, 1982) suggested that the Khazars were Turkic members of the Hephthalite Empire, where the lingua franca was a variety of Iranian.[34] (Brook 2010, p. 4)
15. "The reader should be warned that the A-shih-na link of the Khazar dynasty, an old phantom of ... Khazarology, will ... lose its last claim to reality" (Zuckerman 2007, p. 404).
16. In this view, the name Khazar would derive from a hypothetical *Aq Qasar (Golden 2006, pp. 89–90).
17. Whittow states that the word Türk had no strict ethnic meaning at the time: "Throughout the early middle ages on the Eurasian steppes, the term 'Turk' may or may not imply membership of the ethnic group of Turkic peoples, but it does always mean at least some awareness and acceptance of the traditions and ideology of the Gök Türk empire, and a share, however distant, in the political and cultural inheritance of that state." (Whittow 1996, p. 221)
18. The Duōlù (咄陆) were the left wing of the On Oq, the Nǔshībì (弩失畢: *Nu Šad(a)pit), and together they were registered in Chinese sources as the 'ten names' (shí míng:十名) (Golden 2010, pp. 54–55).
19. Several scholars connect it to Judaization, with Artamonov linking its introduction to Obadiyah's reforms and the imposition of full Rabbinical Judaism and Pritsak to the same period (799–833), arguing that the Beg, a majordomo from the Iranian *Barč/Warâ Bolčan clan, identified with Obadiyah, compelled the Qağanal clan to convert, an event which putatively caused the Qabar revolt. Golden comments: "There is nothing but conjecture to connect it with the reforms of Obadiyah, the further evolution of Khazar Judaism or the Qabars ... The fact is we do not know when, precisely, the Khazar system of dual kingship emerged. It could not have come ex nihilo. It was not present in the early stages of Khazar history. Given the Old Türk traditions of the Khazar state ... and the overall institutional conservation of steppe society, one must exercise great caution here. Clear evidence for it is relatively late (the latter part of the ninth century perhaps and more probably the tenth century)- although it was probably present by the first third of the ninth century. Iranian influences via the Ors guard of the Qağans may have also been a factor" (Golden 2007b, pp. 155–156)
20. There was a maximum limit on the number of years of a king's reign, according to Ibn Fadlan; if a Qağan had reigned for at least forty years, his courtiers and subjects felt his ability to reason would become impaired by old age. They would then kill the Qağan (Dunlop 1954, pp. 97, 112).
21. Petrukhin notes that Ibn Fadlan's description of a Rus' prince (malik) and his lieutenant (khalifa) mirrored the Khazarian diarchy, but the comparison was flawed, as there was no sacral kingship among the Rus' (Petrukhin 2007, pp. 256–257).
22. "the rest of the Khazars profess a religion similar to that of the Turks." (Golden 2007b, pp. 130–131)
23. This regiment was exempt from campaigning against fellow Muslims, evidence that non-Judaic beliefs were no obstacle to access to the highest levels of government. They had abandoned their homeland and sought service with the Khazars in exchange for the right to exercise their religious freedom, according to al-Masudi (Golden 2007b, p. 138).
24. Olsson writes that there is no evidence for this Islamic guard for the 9th century, but that its existence is attested for 913 (Olsson 2013, p. 507).
25. Noonan gives the lower figure for the Muslim contingents, but adds that the army could draw on other mercenaries stationed in the capital, Rūs, Ṣaqāliba and pagans. Olsson's 10,000 refers to the spring-summer horsemen in the nomadic king's retinue (Noonan 2007, pp. 211, 217).
26. A third division may have contained the dwellings of the tsarina. The dimensions of the western part were 3x3, as opposed to the eastern part's 8 x 8 farsakhs (Noonan 2007, pp. 208–209, 216–219).
27. Outside Muslim traders were under the jurisdiction of a special royal official (ghulām) (Noonan 2007, pp. 211–214).
28. Theophanes the Confessor around 813 defined them as Eastern Turks. The designation is complex and Róna-Tas writes: "The Georgian Chronicle refers to the Khazars in 626–628 as the 'West Turks' who were then opposed to the East Turks of Central Asia. Shortly after 679 the Armenian Geography mentions the Turks together with the Khazars; this may be the first record of the Magyars. Around 813, Theophanes uses – alongside the generic name Turk – 'East Turk' for the designation of the Khazars, and in context, the 'West Turks' may actually have meant the Magyars. We know that Nicholas Misticus referred to the Magyars as 'West Turks' in 924/925. In the 9th century the name Turk was mainly used to designate the Khazars." (Róna-Tas 1999, p. 282)
29. Many sources identify the Göktürks in this alliance as Khazars--for example, Beckwith writes recently: "The alliance sealed by Heraclius with the Khazars in 627 was of seminal importance to the Byzantine Empire through the Early Middle Ages, and helped assure its long-term survival."[73] Early sources such as the almost contemporary Armenian history, Patmutʿiwn Ałuanicʿ Ašxarhi, attributed to Movsēs Dasxurancʿ, and the Chronicle attributed to Theophanes identify these Turks as Khazars (Theophanes has: 'Turks, who are called Khazars'). Both Zuckerman and Golden reject the identification (Zuckerman 2007, pp. 403–404).
30. Scholars dismiss Chinese annals which, reporting the events from Turkic sources, attribute the destruction of Persia and its leader Shah Khusrau II personally to Tong Yabghu. Zuckerman argues instead that the account is correct in its essentials (Zuckerman 2007, p. 417).
31. "The Khazars, the close allies of the Byzantines, adopted Judaism, as their official religion, apparently by 740, three years after an invasion by the Arabs under Marwan ibn Muhammad. Marwan had used treachery against a Khazar envoy to gain peaceful entrance to Khazar territory. He then declared his dishonourable intentions and pressed deep into Khazar territory, only subsequently releasing the envoy. The Arabs devastated the horse herds, seized many Khazars and others as captives, and forced much of the population to flee into the Ural Mountains. Marwan's terms were that the kaghan and his Khazars should convert to Islam. Having no choice, the kaghan agreed, and the Arabs returned home in triumph. As soon as the Arabs were gone, the kaghan renounced Islam – with, one may assume, great vehemence. The Khazar Dynasty's conversion to Judaism is best explained by this specific historical background, together with the fact that the mid-eighth century was an age in which the major Eurasian states proclaimed their adherence to distinctive world religions. Adopting Judaism also was politically astute: it meant the Khazars avoided having to accept the overlordship (however theoretical) of the Arab caliph or the Byzantine emperor." (Beckwith 2011, p. 149)
32. Over 520 separate hoards of such silver have been uncovered in Sweden and Gotland (Moss 2002, p. 16).
33. The Volga Bulgarian state was converted to Islam in the 10th century, and wrested liberty from its Khazarian suzerains when Svyatislav razed Atil (Abulafia 1987, pp. 419, 480–483).
34. Whittow argues however that: "The title of qaghan, with its claims to lordship over the steppe world, is likely to be no more than ideological booty from the 965 victory." (Whittow 1996, pp. 243–252)
35. Korobkin citing Golb & Pritsak notes that Khazars have often been connected with Kyiv's foundations.[94] Pritsak and Golb state that children in Kyiv were being given a mixture of Hebrew and Slavic names by c. 930.[95] Toch on the other hand is skeptical, and argues that "a significant Jewish presence in early medieval Kyiv or indeed in Russia at large remains much in doubt" (Toch 2012, p. 166).
36. The yarmaq based on the Arab dirhem was perhaps issued in reaction to fall-off in Muslim minting in the 820s, and to a felt need in the turbulent upheavals of the 830s to assert a new religious profile, with the Jewish legends stamped on them (Golden 2007b, p. 156).
37. Scholars are divided as to whether the fortification of Sarkel represents a defensive bulwark against a growing Magyar or Varangian threat (Petrukhin 2007, pp. 247, and n.1).
38. MQDWN or the Macedon dynasty of Byzantium; SY, perhaps a central Volga statelet, Burtas, Asya; PYYNYL denoting the Danube-Don Pechnegs; BM, perhaps indicating the Volga Bulgars, and TWRQY or Oghuz Turks. The provisory identifications are those of Pritsak (Kohen 2007, p. 106).
39. Al-Mas'udi says the king secretly tipped off the Rus' of the attack but was unable to oppose the request of his guards (Olsson 2013, p. 507).
40. The letter continues: "I wage war with them. If I left them (in peace) for a single hour they would crush the whole land of the Ishmaelites up to Baghdad." (Petrukhin 2007, p. 257)
41. From Klavdiy Lebedev (1852–1916), Svyatoslav's meeting with Emperor John, as described by Leo the Deacon.
42. H. H. Howorth argued that the Khazars were the ancestors of contemporary Circassians (Howorth 1870, pp. 182–192).
43. Dunlop thought the later city of Saqsin lay on or near Atil (Dunlop 1954, p. 248).
44. The Caspian Sea is still known to Arabs, and many peoples of the region, as the 'Khazar Sea' (Arabic Bahr ul-Khazar) (Brook 2010, p. 156)
45. "thus it is clear that the false doctrine of Yišô in Rome (Hrôm) and that of Môsê among the Khazars and that of Mânî in Turkistan took away their might and the valor that they once possessed and made them feeble and decadent among their rivals" (Golden 2007b, p. 130).
46. Some sources claim that the father of Seljuk, the eponymous progenitor of the Seljuk Turks, namely Toqaq Temür Yalığ, began his career as an Oghuz soldier in Khazar service in the early and mid-10th century, and rose to high rank before he fell out with the Khazar rulers and departed for Khwarazm. Seljuk's sons, significantly, all bear names from the Jewish scriptures: Mîkâ'il, Isrâ'îl, Mûsâ, Yûnus. Peacock argues that early traditions attesting a Seljuk origin within the Khazar empire when it was powerful, were later rewritten, after Khazaria fell from power in the 11th century, to blank out the connection (Peacock 2010, pp. 27–35).
47. Tzitzak is often treated as her original proper name, with a Turkic etymology čiček ('flower'). Erdal, however, citing the Byzantine work on court ceremony De Ceremoniis, authored by Constantine Porphyrogennetos, argues that the word referred only to the dress Irene wore at court, perhaps denoting its colourfulness, and compares it to the Hebrew ciciot, the knotted fringes of a ceremonial shawl, or tallit.[120] (Wexler 1987, p. 72)
48. "Engravings that resemble the six-pointed Star of David were found on circular Khazar relics and bronze mirrors from Sarkel and Khazarian grave fields in Upper Saltov. However, rather than having been made by Jews, these appear to be shamanistic sun discs." (Brook 2010, pp. 113, 122–123 n.148)
49. Brook says this thesis was developed by Jacob Mann, based on a reading of the word "Khazaria" in the Cairo Geniza fragment. Bernard Lewis, he adds, challenged the assumption by noting that the original text reads Hakkâri and refers to the Kurds of the Hakkâri mountains in south-east Turkey (Brook 2010, pp. 191–192, n.72).
50. Whittow notes that this native institution, given the constant, lengthy, military and acculturating pressures on the tribes from China to the East, was influenced also by the sinocentric doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven (Tiānmìng:天命), which signaled legitimacy of rule (Whittow 1996, p. 220).
51. Alp Ilut'uêr is a Turkish subordinate title (Golden 2007b, p. 124).
52. Golden and Shapira thinks the evidence from such Georgian sources renders suspect a conversion prior to this date.[140](Shapira 2007b, pp. 347–348)
53. Golden 2007b, pp. 135–136, reporting on al-Muqaddasi.
54. During Islamic invasions, some groups of Khazars who suffered defeat, including a qağan, were converted to Islam (DeWeese 1994, p. 73).
55. Johannes Buxtorf first published the letters around 1660. Controversy arose over their authenticity; it was even argued that the letters represented "no more than Jewish self-consolation and fantasmagory over the lost dreams of statehood" (Kohen 2007, p. 112).
56. "If anyone thinks that the Khazar correspondence was first composed in 1577 and published in Qol Mebasser, the onus of proof is certainly on him. He must show that a number of ancient manuscripts, which appear to contain references to the correspondence, have all been interpolated since the end of the sixteenth century. This will prove a very difficult or rather an impossible task." (Dunlop 1954, p. 130)
57. "The issue of the authenticity of the Correspondence has a long and mottled history which need not detain us here. Dunlop and most recently Golb have demonstrated that Hasdai's letter, Joseph's response (dating perhaps from the 950s) and the 'Cambridge Document' are, indeed, authentic." (Golden 2007b, pp. 145–146)
58. "(a court debate on conversion) appears in accounts of Khazar Judaism in two Hebrew accounts, as well as in one eleventh-century Arabic account. These widespread and evidently independent attestations would seem to support the historicity of some kind of court debate, but, more important, clearly suggest the currency of tales recounting the conversion and originating among the Khazar Jewish community itself" ... "the 'authenticity' of the Khazar correspondence is hardly relevant"[142] "The wider issue of the 'authenticity' of the 'Khazar correspondence', and of the significance of this tale's parallels with the equally controversial Cambridge document /Schechter text, has been discussed extensively in the literature on Khazar Judaism; much of the debate loses significance if, as Pritsak has recently suggested, the accounts are approached as 'epic' narratives rather than evaluated from the standpoint of their 'historicity'." (DeWeese 1994, p. 305)
59. "Of the intensive archaeological study of Khazar sites (over a thousand burial sites have been investigated!), not one has yet yielded finds that yet fit in some way the material legacy of antique European or Middle Eastern Jewry." (Toch 2012, pp. 162–3)
60. Shingiray noting the widespread lack of artifacts of wealth in Khazar burials, arguing that nomads used few materials to express their personal attributes: "The SMC assemblages-even if they were not entirely missing from the Khazar imperial center - presented an outstanding instance of archaeological material minimalism in this region." (Shingiray 2012, pp. 209–211)
61. "But, one must ask, are we to expect much religious paraphernalia in a recently converted steppe society? Do the Oğuz, in the century or so after their Islamization, present much physical evidence in the steppe for their new faith? These conclusions must be considered preliminary." (Golden 2007b, pp. 150–151, and note 137)
62. Golden 2007b, pp. 128–129 compares Ulfilas's conversions of the Goths to Arianism; Al-Masudi records a conversion of the Alans to Christianity during the Abbasid period; the Volga Bulğars adopted Islam after their leader converted in the 10th century; the Uyğur Qağan accepted Manichaeism in 762.
63. Golden takes exception to J. B. Bury's claim (1912) that it was 'unique in history'.[144][145] Golden also cites from Jewish history the conversion of Idumeans under John Hyrcanus; of the Itureans under Aristobulus I; of the kingdom of Adiabene under Queen Helena; the Ḥimyârî kings in Yemen, and Berber assimilations to North African Jewry (Golden 2007b, p. 153).
64. "in Israel, emotions are still high when it comes to the history of the Khazars, as I witnessed in a symposium on the issue at the Israeli Academy of Sciences in Jerusalem (May 24, 2011). Whereas Prof. Shaul Stampfer believed the story of the Khazars' conversion to Judaism was a collection of stories or legends that have no historical foundation, (and insisted that the Ashkenazi of Eastern Europe of today stem from Jews in Central Europe who emigrated eastwards), Prof. Dan Shapiro believed that the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism was part of the history of Russia at the time it established itself as a kingdom." (Falk 2017, p. 101,n.9)
65. "The Șûfî wandering out into the steppe was far more effective in bringing Islam to the Turkic nomads than the learned 'ulamâof the cities." (Golden 2007b, p. 126)
66. "the Khazars (most of whom did not convert to Judaism, but remained animists, or adopted Islam and Christianity)" (Wexler 2002, p. 514)
67. "In much of the literature on conversions of Inner Asian peoples, attempts are made, 'to minimize the impact' ... This has certainly been true of some of the scholarship regarding the Khazars." (Golden 2007b, p. 127)
68. "scholars who have contributed to the subject of the Khazars' conversion, have based their arguments on a limited corpus of textual, and more recently, numismatic evidence ... Taken together these sources offer a cacophony of distortions, contradictions, vested interests, and anomalies in some areas, and nothing but silence in others." (Olsson 2013, p. 496)
69. "Judaism was apparently chosen because it was a religion of the book without being the faith of a neighbouring state which had designs on Khazar lands." (Noonan 1999, p. 502)
70. "Their conversion to Judaism was the equivalent of a declaration of neutrality between the two rival powers." (Baron 1957, p. 198)
71. "We are not aware of any nation under the sky that would not have Christians among them. For even in Gog and Magog, the Hunnic people who call themselves Gazari, those whom Alexander confined, there was a tribe more brave than the others. This tribe had already been circumcised and they profess all dogmata of Judaism (omnem Judaismum observat)." (Golden 2007b, p. 139)
72. The idea of a forced general conversion imposed on the Qağanal dynasty in the 830s was advanced by Omeljian Pritsak, and is now supported by Roman Kovalev and Peter Golden (Olsson 2013, p. 497).
73. Olsson identifies this with the onset of Magyar invasions of the Pontic steppe in the 830s, the construction of Sarkel, and the Schechter letter's reference to Bulan, converted to his Jewish wife Serakh's faith, wresting power, in a period of famine, elements which undermined the qağan, and allowed the creation of the royal diarchy (Olsson 2013, pp. 507, 513ff).
74. wa al-ḥazarwa malikuhum kulluhum yahûd ('The Khazars and their king are all Jews') (Golden 2007b, pp. 143, 159)
75. Golden, citing his comment on Genesis 9:27: "some other commentators are of the opinion that this verse alludes to the Khazars who accepted Judaism", with Golden's comment: "Certainly, by this time, the association of Khazaria and Judaism in the Jewish world was an established fact" (Golden 2007b, p. 143).
76. Shapira and Zuckerman disagree, positing only one stage and placing it later. Shapira takes stage 1 as a Jewish-Khazar reinterpretation of the Tengri-cult in terms of a monotheism similar to Judaism's; Zuckerman thinks Judaisation took place, just once, after 861.[162] [163]
77. Dunlop thought the first stage occurred with the king's conversion c. 740; the second with the installation of Rabbinical Judaism c. 800.[164] (Dunlop 1954, p. 170)
78. Arabic original: Kitâb al-ḥuyya wa'l-dalîl fi naṣr al-din al-dhalîl (Book of the Argument and Demonstration in Aid of the Despised Faith) (Schweid 2007, p. 279).
79. Brook mentions also a letter in Hebrew, the Mejelis document, dated 985–986, which refers to "our lord David, the Khazar prince" who lived in Taman. As Brook notes, both D. M. Dunlop and Dan Shapira dismiss it as a forgery (Brook 2010, pp. 30; 41, n.75).
80. The name is commonly etymologized as meaning 'elk' in Türkic. Shapira identifies him with the Sabriel of the Schechter letter, and suggests, since Sabriel is unattested as a Jewish name, although the root is 'hope, believe, find out, understand' that it is a calque on the Oğuz Türkic bulan (one who finds out) or bilen (one who knows) (Shapira 2009, p. 1102).
81. Szpiech, citing the Letter of King Joseph: et ha-qosmim ve-et'ovdei 'avodah zarah ('expelled the wizards and idolators') (Szpiech 2012, pp. 93–117 [102]).
82. This detail is in Halevi's Sefer Ha-Kusari.[167] Golden has identified Warsān as Transcaucasian Varaˇc'an.[168] Ḥasdai ibn Shaprūṭ's letter also mentions a legend that the Chaldaeans, under persecution, hid the Scriptures in a cave, and taught their sons to pray there, which they did until their descendants forgot the custom. Much later, a tradition has it, a man of Israel entered the cave and, retrieving the books, taught the descendants how to learn the Law (DeWeese 1994, pp. 304–305).
83. The Schechter document has officers during the religious debate speak of a cave in a certain plain (TYZWL) where books are to be retrieved. They turn out to be the books of the Torah.[171] (Golb & Pritsak 1982, p. 111)
84. The original ancestral cavern of the Türks, according to Chinese sources, was called Ötüken, and the tribal leaders would travel there annually to conduct sacrificial rites (DeWeese 1994, pp. 276, 300–304).
85. Kohen refers to Khazar killings of Christians or the uncircumcized in retaliation for persecutions of Jews in Byzantium, and Khazar reprisals against Muslims for persecutions of Jews in Caucasian Albania, perhaps under Emir Nasr (Kohen 2007, pp. 107–108).
86. "If indeed I could learn that this was the case, then, despising all my glory, abandoning my high estate, leaving my family, I would go over mountains and hills, through seas and lands, till I should arrive at the place where my Lord the King resides, that I might see not only his glory and magnificence, and that of his servants and ministers, but also the tranquillity of the Israelites. On beholding this my eyes would brighten, my reins would exult, my lips would pour forth praises to God, who has not withdrawn his favour from his afflicted ones."[179] (Leviant 2008, pp. 159–162)
87. Rabbinic Judaism rather than Qaraism was the form adopted. Small Karaim communities may have existed, but the linguistic and historical evidence suggests that the Turkic-speaking Karaim Jews in Poland and Lithuania, of which one branch also existed in the Crimea, descend from the Khazars. 'At most, it is conceivable that the smaller Karaite community which lived in Khazaria gained the Kipchak type Turkic language, that they speak today, through an exchange of language.' Khazars probably converted to Rabbinic Judaism, whereas in Karaism only the Torah is accepted, the Talmud being ignored (Róna-Tas 1999, p. 232).
88. "At a time when Russia masked imperialist goals by pretending to be the protector of Slavic peoples and the Orthodox faith, Crimean Karism was exercising its own version of cultural imperialism. It is clear that the Crimean Karaites intended to expand their dominion to include Cairo, Jerusalem, and Damascus, basing their pre-eminence on the claim that Karaism, an ancient, pre-Talmudic form of Judaism, had been brought to the Middle East by the Khazars. Such an allegation would, however, have been much more difficult, if not impossible, to maintain.
To summarize the Khazar-Karaite nexus commonly accepted in the Russian Empire during the last century: the Khazars, who were of pagan Turkic origin, were supposedly brought to Judaism by Karaites, descendants of Jews who had lived in the Black Sea areas since biblical times and whose Judaism was, therefore, pre-Talmudic and nonrabbinic. As a result, the Khazars' Judaism was Karaite, and later Karaites, who spoken a Turkic language, must have descended from the Khazars, with whom the ancient Jews had assimilated. The circularity of the argument aside, modern historians have concluded that the Khazars were converted by Rabbanite Jews and that they and their descendants observed rabbinic law and traditions. Indeed, recent scholarship has demonstrated that Khazaria was altogether unrepresented in the Karaite literature of the ninth and early tenth centuries, as well as that written during its Golden Age – when Karaism had a militant and missionary influence." (Miller 1993, pp. 7–9)
89. "Most scholars are sceptical about the hypothesis".[22] Wexler, who proposes a variation on the idea, argues that a combination of three reasons accounts for scholarly aversion to the concept: a desire not to get mixed up in controversy, ideological insecurities, and the incompetence of much earlier work in favour of that hypothesis.
90. "Methodologically, Wexler has opened up some new areas, taking elements of folk culture into account. I think that his conclusions have gone well beyond the evidence. Nonetheless, these are themes that should be pursued further." (Golden 2007a, p. 56)
91. "Arthur Koestler's book The Thirteenth Tribe which claimed that the converted Khazars were the progenitors of today's Ashkenazi Jews, has been largely rejected by serious scholars. However, the disputed theory that the stereotypical European Jew is descended from an Eastern European nation of Jewish converts, has been sufficiently unwelcome as to render study of the Khazars an area of research largely off limits for Jewish as well as Russian archaeologists, the Russians being unhappy with the prospect that their empire was initially ruled by Jewish kings as the Ashkenazim were that they might not have a genetic connection with the freed slaves who met with God at Sinai." (Mariner 1999, pp. 95–96)
92. Kizilov 2014, p. 389 citing Karl Neumann, Die Völker des südlichen Russlands in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung, (1847) 2nd ed. Teubner 1855 pp. 125–126.
93. Rossman 2002, p. 98: Abraham Harkavy, O yazykye evreyev, zhivshikh v drevneye vremya na Rusi i o slavianskikh slovakh, vstrechaiuschikhsia u evreiskikh pisatelei, St. Petersburg.
94. Barkun 1997, p. 137: Ernest Renan, "Judaism as a Race and as Religion." Delivered on 27 January 1883.
95. The source is Maksymilian Ernest Gumplowicz, Początki religii żydowskiej w Polsce, Warsaw: E. Wende i S-ka, 1903 (Polonsky, Basista & Link-Lenczowski 1993, p. 120)
96. Goldstein writes "The theory that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars was originally proposed by Samuel Weissenberg in an attempt to show that Jews were deeply rooted on Russian soil and that the cradle of Jewish civilization was the Caucasus".[195] Weissenberg's book Die Südrussischen Juden, was published in 1895.
97. Schipper's first monograph on this was published in the Almanach Žydowski (Vienna) in 1918. While in the Warsaw ghettobefore falling victim to the Holocaust at Majdanek, Schipper (1884–1943) was working on the Khazar hypothesis (Litman 1984, pp. 85–110 [109]).
98. "There were Arab tribes who were Jews in the time of Muhammad, and a Turkic people who were mainly Jews in South Russia in the ninth century. Judaism is indeed the reconstructed political ideal of many shattered peoples-mainly semitic. As a result of these coalescences and assimilations, almost everywhere in the towns throughout the Roman Empire, and far beyond it in the east, Jewish communities traded and flourished, and were kept in touch through the Bible, and through a religious and educational organization. The main part of Jewry never was in Judea and had never come out of Judea." (Wells 1920, p. 570)
99. Pasha Glubb held that Russian Jews "have considerably less Middle Eastern blood, consisting largely of pagan Slav proselytes or of Khazar Turks." For Glubb, they were not "descendants of the Judeans ...The Arabs of Palestine are probably more closely related to the Judeans (genetically) than are modern Russian or German Jews.... Of course, an anti-Zionist (as well as an anti-Semitic) point is being made here: The Palestinians have a greater political right to Palestine than the Jews do, as they, not the modern-day Jews, are the true descendants of the land's Jewish inhabitants/owners" (Morris 2003, p. 22).
100. First written as an article in 1941 – "The Khazars' Conversion to Judaism", then as a monograph (1943), it was twice revised in 1944, and 1951 as Kazariyah: Toldot mamlacha yehudit be'Eropa (Khazaria: History of a Jewish Kingdom in Europe) Mosad Bialik, Tel Aviv, 1951.
101. "Poliak sought the origins of Eastern European Jewry in Khazaria" (Golden 2007a, p. 29).
102. "As for the Jews of Eastern Europe (Poles, Russians, etc.), it has always been assumed that they descended from an amalgamation of Jews of Khazar stock from southern Russia and German Jews (the latter having imposed their superior culture)." (Poliakov 2005, p. 285)
103. Sand[206] cites Salo Wittmayer Baron, "before and after the Mongol upheaval the Khazars sent many offshoots into the unsubdued Slavonic lands, helping ultimately to build up the great Jewish center of Eastern Europe";[207] as well as Ben-Zion Dinur: "The Russian conquests did not destroy the Khazar kingdom entirely, but they broke it up and diminished it. And this kingdom, which had absorbed Jewish immigration and refugees from many exiles, must itself have become a diaspora mother, the mother of one of the greatest of the diasporas (Em-galuyot, em akhat hagaluyot hagdolot)-of Israel in Russia, Lithuania and Poland." (Dinur 1961, pp. 2, 5)
104. "Salo Baron, who incorrectly viewed them as Finno-Ugrians, believed that the Khazars 'sent many offshoots into the unsubdued Slavonic lands, helping ultimately to build up the great Jewish centers of eastern Europe'" (Golden 2007a, p. 55)
105. "dismissed ... rather airily" (Golden 2007a, p. 55).
106. "Some limit this denial to European Jews and make use of the theory that the Jews of Europe are not of Israelite descent at all but are the offspring of a tribe of Central Asian Turks converted to Judaism, called the Khazars. This theory, first put forward by an Austrian anthropologist in the early years of this century, is supported by no evidence whatsoever. It has long since been abandoned by all serious scholars in the field, including those in Arab countries, where Khazar theory is little used except in occasional political polemics."[210] Assertions of this kind have been challenged by Paul Wexler[211] who also notes that the arguments on this issue are riven by contrasting ideological investments: "Most writers who have supported the Ashkenazi-Khazar hypothesis have not argued their claims in a convincing manner ... The opponents of the Khazar-Ashkenazi nexus are no less guilty of empty polemics and unconvincing arguments." (Wexler 2002, p. 537)
107. "it is assumed by all historians that those Jewish Khazars who survived the last fateful decades sought and found refuge in the bosom of Jewish communities in the Christian countries to the west, and especially in Russia and Poland, on the one hand, and in the Muslim countries to the east and the south, on the other. Some historians and anthropologists go so far as to consider the modern Jews of East Europe, and more particularly of Poland, the descendants of the medieval Khazars." (Patai & Patai 1989, p. 71)
108. "The Khazar theory never figured as a major component of anti-Semitism. The connection receives only scant attention in Léon Poliakov's monumental history of the subject. It did however come to exercise a particular attraction for advocates of immigration restriction in America." (Barkun 1997, pp. 136–137)
109. "Although the Khazar theory gets surprisingly little attention in scholarly histories of anti-Semitism, it has been an influential theme among American anti-Semites since the immigration restrictionists of the 1920s" (Barkun 2012, p. 165).
110. "By the 1960s, when Christian identity was established as a force on the extreme right, the Khazar ancestry of the Jews was a firm article of faith. Two books, widely read in this milieu, came to exercise a strong influence in this regard. John Beaty's Iron Curtain over America (1951) and Wilmot Robertson's Dispossessed Majority (1972) repeated the Khazar thesis of Stoddard. Christian identity teachings readily seized on this negative reference to Russian Jewry but backdated Jewish intermarriage with the Khazars into biblical times. In A Short History of Esau-Edom in Jewry(1948), the Vancouver writer C.F.Parker had claimed that a tiny remnant of "true Judah" was pitted against a large group of Idumean-Hittites who masqueraded as the true seed of Abraham and sought to expel the descendants of Jacob. These Esau-Hittites are the Ashkenazim, concentrated in Eastern and Central Europe and America." (Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 237)
111. Beaty was an anti-Semitic, McCarthyite professor of Old English at SMU, author of The Iron Curtain over America (Dallas 1952). According to him, "the Khazar Jews ... were responsible for all of America's – and the world's ills, beginning with World War 1." The book "had little impact" until the former Wall Street broker and oil tycoon J. Russell Maguire promoted it.[223](Barkun 1997, pp. 141–142)
112. Wexler 2002, p. 514 has a more detailed bibliography.
113. "Arab anti-Semitism might have been expected to be free from the idea of racial odium, since Jews and Arabs are both regarded by race theory as Semites, but the odium is directed, not against the Semitic race, but against the Jews as a historical group. The main idea is that the Jews, racially, are a mongrel community, most of them being not Semites, but of Khazar and European origin."[225] This essay was translated from Harkabi Hebrew text 'Arab Antisemitism' in Shmuel Ettinger, Continuity and Discontinuity in Antisemitism, (Hebrew) 1968 (p.50).
114. "in the very late 1980s Russian nationalists were fixated on the 'Khazar episode.' For them the Khazar issue seemed to be a crucial one. They treated it as the first historically documented case of the imposition of a foreign yoke on the Slavs, ... In this context the term 'Khazars' became popular as a euphemism for the so-called 'Jewish occupation regime'." (Shnirelman 2007, pp. 353–372)
115. "The Khazar king and part of his court allegedly adopted the Jewish religion ... The truth of such a conversion and its extent has been the topic of many discussions, and the topic of vehement disagreements in our age of genomic DNA analyses." (Falk 2017, p. 100)
116. "Strong evidence for the Khazarian hypothesis is the clustering of European Jews with the populations that reside on opposite ends of ancient Khazaria: Armenians, Georgians, and Azerbaijani Jews" (Elhaik 2012, pp. 61–74).
117. 'During Greco-Roman times, recorded mass conversions led to 6 million people practicing Judaism in Roman times or up to 10% of the population of the Roman Empire. Thus, the genetic proximity of these European/Syrian Jewish populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, to each other and to French, Northern Italian, and Sardinian populations favors the idea of non-Semitic Mediterranean ancestry in the formation of the European/Syrian Jewish groups and is incompatible with theories that Ashkenazi Jews are for the most part the direct lineal descendants of converted Khazars or Slavs. The genetic proximity of Ashkenazi Jews to southern European populations has been observed in several other recent studies.. Admixture with local populations, including Khazars and Slavs, may have occurred subsequently during the 1000 year (2nd millennium) history of the European Jews. Based on analysis of Y chromosomal polymorphisms, Hammer estimated that the rate might have been as high as 0.5% per generation or 12.5% cumulatively (a figure derived from Motulsky), although this calculation might have underestimated the influx of European Y chromosomes during the initial formation of European Jewry.15 Notably, up to 50% of Ashkenazi Jewish Y chromosomal haplogroups (E3b, G, J1, and Q) are of Middle Eastern origin, 15 whereas the other prevalent haplogroups (J2, R1a1, R1b) may be representative of the early European admixture.20 The 7.5% prevalence of the R1a1 haplogroup among Ashkenazi Jews has been interpreted as a possible marker for Slavic or Khazar admixture because this haplogroup is very common among Ukrainians (where it was thought to have originated), Russians, and Sorbs, as well as among Central Asian populations, although the admixture may have occurred with Ukrainians, Poles, or Russians, rather than Khazars.' (Atzmon & Ostrer 2010, pp. 850–859)
118. "The extent to which the Khazars contributed to the Jewish gene-pool, and more specifically to the Ashkenazi ethnic-group(s), has become a charged issue among expert scientists as well as nonprofessionals. National and ethnic prejudices play a central role in the controversy." (Falk 2017, p. 100)
119. "if the genome does not prove Sand wrong, neither can it prove him right. It is the wrong kind of evidence and the wrong style of reasoning for the task at hand."[236] "They (researchers) will never be able to prove descent from Khazars: there are no 'verification' samples." (Abu El-Haj 2012, p. 133)
120. "Kiev in Khazar is Sambat, the same as the Hungarian word szombat, 'Saturday', which is likely to have been derived from the Khazar Jews living in Kyiv." (Róna-Tas 1999, p. 152)

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Part 3 of 3

Citations

1. Wexler 1996, p. 50.
2. Brook 2010, p. 107.
3. Turchin, Adams & Hall 2006, p. 222.
4. Taagepera 1997, p. 496.
5. Herlihy 1984, pp. 136–148.
6. Luttwak 2009, p. 152.
7. Meserve 2009, p. 294, n.164.
8. Petrukhin 2007, p. 255.
9. Encyclopedia Britannica: Khazar 2020.
10. Sneath 2007, p. 25.
11. Noonan 1999, p. 493.
12. Golden 2011, p. 65.
13. Noonan 1999, p. 498.
14. Noonan 1999, pp. 499, 502–03.
15. Golden 2007a, p. 131.
16. Golden 2007a, p. 28.
17. Golden 2007a, p. 149.
18. Behar et al. 2013, pp. 859–900.
19. Kizilov 2009, p. 335.
20. Patai & Patai 1989, p. 73.
21. Wexler 1987, p. 70.
22. Wexler 2002, p. 536.
23. Davies 1992, p. 242.
24. Vogt 1975.
25. Golden 2007a, p. 15.
26. Zimonyi 1990, p. 58.
27. Dunlop 1954, pp. 34–40.
28. Golden 2007a, p. 16.
29. Shirota 2005, pp. 235, 248.
30. Brook 2010, p. 5.
31. Whittow 1996, pp. 220–223.
32. Golden 2007a, p. 14.
33. Szádeczky-Kardoss 1994, p. 206.
34. Golden 2007a, pp. 40–41.
35. Golden 2006, p. 86.
36. Golden 2007a, p. 53.
37. Golden 2006, p. 89.
38. Kaegi 2003, p. 143 n.115.
39. Golden 1992, pp. 127–136, 234–237.
40. Kaegi 2003, pp. 154–186.
41. Whittow 1996, p. 222.
42. Golden 2001b, pp. 94–95.
43. Somogyi 2008, p. 128.
44. Zuckerman 2007, p. 417.
45. Golden 2006, p. 90.
46. Golden 2007a, pp. 11–13.
47. Noonan 2001, p. 91.
48. Golden 2007a, pp. 7–8.
49. Golden 2001b, p. 73.
50. Noonan 1999, p. 500.
51. Olsson 2013, p. 496.
52. Noonan 2001, p. 77.
53. Golden 2006, pp. 81–82.
54. Golden 2007b, pp. 133–134.
55. Shingiray 2012, p. 212.
56. DeWeese 1994, p. 181.
57. Golden 2006, pp. 79–81.
58. Golden 2006, p. 88.
59. Golden 2006, pp. 79–80, 88.
60. Olsson 2013, p. 495.
61. Koestler 1977, p. 18.
62. Dunlop 1954, p. 113.
63. Dunlop 1954, p. 96.
64. Brook 2010, pp. 3–4.
65. Patai & Patai 1989, p. 70.
66. Brook 2010, p. 3.
67. Oppenheim 1994, p. 312.
68. Barthold 1993, p. 936.
69. Zhivkov 2015, p. 173.
70. Golden 2011, p. 64.
71. Noonan 2007, p. 214.
72. Luttwak 2009, p. 52.
73. Beckwith 2011, pp. 120, 122.
74. Kaegi 2003, pp. 143–145.
75. Róna-Tas 1999, p. 230.
76. Kaegi 2003, p. 145.
77. Bauer 2010, p. 341.
78. Ostrogorski 1969, pp. 124–126.
79. Cameron & Herrin 1984, p. 212.
80. Bauer 2010, pp. 341–342.
81. Luttwak 2009, pp. 137–138.
82. Piltz 2004, p. 42.
83. Noonan 2007, p. 220.
84. Beckwith 2011, p. 392, n.22.
85. Heath 1979, p. 14.
86. Mako 2010, p. 45.
87. Brook 2010, pp. 126–127.
88. Brook 2010, p. 127.
89. Golden 1980, p. 64.
90. Wasserstein 2007, pp. 375–376.
91. Shepard 2006, p. 19.
92. Petrukhin 2007, p. 245.
93. Noonan 2001, p. 81.
94. Korobkin 1998, p. xxvii.
95. Golb & Pritsak 1982, p. 15.
96. Petrukhin 2007, p. 257.
97. Kohen 2007, p. 107.
98. Noonan 1999, pp. 502–3.
99. Noonan 1999, p. 508.
100. Petrukhin 2007, p. 259.
101. Petrukhin 2007, p. 262.
102. Petrukhin 2007, pp. 262–263.
103. Russian Primary Chronicle.
104. JPetrukhin 2007, p. 263.
105. Dunlop 1954, p. 242.
106. Gow 1995, p. 31, n.28.
107. Sand 2010, p. 229.
108. Golden 2007b, p. 148.
109. Noonan 1999, p. 503.
110. Golden 2007b, pp. 147–148.
111. Kohen 2007, p. 109.
112. Shapira 2007a, p. 305.
113. Dunlop 1954, p. 253.
114. Falk 2017, p. 102.
115. Sand 2010, p. 227.
116. Dubnov 1980, p. 792.
117. Golden 2007a, p. 45, n.157.
118. Golden 2007b, p. 159.
119. Peacock 2010, p. 35.
120. Erdal 2007, p. 80, n.22.
121. Golden 2001a, pp. 28–29, 37.
122. Golden 1994b, pp. 247–248.
123. Róna-Tas 1999, p. 56.
124. Golden 2007a, p. 33.
125. Golden 2007b, p. 150.
126. Brook 2010, p. 167.
127. Bowersock 2013, pp. 85ff..
128. Schweid 2007, p. 286.
129. Baron 1957, pp. 202–204 [204].
130. Wexler 2002, p. 514.
131. Golden 2007b, p. 149.
132. Brook 2010, pp. 177–178.
133. Noonan 2007, p. 229.
134. Golden 2007b, pp. 131–133.
135. Whittow 1996, p. 220.
136. Golden 2007b, p. 133.
137. Golden 2007b, pp. 124, 135.
138. Golden 2007b, p. 125.
139. DeWeese 1994, pp. 292–293.
140. Golden 2007b, pp. 135–6.
141. Stampfer 2013, pp. 1–72.
142. DeWeese 1994, p. 171.
143. Szpiech 2012, p. 102.
144. Golden 2007b, p. 123.
145. Koestler 1977, p. 52.
146. Gil 2011, pp. 429–441.
147. Golden 2007b, pp. 141–145, 161.
148. Noonan 2001, pp. 77–78.
149. Schama 2013, p. 266.
150. Wexler 1987, p. 61.
151. Szyszman 1980, pp. 71, 73).
152. Dunlop 1954, pp. 122–124.
153. Brook 2010, pp. 95, 117 n.51,52.
154. Stampfer 2013, p. 17.
155. Brook 2018, p. 6.
156. Dunlop 1954, pp. 140–142.
157. Zhivkov 2015, p. 42.
158. Shingiray 2012, pp. 212–214.
159. Szpiech 2012, pp. 92–117 [104].
160. Golden 2007b, pp. 137–138.
161. Spinei 2009, p. 50.
162. Shapira 2007b, pp. 349, and n.178.
163. Zuckerman (1995), p. 250.
164. Golden 2007b, pp. 127–128, 151–153.
165. DeWeese 1994, pp. 300–308.
166. Melamed 2003, pp. 24–26.
167. DeWeese 1994, p. 302.
168. Olsson 2013, p. 512.
169. Korobkin 1998, p. 352, n.8.
170. Dunlop 1954, p. 170.
171. DeWeese 1994, p. 303.
172. Golden 2007b, p. 157.
173. Dunlop 1954, pp. 117–118.
174. DeWeese 1994, pp. 304–305.
175. Róna-Tas 1999, p. 232.
176. Maroney 2010, p. 72.
177. Golden 2007a, p. 34.
178. Golden 2007b, p. 161.
179. Koestler 1977, p. 63.
180. Szyszman 1980, pp. 71,73).
181. Brook 2018, pp. 145, 149–151, 162–163, 164.
182. Brook 2018, pp. 210–216.
183. Golden 2007a, p. 9.
184. Brook 2018, pp. 208–209.
185. Goldstein 2011, p. 9.
186. Shapira 2006, p. 166.
187. Blady (2000), p. 125.
188. Weinryb 1973a, pp. 21–22.
189. Brook 2018, pp. 213–215.
190. Brook 2014, pp. 69–84.
191. Blady (2000), p. 122.
192. Blady (2000), p. 126.
193. Rossman 2002, p. 98.
194. Singerman 2004, pp. 3–4, Israël chez les nations (1893)
195. Goldstein 2006, p. 131.
196. Koestler 1977, pp. 134, 150.
197. von Kutschera 1909.
198. Fishberg 1911.
199. Brook 2010, p. 210.
200. Falk 2017, p. 101, n.9.
201. Singerman 2004, p. 4.
202. Roland Burrage Dixon The Racial History of Man, 1923; H. G. Wells, The Outline of History (1920)
203. Malkiel 2008, p. 263, n.1.
204. Sand 2010, p. 234.
205. Dunlop 1954, pp. 261, 263.
206. Sand 2010, pp. 241–242.
207. Baron 1957, pp. 196–206 [206].
208. Brook 2006, p. 192.
209. Sand 2010, p. 240.
210. Lewis 1987, p. 48.
211. Wexler 2002, p. 538.
212. Toch 2012, p. 155, n.4.
213. Wexler 2007, pp. 387–398.
214. Sand 2010, pp. 190–249.
215. Elhaik 2012, pp. 61–74.
216. Spolsky 2014, pp. 174–177.
217. Golden 2007a, pp. 9–10.
218. Wexler 2002, pp. 513–541.
219. Brook 2018, pp. 207–208.
220. Barkun 1997, pp. 136–137.
221. Singerman 2004, pp. 4–5.
222. Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 237.
223. Boller 1992, pp. 2, 6–7.
224. Barkun 1997, pp. 140–141. Cf. Wilmot Robertson Dispossessed Majority(1972)
225. Harkabi 1987, p. 424.
226. Rossman 2007, pp. 121–188.
227. Barkun 1997, pp. 142–144.
228. Goodman & Miyazawa 2000, pp. 263–264.
229. Stampfer 2013.
230. Ostrer 2012, pp. 24–27, 93–95, 124–125.
231. Nebel, Filon & Brinkmann 2001, pp. 1095–1112.
232. Behar et al. 2003, pp. 769–779.
233. Nebel, Filon & Faerman 2005, pp. 388–391.
234. Costa, Pereira & Richards 2013, pp. 1–10.
235. Behar et al. 2013.
236. Abu El-Haj 2012, p. 28.
237. Lobel 2000, pp. 2–4.
238. Baron 1957, p. 204.
239. Wachtel 1998, pp. 210–215.
240. Cokal 2007.

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• Stampfer, Shaul (2013). "Did the Khazars Convert to Judaism?" (PDF). Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society. 19 (3): 1–72. doi:10.2979/jewisocistud.19.3.1.
• Stampfer, Shaul (2014). "Are We All Khazars Now?". Jewish Review of Books: 1–72.
• Szádeczky-Kardoss, Samuel (1994) [First published 1990]. "The Avars". In Sinor, Denis (ed.). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Handbook of Oriental Studies. 1. Cambridge University Press. pp. 206–228. ISBN 978-0-521-24304-9. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
• Szpiech, Ryan (2012). Conversion and Narrative: Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-0761-3.
• Szyszman, Simon (1980). Le karaïsme: ses doctrines et son histoire. Éditions L'Âge d'Homme.
• Taagepera, Rein (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 496. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793.
• Toch, Michael (2012). The Economic History of European Jews: Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. Études sur le Judaïsme Médiéval. Volume 56. Leiden: Brill Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-23534-2.
• Toynbee, Arnold (1962) [1934–1961]. A Study of History. 1–12. Oxford University Press.
• Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of World-Systems Research. 12 (2): 222. ISSN 1076-156X.
• Vogt, Judith (1975). "Left‐wing 'anti‐Zionism' in Norway". Patterns of Prejudice. 9 (6): 15–q8. doi:10.1080/0031322X.1975.9969275.
• Wachtel, Andrew (1998). Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia. Stanford University Press. pp. 210–215. ISBN 978-0-8047-3181-2.
• Wasserstein, David (2007). "The Khazars and the World of Islam". In Golden, Peter B.; Ben-Shammai, Haggai; Róna-Tas, András(eds.). The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Handbuch der Orientalistik: Handbook of Uralic studies. Volume 17. BRILL. pp. 373–386. ISBN 978-90-04-16042-2.
• Weinryb, Bernard Dov (1973a). The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish Community in Poland from 1100 to 1800. Jewish Publication Society. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-082760016-4.
• Weinryb, Bernard Dov (1973b). The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish Community in Poland from 1100 to 1800 he non-Jewish origins of the Sephardic Jews. Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 978-0-8276-0016-4.
• Wells, H. G. (1920). The Outline of History: Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind. Volume 1. Macmillan.
• Wexler, Paul (1987). Explorations in Judeo-Slavic Linguistics. Contributions to the sociology of Jewish languages. Volume 2. Brill Archive. ISBN 978-90-04-07656-3.
• Wexler, Paul (1996). The non-Jewish origins of the Sephardic Jews. SUNY. ISBN 978-1-4384-2393-7.
• Wexler, Paul (2002). Two-Tiered Relexification in Yiddish: Jews, Sorbs, Khazars and the Kiev-Polessian Dialect. Trends in linguistics / Studies and monographs: Studies and monographs. Volume 136. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-017258-4.
• Wexler, Paul (2007). "Yiddish Evidence for the Khazar Component in the Ashkenazic ethnogenesis". In Golden, Peter B.; Ben-Shammai, Haggai; Róna-Tas, András (eds.). The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Handbuch der Orientalistik: Handbook of Uralic studies. Volume 17. BRILL. pp. 387–398. ISBN 978-90-04-16042-2.
• Whittow, David (1996). The Making of Byzantium, 600–1025. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20496-6.
• Zhivkov, Boris (2015). Khazaria in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries. BRILL. ISBN 978-9-004-29448-6.
• Zimonyi, István (1990). Klára Szõnyi-Sándor (ed.). The Origins of the Volga Bulghars. Studia Uralo-Altaica, 32.
• Zuckerman, Constantine (1995). "On the date of the Khazars' Conversion to Judaism and the Chronology of the Kings of the Rus' Oleg and Igor". Revue des Études Byzantines. Volume 53. pp. 237–270.
• Zuckerman, Constantine (2007). "The Khazars and Byzantium –The First Encounter". In Golden, Peter B.; Ben-Shammai, Haggai; Róna-Tas, András (eds.). The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Handbuch der Orientalistik: Handbook of Uralic studies. Volume 17. BRILL. pp. 399–431. ISBN 978-90-04-16042-2.

External links

• The Kievan Letter scan in the Cambridge University Library collection.
• Khazaria.com
• Resources – Medieval Jewish History – The Khazars The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
• Khazar Historic Maps at the Wayback Machine (archived 26 October 2009)
• The Kitab al-Khazari of Judah Hallevi, full English translation at sacred-texts.com
• Ancient lost capital of the Khazar kingdom found

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:13 am
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Part 1 of 2

Natural Theology and Natural Religion
Copyright © 2020 by Andrew Chignell <chignell@princeton.edu>; Derk Pereboom <dp346@cornell.edu>
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
First published Mon Jul 6, 2015; substantive revision Fri Jul 17, 2020

The term “natural religion” is sometimes taken to refer to a pantheistic doctrine according to which nature itself is divine. “Natural theology”, by contrast, originally referred to (and still sometimes refers to)[1] the project of arguing for the existence of God on the basis of observed natural facts.

In contemporary philosophy, however, both “natural religion” and “natural theology” typically refer to the project of using all of the cognitive faculties that are “natural” to human beings—reason, sense-perception, introspection—to investigate religious or theological matters. Natural religion or theology, on the present understanding, is not limited to empirical inquiry into nature, and it is not wedded to a pantheistic result. It does, however, avoid appeals to special non-natural faculties (ESP, telepathy, mystical experience) or supernatural sources of information (sacred texts, revealed theology, creedal authorities, direct supernatural communication). In general, natural religion or theology (hereafter “natural theology”) aims to adhere to the same standards of rational investigation as other philosophical and scientific enterprises, and is subject to the same methods of evaluation and critique. Natural theology is typically contrasted with “revealed theology”, where the latter explicitly appeals to special revelations such as miracles, scriptures, and divinely-superintended commentaries and creedal formulations. (See DeCruz and DeSmedt 2015)

Philosophers and religious thinkers across almost every epoch and tradition (Near Eastern, African, Asian, and European) have engaged the project of natural theology, either as proponents or critics. The question of whether natural theology is a viable project is at the root of some of the deepest religious divisions: Shi’ite thinkers are optimistic about reason’s ability to prove various theological and ethical truths, for instance, while Sunnis are not; Roman Catholic theologians typically think that reason provides demonstrations of the existence of God, while many Protestant theologians do not. Unlike most of the topics discussed in an encyclopedia of philosophy, this is one over which wars have been fought and throats have been cut.

The most active discussions of natural theology in the West occurred during the high medieval period (roughly 1100–1400 C.E.) and the early modern period (1600–1800 C.E.). The past few decades have witnessed a revival of natural theological debate in the public sphere: there are now institutes promoting “Intelligent Design Theory”, popular apologetics courses, campus debates between believers and agnostics, a “New Atheist” movement, Youtube debates between apologists and atheists regarding new books in natural theology (such as the one between Nathan Lewis and Bernie Dehler on the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology),[2] and TED talks by famous atheists on how to resist natural religion (such as the one by Richard Dawkins in February 2002).[3]

Among professional philosophers (who aren’t typically part of these more popular debates), arguments over our ability to justify positive or negative answers to religious questions have become fairly technical, often employing sophisticated logical techniques in an effort to advance the discussion instead of retreading the same old ground. The prestigious Gifford Lectures series hosted by a consortium of Scottish universities, however, has tried to feature new but still accessible work in natural theology for over 100 years (it too has a Youtube channel!)[4]

In this article, we aim to avoid most the more recent complexities but also explain their origins by focusing on some central developments in the early modern period that helped to frame contemporary natural theological debates. We are focused here only on theoretical arguments (both a priori and a posteriori or empirical ones). It is controversial whether moral arguments are also part of natural theology, but we set them aside here (see also the entry on God, arguments for the existence of: moral arguments).

1. Prolegomenal Considerations

Theologians often follow Immanuel Kant’s example and address various “prolegomena” or preliminary questions before trying to do any substantive metaphysics. These include questions about the nature of religious language and about whether or not we are in principle able to access and understand religious truths.

1.1 Religious Language and Concepts

Again, we will use the term “natural theologian” to refer to someone who aims to use ordinary human cognitive faculties (reason, sense-perception, introspection) to establish positive truths about the existence and nature of God and other religiously significant, supersensible beings or states of affairs. Such a person presupposes that sentences in human language (or at least sentences in the language of human thought) can express some theological truths, even if other such truths are beyond us.

Critics of natural theology sometimes challenge these semantic presuppositions. They provide reasons to think that our thoughts, concepts, or sentences are incapable of expressing theological truths, because they are incapable of referring adequately to the transcendent entities that play an important role in many religious doctrines—entities such as Judaism’s YHWH, Neo-Platonism’s One, Vedanta’s Brahman, Mormonism’s Heavenly Father, and so on. The debate surrounding these issues is often designated “the problem of religious language”, but it is usually as much about human concepts as it is about sentences in natural languages.

In the western tradition, there have been a few periods of especially active discussion of these prolegomenal issues. The Neo-Platonic era was one (see the discussion of negative theology in the entry on Plotinus), the high medieval period (1100–1400 or so) was another, the Enlightenment movement in 17th–18th century Europe (especially the empiricist portion of it) was a third. More recent discussions have involved both analytic and continental figures: A.J. Ayer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Antony Flew, Norman Malcolm, Emmanuel Levinas, and William P. Alston have each discussed, in very different ways, the question of whether and how our language might succeed in referring to transcendent entities. However, since the 1970s, analytic philosophers have turned away from a focus on language to a revival of metaphysics, and the “problem of religious language” has been much less prominent.

1.2 Rational Access

In addition to questions about what religious language refers to and how (if at all) religious concepts apply, the natural theologian faces another set of preliminary questions about our ability to generate sound arguments about such entities or facts. Our sense-perceptual and rational faculties are clearly limited and fallible. There are presumably many facts about the natural universe that we are incapable of grasping due to their complexity or inaccessibility. So why should we think that our natural faculties can deliver truths about even more remote or transcendent entities?

A related debate concerns whether natural theology is the only method by which we can have access to the domain of truths about supersensible realities of religious interests. Some practitioners (call them rationalists) argue that only propositions that can be justified by unaided human reason are candidates for permissible belief. Others (call them hybridists) allow that our natural faculties can take us a certain distance—to knowledge of the basic nature and even existence of God, say—but argue that we must ultimately appeal to revelation and faith when it comes to more specific doctrines regarding the divine nature, acts, and intentions. This is the canonical Roman Catholic position on faith and reason developed in authors such as Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and revived in the natural scientific context of the Renaissance by Catalan scholar Raymond Sebond (1385–1436). Sebond’s Latin work, Theologia Naturalis (1434–1436), became famous when Michel de Montaigne translated it into French in 1569 and made it the subject of the longest of his renowned Essays (‘Apology for Raymond Sebond’), in 1580.

There are many kinds of hybridists: while they all think a turn to faith is necessary at some point, some seek to establish little more than the bare existence of God before turning to faith for greater details. Others think it is possible to develop a more robust understanding of God from within the bounds of reason and sense-perception. Indeed, in recent years the so-called “ramified natural theology” movement has sought to use our natural faculties to demonstrate (or show to be highly probable) robust doctrines that go well beyond bare theism—for example, specifically Christian doctrines such as that of the Trinity, the resurrection, or the historical authenticity of certain miracles or biblical prophecies (Swinburne 2003; Newman et al. 2003; Gauch Jr. 2011; see section 4 below).

Opponents of natural religion or theology, by contrast, deny that reason and our other ordinary perceptual capacities can justify religious beliefs. Some of these opponents are fideists (e.g., on some readings, Tertullian, Blaise Pascal, Pierre Bayle, J.G. Hamann, F.H. Jacobi, and Søren Kierkegaard) who hold these same beliefs as articles of faith rather than as teachings of reason (see the entry on fideism). Pascal, for instance, was a preeminent mathematician with strong interests in natural theology, but ultimately concluded (during what he called a “night of fire” in November 1654) that unaided reason is more likely to lead us to the false god “of philosophers and scholars” than to the true “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob”. The 20th century Reformed theologian Karl Barth opposed natural theology for much the same reason, and made his opposition to Emil Brunner’s version of the hybridist project clear in a book titled simply “Nein!” (Barth 1934). In his Gifford Lectures (which were endowed by Lord Gifford to be a lecture series about natural theology), contemporary theologian Stanley Hauerwas espouses a fideistic view in the tradition of Pascal and Barth but claims (somewhat perversely) that his project (which incorporates biblical texts and specifically Christian doctrines) counts as “natural theology” all the same (Hauerwas 2001: 15ff).

Other opponents of natural theology are agnostics who do not find the fideist’s turn to faith appealing. They deny that our natural faculties succeed in justifying any positive or negative substantial (i.e., non-analytic) theistic beliefs, and consequently suspend belief. Agnostics differ, however, as to whether unaided reason could in principle but does not in fact justify such beliefs (thus Bertrand Russell’s famous response to a question about what he would say if he were to die and then confront God on judgment day: “not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence!”), or whether our unaided faculties are not even in principle adequate to the task.

Still other opponents of natural theology are atheists. Atheists agree with fideists and agnostics that our natural faculties cannot establish the existence of God or other religious entities. But that’s because they think those faculties provide reasons to believe that such entities do not exist at all (see the entry on atheism and agnosticism). One such reason is the negative one that we cannot produce any sound arguments for theistic claims. But atheists also often maintain that there are positive reasons to believe that God does not exist—the incoherence of the concept of God, for instance, or the incompatibility of God’s existence and the existence of horrendous suffering and evil (see the entry on the problem of evil).

There are many ways to approach a survey of natural theology. Here we have chosen to focus largely on the classic historical discussions, and in particular on the debates in the medieval and Enlightenment (17th–18th century) periods in the west. We will consider versions of the two basic kinds of positive argument in favor of religious theses: a priori arguments and a posteriori arguments. There are species of each of these.

2. A priori arguments

2.1 Ontological arguments


A priori arguments are those that do not require an appeal to particular sense-perceptual experiences in order to justify their conclusions. Immanuel Kant gave the name “ontological” to a priori arguments that aim to prove the existence of an object from a concept or an idea of that object (see the entry on ontological arguments). But the argument over whether such a strategy can establish the existence of God began well before Kant’s time.

2.1.1 Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109)

An early and now-canonical formulation of the ontological argument is found in the second book of St. Anselm’s Proslogion (Anselm 1077–78). Anselm begins by characterizing God as the “being than which none greater can be thought” and then seeks to show that such a being does and indeed must exist.

Anselm’s argument can be reconstructed in various ways (see the entry on Saint Anselm), but here is one:

1. By “God” we understand something than which nothing greater can be thought. [premise]
2. When we understand the term “God”, God is in the understanding. [premise]
3. Therefore, something than which nothing greater can be thought is in the understanding. [by (1) and (2)]
4. What is in the understanding and in reality is greater than what is in the understanding alone. [premise]
5. Therefore, God exists in the understanding and in reality. [by (3) and (4)]

In support of (2), Anselm notes that

[T]he fool has said in his heart that “There is no God”. But when this same Fool hears me say “something than which nothing greater can be thought”, he surely understands what he hears; and what he understands exists in his understanding, even if he does not understand that it exists [in reality]. (Anselm 81–2)


So according to Anselm, even the “foolish” atheist understands the term “God” when he argues that God does not exist. By this Anselm simply means that the atheist has the idea of God, and thus has God “in his understanding”.

Premise (4) presupposes that things can exist in a number of different ways or modes. One of those ways is as the object of an idea—i.e., existence “in the understanding”. Another way for it to exist is “in reality”. (4) articulates a comparative value judgment about these ways of existing: it is greater for something to exist in both ways than it is to exist merely in the first way.

In order to deduce (5) from (3) and (4), Anselm uses a reductio ad absurdum argument:

And surely that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot exist only in the understanding. For if it exists only in the understanding, it can be thought to exist in reality as well, which is greater. (Anselm 82)


More explicitly:

a. Suppose a certain being, B1, is conceived of as God is in the proof, and B1 is in the understanding alone. [supposition for reductio]
b. But we can conceive of another being, B2, that is exactly like B1, except that B2 exists in reality as well as in the understanding. [introspection]
c. Thus, B2 is greater than B1. [by (4)]
d. It is impossible to conceive of a being that is greater than B1. [by (a) and (1)]
e. Contradiction. [by (c) and (d)]
f. Therefore, (a) is false: If B1 is conceived of as God is in the proof, then B1 must exist in reality as well as in the understanding. [by (e)]

Philosophers and theologians have made numerous efforts to revive or demolish Anselm’s argument over the centuries. The most influential proponents include René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, Charles Hartshorne, Norman Malcolm, Robert M. Adams, and Alvin Plantinga. Its main detractors include Anselm’s contemporaneous interlocutor—a monk named Gaunilo—as well as Thomas Aquinas, Descartes’ correspondents Johannes Caterus, Marin Mersenne, and Antoine Arnauld, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, David Lewis (1970), Peter van Inwagen (1977), and Graham Oppy (1996, 2009). In what follows, a number of the relevant moves in the early modern discussion will be considered, as well as some contemporary developments of the 17th century modal argument.

2.1.2 René Descartes (1596–1650)

Descartes’ ontological argument, first presented in the Fifth Meditation, aims to prove the existence of God from the idea of God (Descartes 1641, cited below from the edition by Adam and Tannery (1962–1976) and referred to as “AT”). Here is one way to formulate the argument (compare Pereboom 1996, 2010; for alternatives see the entry on Descartes’ Ontological Argument):

1. When I have an idea of an object, the object really has whatever characteristics I clearly and distinctly understand it to have. (premise)
2. I have an idea of God in which I clearly and distinctly understand God as the being that has all perfections. (premise)
3. Therefore, God has all perfections. [by (1) and (2)]
4. Everlasting existence is a perfection. (premise)
5. Therefore, God has everlasting existence. [by (3) and (4)]
6. Therefore, God exists. [by (5)] (AT 7.63–71)

One prominent way of resisting this argument is to reduce it to absurdity by appeal to “parity of reasoning”. Johannes Caterus, for instance, objected to Descartes that by a precisely parallel form of reasoning we could prove the real existence of the object of an idea of an existent lion (AT 7.99). Gaunilo’s reply to Anselm centuries earlier was similar: by parity of reasoning, one can prove the existence in reality (and not just in the understanding) of the maximally perfect island (Anselm 102).

The objection aims to show that, like the idea God, the idea of the existent lion and the idea of the maximally perfect island include existence, and thus the existence of these objects can be established via an ontological argument. But the claim that the existence of Caterus’s lion and Gaunilo’s island can be established in this way is absurd, and thus the same holds for the theistic ontological argument. Note that this parity argument via a reductio ad absurdum, if successful, would show that the ontological argument is unsound, but without indicating which step in the reasoning is at fault.

A second objection, anticipated by Descartes in the Fifth Meditation, is that truly predicating a property of something without specifying any conditions or intentional contexts involves an affirmation that the thing exists. So from the truth of “Macron is the President of France”, one can conclude that Macron exists. As a result, “Pegasus is a winged horse” is strictly speaking false, though by using the intentional context “according to the myth” we can say, truly, “According to the myth, Pegasus is a winged horse”. This suggests that premise (3) above is subject to a decisive challenge, and Descartes can legitimately claim only, for instance “According to the idea of God, God has all perfections”, or “If God exists, then God has all perfections”. But then all that follows in step (6) is the unspectacular conclusion that “According to the idea of God, God exists”, or, even less impressively, “If God exists, then God exists”.

A third problem, raised in the Second Objections by Father Marin Mersenne, is that the argument would be sound only if a maximally perfect being is really possible, or, equivalently, only if there is a genuine divine essence. But this, Mersenne complains, has not been established (AT 7.127). (Side note: Gaunilo and Mersenne are good examples of how devout theists might still take issue with natural theological efforts to prove God’s existence.)

Descartes’ reply to these objections involves the notion of a “true and immutable nature” (“TIN”) (AT 7.101ff.). Only some of our ideas of things that have TINs. Moreover, TINs themselves exist in some way, although they need not exist in concrete or empirical reality. Perhaps they are abstract objects, like numbers or sets (Descartes explicitly compares them to Plato’s Forms). In any case, the kind of existence TINs have is sufficient to undermine the second objection above: the divine essence—God’s nature—is a true and immutable nature, and thus we do not need to prefix anything like the phrase “According to the idea of God” to premise (3). Rather, Descartes thinks we can clearly and distinctly perceive that God’s nature is a TIN, and that this TIN contains all perfections. Thus we can conclude that “God has all perfections”. That would make the inference to (6) a valid one.

Descartes’ challenge, then, is to show that God’s nature is a TIN and that the natures of an “existent lion” and “the maximally perfect island” are not TINs. In the Fifth Meditation Descartes maintains that TINs are different from fictitious ideas in that TINs are in some sense independent of the thought of their conceivers. For example, the nature of a triangle is a TIN because it contains properties that we don’t grasp when we first form the idea of a triangle, and deducing these further properties is a process “more like discovery than creation”. God’s nature also has this feature—we obviously don’t grasp all of the properties of the maximally perfect being when we first form an idea of it. The problem, however, is that it is not clear how this criterion would rule out the natures of a most perfect island or an existent lion as TINs, since in those cases we also don’t grasp all of the properties when we first form the idea.

Later, Descartes (AT 7.83–4) characterizes a TIN as having a unity such that it cannot be divided by the intellect. He thinks that having this feature shows that is hasn’t been simply put together by the intellect or imagination, and is thus a genuine nature. Accordingly, the idea of an existent lion does not correspond to a TIN because I can coherently conceive of a lion that doesn’t exist. Likewise I can coherently conceive of a maximally perfect island having one fewer coconut tree but one more mango tree, and so on. But it also seems that I can conceive of some of the divine perfections without others (i.e. of an omnipotent being that is lacking maximal benevolence). So by this standard it appears that the idea of God also fails to correspond to a true and immutable nature. Note: Descartes himself seems to resist this objection by arguing that all of the divine perfections ultimately boil down to sovereignty or omnipotence.

To the third problem, concerning the real possibility of God, Descartes replies that our clear and distinct ideas of TINs—produced in us by reason—are reliable. Since we can (supposedly) see clearly and distinctly that there is no contradiction in our idea of God’s nature, the denial that God is really possible is on equal footing with the denial that the angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles (AT 7.150–1).

2.1.3 Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716)

Leibniz addresses several of the central objections to Descartes’ ontological argument (in, e.g., Leibniz 1676 [PP]: 167–8; 1677 [PP]: 177–80; 1684 [PP]: 292–3; 1692 [PP]: 386; 1678 [PE]: 237–39; 1699 [PE]: 287–88; Adams 1994: 135–56). These include:

A. the claim that the essence of a most perfect being includes its existence—that existence is a perfection—hasn’t been substantiated;
B. the claim that all this argument can establish is the conditional “If an object of the concept of God exists, then God exists”; and
C. the claim that the real possibility of a most perfect being cannot be demonstrated

In several places Leibniz addresses (A) by arguing that by “God” we understand a necessary being, and that from this it follows that the essence of God involves necessary existence. In this way we supposedly avoid altogether the premise that existence is a perfection. (One wonders, however, whether the argument for including “necessary existence” in the idea of God will need to rely on the premise that necessary existence is a perfection.)

In some writings Leibniz tries to bypass (B) by presenting an argument with a different conditional as its conclusion (see Adams 1994: 135–42):

1. If there is a divine essence, then the divine essence involves necessary existence. [premise]
2. If God is a possible being, then there is a divine essence. [premise]
3. If God is a possible being, then the divine essence involves necessary existence. [by (1), (2)]
4. If God is a possible being, then God necessarily exists. [by (3)]
5. Therefore, if God is a possible being, then God actually exists. [by (4)]

What has yet to be dealt with, clearly, is Mersenne’s problem above—(C), that the real possibility of a most perfect being cannot be demonstrated. Leibniz offers several types of arguments against this. One relies on the fact that other things are clearly possible, together with the claim that only a necessary being provides a satisfactory ground or explanation for the possible existence of contingent beings. So on the assumption that contingent beings possibly exist, it must be at least possible for God, as a necessary being, to exist (for more on this kind of argument from possibility, see section 2.3 below).

A second type of Leibnizian argument for God’s real possibility returns to the thesis that God is the most perfect being, and adds that perfections are positive and simple, unanalyzable qualities. So, for example, consider any proposition of the form “A and B are incompatible”, where A and B are any two perfections. Two properties are incompatible only if they are logically incompatible, according to Leibniz. Thus “A and B are incompatible” will be true only if one of these perfections turns out to be the negation of the other (as in omniscient and non-omniscient), or if their analyses reveal simpler properties, one of which is a negation of another. But on the assumption that all the divine perfections are positive, simple, and thus unanalyzable, neither of these scenarios can obtain. Consequently, “A and B are compatible” is always true for any two perfections, and thus a being with all perfections is really possible (Leibniz 1678 [PE]: 238–39; Adams 1994: 142–48).

A third Leibnizean response to Mersenne’s objection is that it is rational to presume the real possibility of the things we can conceive, at least until their impossibility has been demonstrated.

2.1.4 Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)

Kant’s most famous criticism of the ontological argument is encapsulated in his claim that “existence” (or “exists”) is not a positive determination or “real predicate” (Kant 1781/1787: A592/B619ff). Alternatively, “existence” is not “a predicate that is added to the concept of the subject and enlarges it” (A598/B626; see Stang 2016 and Pasternack 2018 for discussion). Kant’s idea here is that since “existence” is not a real predicate, existing cannot be one of God’s perfections.

One way to interpret the objection is as follows:

1. Suppose A and B are two entities, and A is greater than B at t1. [premise]
2. If B becomes as great as A at t2, then B changes. [by (1)]
3. For every entity x, if x changes, then:
a. there is a time t1 at which x has (or lacks) some property P, and
b. there is a later time t2 at which x lacks (or has) P as a result of x’s acting or being acted upon. [premise]
4. For every entity x, if x comes into existence in reality, conditions (3a) and (3b) are not satisfied. [premise]
5. Therefore, when an entity comes into existence in reality, it doesn’t change. [by (3), (4)]
6. Therefore, B cannot become as great as A solely in virtue of B’s coming into existence in reality. [by (2), (5)]
7. Therefore, A cannot be greater than B solely in virtue of existing in reality. [by (6)]

(4) is the key premise in this formulation—does coming into existence involve a genuine change? There is clearly a technical sense in which saying that a concept applies to something does not enlarge the concept or change our conception of the being it refers to. But it might remain open that a being that has all perfections but does not exist is not as great as a being that has all perfections and also exists.

Kant’s objection can perhaps be avoided altogether by proposing that the perfection at issue is necessary existence, and not mere existence. Adding necessary existence to our concept of a being would presumably involve changing it (and thus enlarging its concept). This is effectively a modal version of the ontological argument (see section 2.1.5).

Kant’s most pressing criticism, in our view, goes back to the issue raised by Mersenne: we cannot determine whether God (conceived as having necessary existence or not) is really possible. Kant grants to Leibniz that the notion of a most perfect being may not involve a logical contradiction, but he argues that this is not enough to show that it is really possible, for there are ways of being impossible that do not involve logical contradictions (A602/B630). The implication for the ontological argument is that we cannot know or rationally presume that it is really possible for the divine perfections to be jointly exemplified even if we know that they involve no contradiction.

For how can my reason presume to know how the highest realities operate, what effects would arise from them, and what sort of relation all these realities would have to each other? (Kant LPT [AK 28:1025–26])


2.1.5 Contemporary Modal Versions

Versions of the ontological argument discussed by Leibniz and Kant have been elaborated by Robert M. Adams (1971), Alvin Plantinga (1979), Peter van Inwagen (1977, 2009) and others. These versions employ contemporary modal semantics and metaphysics to motivate the following two assumptions:

(Assumption 1): “It’s possible that God exists” means “there is some possible world in which God exists”.

(Assumption 2): “God necessarily exists” means “God exists in every possible world” (i.e., “there is no possible world in which God doesn’t exist”).

The argument then proceeds as follows:

1. It’s possible that God exists. [premise]
2. Therefore, God exists in some possible world (call it w*). [by (1), (Assumption 1)]
3. If God exists, then God necessarily exists. [by definition of “God”]
4. Therefore, in w* God necessarily exists. [by (2), (3)]
5. Therefore, in w* God is such that God exists in every possible world [by (4), (Assumption 2)]
6. The actual world is one of the possible worlds [premise]
7. Therefore, in w* God is such that God exists in the actual world [by (5), (6)]
8. Therefore, God exists in the actual world [by (7)]

Critics have resisted numerous aspects of the argument (for comprehensive discussion, see Oppy 1996). The inference to (7), for instance, assumes that the actual world is possible relative to w*. But that assumption is only legitimate on some models of how talk of modality (i.e. of possibility and necessity) works. Thus, the critic claims, it hasn’t been shown that w* has the relation to the actual world that licenses the conclusion that God actually exists.

The most significant disagreement, however, is again the one that Mersenne raised against Descartes. How can the claim about metaphysical possibility in (1) be justified? Adams (1994: ch.8), following Leibniz, claims that we are rationally permitted, in the absence of strong reasons to the contrary, to presume the real possibility of most things, including God. Others argue that no such presumption of metaphysical possibility is justified, especially regarding supersensible things.

2.2 The argument from necessary truths

Leibniz’s argument for God’s existence from the existence of the necessary truths crucially involves the premises that all truths are true in virtue of something distinct from them (they need what contemporary metaphysicans sometimes call a “truth-maker”). Since necessary truths would be true even if there were no finite minds to think them, such truths cannot be true in virtue of facts about human psychology. Against the Platonic suggestion that they are true in virtue of Forms existing outside of any mind whatsoever, Leibniz argues that some of the truths are about abstract entities, which are not the kinds of things that could have mind-independent existence. The only contender that remains, then, is that these truths are true in virtue of the ideas in an infinite and necessarily existent (divine) mind (Leibniz 1714 [PP]: 647; Adams 1994: 177ff.).

Leibniz’s argument stakes out one position on the grounding of necessary truths, but there are many rival views that do not invoke the existence of a necessary and eternal divine mind. A Platonist might respond by claiming that it hasn’t been shown that abstract entities do not have mind-independent existence, while Humeans would argue that necessary truths are all analytic, and that therefore only the structure of language or of our conceptual schemes is required to ground their truth.

2.3 The argument from possibility

A third sort of a priori proof argues from facts about the mere possibility of something (or of some collection of things) to the existence of a “ground of possibility” that somehow explains them. An early version of such an argument can be found in Augustine and the Neo-Platonic tradition, but the canonical presentations of this sort of “possibility proof” are in Leibniz’s Monadology (1714) and, much more elaborately, in Kant’s book-length treatise called The Only Possible Basis for a Demonstration of the Existence of God (1763). Note that if truths about what is possible are necessary truths, as they indeed seem to be, then this might be a more specific version of the argument from necessary truths (see 2.2).

Kant’s version of the argument is based on the claim that there are real possibilities that are not grounded in the principle of non-contradiction, but that nevertheless must have a ground or explanation (Kant 1763 [AK 2: 63ff]). If they are not grounded in the principle of non-contradiction, then they are not grounded in God’s thinking them rather than their negations, which is how Leibniz had proposed that all such possibilities are grounded. Put the other way around, Kant thinks that some impossibilities are grounded not in the law of non-contradiction, but in a non-logical kind of “real repugnance” between two or more of their properties. Kant maintains, for instance, that it is impossible for a material being to be conscious, even though no logical contradiction exists between material and conscious (Kant 1763 [AK 2: 85–6]). It follows that this impossibility is not grounded in divine thought, for God can think any proposition that does not involve a contradiction. So facts about some real possibilities and real impossibilities can only be grounded in a necessary being that somehow exemplifies (rather than merely thinking) every combination of fundamental properties whose joint exemplification is really possible. That being, of course, is supposed to be God. (For discussion, see Fisher and Watkins 1998; Adams 2000; Chignell 2009, 2012, 2014; Stang 2010; Abaci 2014; Yong 2014; Hoffer 2016; Abaci 2019; Oberst 2018, 2020).

One way out of this argument is simply to claim that some real possibilities are primitive or ungrounded. This appears to be an option for Kant in his critical period insofar as he is no longer committed to rationalist principles such as the Principle of Sufficient Reason (see Abaci 2019). Still, even in his critical period (i.e., after 1770 or so), Kant never repudiated the earlier proof—and supposedly claimed in a lecture from the 1780s that it “can in no way be refuted” (Kant LPT [AK 28: 1034]). This suggests that in his critical period Kant still held that God’s existence is the only available ground for real possibility, but that the explanatory point may justify at most a kind of theoretical belief (Glaube) rather than full demonstrative knowledge (see Chignell 2009, Stang 2016, and Oberst 2020).

3. A posteriori Arguments

3.1 The classical cosmological argument


An a posteriori argument involves at least one premise whose justification essentially appeals to some sort of empirical fact or experience. The main demonstrative a posteriori argument is what Kant dubbed “the cosmological argument”. It is motivated by the familiar question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and goes from the empirical fact of the existence of something (or of the cosmos as a whole, perhaps) to the existence of a first cause or ground of that cosmos that is, at least in part, not identical to that cosmos. Cosmological arguments are found across almost every philosophical tradition, and find prominence in the West in the writings of Aristotle, Avicenna, al-Ghāzāli, Maimonides, Aquinas, Locke, Leibniz, Samuel Clarke, and David Hume. Here we will start with Avicenna, but then focus largely on the early modern period.

Avicenna (980–1037), whose Arabic name is Ibn Sina, sets out cosmological arguments in a number of works, but a detailed version is found in his Remarks and Admonitions (Kitab al-Isharat wa l-Tanbihat) (Avicenna [ISR]; Mayer 2001). He begins with a claim about contingently existing things: since it is possible for a contingent thing either to exist or not to exist, whether it exists or not hangs in the balance. But then, if a contingent thing does exist, there must be something external to it, a cause, that accounts for its existing rather than not. This establishes a principle crucial to the argument: “the existence of every contingent is from other than it.”

Avicenna next considers the aggregate of all the existing contingent individual things, the existence of each of which is accounted for by its causal antecedents. He then proposes and evaluates four options for accounting for the aggregate’s existence. The first is that the existence of the aggregate does not require a cause. However, given the principle that the existence of any contingent thing must have a cause, the aggregate would then have to exist necessarily. But the aggregate’s existing necessarily is ruled out by the fact that all of the individuals in it are contingent things. On the second option, the cause of the existence of the aggregate is “the individuals all together.” But then the aggregate would cause itself to exist, which is ruled out by the principle that the existence of any contingent thing requires a cause other than it. The third option is that the cause of the aggregate is one of the individuals in it. But all of those individuals are caused to exist by other things in the aggregate, so no one individual is qualified to be the cause of the existence of the entire aggregate. The only remaining option is that the existence of the aggregate has a cause external to the aggregate. Because all of the contingently existing things are in the aggregate, the cause must be a necessarily existing thing (Mayer 2001). Avicenna is fully aware that the argument shouldn’t end here, since it must be shown that the necessarily existing thing is God, and he provides a number of considerations in favor of this claim (Adamson 2013).

Avicenna’s cosmological argument from the contingency of the world contrasts with another major type of argument for God’s existence in Islamic natural theology, one that aims to demonstrate the existence of God from the beginning of the world in time. Al-Ghazali (1056-1111), in The Incoherence of the Philosophers, develops this type of argument in two steps. The first aims to establish, against a prominent Aristotelian tradition, that the world is not eternal but has a beginning in time. The second step reasons that for any being that begins to exist at a time, there must be something that determines that it comes to exist at that time. And thus, because the world begins to exist at a time, there must be something which determines that it comes to exist at that time. As al-Ghazali puts it, “every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning.” He then argues that it must be God who by free choice determines that the world comes to exist at the time it does, and we can thus conclude that God exists. These argumentative themes are characteristic features of the Ash’arite theological tradition in Islam; in recent times, al-Ghazali’s argument has been defended by William Lane Craig (1979).

Leibniz’s cosmological argument (Leibniz 1697 [PE]: 149–55; 1714 [PP]: 646, [PE]: 218–19) does not assume or attempt to establish that the world, the collection of all actual contingent beings, has a beginning in time, and in this respect it more closely resembles Avicenna’s argument than al-Ghazali’s. Leibniz argues as follows: suppose that in fact the world has no beginning in time, and that each being in the world has an explanation in some previously existing being(s). Two demands for explanation might still arise: Why is there a world at all rather than none? and: Why does this world exist and not some other world? Neither explanation can be provided by appealing solely to entities within the world (or within time). Leibniz’s conclusion is that there must be a being that is not merely hypothetically, but absolutely necessary, and whose own explanation is contained within itself. This being is God. (A similar cosmological argument is advanced around the same time by Samuel Clarke (1705), see also the entry on Samuel Clarke).

David Hume puts forward three main objections to the type of cosmological argument offered by Leibniz and Clarke (Hume 1779, Part IX, and the entry Hume on religion). The first is that the notion of (absolutely) necessary existence itself is problematic. Suppose that some being is absolutely necessary—then its nonexistence should be absolutely inconceivable. But, says Hume, for any being whose existence we can conceive, we can also conceive its nonexistence, and thus it isn’t a necessary being. Hume anticipates the objection that if we truly understood the divine nature, we would be unable to conceive God’s nonexistence. He replies that an analogous point can be made about matter: for all we know, if we truly understood the nature of matter, we would be unable to conceive its nonexistence. This would show that the existence of matter is not contingent after all, and that it does not require an external explanation. Thus, by parity, the cosmological argument does not establish that God is the necessary being who is responsible for the rest of the cosmos.

Hume’s second objection is that God cannot be the causal explanation of the existence of a series of contingent beings that has no temporal beginning, since any causal relation “implies a priority in time and a beginning of existence” (Hume 1779, Part IV). In reply, it seems quite possible to conceive of a non-temporal causal relation, and thus to conceive of God, from outside of time, causing a series of contingent beings that has always existed. Indeed, this view is common in the theological tradition. Moreover, as Kant along with numerous contemporary metaphysicians argue, we can coherently conceive of a relation of simultaneous causation. If this is right, then even a God who is in time could ground the existence of a series of contingent beings with no temporal beginning.

Hume’s third objection is that in a causal series of contingent beings without a temporal beginning, each being will have a causal explanation by virtue of its predecessors. Since there is no first being, there will be a causal explanation for every contingent being on the basis of previously existing contingent beings. However, if each individual contingent being has a causal explanation, then the entire causal series has an explanation. For wholes are nothing over and above their parts:

did I show you the particular causes of each individual in a collection of twenty particles of matter, I should think it very unreasonable should you afterwards ask me what was the cause of the whole twenty. (Part IV)


A reply to this last objection might be that even if one has explained in this way the existence of each individual in the contingent series, one still has not answered the two questions mentioned earlier: Why is there a world at all rather than none? and: Why does this world exist and not some other world? (for further discussion, see Rowe 1975; Swinburne 2004; Pruss 2006; O’Connor 2008).

Kant, too, objects to the cosmological argument, but mainly on the grounds that it delivers an object that is inadequate to the classical conception of God. Any effort to turn the ultimate ground into the most perfect of all beings, Kant says, will have to smuggle in some sort of ontological argument (see Pasternack 2001; Forgie 2003; Proops 2014; and the entry on Kant’s philosophy of religion).

In general, objections to the cosmological argument (both historical and contemporary) take one of the following forms:

a. not every fact requires explanation, and the fact that the cosmological arguer is pointing to is one of those;
b. each being in the cosmos has an explanation, but the cosmos as an entire series does not require an additional explanation, over and above the explanations of each member of the series;
c. the sort of explanation required to explain the empirical data cited by the cosmological arguer does not amount to a supernatural explanation (e.g., the Big Bang could suffice);
d. the sort of explanation required to explain the empirical data cited by the cosmological arguer is not going to deliver anything as august as the God of traditional religious doctrine but rather, in Hume’s terms, a somewhat “mediocre deity”.

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Part 2 of 2

3.2 Teleological or design arguments

The Greek word “telos” means “end” or “purpose”. The a posteriori arguments in natural theology that are referred to as “teleological” claim that the natural world displays some sort of purposive or end-directed design, and that this licenses the conclusion that the natural world has a very powerful and intelligent designer (see the entry on teleological arguments for God’s existence). Earlier authors dubbed this sort of non-demonstrative, inductive argument a “physico-theological” argument (see, e.g., William Derham 1713).

Teleological arguments can be found in numerous traditions and time periods, including the classical Greek and Roman context (see Sedley 2008) and the Indian philosophical tradition (see Brown 2008). In the west the argument is primarily associated with William Paley (1743–1805), although in fact this type of argument was discussed by numerous early modern figures before him (see Taliaferro 2005, DeCruz and DeSmedt 2015). The fact that Paley’s 1802 book was called Natural Theology is no doubt part of why natural theology as a whole is sometimes equated with the a posteriori investigations of nature for the purposes of supporting religious theses. In the analogy that made Paley’s argument famous, the relationship between a watch and a watch-maker is taken to be saliently similar to the relationship between the natural world and its author. If we were to go walking upon the heath and stumble upon a watch, a quick examination of its inner workings would reveal, with a high probability, that “its several parts were framed and put together for a purpose” by what must have been “an intelligence” (1802: 1–6). Likewise with the universe as a whole.

Earlier teleological arguments can be found in the works of post-Cartesian atomists like Pierre Gassendi, Cambridge Platonists like Walter Charleton and Henry More, and mechanists like Robert Boyle. Charleton, for instance, argues in his The Darkness of Atheism Dispelled by the Light of Nature: A Physico-Theological Treatise (1652) that the modern rejection of Aristotelianism establishes an even greater need to appeal to a designer to explain how inert atoms under mechanical laws can be fashioned into an intelligible and purposive order (see Leech 2013).

A different kind of teleological argument is developed by George Berkeley (1685–1753), for whom natural, physical objects do not exist independently of minds, but consist solely in ideas. Given the regularity, complexity, and involuntariness of our sensory ideas, their source (Berkeley argues) must be an infinitely powerful, benevolent mind that produces these ideas in us in a lawlike fashion. God’s existence can also be demonstrated from the harmony and beauty that the ideas of the world display (Berkeley 1710: §146). Since according to Berkeley our ordinary experience is a type of direct divine communication with us, our relationship with God is in this respect especially intimate. Thus he frequently remarks, quoting St. Paul, that “in God we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

3.2.1 Hume on the teleological argument

Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion pre-date Paley, of course, but they feature an especially influential and elegant critical discussion of teleological arguments (1779), a discussion of which Paley was no doubt aware. (In fact, Paley may have restyled his argument as an inference-to-best explanation in an effort to avoid some of Hume’s criticisms.)

Hume’s assault on the teleological argument begins by formulating it as follows (compare Pereboom 1996, 2010):

1. Nature is a great machine, composed of lesser machines, all of which exhibit order (especially adaptation of means to ends). [premise]
2. Machines caused by human minds exhibit order (especially adaptation of means to ends). [premise]
3. Nature resembles machines caused by human minds. [by (1), (2)]
4. If effects resemble each other, their causes resemble each other as well. [premise]
5. The cause of nature resembles human minds. [by (3), (4)]
6. Greater effects demand greater causes (causes adequate to the effects). [premise]
7. Nature is much greater than machines caused by human minds. [premise]
8. The cause of nature resembles but is much greater than human minds. [by (5), (6), (7)]
9. The cause of nature is God. [by (8)]
10. Therefore, God exists. [by (9)]

Hume’s objections to this argument include the claims that the analogies on which it is dependent are not exact, and thus that there are alternative explanations for order and apparent design in the universe. One response to these objections is that the teleological argument should be conceived as an argument to the best explanation, on the model of many scientific arguments. In that case the analogy need not be exact, but might still show that a theistic explanation is best (and again, Paley himself may have recognized this). Hume, in the voice of his character Philo, concedes

that the works of nature bear a great analogy to the productions of art is evident; and according to all the rules of good reasoning, we ought to infer, if we argue at all concerning them, that their causes have a proportional analogy. (Part XII)


But Philo also affirms that we cannot infer any important similarities between humans and the author of nature beyond intelligence, and in particular we cannot infer some of the divine attributes that are most important for sustaining traditional theistic religion (Part V). Most significantly, given the evil that there is in the universe, we cannot conclude that its designer has the moral qualities traditional religion requires God to have (Part X). Thus, again, we are left with a rather “mediocre deity”.

One of Hume’s neglected objections to the teleological argument is that it generates an absurd infinite regress (Part IV). If order and apparent design in the material universe are explained by divine intelligence, what explains the order and apparent design that give rise to intelligence in the divine mind? By dint of the reasoning employed in the teleological argument, it would have to be a super-divine intelligence. But what explains the order and apparent design that give rise to super-divine intelligence? An absurd infinite regress results, and to avoid it one might well suppose the material world “contain[s] the principle of order within itself”.

To this Hume has the theist Cleanthes reply that

even in common life, if I assign a cause for any event, is it any objection that I cannot assign the cause of that cause, and answer every new question which may incessantly be started?


This seems right: in scientific theorizing it is no decisive objection against an explanation that it contains entities that are themselves not fully explained. Crucial to the value of scientific explanations is that they supply an explanatory advance, and we can reasonably believe that a theory does so without our having in hand complete explanations for all of the entities it posits.

3.2.2 The teleological argument from fine-tuning

In recent decades, some natural theologians have developed an inductive argument for the existence of God that appeals to the fact that the fundamental features of the universe are fine-tuned for the existence of life. According to many physicists, the fact that the universe can support life depends delicately on various of its fundamental characteristics, notably the values of certain constants of nature, the specific character of certain fundamental laws, and aspects of the universe’s conditions in its very early stages. The core claim of the argument is that without an intelligent designer, it would be improbable that the constants, laws, and initial conditions were fine-tuned for life.

William Lane Craig (see e.g., Craig 1990, 2003) develops a version of this argument, which proceeds as follows. The world is conditioned principally by the values of the fundamental constants:

• a: the fine structure constant, or electromagnetic interaction;
• mn/me: proton to electron mass ratio;
• aG: gravitation;
• aw: the weak force; and
• as: the strong force.

When one imagines these constants being different, one discovers that in fact the number of observable universes, that is to say, universes capable of supporting intelligent life, is very small. Just a slight variation in any one of these values would render life impossible. For example, if the strong force (as) were increased as much as 1%, nuclear resonance levels would be so altered that almost all carbon would be burned into oxygen; an increase of 2% would preclude formation of protons out of quarks, preventing the existence of atoms. Furthermore, weakening the strong force by as much as 5% would unbind deuteron, which is essential to stellar nucleosynthesis, leading to a universe composed only of hydrogen. It has been estimated that the strong force must be within 0.8 and 1.2 its actual strength or all elements of atomic weight greater than four would not have formed. Or again, if the weak force had been appreciably stronger, then the Big Bang’s nuclear burning would have proceeded past helium to iron, making fusion-powered stars impossible. But if it had been much weaker, then we should have had a universe entirely of helium. Or again, if gravitation aG had been a little greater, all stars would have been red dwarfs, which are too cold to support life-bearing planets. If it had been a little smaller, the universe would have been composed exclusively of blue giants, which burn too briefly for life to develop. This gives us reason to believe that there is an intelligent designer who fine-tuned the universe as we actually find it.

The debate surrounding the fine-tuning argument is technically complex (a detailed summary is available in the entry on fine-tuning). Here we discuss some of the most pressing issues.

As noted, a core claim of the argument as widely understood is that the fine-tuning for life of the constants, laws, and initial conditions would be deeply improbable without an intelligent designer of the universe. One question concerns the notion of probability at work in this claim. Contemporary accounts usually appeal to an epistemic notion of probability (e.g., Monton 2006), by contrast with physical and logical alternatives. On this reading, the core claim is that fine-tuning for life without an intelligent designer is improbable in the sense that we should not expect it without such a being, or that without such a being we should be surprised that there is such fine-tuning.

Given this understanding of the core improbability claim, some critics (e.g., Carlson and Olsson 1998) have argued that the fine-tuning at issue requires no explanation. Any specific sequence of heads and tails in a long series of coin tosses is improbable in this sense; that is, any one sequence would be one we wouldn’t and shouldn’t expect. But no specific sequence requires an explanation other than that it was randomly generated. So why should the finely-tuned actual array of constants, laws, and initial conditions require an explanation other than an appeal to randomness? Many, however, disagree, and argue that the availability of explanatory hypotheses with intuitive pull, such as an intelligent designer or a multiverse (discussed below), indicates that a more substantive explanation for fine-tuning is required (e.g., Leslie 1989).

A number of critics press the objection that we should not be surprised that we observe features of the universe that are required for our own existence. If the constants, laws, and initial conditions were incompatible with our existence, we would not be here to observe this. In Elliot Sober’s (2003) analysis, what’s at work here is the observer selection effect, which tends to result in a certain bias. In this case, our observations are biased toward fine-tuning because we would not have existed to make these observations had the universe not been fine-tuned for life. But any bias resulting from an observer selection effect should be factored out and set aside, and this is so for the fine-tuning at issue.

Critics of this line of reasoning cite examples in which it appears to goes awry. In John Leslie’s (1989) example, you are dragged before a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen. The command is given; you hear the deafening sound of the guns. But then there you are, surprised to be observing the aftermath, and that you are still alive. Now consider the hypothesis that the marksmen intended to miss, which seems a reasonable option for explaining why you’re still alive. But notice that this case features an observation selection effect analogous to the one Sober proposes for fine-tuning: you can’t observe the aftermath unless you survive the firing squad. On Sober’s recommendation, observation selection effects should be factored out and set aside. But on this recommendation your still being alive wouldn’t require an explanation, and we wouldn’t have reason to accept the explanation that the marksmen intended to miss. So, according to the critics, there must be something wrong with Sober’s analysis.

Leslie contends you should in fact be surprised that you observe that you are still alive. That you are alive is in the relevant sense epistemically improbable, and requires an explanation. Similarly, we should be surprised that we observe that the universe is fine-tuned for life, and this also requires an explanation. One way to account for Leslie’s contention is that the epistemic probability of fine-tuning should be judged from the point of view of a reasoner who brackets or sets aside that she is alive (and that there is any life at all), and then asks whether we should expect that the universe is fine-tuned for life, or whether this should be surprising (see Howson 1991, Collins 2009, and Kotzen 2012 for views of this sort). Similarly, in the firing-squad case, I should judge whether my surviving is epistemically probable from a point of view in which I bracket or set aside that I am still alive, and then ask whether I should expect that I am still alive or whether this should be surprising.

Leslie (1989) proposes that the hypothesis of multiple universes, i.e., of the multiverse, would provide an explanation for fine-tuning for life. Here is his analogy (which involves guns again, oddly). You are alone at night in an extremely dark forest when a gun is fired from far away and you are hit. If you assume that there is no one out to get you, this would be surprising. But now suppose that you were not in fact alone, but instead part of a large crowd (which you do not see because it’s so dark). In that case, Leslie suggests, you would be less surprised at being shot, since it seems at least somewhat likely that a gunman would be trying to shoot someone in the crowd. Leslie suggests that this story supports the multiverse explanation for the universe being fine-tuned for life.

Roger White (2000) contends that there is a problem with Leslie’s account. While the multiverse hypothesis would explain why there is some universe or other that is fine-tuned for life, since it would raise the probability of that hypothesis, it would not similarly explain why this universe is fine-tuned for life. He contends that supposing that the gunman was firing at random, being part of a large crowd explains—raises the probability—that someone or other is shot, but not that you are shot. By contrast, the hypothesis that the gunman was aiming at you, as opposed to firing at random, does explain in this way that you are shot. Similarly, the multiverse hypothesis explains that there is some universe or other that is fine-tuned for life, but not that this universe is fine-tuned for life. By contrast, in White’s view the hypothesis of an intelligent designer does explain why—raises the probability—that this universe is fine-tuned for life. White argues:

Postulate as many other universes as you wish, they do not make it any more likely that ours should be life-permitting or that we should be here. So our good fortune to exist in a life-permitting universe gives us no reason to suppose that there are many universes (White 2000: 274; see Rota 2005 for another theistic response to the multiverse hypothesis).


See the fine-tuning entry for more detail on this exchange, and on other issues raised in the debate.

3.3 Arguments from religious experience

Arguments for the existence of God from a special kind of experience are often called “arguments from religious experience”. Some philosophers and theologians have argued that our ordinary human cognitive faculties include what John Calvin called a special “sense of divinity” that, when not impeded or blocked, will deliver immediately justified beliefs about supernatural entities (Plantinga 1981, 1984). Some such thinkers, then, might construe an argument from religious experience as belonging to the category of natural religion or natural theology. Others, however, insist that “characteristic of the Continental Calvinist tradition is a revulsion against arguments in favor of theism or Christianity” (Wolterstorff 1984: 7; see also Sudduth 2009). In any case, most authors who write about religious experience generally construe it as caused by something other than our ordinary faculties and their intersubjectively available objects, and thus do not think of it as one of the topics of natural theology (see Davis 1989, Alston 1991, Kwan 2006).

See the entry on religious experience for expansive discussion of this issue.

4. “Ramified” Natural Theology

Some supporters of natural religion or natural theology seek to use our ordinary cognitive faculties to support theses that are more robust and specific than those of generic or “perfect-being” theism. This project has recently been dubbed “ramified” natural theology by Richard Swinburne (see Holder 2013). A few of these efforts involve a priori argumentation: an ancient argument for the Trinity (found in St. Augustine (De Trinitate, c. 399–419, Book IX), and Richard of St. Victor (De Trinitate, c. 1162–1173, III.1–25)) is that any supreme being would have to be a supremely loving being, and any omnipotent supremely loving being would ultimately have to emanate from itself something that is both other and yet just as supreme and lovable as itself, and that a third such person would be necessary as a kind of product of that love between the first two. Marilyn McCord Adams’s books on theodicy (Adams 2000, 2006) and Eleonore Stump’s Gifford Lectures (Stump 2010) constitute an effort to consider the a priori problem of evil from within the context of a ramified (and thus in this case more robustly Christian) kind of natural theology.

But most ramified natural theology is inductive in spirit: thus Hugo Grotius divides his De veritate religionis Christianae (1627) into a first book that deals with classical natural theology but then later books that deal specifically with the truth of Christianity. John Locke (1695) argued for the “Reasonableness of Christianity” using a broadly historical, probabilistic approach. William Paley (1794) further developed this approach, and much more recently Swinburne argued for the conclusion that Bayesian-style reasoning justifies belief in the resurrection of Jesus with a probability of 97% (Swinburne 2003). Numerous other philosophers (and also many natural scientists) appeal to historical and scientific data as well as empirical and statistical principles of reasoning to support the authenticity of various biblical claims, the probability of various miracle stories, and so forth (see e.g., Olding 1990; Polkinghorne 2009; Gauch Jr. 2011). Note that this is a way of appealing to the content of sacred texts and special revelation which is consistent with the methods of natural theology: the prophetic or historical claims of those texts are evaluated using public evidence and accepted canons of inductive reasoning. Still, even optimistic natural theologians like Locke, Paley, Swinburne, and these others count as hybridists insofar as they think there are some important doctrines about the divine that cannot be justified by our natural cognitive faculties. Thus even they will at some point be willing (in Kant’s famous phrase) to “deny knowledge in order to leave room for faith” (1787, Bxxx).

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:26 am
by admin
Part 1 of 2

Forging Indian Religion: East India Company Servants and the Construction of ‘Gentoo’/‘Hindoo’ Scripture in the 1760s
by Jessica Patterson
First published: 10 September 2020 https://doi.org/10.1111/1754-0208.12720
© 2020 The Author. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Abstract

This article demonstrates how, in the 1760s, two British East India Company servants, John Zephaniah Holwell and Alexander Dow, constructed a particular interpretation of India's ancient religious past through creative misrepresentations of mysteriously sourced texts. This had broad ramifications for contemporary understandings of Indian religion, and has important implications for the historiography of Orientalism in this period. Just as forgeries in the literary sphere challenged notions of history, introducing scepticism, alternative narratives and national mythologies, so in the field of Orientalist letters they shaped an idea of Indian religion that could both challenge European assumptions and facilitate imperial ideologies.

In 1767 the following text was presented by the East India Company servant John Zephaniah Holwell as the opening lines of what he described as the ‘Gentoo Bible’.1 This text was given the title of the Chartah Bhade Shastah of Bramah, and dated to 3,100 BCE:

God is ONE*. ‐Creator of all that is. – God is like a perfect sphere, without beginning or end. – God rules and governs all creation by general providence resulting from first determined and fixed principles […]2


In 1768 another Company servant, Alexander Dow, offered three alternative texts, which he said formed the core scriptures of the ‘Hindoo’ religion: the Dirm Shashter, the Bedang Sashter and the Neadrisen Shaster. The first contained the unifying doctrines of the religion. In a section provided by Dow this took the form of a dialogue between Narud, who was taken to be representative of ‘human reason’, and Birmha, the allegorical depiction of ‘Wisdom’ and the ‘genitive of case of Birmh’, which Dow takes to be ‘one of the thousand names of God’:

NARUD:
O thou first of God! Who is the greatest of all Beings?
BRIMHA:
BRIMH; who is infinite and almighty.
NARUD:
Is he exempted from death?
BIRMHA:
He is: being eternal and incorporeal.
NARUD:
Who created the world?
BIRMHA:
God by his power.3


Despite the intricate detail presented in both offerings, however, these ‘extracts’ have proved difficult to trace. Holwell's Shastah has been thought by a number of scholars to have been a forgery, the evidence for which has been outlined most extensively by Urs App.4 Dow's texts are also dubious in origin. The original manuscript which Dow claimed as the Dirm Shashter, for example, is currently in the British Library and consists of fragments in Sanskrit (which he could not read) and Bengali (which he could), and do not appear to be a coherent text.5 And yet both Holwell and Dow claimed to have achieved an unprecedented degree of insight into the mysteries of Brahminical philosophy. Moreover, this claim was widely accepted by their readership. In the 1760s, when both accounts were published, the idea of an indigenous and ancient Indian religion was greeted with interest by Enlightenment thinkers. Finding themselves with privileged access to Indian languages and advisers, British East India Company servants became instrumental in delivering information about South Asian religions to European audiences. While the knowledge produced by Company Orientalists has been most closely associated with Sir William Jones (1746‐1794), the works of Holwell and Dow were the first to circulate to a significant European reception. Holwell was hailed by Moses Mendelssohn as the first author ‘to see through the eyes of a native Brahmin’.6 Dow was similarly highly regarded by Voltaire, who cited him as an authority in a number of works.7 This article considers the construction of Indian theology that these readers were met with more critically, suggesting that Holwell's and Dow's accounts, including their translations of ancient texts, were compiled from a number of different intellectual sources, not the least of which was their own creative licence.

In 1767 Holwell described the central tenets of the ‘Gentoo’ religion as ‘short, pure, simple and uniform’, arguing that the multiple gods associated with it were merely figurative.8 A year later Dow declared that the ‘Hindoo religion’ was orientated towards a belief in a singular ‘Supreme Being’.9 Both were providing an outline of what they perceived to be India's ancient and original religion, the essence of which they believed was monotheistic. In their discussion of its doctrines, each author related his account of Indian philosophy to contemporary European theological debates. Holwell was concerned with theodicy, providence and the nature of God. In the Shastah he identified a set of lost doctrines, principally relating to the idea of reincarnation, which he believed provided a more reasonable account of the origin and nature of earthly suffering. Dow, on the other hand, was keen to point to basic reasonableness at the core of the religion, stressing the ‘symbolical’ nature of Hindoo religious imagery. Although both Holwell and Dow certainly drew on genuine Indian sources, aspects of their accounts were deliberately constructed. Holwell, who told an elaborate tale of lost and found manuscripts, has also been accused of falsifying aspects of a different publication, A Genuine Narrative, which was widely regarded as a foundational text in establishing a colonial mythology around the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’.10 Detailing Siraj ud‐Daulah's capture of the Company's base at Fort William in 1756, Holwell's accounts of that ‘dreadful night’, particularly the number of people whom he claimed to have perished, have been questioned by historians.11 Dow, who at the same time as preparing his dissertation of the ‘Hindoo’ religion was sharing his London lodgings with the author and accused hoaxer James Macpherson, obscured certain details about the origin and mode of transmission of the sacred ‘Hindoo’ text which is quoted at length in its pages.12

This article will therefore deal with those aspects of Holwell's and Dow's published works that could be described as forged. It will trace the foundations of this process by exploring the origins of these texts and the ways in which Holwell and then Dow constructed their authority, as well as the religious ideas that underpinned their particular approaches. That dissenting and heterodox religious attitudes shaped their interpretation of Indian religion is a familiar argument in the historiographical treatment of Holwell and Dow. Stemming from the suggestion of P. J. Marshall and Wilhelm Halbfass that their work was characteristic of a ‘deist perspective’, many have repeated this claim.13 Since these initial observations, however, much has been questioned in the usage of the term ‘deism’ as a simple signifier of a set of beliefs.14 Indeed, there was much separating Holwell and Dow, both in their own religious outlook and in their accounts of Indian theology. This article therefore considers the specifics of their religious heterodoxy, associating their thought with deism only in the sense that their claims to have discovered ancient texts that revealed the reasonableness of Indian theology, in contrast to the apparent superstition inherent in contemporary ceremonies, upheld deist conceptions of an original pure and reasonable religion that had degenerated into superstition via the mechanism of priestcraft.15

It also considers the implications of what identifying these texts as fabrications means for our understanding of European intellectual engagement with India in the eighteenth century, in the dual contexts of empire and Enlightenment thought. In considering their work as ‘deist’, scholars have often also tied it to a ‘sympathetic’ approach to Indian culture, according to a pervasive distinction between Orientalist and Anglicist attitudes to India among British writers, with the former standing for an admiring approach to Indian culture, as opposed to a more starkly imperialist intolerance of cultural difference.16 Scholarship on William Jones, for example, has tended to stress his empathetic admiration for India's cultural productions and his working relationships with indigenous scholars. As more recent work in the archives has emphasised, though, for Jones and his contemporaries an enthusiasm for Sanskrit literature did not necessarily inhibit expressions of contempt for Indian peoples and mores.17 Likewise, in the case of Holwell and Dow, as well as later Company interpreters of Indian religion, neither does a sympathetic approach to Indian religion preclude an instrumental one. Though often implicitly, this conception of sympathetic orientalism has been thought to challenge Edward Said's theoretical exposition of ‘Orientalism’ as an ‘irresistible impulse always to codify, to subdue the infinite variety of the Orient’.18 Studies such as Jürgen Osterhammel's Unfabling the East, for example, have pointed to the complexity of engagement between Europe and Asia in the Enlightenment, prior to the developed script of nineteenth‐century imperialism.19 And yet the role of forgery in Orientalist writings renders the division between sympathetic and instrumentalising approaches to knowledge problematic. While both Holwell's and Dow's accounts were infused with genuine knowledge and insight into Indian religion, and at times it is difficult to tell what is a deliberate misrepresentation and what is simply an example of a person interpreting unfamiliar ideas through more familiar concepts, there are also clear moments of falsification. Where the recovery of complexity is necessary, so too is a thorough account of the ways in which India was not simply discovered but constructed by European interpreters, for various ends.

In reconsidering the nature of European intellectual engagement with Indian thought, through the examples of Holwell and Dow, we might look to scholarship on the relationship between literary forgery and the writing of history in the eighteenth century, in which Dow's housemate Macpherson has featured prominently.20 Just as forgeries and fakes in the literary sphere challenged notions of history, presenting scepticism as well as alternative narratives, while at the same time also generating national mythologies, in the field of Orientalist letters in the mid‐eighteenth century they helped shape an idea of ‘Hinduism’ that was initially a challenge to European assumptions, but which also facilitated imperial ideologies and practices.21 On the one hand, these forgeries were designed to self‐critique, utilising the apparent superiority and greater antiquity of Indian religion to challenge European assumptions. In this sense we are presented with the complex problem of the nature and role of truth and authenticity in Enlightenment thought and literature. Taken in the context of other satirical contrivances such as Diderot's Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (1796) and Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy, written for the purposes of holding up a critical mirror to European practice and prejudice, their accounts certainly seem to appeal to this wider culture of criticism. Indeed, by the 1770s India and its ancient religion had come to occupy the intellectual space that Chinese Confucianism had once held for Enlightenment thinkers such as Leibniz, as an intellectual counterfoil to European civilisation.22 From a religious perspective too it is conceivable that these authors saw their falsifications as minor in relation to the more essential insights that they were serving: authentic fakes that captured an important religious perspective or truth.23 On the other hand, in order to hold up this mirror to European assumptions these accounts of Indian religion also necessitated a construction of Indian religion and history that had implications for India. In emphasising ancient and original scriptures and contrasting them with modern superstition and decline, these authors were laying the foundations for some of the ideological arguments that were used to legitimised British rule.24

I Constructing ‘Gentoo’ Religion

In the mid‐eighteenth century British writers used two terms, ‘Gentoo’ and ‘Hindoo’, to describe what they understood to be the native religion of Hindostan. As Catherine A. Robinson has neatly summarised, the term ‘Hindu’ is generally thought to derive from the Sanskrit ‘Sindhu’, which means both ‘river’ in general and the River Indus in particular. The suggestion is that this passed into other usages through the Persian word ‘Hindu’ and other cognate terms, such as the Greek ‘Indos’, and came to denote the people and the way of life that existed in in the geographical area surrounding the Indus.25 Geography and religion have, therefore, long been bound up in the various terms used to describe religious ideas and customs in India. In the eighteenth‐century British use of the term, ‘Hindoo’ was again used to mean a ‘native’ inhabitant of Hindostan, a definition that merged geography with religion yet again, because ‘native’ could also implicitly suggest ‘not followers of Islam’, in distinction from the characterisation of their Mughal rulers as a foreign power.26 By contrast, ‘Gentoo’ was a derivative of the Portuguese word for ‘gentile’, gentio, stemming from the Latin word gentilis, and was therefore always a religious term in nature.27 Its application to Indian religious traditions, and the related terms ‘Gentilism’ and ‘Gentooism’, were initiated by the significant Catholic missionary presence in southern India from the sixteenth century, the materials of which would prove a long‐standing resource for European knowledge of Indian religion until the eighteenth century.28 While some thinkers, including the Jesuit missionary Roberto de Nobili and the Lutheran minister Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, explicitly acknowledged the diversity in Indian religious practices, other attempts to identify the common beliefs of ‘the gentiles of India’ sought to generalise what were unifying beliefs and practices.29 The interchangeable use of these terms by Europeans in the period considered in this article thus continued a longer convention of homogenising Indian religious practices and culture.

The term ‘Hinduism’ itself can be traced to the 1780s. The evangelical Company man Charles Grant mentions ‘Hindooism’ in a letter in 1787, and again in 1792.30 The writers considered in this article, however, published much earlier and thus employed either ‘Gentoo’ or ‘Hindoo’ to describe the religion and the people they viewed as native to ‘Hindostan’ or ‘Hindustan’, as it was variously spelt. John Zephaniah Holwell, whose work was published first, from 1764 to 1779, adopted the term ‘Gentoo’. Alexander Dow, on the other hand, whose first book was published in 1768, used ‘Hindoo’ for the same purposes. This was not merely a matter of the former going out of fashion, as in 1777 Nathaniel Brassey Halhed's A Code of Gentoo Laws once again referred to the ancient religion of India and its people as ‘Gentoo’, as well as using ‘Hindoo’ to describe the inhabitants of India. The most famous British Orientalist before William Jones, Charles Wilkins, however, preferred the use of ‘Hindoo’ in referring to the ‘Mahabarat’ (Mahābhārata) as ‘an ancient Hindoo poem’. One term, however, that these writers did use in common, was ‘Brahmin’. The idea of the Brahmin as the representative of Indian religion was a consistent theme in their work. Each cast the Brahmins as the priests of Indian religion, at once praising their learning and also blaming them for the superstitions of the vulgar. For Holwell and Dow this depended on a distinction between learned Brahmins and lower, less scrupulous examples. This meant that, alongside the tendency to homogenise the religious beliefs and practices of India, these authors also shared a bias towards textual sources and Brahminical authority.

Any discussion of the terminologies and epistemologies that have contributed to modern understandings of ‘Hinduism’ necessarily treads on the larger and more controversial question of whether ‘Hinduism’ has been invented.31 The various answers in the affirmative roughly trace a story whereby Western exploration meant the imposition of the category of ‘religion’ on Eastern practices and beliefs (a construct perpetuated by the nomenclature of ‘world religions’, attributable to the emergence of comparative religion as a category of scholarship). For S. N. Balagangadhara, Orientalism is cast as the ideology of a Christian theological framework, which forced the idea of Hinduism as a religion, the secular variants and residues of which remain within India as a product of a ‘colonial consciousness’.32 Yet there is also a wealth of evidence that points to a much older history of Hinduism. As David Lorenzen has pointed out, for example, Hindu religion as expressed in the theological and devotional practices surrounding the Bhagavad Gītā and other texts places a self‐conscious religious identity or ‘pre‐colonial consciousness’ of Hinduism much earlier.33 This debate has become all the more contentious since it became loaded with some considerably fraught political propositions in the wake of the rise of Hindu nationalist movements, drawn to a version of Hindu tradition conceived of as entirely unified and original to historical India.34 This article is not and cannot be a direct intervention into this debate, the scope of which is beyond the specific set of characters and circumstances explored here. Nevertheless, it is an account of how a particular idea of Indian religion was constructed by British writers for their European audience in the mid‐ to late eighteenth century.

Specifically, it argues that the religious concerns and preoccupations of these authors shaped their presentation of Indian thought, through the construction of scriptural authority and privileged access to scared texts. As A. J. Droge does in his much broader discussion of the concept of the forgery and fraud in the study of religion, reflecting on Arnaldo Momigliano's aphorism that ‘Pious frauds are frauds, for which one must show no piety – and no pity’, such an account must pay an attention to the author and intended audience of these texts. For Droge this is to ‘insist on discussing the temporal, situated, interested, and human dimensions of “holy books”, whether they were discovered hidden in a temple or fallen from heaven’.35 In some senses, then, this is a story of invention, since Holwell and Dow did, as we shall see, engage in varying degrees of contrivance in their accounts of Indian religion. This is in no way intended as a challenge to the longer chronology of Hindu ideas and traditions posited by Lorenzen. In fact, as this article will show, the materials and ideas selected by these writers were part of the fabric of the Indian thought and culture that they encountered, often presented to them as specialist pandit knowledge. Rather, by historicising the construction of an indigenous Indian religion in a particular moment of the British presence in India, it throws into question the tendency to imply an unbroken line of continuity in the colonial construction of Hinduism, despite the varieties of colonialism and the ideological frameworks underpinning them.

II J. Z. Holwell

John Zephaniah Holwell, whose career in the Company began as a ship's surgeon, is better known for his account of the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ in A Genuine Narrative (1758). This first publication described the imprisonment and death of those who were taken captive in Nawab Siraj‐ud‐Daulah's seizure of Fort William.36 The dramatic account is replete with exaggerations, the veracity of which has been challenged by historians since.37 Nevertheless, the basic narrative took hold of the public and became one of the founding myths of British empire in India.38 From the beginning, then, we can see Holwell's preference for grand narrative over accurate detail. A few years later Holwell became just as well known for his work on Indian history and philosophy, offering his discoveries over the course of three volumes, each instalment making bolder statements than the last about the significance of ‘Gentoo’ doctrines. In the first few pages of the first volume of Interesting Historical Events (1765) Holwell defended what he termed ‘Gentoo’ religion, which he saw as having been tarnished by ‘imperfect and unjust’ accounts.39 In the second volume (1767) he declared the religion's ‘principle tenets’ to be ‘satisfactory, conclusive and rational’.40 Finally, in the third volume (1771), Holwell set out what he believed to be the significance of ‘Gentoo Bible’, the Shastah, for resolving some of the obscurities and problems within Christian theology. It is to this supposed Shastah we must turn to understand what was forged in Holwell's account and why.

1. Scripture and Authority

In the opening to the first volume of Interesting Historical Events Holwell claimed to have owned two ‘very correct and valuable copies’ of the first and, according to Holwell, most original of the three ‘Gentoo’ scriptures that he identified as containing the religion's central theological tenets. This was the Chartah Bhade Shastah of Bramah, which he claimed to have spent ‘eighteen months hard labour’ translating. Disastrously, both the valuable manuscript and the translation were lost in ‘the capture of Calcutta’ in 1756. This ‘fatal catastrophe’ prevented him from achieving the ‘complete translation’ that would have been ‘a valuable acquisition for the learned world’. In the last eighteen months of his time in Bengal, freed from the business of government, Holwell was able to return to his researches and apparently, by some ‘unforeseen and extraordinary event’, eventually recover ‘some manuscripts’ from his original collection. Despite suggesting that he might possibly recite the details of those events, unfortunately their recovery is not elaborated in any part of the three volumes of Interesting Historical Events.41 Moreover, Holwell is elusive as to what these manuscripts contain, stating merely that they enabled him to undertake the task that he had assigned himself, variously outlined in the preface as the ‘elucidation’ of Bengal and its people (which, he explained in a footnote, meant ‘the Gentoos only’).42 The singular hint given to how he would achieve this is the comment at the beginning of the preface that his account will be based on ‘facts, just observations, and faithful recitals’.43 When the reader arrives at the sections of text that are presented as quotations of the Shastah, in vol. II, it is left unsaid whether these extracts are translated from the recovered texts or a recitation of the lost work from memory. Moreover, since Holwell did not directly claim to have mastered Sanskrit, it is left unclear whether these extracts, and the original fruits of his long hours of labour, were the products of direct translation, pandit instruction or translation from a Persian or Bengali account of a Sanskrit text.44 In addition to the muddled origin story of Holwell's Shastah, the form in which it is presented also raises some questions. This second attempt at conveying the contents of this manuscript copy of ancient text, after the loss of the original, is divided into sections I‐V, followed by a section VIII on ‘Birmahah’ (Brahman).45 Again, it is unsaid, but we are left to assume that sections VI and VII were either not recovered or not well enough remembered by Holwell.

This is not to say, however, that what is presented was entirely fabricated, or a complete product of Holwell's imagination. The work itself is littered with Hindu ideas as well as English transliterations of Sanskrit words, or Bengali renderings of Sanskrit words. Some have suggested that Holwell's title of the Shastah of Bramah may have been referring to the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa.46 Yet, aside from the name, the two texts share few similarities. Thomas Trautmann has pointed to further issues with Holwell's terminology, explaining that in Sanskrit the Chartah Bhade Shastah would read something like Catur Veda Śāstra. This presents an odd combination of two distinct types of Sanskrit literature: the Vedas and the Śāstras.47 As we shall see below, Holwell attempted to distance his text from the Vedas, so he was evidently unaware of the presences of this amalgamation of terms in his title. This is not to say that he did not own antique Indian manuscripts. In fact, the Company did compensate him for those lost in the capture of Fort William at Calcutta.48 Nevertheless, while it seems Holwell had gained some genuine insights into Indian theology, possibly through pandit instruction, the extracts themselves remain difficult to place, particularly in relation to his claims about their significance as scriptures. These layers of obfuscation, mixed with genuine knowledge, have thus unsurprisingly been described by scholars as ‘rather dubious’, ‘murky’ and ‘distorted’.49 Urs App has even suggested that Holwell's basic source was not Indian in origin at all, but a work by Diogo do Couto, Decada Quinta da Asia, from 1612. Based on the observation that Holwell himself confessed to holding heterodox religious views, particularly a conviction in the prophecies of the gnostic preacher Jacob Ilive (1705‐1763), App has traced how Holwell found symmetry between Indian ideas and Ilive's account of an earth populated by fallen angels in do Couto's description of the Vedas, and modelled his Shastah accordingly.50 To this, the discussion below will add some further detail about the orientation of Holwell's own religious beliefs in order to account for the variety of European sources he brought to bear on his construction of the Shastah.

Many scholars have thus expressed varying degrees of scepticism when it comes to the authenticity of Holwell's original sources, and it seems that no one has stepped in to mount a robust defence. Where there is scope to alleviate the charge of deliberate falsification, however, is via consideration of the possibility that Holwell had himself been duped by a forgery. Many have cited the infamous case of Francis Wilford (1761‐1822), whose too‐good‐to‐be‐true discoveries of several confirmations of biblical history in Sanskrit texts served as a cautionary tale about unscrupulous pandits. Wilford's researches were an attempt to reconstruct the ancient geography of Egypt and Ethiopia through a selection of Sankrit sources, which he characterised as ‘historical poems’ and ‘legendary tales’ collected for him by his pandits. It seemed a remarkable discovery then when, selecting evidence from the Puranas, he was able to identify a patriarchal figure who had survived a great flood and had three sons, whose names bore a remarkable similarity to the biblical progeny of Noah. The Japeth, Ham and Shem of Genesis appeared to be the JyaPeti, Charma and Sharma of the Padma Purana. In 1792 he first published these astonishing findings, effectively folding Sanskrit history into a Judaeo‐Christian mythography.51 In 1805, however, Wilford was forced to retract these claims, having realised that his pandit, who had received an outline of the scared geography from his patron, had placed into the manuscripts these satisfying findings.52 Such instances open up the possibility that Holwell was fooled, but there are some important differences in these examples, as well discrepancies in Holwell's story. In Wilford's case, the passages were inserted over the course of an ongoing relationship with a pandit scholar, who adapted existing materials to meet the expectations of his patron. In contrast, Holwell claimed to have procured two copies of the ‘Gentoo’ Shastah himself, which he then spent considerable time translating. Moreover, if Holwell had been sold a fake manuscript, the broker of which claimed it was an authentic original, it seems a great coincidence that it happened to correspond with Holwell's already established convictions about the origins of the world and the state of human existence within it.

In fact, the question of Holwell's use of indigenous scholarship and knowledge is another questionable component of his account. Holwell certainly suggests that he had conversations with pandit informants, though, as in the case of the lost and found manuscripts, the details are vague. Wilford's employment of pandit scholarship came at a significantly different point in the Company's rise to political power in Bengal. It was after the Company's manoeuvre to ‘stand forth’ as a significant administrative power in 1772, and claiming with it responsibility for juridical matters, that the need for extensive consultation with pandits and maulvis (or mawlawis) on, respectively, Hindu and Muslim law cemented institutional relations of patronage. By the 1780s and 1790s the erosion of their traditional sources of sponsorship meant that pandits became involved in a host of occupations outside the strictly legal sphere.53 Christopher Bayly thus explained Wilford's case as relating to the historical working practices of his pandits, who, used to creating new Sanskrit genealogies at the behest of their princely Martha employers, were now negotiating offering alternative services to a new market‐place of British patronage.54 In contrast, Holwell, who gathered his materials in the 1750s, was writing much before an established system of patronage and offers various different claims about the source of his information. Principally, it seems he had sought assistance from members of what he terms the Koyt (kāyasth), or ‘tribe of writers’, in determining the antiquity and varying standards of authority of the ‘Gentoo’ scriptures. Conveniently for Holwell, these members of the laity were, according to his judgement, ‘often better versed in the doctrines of their Shastah than the common run of Bramins themselves’.55 They had confirmed for him ‘in various conferences’ that his text, the Chartah Bahde Shastah, was the oldest and most original. Interestingly, Holwell added this detail about the kāyasth advisers at the end of a long section of text, given in quotation marks, about the date and provenance of the Shastah. He had introduced this section as a ‘recital’, received from ‘learned Bramins’.56 If this was his original source, why did he need to check it with a ‘tribe of writers’? It is unclear if Holwell had consulted these Brahmins directly, or whether this was merely their perspective as confirmed by the kāyasth, although elsewhere in the text Holwell repeats the claim that he had consulted with ‘some learned Brahmins’, but again without more detail.57 Likewise, what does this recited passage mean for our understanding of the next section of the book, which presents sections from the Shastah in precisely the same manner, with quotations marks? It could be that this is to be similarly understood as a recital, although he also refers to it as a ‘cited passage’.58

The suggestion that Holwell was duped into believing a fake raises more questions than it answers, and most of the ambiguities in the text are a product of Holwell's own misdirection rather than a gullible presentation of inauthentic manuscript. All in all, the reader is left confused as to the origins of this text, which we have been told is very rare, both in the sense that Holwell found it difficult to procure his extremely valuable copy and according to the story of its transmission through Indian antiquity, which rendered it only intelligible to ‘three or for Goysen families’ and ‘Batteezaaz Bramins’.59 We know that its history has been explained to him by ‘Koyts’, and possibly also ‘learned Bramins’, but it remains unclear whether the passages presented are a translation, a recital or are cited from Holwell's memory of a translation. If it was a translation, Holwell does not tell us from what language, though we are led, by his claims to have been ‘drinking from the fountain head’, to believe that it must be from Sanskrit. Indeed, this is what many of his readers came to conclude. Voltaire assumed so, given Holwell's claims to have laboured for many months over a translation.60 Accepting that Holwell's ‘Gentoo’ religion was an invention, albeit imbued with some elements of Indian religion and philosophy, removes the problem of authenticity. The question of why Holwell chose to present it in that form, however, remains pertinent. The most obvious answer is the recognition that Holwell's invention of the Shastah sits in relation to a situation where religion as a category was largely confined by European paradigms relating to doctrine and scripture. We can thus understand Holwell's emphasis on the importance of the Shastah as an authoritative basis for defining ‘true’ ‘Gentoo’ doctrine as part of what religious studies calls the literary or textual bias in European conceptions of religion.61 The fact that Holwell's discovery was referred to in reviews as the ‘Gentoo bible’ or ‘Gentoo Scriptures’ is a clear example of this.62 Indeed, rather ironically, Holwell devoted considerable space to explaining how the only valid grounds for interpreting Indian religion were linguistic expertise and textual analysis. Whereas previous authors had relied on ‘unconnected scraps and bits’, Holwell offered a ‘complete translation’ of important ‘Gentoo’ manuscripts. A basic colloquial grasp of the local language was not adequate; the outsider must also be able to ‘sufficiently trace the etymology of their words and phrases’.63

Holwell needed to position his account in a market‐place of competing texts and interpretations, including the Ezour Vedam, a French translation of what was supposedly one of the Vedas, introduced to a wide European audience by Voltaire from 1760 onwards. Ludo Rocher believes the Ezour Vedam, another forged piece of Indian ‘scripture’, to have been composed by a Jesuit for the purposes of suggesting parallels between the two religious on which a missionary agenda could be fulfilled.64 At the same time, Voltaire was able to take the same text and present it as evidence of the Bible's flawed chronology and Christianity's faded significance against the backdrop of other world religions. In this sense, Holwell's Shastah was a continuation of the practice of fashioning Hindu ideas to suit a European religious message. Thus, according to Holwell, reports that the ‘Veidam’ was the ‘Gentoo's’ central text were erroneous. In fact, his original text, the Chartah Bhade Shastah of Bramah, has been followed be three other increasingly adulterated texts: the Chatah Bhade of Bramah which did not appear until 2,100 BCE, followed 500 years by the Aughtorrah Bhade Shastah. Finally, there was one more text, so chronologically distant from the other three that Holwell refers to its creation as a schism: the Viedam (Veda). Holwell thus distanced himself from all former authors and texts associated with the Vedas (e.g., the seventeenth‐century Dutch chaplain Abraham Roger, the Jesuits and the Ezour Vedam) in order to establish the Shastah as an alternative source of authority.65 As Holwell put it, ‘in place of drinking at the fountain head’ as he had, these other authors had merely ‘swallowed the muddy streams which flowed from’ the later scriptures.66 Despite its crudity, this approach was an apparent success, with Voltaire accepting Holwell's claim by repeating that ‘The Shastah is older than the Veda’.67

Yet, although Holwell did have critics, these were mainly concerned with his apparent approval of ‘Gentoo’ doctrines, rather than the actual authenticity of his account. Knowledge of India at this time was sufficiently limited for Holwell's linguistic authority to be convincing. The Scottish poet William Julius Mickle, for example, dismissed Holwell's enthusiasm for ‘Gentoo’ tenets as a predictable cliché: like ‘every liberal mind, who has conversed with the world’, Holwell had become seduced by the mystical East. Despite this, though, Mickle still summarised that, of the existing studies of Indian religion, ‘Mr. Holwell's account, upon the whole, is the most authentic’.68 In another twist, Holwell's claims about language and textual authority also made his construction of ‘Gentoo’ religion seem more authentic precisely on the basis that they afforded him a certain degree of objectivity. Thus, as well as the Jesuit authors, Holwell accused the Dutch minister Philippus Baldaeus (1632‐1671) of being led by the ‘mistaken zeal of a Christian divine’ into producing ‘a monster that shocks reason and probability’ in his communication of the ‘Gentoo’ doctrines. In contrast, Holwell deliberately constructed the persona of a detached observer, urging his readers to resist the tendency to regard things through the lens of ‘our own tenets and customs […] to the injury of others’.69

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Part 2 of 2

2. Christian Deism and Hinduism

The above explains how Holwell established an authority through the invention of the Shastah, but the question of why he did so remains. The answer lies in his religious outlook. At a basic level Holwell's comments that all different approaches to the deity should be regarded as ‘divine worship’ and that people of other religions, on encountering a different practice, should ‘revere it still’ certainly suggest that he adopted a latitudinarian position to the point of universalism.70 This has led many to suggest he was a deist.71 Others, such as App, have suggested that Holwell's creation of the Shastah was designed to service a Christian ‘reformist ideology’ according to Holwell's confession in the text that, before he arrived in India, he had already become ‘a thorough convert’ to the hypotheses of the neo‐Gnostic prophet of eighteenth‐century London, Jacob Ilive.72 But while Ilive did indeed have an impact on the shape of Holwell's thought, Holwell's Dissertation drew on a range of religiously heterodox European discourses which covered Locke and Leibniz, as well as exploring in greater detail the ideas of various theologians, such as Capel Berrow (1716‐1782) and the Cambridge Platonists.73 Moreover, we have to take seriously Holwell's claim in the third volume (1771) of Interesting Historical Events that his was the perspective of a ‘Christian deist’. To understand what he meant by this we have to consider the title of the first edition of the text, which promised both an account of ‘The Mythology and Cosmogony, Facts and Festivals of the Gentoos, Followers of the SHASTAH’ and ‘A Dissertation on the doctrine of METEMPSYCHOSIS’.

To Ilive's central claim, that this earth was designed for the rehabilitation of banished angels, Holwell added ‘the doctrine of Metempsychosis’, of which Ilive had been ignorant.74 Metempsychosis, a term taken from Greek philosophy, refers to the movement of the soul between bodies after physical death. According to Holwell, these ideas had originated with the Shastah, spread by both Pythagoras and Zoroaster, and ‘truly bore the stamp of divine!’. In subsequent years, however, the adaptation of these theories to diverse religious interests and innovations resulted in them becoming ‘wild and incomprehensible!’. The spread and eventual obscurity of the doctrine of metempsychosis thus features as a parallel narrative of decline, outside India, to that of the ‘Gentoo’ religion away from the original Shastah within.75 The Shastah that Holwell laid out before the public was thus a creation story. It revealed that ‘the Eternal One’ had created the triumvirate of Birmah, Bistnoo, Sieb (Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva) and then Maisasoor (taken from the ‘buffalo demon’ figure Mahīśāsura), followed by a host of angelic beings.76 In Holwell's account Maisasoor instigated a rebellion among the lower deities, the Debtah‐Logue (devatāloka), in response to which the ‘Eternal One’ condemned them to eternal punishment. With the intervention of Bistnoo this was altered to offer the prospect of returning to grace by earning salvation through successive states of existence, transmigrating through eighty‐eight different forms, the last two stages of which were Ghoji (cow) and Mhurd (man).77 Consequently, humanity was in fact made up of the spirits of delinquent angels, whose duty it was to purify themselves through a virtuous life (which included vegetarianism). This was the doctrine of metempsychosis. For Holwell it had the advantage of solving some troublesome theological problems, such as the not so insignificant matter of theodicy. The idea that earthly punishments were the just consequences of a pre‐existent lapse, in the form of an angelic rebellion, solved the seemingly incongruous idea of a benevolent God and the admission of moral evil into the world. Thus, in offering his commentary in 1767, he admits that he had ‘hitherto met with no solution of this interesting enquiry, so satisfactory, conclusive, and rational, as follows from the doctrine before us’.78

The contents of the Shastah that confirm this tale are what make up the bulk of vol. II of Interesting Historical Events. The dissertation in which Holwell offers his commentary on the merits of these lost theological truths did not appear until the third and final volume, of 1771. It is in the ‘Dissertation on Metempsychosis’ that Holwell describes himself as a ‘CHRISTIAN DEIST’.79 What Holwell means by this is complex. In his case for a ‘radical Enlightenment’, Jonathan Israel has described this ‘trend towards a “Christian deism”’ by separating moderate rationalising tendencies in religion from radical scepticism according to varying degrees of commitment to certain doctrines.80 Further inspection of Holwell's work, though, indicates that, although this rationalising trend in religion was something he was keen to invoke, what he actually meant when he described himself as a Christian deist was something quite different, particularly when it comes to his account of where the Shastah fits in. The complete title of the 1771 dissertation on metempsychosis included the suggestion that it would feature ‘an occasional comparison between them [the doctrine of the ‘Gentoos’] and the Christian Doctrines’. This was, however, somewhat misleading since this ‘occasional comparison’ actually spanned most of the 227‐page volume. It contained Holwell's reasoning and logical conclusion of his commentary on the Shastah in 1767 that Christianity was not simply compatible with early ‘Gentoo’ doctrines but was in fact derivative of them. Holwell suggested that what was true in the simple Christianity of Jesus had already been part of the original tenets of the Brahmins and that therefore ‘it is not violence to faith, if we believe that Birmah and Christ is one and the same individual celestial being’. Furthermore, Holwell suggested that this one celestial being had, in the style of a Hindu avatar, ‘appeared at different periods of time, in distant parts of the earth, under various mortal forms’ to deliver the primitive truths of religion. Thus, in a clever twist of rhetoric Holwell suggested that it was ‘by the mouth of Christ (styled Birmah by the easterns)’ that God delivered to creation the moral guidelines for their restoration.81

This equation of Christ and Birmah is, on the one hand, the ultimate expression of Holwell's universalism and, on the other, the logical consequence of his adherence to a certain set of contemporary heterodoxies. For Holwell, this belief in ‘the transmigration of souls’ not only explains how there are several Hindu incarnations of different divine beings, ‘in such ways as Elijah and St. John the Baptist’ are ‘one and the same spirit, from the intimation of the prophet Malachi’, but also solved several other theological problems, principal of which was the question of human and animal suffering.82 It also allows him to develop a particularly idiosyncratic Christology, which is certainly anti‐Trinitarian but neither Socinian nor Arian. Instead, Holwell undercuts Christ's particular divinity on the grounds that not just Christ but all humanity were once celestial beings. In a similar manner, referring to Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730), Holwell proclaimed that the issue, raised by Tindal, of whether or not Christianity could claim to be as old as the creation was entirely resolved. Tindal's radical challenge to religion based on revelation, and therefore biblical history, was that for Christianity to be true it must be coextensive with the truths that human reason can separately conclude for itself, and that consequently must be ‘as old as the creation’.83 Holwell's unique religious heterodoxy thus shines through when he concludes that ‘Christianity is, bona fide, as old as the creation’, because when what we mean by ‘Christianity’ also incorporates the Shastah, then the origins of the truths it contains certainly seem to belong to the remotest antiquity of human reason.84

Holwell's ‘Christian Deism’ is, therefore, Christian in a restricted sense. This much was noted by reviewers, who nearly all considered the contents of his ‘whimsical Dissertation on the Metempsychosis’ to be nothing short of bizarre.85 Nevertheless, this was the system of thought behind the discussion in 1767 of ‘Gentoo’ religion and his presentation of the Shatsah, which did become an important part of the fabric of eighteenth‐century intellectual culture. Voltaire, for example, had what Daniel Hawley has described as ‘an enthusiasm for Holwell’ that became ‘more and more marked each time he cited him’, until he was eclipsed by later writers, including Dow.86 What we are left with, then, is the strange detail that the beginning of British contributions to Enlightenment accounts of Indian religion as a philosophically sophisticated monotheism was based on an eccentric account of the origin of sin.

III Alexander Dow

Alexander Dow's biographical trajectory is divided between the pursuit of literary fame and a frustrated career in the East India Company. In 1757, leaving an apprenticeship in Eyemouth with the notorious smuggling family the Nesbits, Dow joined the King of Prussia, a private ship of war, as a midshipman.87 Dow entered the Company's military service in Bengal in 1760, and in 1764 was appointed captain. After participating in the officers' association to protest against Clive's measure to abolish the double field allowance (1766), Dow found himself stripped of his position.88 His military career frustrated, Dow wrote to the Company's Board of Directors requesting a new position on account of ‘the progress he has made in the oriental tongues, and his knowledge of the political state of Hindostan’.89 Unsuccessful in these appeals, he turned his attention to literary fame.

Dow's literary turn occurred during the period in which he was sharing London lodgings with James Macpherson, between 1768 and 1769. This was included in the period when the authenticity of Macpherson's collection of translated Gaelic poems, supposedly found in texts dating to Scotland's early dark ages, was still the subject of a heated debate. David Hume's surviving letters also reveal that he and Dow were correspondents, for whom ‘a discussion over an evening fire’ was not unfamiliar.90 Indeed, it appears that at this time both Dow and Macpherson were frequent visitors to Hume's lodgings in Brewer Street, London.91 While in London, Dow published, as well as a collection of Oriental tales, the first edition of The History of Hindostan in 1768.92 This loose translation of, the Tārikh‐i‐Firishta, a history of Muslim rule in India by Muhammad Kasim Farishta (1560‐1620), went into three editions between 1768 and 1792. The second volume of the first edition included an essay titled ‘A Dissertation Concerning the Customs, Manners, Language, Religion and Philosophy of the Hindoos’.93 This account of what Dow termed the ‘Hindoo’ or Brahmin religion caught the imagination of the public. The Monthly Review remarked that Dow had ‘gained a more accurate knowledge of the religion and philosophy of the Brahmins, than any who have preceded him’.94 The dissertation was translated into French and published in Paris the following year (1769), as was a partial translation of the History, which was what also won Dow the attention of Voltaire.95

1. Scripture and Authority

Dow appealed to a similar concept of ‘authority’ to that established by Holwell, the basis of which was an explicit rejection of travel accounts and missionary literature on two points: their lack of objectivity and their insufficient grasp of native languages. While this was not an accurate or fair account of missionary literature, in particular, it was a powerful assertion. Trautmann has described British engagement with Oriental languages as precipitating a ‘titanic shift of authority’ from the seventeenth‐century Jesuit lettres édifiantes.96 Yet, while Trautmann focuses on the eventual discovery of Sanskrit by Charles Wilkins, Holwell and Dow were the first British authors to make such claims and should therefore be seen as instrumental in developing this new authority. Indeed, Dow imitated Holwell's dismissal of the existing literature by declaring it ‘fiction’, designating ‘modern travellers’ with a ‘talent for fable’ as the main culprits. He also, like Holwell, blamed religious prejudice, or what he called ‘common partiality’ for one's religion. In contrast, he presented himself as a detached observer whose main motivation was to rescue the ‘Hindoos’ from the ‘very unfair account’ that had previously prejudiced European understanding.97 Finally, he underlined that such fallacies were the result of these authors' ignorance of language and text, suggesting that they had formed their judgements according only to ‘external ceremonies of the Hindoos’.98 He even singled out Holwell, suggesting that he must have conversed ‘only with the inferior tribes, or with the unlearned part of the Brahmins’.99

Yet, in another imitation of Holwell, Dow's claim to unique authority on the basis of linguistic skill was not all it seemed. Although Dow did take a significant step in providing a key to the Sanskrit alphabet, he also relayed how his attempts to master the language by hiring ‘a Pandit, from the University of Benaris, well versed in the Shanscrita’ were unsuccessful owing to lack of time.100 Instead Dow relied on Persian and what he described as ‘the vulgar tongue of the Hindoos’ (Bengali). Nevertheless, he was still determined to pursue his enquiries, and so ‘procured some of the principal SHASTERS’, with the aim of informing himself ‘as much as possible, concerning the mythology and philosophy of the Brahmins’. Dow claimed that it was from these texts that ‘his pandit’ adviser, who goes unnamed, explained numerous passages, so ‘as to give him a general idea of the doctrine which they contain’.101 As noted in the case of Holwell, while pandit instruction was to become an important feature of British Orientalist scholarship, this private appointment on the part of Dow was less usual at the time.102 Indeed, most contemporary European depictions of the Brahmins suggested that they were mistrustful of such curiosity. This is a perception Dow certainly traffics in to heighten the importance of his discoveries, referring to the ‘impenetrable veil of mystery with which the Brahmins industriously cover their religious tenets’.103 This was also part of a larger account of the decline of the original religion's purity into contemporary superstition through priestcraft, which also caused him, after Holwell, to distinguish between ‘learned’ and the ‘common run of Brahmins’, and accuse previous authors of having been misdirected by the latter.104

Nevertheless, it seems that most of Dow’s insights into Indian religion came from informant sources. In particular, Dow offers some detailed and accurate information about the Nyāya school of philosophy, of which little was known before. The Nyāya Vaisheshika branch of philosophy was particularly cultivated in Benares, from where Dow’s pandit was hired.105 Dow also gained much of his insight through Persian language sources. The dissertation on the ‘Hindoo’ religion does, after all, appear in his translation of Farishta's history of the Mughal empire. Thus, Dow's patchy understanding of ‘Hindoo’ chronology is, for example, reliant on Mughal accounts of the Mahābhārata, which he describes as a ‘historical poem’ translated into Persian during the reign of Akbar. In his own construction of his authority, however, Dow is keen to dismiss the accounts of ‘Hindoo’ religion given by ‘the followers of Mahommed’ on the same grounds as his dismissal of Christian commentators, in that ‘their prejudice makes them misrepresent’ its tenets. In an ironic twist he also denounces these sources as unsatisfactory on the grounds of their ‘ignorance of the Shanscrita language’.106 From these insufficient sources, though, Dow is able to piece together some interesting and perceptive insights into Indian philosophical and theological traditions. Despite his disingenuous claims to have surpassed other authors on the basis of linguistic ability, there is nothing inherently fraudulent about this – except that, like Holwell, Dow decided to include extracts from the three texts that he identified as the central scriptures of the ‘Hindoo’ religion and, like Holwell, declines to explain whether these are direct translations or clarify the language of the original text.

The portions of ‘translated’ material in Dow's essay on ‘Hindoo’ religion, much like Holwell's Shastah, are untraceable. According to Dow there were three ‘Shasters’: the Bedang Shaster, the Dirm Shaster and the Neadirsen Shaster, which contained the essentials of the ‘Hindoo’ religion.107 To explain the doctrines of the ‘Bedang’, Dow begins with extracts that he claimed were ‘literally translated from the original SHASTER’. He also describes the text as a ‘commentary’.108 Much of this extract contains detailed and almost accurate information about some Hindu concepts. Moreover, in explaining the significance of the ‘Shaster’, or Śāstra, Dow correctly moves away from Holwell's singular Shastah as an equivalent to the Bible, noting that for ‘Hindoos’ it is ‘commonly used to mean a book which treats of divinity and the sciences’, but then confuses this by explaining that the Bedang Shaster is the core text for ‘almost all the Hindoos’ of southern India. Likewise, a very similar extract is presented from the Dirm Shaster, as a ‘translation’.109 Of the Neadrisen, Dow, remarking on the complexity of its subject, says that he chose to stick to translating ‘the literal meaning of the words’ rather than ‘a free translation’, so as to not deviate too much. Again, we are not told the language the translation is from, though Dow refers to the ‘great pains he took to have a proper definition of the terms’ within it.110 Of this Shastah much is merely paraphrased, though readers are treated to the odd quotation as an illustration of its ancient author's philosophical principles, which again offer a fairly accurate representation of the Nyāya philosophy to which the ‘Neadrisen’ is a reference.111 These insights seem to have been gleaned from genuine guidance from a pandit adviser. Although the dialogue form in which they appear is not unfamiliar in Indo‐Persian works and is common in the Sanskrit genre saṃvāda, the texts themselves are difficult to trace.

Dow's claim in the dissertation to have deposited in the British Museum a manuscript copy of the first volume (of seven) of what he called the Neadrisen Shaster, has subsequently been proved to be false.112 The catalogue refers to Dow's ‘erroneous description’ of the text, which is guessed to mean the Nyāya Darśana, describing it instead as a ‘more or less fragmentary’ collection of Sanksrit manuscripts and some Bengali pages.113 Perhaps Dow, who was unable to read Sanskrit, was unaware of this. And yet, what of the ‘literal translation’ he claimed to have taken from it? The most generous interpretation is that possibly Dow's pandit had translated something into Persian, claiming it to be a copy of the Sanskrit manuscript that Dow had procured and believed to be the Neadrisen Shaster, and then Dow copied from this and deposited the Sanskrit fragments in the British Museum none the wiser. Alternatively, perhaps Dow wrote down these passages after his pandit gave an oral explanation of them in Bengali. Dow declines to explain this. In either case, Dow's claim to be presenting these texts as ‘literally translated from the original’ is somewhat duplicitous. Another view would be that Dow invented these extracts to best represent both what he had learned about Hindoo religion and what he wanted it to signify for a European audience. Certainly, there are many ways in which Dow constructed his account of these texts and their significance to fit a particular narrative about the religious composition of India, and the nature of religious belief in general, to which we will turn below.

2. Deism and Hinduism

According to Dow, the ‘Hindoos’ were divided into two principal ‘sects’ or schools, known as ‘the Bedang’ and ‘the Neadrisen’, by which Dow means two of the recognised six orthodox schools of Brahminical philosophy, Vedānta and Nyāya.114 These two ‘sects’ were differentiated not by core doctrines but by two different approaches to those doctrines. The central tenet of Dirm Shaster, revered by both, was ‘the unity of the supreme being’.115 The two sects merely differed in what Dow calls ‘their philosophy’. On the one hand, the ‘Bedang’, the older and more orthodox school, received ‘as an article of their belief, every holy legend and allegory which have been transmitted down from antiquity’. In contrast, the ‘Neadrisen’ ‘look up to the divinity, through the medium of reason and philosophy’. The ‘Bedang’ is Dow’s word for Vedānta, a school concerned with knowledge and insight, rooted in interpretation of the final section of Vedic literature known as the Upaniṣads. The ‘Neadrisen’ stands for Nyāya, the school translated as ‘that by which one is led to a conclusion’ or ‘correct reasoning’, often referred to as ‘the science of reasoning’ (tarkaśātra).116 So, one ‘receives’ its faith from tradition and allegory, and the other ‘looks up’ with reason and philosophy. From the very beginning Dow views Indian religious thought as analogous to a European division between received and rational religion. Indeed, as Dow clearly notes, this division occurs ‘[i]n India, as well as in many other countries’. His ‘two great religious sects’ are not just Indian but represent a universal struggle between orthodox and rational religion. Dow requires his readers to see the followers of the ‘Bedang’ as analogous to those who put their faith in revelation and tradition, and the ‘Neadrisen’ as those forging a more rational form of religious belief, while insisting that both share an essential admiration for a singular divinity.117

Dow cast the Bedang Shaster as a ‘philosophical catechism’, which explored several metaphysical concepts.118 Like the Dirm Shaster, this text is presented by Dow as ‘a dialogue between Birmha, the Wisdom of the Divinity; and Narud or Reason, who is the son of Brimha’. The first topic considers the relationship of the trio, which includes the main interlocutors, ‘Birmha’ (Brahma), ‘Shiba’ (Shiva) and ‘Bishen’ (Vishnu), with God. ‘Birmha’ instructs ‘Narud’: ‘do not imagine that I was creator of the world, independent of the divine mover, who is the great original essence, and creator of all things.’ This ‘trinity’ of deities is thus rendered symbolical and subordinate to ‘the divine mover’, a term that Dow explained in a footnote as the same as ‘The supreme divinity’.119 Thus, while this dialogue reflects certain trends in theistic Hinduism, particularly in the Upanisads,120 Dow's composition was designed to support his assertion that the three divinities represented ‘no more than the symbolical worship of the divine attributes’, designed for the education of the vulgar.121 In summary, according to Dow, the Bedang Shaster, represented as the ‘most orthodox’ of the two sects, was, despite appearances, at its core a pure and essentially reasonable monotheism.

Beyond this, more heterodox European religious concepts also shaped Dow's work, with deist understandings of the nature of belief and God providing a framework for his account of Nyāya philosophy. This was presented not as an extract but rather as a commentary on the nature of the ‘sect’. Occasionally he appears to quote the author of Neadrisen Shaster, whom he identifies as ‘Goutam’, a rendition of Akṣapāda Gautama or Gotama into Bengali dialect, who is indeed considered to be the founder of the Nyāya school (though not the creator of the Nyāya sutras, which have multiple authors).122 ‘Goutam’ is taken to represent an enlightened approach to religion. Thus Dow argues that Goutam, in contrast to the authors of the Bedang texts, ‘does not begin to reason, a priori’, but rather ‘considers the present state of nature, and the intellectual faculties, as far as they can be investigated by human reason; and from thence he draws all his conclusions’.123 In the description of the Neadrisen, Dow deals with the question of Providence, one of the central theological issues that occupied eighteenth‐century religious debate. Dow's account of the Nyāya position bears a remarkable resemblance to the religion of many of the English deists, who, contrary to the popular view that they outright rejected it, maintained the possibility of God's intervention so as not to impede his omnipotence, but ‘denied contemporary active providence’.124 Thus Dow says of Goutam:

with respect to providence, though he cannot deny the possibility of its existence, without divesting God of his omnipotence, he supposes that the deity never exerts that power, but that he remains in eternal rest, taking no concern, neither in human affairs, nor in the course of the operations of nature.125


Alongside these extracts, Dow constructed an account of ‘Hindoo’ religion that fits into a particular narrative of purity and decline, in which rational religion is in conflict with the forces and agents of zealotry and superstition. Throughout The History of Hindostan Dow uses religion as a category of analysis, the proximity of which to either fanaticism or deism is grounds for condemnation or approbation. It is the third Mughal ruler in India, Akbar (Jalal‐ud‐din Muhammad Akbar), who was ‘totally divested of those prejudices for his own religion’, that Dow judges to have been one of that empire's greatest statesmen. Likewise, his son, Jahangir, continuing to uphold the most admirable aspects of the Mughal dynasty, was ‘brought up a deist under the tuition of his father’.126 By contrast, Dow argues elsewhere that it was ‘the passive humility inculcated by Christianity’ that led to the fall of Rome, on the grounds that ‘the spirit and power, and, we may say, even virtue of the Romans, declined with the introduction of a new religion among them’.127 Moreover, in the case of Islam, its promotion of public and private despotism meant ‘that undefined something, called Public Virtue, exists no more’ and despotism is left to flourish.128 In contrast to this and, most strikingly, to the European religious landscape, ‘Hindoo’ religion could be admired for religious toleration. As Dow put it, the ‘Hindoos’ ‘chuse rather to make a mystery of their religion, than impose it upon the world, like the Mahommedans, with the sword, or by means of the stake, after the manner of some pious Christians’.129 The elevated position and influence of the Brahmins, however, meant that superstition was all too common in the version of ‘Hindoo’ religiosity performed by the vulgar. Again, though, this was not a particularly ‘Hindoo’ failing, just as ‘the more ignorant Hindoos’ who, misunderstanding their symbolical nature, ‘think that these subaltern divinities do exist’ could be likened, wrote Dow, to the fact that ‘in the same manner […] Christians believe in Angels’.130 Thus, not only do the three Shasters reflect a the unity of a belief in a singular creator (Dirm), orthodox belief (Bedang), and rational religion (Neadrisen), but these are part of a more universal history in which deism and toleration sit at the more enlightened pole of religion and superstition and enthusiasm at the other. In interpreting and constructing Indian religion, Dow aimed at offering a mirror to European schools of thought, as well as positioning these as part of a universal narrative in which zealotry and superstition could be countered with ‘reason and philosophy’.

IV Conclusion

Holwell and Dow used the possibility of the discovery of the truths of ancient Indian religion and the plausibility of their access to it as Company servants versed in some Indian languages. In doing so, they created their own histories of Indian religion. Holwell's was based on the extreme antiquity of the original Shastah, which contained the lost doctrine of metempsychosis. Dow's pointed to a schism between two schools of thought, orthodox religion and the religion of reason, which reflected the universal struggle between fanaticism and reasoned belief. This fabrication accents Greg Clingham's presentation of forgeries as subversive inventions intended to make space for alternative narratives in history. Where scholars have argued of the famous (and contested) forgeries of Macpherson and Chatterton that such fictionalised historical narratives functioned as alternative national histories, this is not unlike Holwell and Dow's account of an ancient and native history of the ‘Gentoos’ of India.131 Moreover, outside the question of forgery, the politics of translating religion also poses more complex considerations. Scholars like Ziad Elmarsafy have pointed to the subtleties of the intellectual practices involved in interpreting religious material, pointing in particular to the role of translations of the Quran in the development of Enlightenment thought regarding religion, toleration and cultural criticism.132 And yet, when the text in question involves deception, while still arguably being designed to communicate different religious thought in a way that challenges European assumptions, the boundaries between misappropriation and intellectual translation are less clear. Holwell's religion of the ‘Gentoos’, contained within the Shastah, hinged on a complex interplay of personal conviction, theological literature and some insight into Indian beliefs, the origins of which are unclear. Dow's description is similarly a deliberate construction of ‘Hindoo’ religion, assembled from a mixture of genuine Indian philosophical concepts and a large dose of Dow's own religious preoccupation with eighteenth‐century rational religion. This, coupled with the sense that despite their embellishments it is conceivable that each author was still communicating what they took to be the essence of Indian religion as they understood and encountered it, makes interpreting what is authentic uncertain, even if uncovering what is fake becomes clearer.

For their eighteenth‐century European readers, the question of authenticity was posed differently. Significantly, the reception of these texts was centred on the question of the credibility of Indian religion and not the authors. Reviewers were willing to accept the authenticity and antiquity of the scriptures presented to them, but not the conclusion of their translators that they were therefore evidence of some original and pure religious truth. In its mildest form, criticism centred on the accusation that Holwell had spent too much time in India, becoming biased in its favour. One reviewer compared Holwell's ‘admiration’ of the ‘Gentoos’ to both Montesquieu's admiration of the English and a certain Scottish MP ‘who, after a long residence in Holland as a merchant’ began every speech by referring to what the ‘Dutch, a wise people’ had to say on the matter.133 By the time Holwell's more controversial observations appeared in 1771, this incredulity turned to offence, exemplified by the critic who dismissed Holwell's ‘Chartah Bhade Shastah, of Bruma, Bramma, Burma Brumma, Birma, Bramah, or Lord knows who’, adding that in championing the Shastah Holwell had become a victim of ‘the speculative errors of deluded superstition’. Yet, in claiming that the ‘Gentoo’ religion was more ‘a compound of Manicheism, vitiated Christianity, pagan idolatry, superstitious rites, and unintelligible jargon’, the reviewer was taking offence at Holwell's interpretation, and not necessarily the authenticity of his sources.134 Likewise, to Dow's suggestion that many of the deities of the ‘Hindoos’ are really allegorical representations of God's divine attributes, one author conceded that such an ‘apology for the idolatry of the Brahmins is applicable to that of every nation’, but that Dow's further assertion that the logical conclusion of this is ‘that whatever the external ceremonies of religion may be, the self‐same infinite being is the object of universal adoration’ was a step too far.135 This ‘ingenious refinement’ of Dow's was, according to this reader, the position of a ‘metaphysician’ rather than a ‘moral philosopher’.136

And yet it was precisely these philosophical reflections, emphasising the essential reasonableness of Indian religion, that attracted other readers to Holwell and Dow in the 1760s. Moses Mendelssohn used Holwell's work in his controversial work Jerusalem, or On Religious Power and Judaism, which argued that it was possible to conceive of the core of Judaism as a religion founded on reason alone.137 He cited Holwell's allegorical interpretation of the ‘Gentoo’ creation story, and his explanation of the deities as symbolic attributes of ‘the Eternal’ and singular deity, to argue that all religions had begun with such symbolism, the true meaning of which had been lost in those ages in which ‘real idolatry became the dominant religion in every part of the globe’.138 Another important figure of the German Enlightenment, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, used the work of Dow. In his commentary on the controversial Fragments by an Anonymous Writer (1777) Lessing included Dow's account of ‘the sacred books of the Brahmans’ as evidence that the Old Testament did not contain divine wisdom particular to Christianity but presented only the insights of natural religion of the kind that ‘may be contained in any other book of equal antiquity’.139 The ambivalent but potentially heretical tone of this commentary captures the ways in which these accounts of Indian religion held, for some of their European readers, a great deal of subversive potential.

Holwell's and Dow's works were thus never directly challenged on the grounds of authenticity but were rather eclipsed in in the 1780s, when the landscape of British Orientalism shifted once again with the founding of the Bengal Asiatick Society in 1784 and Charles Wilkins's translation of the Bhagavad Gītā directly from Sanskrit in 1785. As a result, they have often been dismissed as unscholarly precursors to the Indology of later writers such as William Jones. Yet these subsequent works had much in common with Holwell's and Dow's original purpose of reconciling Indian religion to Enlightenment concerns. The credit paid to the great sophistication of Indian religion and civilisation by these authors and their readers was soon accommodated into the ideological construction of British empire in India in the later eighteenth century. Arguments about legitimacy often appealed to the notion of an enlightened British administration that would preserve 'native' laws and customs, which involved the translation and (mis)interpretation of authoritative scriptures, as well as playing on the idea that a British government would be a welcome intervention to the previous oppressions of Muslim intolerance.140 It is no coincidence that Wilkins's project was paid for by Governor‐General Warren Hastings, and that William Jones was a jurist on the bench for the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William. Tracing the complex origins of British interpretations of Indian religion, rooted in religious debates and forged texts, which then developed into Company policy, thus offers new problems when conceptualising the relationship between Enlightenment, empire and Orientalism. The invention of ‘Gentoo’ or ‘Hindoo’ religion in this period by British authors represents neither disinterested empathetic scholarship nor the purely instrumental appropriation of knowledge in the service of power. Rather, it shows that British writers and their readers were heavily invested in all sorts of ways in the interpretation of Indian religion for the purposes of serving several different intellectual frameworks, including religion and cultural criticism as well as conceptions of how authority might be structured and exercised in the empire.

_______________

Notes:

1. This article concerns the manufacture of a particular European view of Indian religion in a specific period. I will therefore use the eighteenth-century terms ‘Hindoo’ and ‘Gentoo’, rather than ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’, except for when discussing a wider history.

2. John Zephaniah Holwell, Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Province of Bengal, vol.II (London: T. Becket & P. A. De Hondt, 1767), p.31.

3. Alexander Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn, 2 vols (London: T. Becket & P. A. DeHondt, 1768), vol. I.li.

4. Urs App, The Birth of Orientalism (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), p.297-362.

5. British Library [BL], MS 4830. The collection of Sanskrit fragments bears the title, written in English, ‘The Neadrisen Shaster’, with ‘Alex Dow’ written next to it.

6. Moses Mendelssohn, quoted in M. J. Franklin, Representing India: India Culture and Imperial Control, 9 vols (Abingdon: Routledge 2000), vol. I.xii.

7. See Kate Marsh, India in the French Imagination: Peripheral Voices,1754-1815(London:Pickering and Chatto, 2009), p.114-20.

8. John Zephaniah Holwell, Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Province of Bengal, vol. II (London, 1767), p.1, 111.

9. Alexander Dow, ‘A Dissertation Concerning the Customs, Manners, Language, Religion and Philosophy of the Hindoos’, in The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.xxi-lxix, lv.

10. Partha Chatterjee, The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

11. The most thorough investigations have come from Brijen Kishore Gupta, Sirajuddaullahand the East India Company, 1756 -1757 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966), and J. H. Little, ‘The Black Hole: Question of Holwell’s Veracity’, Bengal Past and Present XI (Calcutta, 1915), p.75 -105.

12. Dow’s association with Macpherson is detailed in the memoirs of his footman, John Macdonald, Memoirs of an Eighteenth-Century Footman, 1745-1779 (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1927), p.38.

13. P. J. Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge :Cambridge University Press, 1970), p.27. Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding, English trans. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990), p.56. Halbfass’s ‘philosophical essay’ was originally published as Indien und Europa: Perspektiven ihrer Geistigen Begegnung (Stuttgart: Schwabe & Co., 1981).

14. Wayne Hudson, Diego Lucci and Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth (eds), Atheism and Deism Revalued: Heterodox Religious Identities in Britain,1650-1800 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).

15. What James A. Herrick labels ‘Primitive Religion and the Priestcraft Hypothesis’ in The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists: The Discourse of Scepticism 1680-1750 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997), p.32.

16. These terms originated with David Kopf, British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization,1773-1835 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969). For an account of their generalised use in cultural histories of British interactions with India see Joshua Ehrlich, ‘The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge’, PhD diss., Harvard University, 2018 (dash.harvard.edu: ehrlich-dissertation-2018.pdf).

17. Joshua Ehrlich, ‘Empire and Enlightenment in Three Letters from Sir William Jones to Governor-General John Macpherson’, The Historical Journal 62:2 (2019), p.541-51.

18. Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin Books, 2003 [1978 ]), p.78.19. Jürgen Osterhammel, Unfabling the East: The Enlightenments Encounter with Asia, trans. Robert Savage (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018).

20. See for example, Ian Haywood, The Making of History (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1996).

21. Greg Clingham, Making History: Textuality and the Forms of Eighteenth-Century Culture (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1998), p.36-7.

22. Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century,p.2.

23. The fluidity of authentic and fake in relation to religion is something explored, in a different context, by David Chidester in, Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2005).

24. Lata Mani, for example, has pointed to how in the nineteenth century on the matter of sati, those in favour of abolition and those in favour of a continued ‘orientalist’ policy of toleration argued for their position on the grounds of continuity of custom. Lata Mani, Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998).

25. Catherine A. Robinson, Interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gītā and Images of the Hindu Tradition: The Song of the Lord (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), p.6.

26. Dow adopts this view in the general sense that the ‘Hindoos’ are the original peoples of Indostan: see The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.vi-vii. Holwell is more overt in his categorisation of the Mughals as invaders: see Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Provinces of Bengal and the Empire of Indostan, vol. I (London: T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1765), p.5. For the importance of this discourse at the end of the century, and a turn away from accounts of legitimacy that used the idea of a Mughal constitutions as its base, see Robert Travers, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth-Century India: The British in Bengal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p.244-9.

27. David N. Lorenzen, ‘Who Invented Hinduism?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 41:4 (October 1999), p. 630-59. See also Will Sweetman, Mapping Hinduism: ‘Hinduism’ and the Study of Indian Religions, 1600-1776 (Halle: Verlag der Frankeschen Stiftungen zu Halle, 2003), p.56.

28. See Chapter 8, ‘Archives and the End of Catholic Orientalism, in Angela Barreto Xavier and Ines G. Zupanov, Catholic Orientalism: Portuguese Empire, Indian Knowledge (16th-18thCenturies) (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015), p.28 7-330.

29. Will Sweetman, ‘Unity and Plurality: Hinduism and the Religions of India in Early European Scholarship’, Religion 31:3 (2001), p. 209-24. See, for example, Das opiniões, ritos ecerimonias, de todos os gentios da India (Of Opinions, Rites and Ceremonies of All Gentiles in India), attributed to Agostino de Azevedo, an Augustinian friar, included in a report to Philip III in Lisbon in 1603. Published in Documentação para a história das missões do padroado portuguêsdo oriente, India, ed. António da Silva Rego, 12 vols (Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1960-63), vol. II.

30. Charles Grant, Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain (London, 1792), p.139. For details of the 1787 usage see Sweetman, Mapping Hinduism, p.56.

31. For scholarship posing and investigating variations on this question see Brian K. Pennington, Was Hinduism Invented? Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); and David N. Lorenzen, “ Who Invented Hinduish?", Comparative Studies in Society and History 41:4 (October 1999), pp. 630-59).

32. S. N. Balagangadhara, “‘Orientaatlism, Colonialism and the ‘“Construction”’ of Religion”’, in E. Bloch, M. Keppens and, R. Hegde (eds), Rethinking Religion in India: the The Colonial Construction of Hinduism, (Oxford: Routledge, 2010); S. N. Balagangadhara, ‘The Heathen in His Blindness…’: Asia, the West and & the Dynamic of Religion, (Leiden: Brill, 1994).

33. Lorenzen, ‘Who Invented Hinduism?’.

34. Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, 1925 to the 1990s (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1996 ), p. 6.

35. A. J. Droge, ‘“The Lying Pen of the Scribes”: Of Holy Books and Pious Frauds’, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 15:2 (2003), p.143.

36. A Genuine Narrative of the Deplorable Deaths of the English Gentlemen, and Others, who were suffocated in the BLACK-HOLE in FORT-WILLIAM, at CALCUTTA in the Kingdom of BENGAL; in the Night succeeding the 20th Day of June, 1756 (London: printed for A. Miller, 1758 ).

37. Brijen Kishore Gupta, Sirajuddaullah and the East India Company,1756-1757 (Leiden: Brill,1966), p.71.

38. Nicholas B. Dirks, The Scandal of Empire; India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), p.1.

39. J. Z. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Province of Bengal, vol. I (London,1765 ), p.5.

40. J. Z. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Province of Bengal, vol. II (London,1767 ), p.39.

41. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.3-4.

42. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.2, 5.

43. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.2.44. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.3-4.45. Holwell describes ‘Birmahah’ (Brahman) as ‘creation’: Holwell, Interesting Historica lEvents, vol. II.106.

46. A. Leslie Wilson, Mythical Image: The Ideal of India in German Romanticism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1964 ), p.24.

47. Thomas R. Trautmann, Aryans and British India (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997), p.68-9.

48. Holwell says this in Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.3. Those requesting compensation for losses sustained in the sack of Calcutta are listed in a letter written by council members at Fort William on 31 January 1757, reprinted in H.N. Sinha (ed.), Fort William–India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, vol. II, 1757-1759 (Delhi: National Archives of India, 1962 ), p.192-3.

49. Franklin, Representing India, vol.I.xiii; Trautmann, Aryans and British India, p. 69; Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century, p.18.

50. App, The Birth of Orientalism, p.216-319, 330-34.

51. Francis Wilford, ‘On Egypt and Other Countries, Adjacent to the Cali River, or Nile of Ethiopia, from the Ancient Books of the Hindus’, Asiatick Researches: or Transactions of the Society, vol. III (Calcutta: T. Watley, 1792), p.295-468.

52. For more detail on this see Trautmann, Aryans, p.89-93, and Nigel Leask, ‘Francis Wilford and the Colonial Construction of Hindu Geography, 1799-1822’, in Amanda Gilroy, Romantic Geographies: Discourses of Travel, 1775-1844 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p.204-222.

53. For a detailed overview of this process see Michael S. Dodson, Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture: India, 1770-1880 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), Chapter 2.

54. C. A. Bayly, ‘Orientalists, Informants and Critics in Benares, 1790-1860’, in Jamal Malik(ed.), Perspectives of Mutual Encounters in South Asian History:1760-1860 (Leiden: Brill, 2000), p.97-127.

55. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.21.

56. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.9.

57. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.32-3.

58. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.32-3.

59. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.15.

60. Voltaire, Fragments Relating to the Late Revolutions in India, the Death of Count Lally, and the Prosecution of Count de Morangies (London: printed for J. Nourse, 1774 ), p. 37, 82.

61. See, for example, Richard King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘the Mystic East’ (London and New York: Routledge, 1999 ), p. 62-70.

62. Annual Register, vol. IX (London, 1766), p. 307; The Monthly Review, vol. XXXXV (London,1767 ), p.424-8.

63. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.7-9.

64. Ludo Rocher, The Ezourvedam: A French Veda for the Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing, 1984 ), p.72.

65. Abraham Roger, De Open Deure tot het Verborgen Heydendom (Leiden: Françoys Hackes,1651).

66. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.12-15, 63.

67. As translated by Kate Marsh, India in the French Imagination: Peripheral Voices,1754-1815 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2009), p.117-18. This comment appeared in Voltaire’s ‘Philosophiede l’Histoire’, which became the introduction to the Essai sur les moeurs in 1769.

68. The Lusiad: or Discovery of India. An Epic Poem. Translated from the Portuguese of Luis DeCamoëns. trans. William Julius Mickle, 2nd edn (London, 1778 [1776]), p.323, 327.

69. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.33-4, 97.

70. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol. I.8-9.

71. Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding, (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,1990), p. 56; Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism.

72. App, The Birth of Orientalism, p.363 .73. J. Z. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events Relative to the Province of Bengal, vol. III (London: T. Becket and P.A. de Hondt, 1771 ), p.143, 78. For more on wider discussion of transmigration see Peter Harrison, ‘Animal Souls, Metempsychosis, and Theodicy in Seventeenth-Century English Thought’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 31:4 (1993), p.519-44.

74. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.143.

75. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.27.

76. Charles Phillips, Michael Kerrigan and David Gould (eds), Ancient India’s Myths and Beliefs (New York: Rosen Publishing, 2012), p.98-100.

77. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.35-60.

78. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.II.53-70, 20, 3 .

79. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.91.

80. Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the making of Modernity1650-1750 (Oxford University Press, 2001), p.470-71.

81. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.72-3, 80.

82. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.82.

83. Stephan Lalor, Matthew Tindal, Freethinker: An Eighteenth-Century Assault on Religion (London: Bloomsbury, 2006), p. 17.

84. Holwell, Interesting Historical Events, vol.III.78.

85. The Critical Review 31-2 (1771), p.131.

86. Daniel Hawley, ‘L’Inde de Voltaire’ ,in Studies in Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, ed. Theodore Besterman (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1974 ), p. 161.

87. Dow’s will names the Nesbit brothers as sole beneficiaries, The National Archives: PRO, PROB 11 /1091, no. 277.

88. Willem G. J. Kuiters, ‘Dow, Alexander (1735 /6-1779 )’, in B. Harrison and H. C. G. Matthew (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Dow appeared as a witness for plaintiff Captain John Neville Parker in 1769, who brought the charge against Clive that he had illegally detained him to await court-martial following the protest: BL MSS Eur F128 /11.

89. Dow’s letter to the Court of Directors, 18 November 1768, BL, India Office Records, IOR/E/I/51, fol. 232.

90. Hume to Alexander Dow, 1772 .In The Letters of David Hume, ed. J. Y. T. Greig (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932 ) vol. II. 267, Letter 480.

91. Detailed in the memoirs of Dow’s footman, John Macdonald, Memoirs of an Eighteenth-Century Footman, 1745-1779(London: George Routledge and Sons, 1927 ), p. 38.

92. Alexander Dow, Tales, Translated from the Persian of Inatulla of Delhi (London, 1768 ), p. iii. A loose translation of The Bahar-i Danish by the seventeenth-century Persian writer Shaikh Inayat-Allah Kamboh (1608-1671).

93. Alexander Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxi-lxix, lv.

94. The Monthly Review, or Literary Journal 39 (July 1768 ), p. 377.

95. Alexander Dow, Dissertation sur les Moeurs, les Usages, le Langage, la Religion et la Philosophie des Hindous, trans. Claude-François Bergier (Paris, 1769 ); Alexander Dow, Fragment de l’histoire del’Indostan (Paris, 1769 ); Kate Marsh, India in the French Imagination (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016), p.116-18.

96. Trautmann, Aryans and British India, p. 30.

97. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxii-xxiii.

98. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.xx.

99. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I xxix, xxxvii.

100. See insert of Sanskrit key in Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol.I.xxx-xxxi.

101. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol.I.xxi.

102. Dodson, Orientalism, Empire and National Culture, p.53.

103. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I. xxii.

104. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxxvii.

105. Bayly, ‘Orientalists, Informants and Critics in Benares, 1790-1860 ’, p. 99.

106. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.1, viii.

107. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxxviii; ‘Shaster’ is probably a translation of śāstra.

108. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxxix.

109. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.l-li.

110. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.p.lvi.

111. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.lix.

112. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.lvi.

113. C. Bendall, Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1902 ), p.147. Catalogued in the British Museum as Add. MS 4829; now in the British Library’s Oriental MSS collection as Add. MS 4830. The collection of Sanskrit fragments bears the title, written in English, ‘The Neadrisen Shaster’, with ‘Alex Dow’ written next to it. My own lack of knowledge of Sanskrit limits me in making a judgement on what the text actually contains ,so I leave this to a scholar of superior linguistic abilities to determine.

114. Richard King, Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1988), p.42.

115. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.lx, lv, li, lv.

116. Sibajiban Bhattacharyya, History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization: Development of Nyaya Philosophy and its Social Context, vol. III, pt 3 (Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 2004), p.106.

117. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.lxviii, lxxxvi.

118. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol. I.xlvi.

119. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.xxxvi.

120. J. L. Brockington, The Sacred Thread: Hinduism in its Continuity and Diversity (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996 ), p. 54.

121. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol. I.lxii, lxvii.

122. Theos Bernard, Hindu Philosophy (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass publishers, 1996 [1947 ]),p. 20.

123. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol.I.lii.

124. Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth, Deism in Enlightenment England: Theology, Politics, and Newtonian Public Science (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), p. 207.

125. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol.I.lxv.

126. Alexander Dow, The History of Hindostan; from the Earliest Account of Time, to the Death of Akbar, 2nd edn, vol. III (London: T. Becket and P. A. de Hondt, 177 2 ), p.103-4.

127. Alexander Dow, The History of Hindostan, 2nd edn, 2 vols (London: T. Becket and P. A. deHondt, 1770 ), vol. I.17. Gibbon also read and cited Dow. See Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Dublin, 1788 ), vol. IV, Chapter 57, p.280.

128. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 2nd edn, vol. III (1772), p.xii.

129. Dow, The History of Hindostan , 2nd edn, vol. III (1772), p.xxiii.

130. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768), vol.I.xlix.

131. Clingham, Making History,p.36-7.

132. Ziad Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur’an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam, (Oxford: Oneworld, 2009).

133. The Critical Review XX (London 1765 ), p.145. The reviewer is probably referring to Patrick Craufurd, MP for Renfrewshire from 1761 to 1768. Patrick’s father was also a merchant in Holland, and his son was a friend of David Hume. See Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The History of Parliament: House of Commons1754-1790, (London: Secker and Warburg, [1964 ] 1985 ),p. 272-4.

134. The Critical Review XXXII (London, 1771), p.131-6.

135. Dow, The History of Hindostan, 1st edn (1768 ), vol.I.lxxxvi.

136. The Lusiad, ed. Mickle, p. 313.

137. Allan Arkush, Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment, (New York: SUNY Press, 1994), p. 87.

138. Moses Mendelssohn, Writings on Judaism, Christianity and the Bible, ed. Michah Gottlieb (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2011), p.102-3.

139. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Philosophical and Theological Writings, ed. H. B. Nisbet, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p.77.

140. For more, see Travers, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth-Century India.

Biography

Dr Jessica Patterson is an intellectual historian researching empire, Enlightenment and political thought in the long eighteenth century, with a particular focus on Britain and India. She currently holds a lectureship in the History of Political Thought at King's College London.