The history of the religious toleration of Jews in England is incomplete without acknowledgment of the direct impact of Selden’s uncommonly generous Hebrew scholarship. It is not the least of Selden’s historical and philological achievements that he can represent the synagogue as a positive model of church institutions, and the Sanhedrin as a civil court that the English Parliament would do well to imitate. Even in the 21st century, those two cold Greek words respectively connote Jewish inferiority and cruelty: synagoga, the decrepit old woman vanquished by a vital and young ecclesia, and Sanhedrin, the tribunal that handed Christ over to the Romans to be crucified. If contemporary readers of Selden can remove the overlay of prejudice that begrimes not only the words synagogue and Sanhedrin but also Pharisee (whose negative connotations Selden, a partisan of the oral law, did much to expunge), then his cultural influence will not have ended.
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