Andrew Marvell, Samuel Parker, and the Rabbis on Zealots and Proselytes
Although they are not named, John Selden and John Lightfoot — the two greatest Christian Hebraists of 17th-century Britain — stand behind the intermittent but fierce talmudic exchanges of Samuel Parker and Andrew Marvell. Parker relies on Selden’s scholarship when he explains that Christ drove the money-changers out of the temple with impunity because he followed rabbinic laws pertaining to Jewish zealots. For Marvell, the act was miraculous, and he accuses Parker of blasphemy. The Ius Zelotarum or right of zealots was an incendiary topic during the civil war period. Relying on both the New Testament (Matthew 23:15) and on the Talmud as interpreted by Lightfoot, Marvell vilifies Parker as a proselyte, a turncoat who abandoned Puritanism for the Church of England in order to advance his career.
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