[The First Quakers and the Jews]. The article describes the mission of Menasseh ben Israel to England in 1655 for the readmission of the Jews in that country, highlighting how he was accompanied by Raphael Supino, a leading member of the Jewish community of Livorno (later a follower of Sabbatai Zevi). Following an examination of the characters of “philo-Semitism” that spread the revolution in England, the debate that followed the proposal of Menasseh ben Israel, to which the Quakers also contributed in favor of readmission writing numerous conversionist works with the intent to demonstrate the harmony between the Old and New Testaments. This philo-Semitic attitude of the Quakers is also manifested during their missions in the Mediterranean and Italy. In 1656 – a year full of millenarian expectations – the Quakers promoted a collection to fund their missionary activities and the following year a group of six Quakers left for Jerusalem. Once in Livorno one of them, the Irish John Perrot spoke in the synagogue there. The intervention of the inquisitor of Pisa pushed the Governor to solicit their departure. The Quakers, however, had had time to spread some of the texts of their movement that, originally published in English, had been translated into Latin, French, and Italian in view of these missions. Villani highlights how the Quakers who arrived in Venice, also with missionary intents, had been alerted by the Jews of the town of the fact that two of their comrades had been arrested by the Inquisition in Rome. Villani also discusses two paintings by Alessandro Magnasco representing an interior of Synagogue and a Quaker meeting, painted in the early 1700s for Ferdinando de’ Medici. The fact that these two paintings had been painted at the same time, one as pendant to the other, leads the author to cautiously hypothesize that the choice of these curious subjects may be related to the memory of the Quaker mission in Livorno in 1657 and to their preaching in the synagogue. In an appendix to the article are published in full three texts Quakers turned to the Hebrews. The first is a short text aimed at the conversion of Jews (Bosom Opened To The Jews by William Tomlinson), the second, Immanuel The Salvation of Israel by John Perrot, is, apparently, the report made by him of the sermon he gave in the synagogue of Livorno and the third, Certe Considerationi proposte agli hebrei by Isaac Penington, is perhaps the only seventeenth-century Quaker text translated into Italian in print. Apparently the only copy of this text is preserved at the Friends’ Library in London. The article, reconstructing for the first time Quaker propaganda to the Italian Jews, shows unexpected and unexplored relationships between the latter and foreign Protestants and the religious complexities of seventeenth-century Italy.
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