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(Gabriel da Costa) (1585-1640). Uriel Acosta was born in Oporto, Portugal, to an aristocratic Marrano family that had been forcibly converted to Christianity. He came to doubt the teachings of Catholicism, but having no contact with Judaism he formed a highly personal view through his reading of the Bible. After his father’s death, he persuaded his family to move to Amsterdam and return to Judaism. There he began to express his ideas and wrote Proposals Against Tradition; in 1624 he developed these ideas further in Comparison of Pharisaic Tradition with the Scriptures. In this book Acosta expressed his rejection of the soul’s immortality, resurrection, and reward and punishment. These views resulted in the public burning of his books. The Amsterdam Jewish community placed him under “the great ban” in 1618. Everyone, including his brothers, shunned him. In 1633, when he could no longer bear the isolation, Acosta publicly renounced his opinions, only to revert back to his controversial beliefs. Again excommunicated, he led a solitary life for seven years. When this existence became unbearable, he again recanted and submitted to a harrowing ceremony of repentance in the Amsterdam synagogue. Acosta could not bear to live after this public humiliation. He wrote a short autobiography defending his views, then in 1640, committed suicide.

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