Who is Gabriel Acosta? (1585-1640)June 25, 2021
Gabriel Acosta K is a Portuguese philosopher.
He opposed the belief in the immortality of the soul and established the tradition of criticizing religious problems with a rational method.
Born in Oporto, died in Amsterdam. He is the son of a Jewish family that later became Catholic. He received a strict Catholic education as a child. After finishing his studies in Coimbra, he was confined to a small monastery. When he turned to Judaism as a result of his studies on the Bible, he tried to convince his family of this. Fearing prosecution for his family’s religious beliefs, he took refuge in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, Acosta felt that Jewish rites and other religious practices were unbiblical and full of unnecessary rigidity.
He engaged in lengthy discussions with the rabbis: he wrote a book emphasizing the ambiguity of the principle of the immortality of the soul and the inconsistency of the Bible. He was considered an enemy of religion because of this book he published in 1624 with the title “Examen dos Tradiçoens Phariseas Conferidas Con a Lay Escnta”. The book was confiscated, along with another of his works, and burned, and he himself was excommunicated.
In 1633 he wanted to return to the Jewish community again. This desire was not due to a change in their views, but to the need for a social environment. Acosta, who was accepted back into the community, doubted the divinity of the principles brought by Moses after a while and questioned whether all religions were born from human thought. He was later expelled from the Synagogue, accused of breaking all Jewish rules and keeping two Christians from becoming Jews. In 1640 he applied for admission to the Jewish community one last time. As a result, he was forced to undergo severe penance. First, he expressed his regret in the synagogue, then he was laid on the ground after being eaten by 39 whips, and the entire Jewish community was walked over.
After this incident, he came home and wrote his own life story and committed suicide by shooting himself. All information about his views comes from this autobiography, published in 1687, as his other books were burned down.
Acosta opposed the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, finding it questionable and unbiblical. According to him, all religions can be human inventions and products of thought. Acosta, both because of his critical thoughts based on the principles of reason and nature, and because of his sad life, was influential in the later periods and pioneered the discussion and criticism of the problems of faith. In particular, his handling of Judeo-Christian beliefs as a whole and his impartial view of the problems related to these beliefs without being attached to a particular religion brings an important innovation to theology. Since the 18th century, he has made a great contribution to the development of the understanding of religion, which has been against traditional religions and defending the view of freedom of thought and belief.
– Examen dos Tradiçoes Phariseas Conferidas Con a Lay Escrita, 1624, (“The Study of Persian Traditions by Comparison with Written Laws”);
– Tratado de L’Immortalitat de L’Ama, 1626, (“On the Immortality of the Soul”), Examplar Humanac Vttae, 1687 (“Examples from the Life of Man.”)
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