Antoine, Nicolas

views updated


ANTOINE, NICOLAS (1603–1632), French pastor who converted to Judaism. Antoine, who was born into a Catholic family in Briey (Lorraine), became a Protestant c. 1624 and studied theology in Geneva. A few years later, during a stay in Metz, his faith in Christianity was shaken by discussions with Jews of that city. Subsequently he went to Venice where he asked the rabbis of the city to circumcise him, but they were afraid to do so. When he returned to Geneva he assumed various functions, including that of pastor of Divonne, although convinced of the truth of Judaism. He followed Jewish observances, and avoided making reference to the New Testament, or explaining Christian dogmas in his sermons and in the exercise of his other pastoral duties. This might have passed unobserved by the Protestant community of Divonne had he not one Sunday in February 1632, in a sermon on Psalm 2, contradicted the Christian interpretation of the text, openly declaring that it referred not to Jesus, but to David. At first he was declared insane and treated as such, but he was later summoned to court. The trial was conducted summarily. Although several French pastors advocated clemency, he was condemned to death and executed at Place du Plainpalais in Geneva in April 1632.


Weill, in: rej, 36 (1898), 163–96; 37 (1898), 161–80; P.F. Geisendorf, Les Annalistes genevois… (1942), 700.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]