Basnage, Jacques Christian°

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BASNAGE, JACQUES CHRISTIAN° (also called Basnage de Beauval ; 1653–1725), Protestant divine and historian. Basnage was born in Rouen, France. In 1676 he became pastor there but after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes he accepted a call first to Rotterdam (1686) and later to the Hague (1691). He wrote several books, the most famous being L'histoire et la réligion des Juifs depuis Jésus Christ jusqu'à present (5 vols., 1706–11; Eng. The History and Religion of the Jews from the time of Jesus Christ to the Present, 1708), which was praised by Voltaire. The book was intended to supplement and continue the history of Josephus, but is marred by the author's inadequate knowledge of Hebrew, which obliged him to rely on Latin translations of Jewish sources and authors. He made use of the works of Buxtorf and Arias Montano and other Christian scholars. Despite Basnage's dry style and occasional inability to control the vast material, his book enjoyed great popularity and was the basis for later, more informed Jewish histories. In 1713 Basnage published another book on Jewish history Antiquités judaïques ou Remarques critiques sur la république des hébreux. His books are important as the first comprehensive and truly erudite history of the Jews in the Christian era, filling a gap between early Jewish historical writings and modern Jewish historical research.


Bernfeld, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 2 (1897), 198–201; E.A. Mailhet, Jacques Basnage, théologien, controversiste, diplomate et historien: sa vie et ses écrits (1880); Graetz, Hist, 6 (1949), index; Dictionnaire de biographie française, 5 (1951), 734.

[Benzion Dinur (Dinaburg)]