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Prado, Juan (Daniel) de

PRADO, JUAN (Daniel) DE

PRADO, JUAN (Daniel) DE (c. 1615–c. 1670), *Marrano physician. Born in Spain, probably at Alcalá de Henares, Prado studied at the university there and then at the University of Toledo, where he received a medical diploma in 1638. Outspoken by nature, Prado felt impelled to leave inquisitorial Spain and made his way to Picardy, in northern France. By 1655 he had moved to Holland, where he proclaimed himself a Jew and took the name of Daniel. A dozen contemporaneous documents reveal how upon settling in Amsterdam, Prado formed a circle of young intellectuals and led them in the development of unorthodox philosophical ideas. One of the group was Baruch *Spinoza, then 22. As early as 1656, Prado was charged with being publicly critical of the Bible, derogating the distinctiveness of Jewish people, denying the authority of rabbinic tradition, and preaching the supremacy of Natural Law. To avoid being condemned, Prado read the required statement of regret for heresy. Nevertheless, he was excommunicated in 1657. Unlike Spinoza, however, he strove to have the ban (ḥerem) lifted. A full review of Prado's expulsion in 1657 resulted in a reaffirmation of the ban. Inquisition arrest warrants for the "tall, black-bearded" Prado and for Spinoza were circulated twice during 1659. The Inquisition had been an indirect factor in their excommunications, for the congregation had feared that their liberal pronouncements would offend the Church and would serve as pretexts to force the Dutch authorities into restricting the freedom of Amsterdam Jewry. After 1659 there was no apparent contact between Prado and Spinoza. Spinoza, content in the ḥerem, went on to develop his pantheistic philosophy, in which Prado had no share; Prado continued to grapple with the problems of universalism versus Jewish identity, still seeking reentry into the Jewish fold.

Three letters attacking Prado were written around 1665 by Isaac *Orobio de Castro. Legalistically thorough and longest is the Epistola Invectiva Contra Prado, un Philosopho Medico, que Dubitava, o no Creya la Verdad de la Divina Escritura, y Pretendió Encubrir su Malicia con la Affecta Confaesion de Dios y Ley de Natureza ("Epistle against Prado, philosopher/physician who doubted or disbelieved the truth of Divine Writ, maliciously hiding behind affectations of faith in God and natural law"). Another Spanish Marrano, the poet Daniel Levi de *Barrios, took Prado as his subject, condemning him in three poems composed during 1665–72. The most ironic was occasioned by Prado's death, with Barrios bidding good riddance "to that master of false dogmas."

bibliography:

C. Gebhardt, in: Chronicon Spinozanum, 3 (1923), 269–91; I.S. Revah, Spinoza et le Dr. Juan de Prado (1959); Roth, Marranos, 300; je, s.v.Castro, Balthasar (Isaac) Orobio de.

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