SALVADOR, JOSEPH (1796–1873), French scholar. Salvador, the descendant of Spanish Jews, was born in Montpellier. He studied medicine there and graduated at the age of 20. His thesis dealt with the "Application of Physiology to Pathology" (1816). Shortly afterward he settled in Paris, where he became known mainly for his scholarly interest in the history of religions. To the study of religion in general and Jesus in particular, he applied the methods of historical criticism and might thus be considered in some respects in advance of German scholarship. His Jésus-Christ et sa doctrine (1838) was violently criticized by the Gazette de France when it was published, but was favorably reviewed by A.I.S. de *Sacy in the Journal des Débats of the same year and by J.E. *Renan in his Études d'histoire réligieuse (1857). In Paris, Rome, Jérusalem, ou la Question réligieuse au 19e Siècle (1859), Salvador attempted to outline a universal creed, founded on a kind of reformed Judaism, or on the fusion of Judaism and Christianity into one single doctrine of progress. Salvador imagined that the center of the syncretistic religion of which he dreamed would be in Jerusalem, and he saw this ultimate faith as the lineal outgrowth of what he imagined classic Judaism to have been. This emphasis on Jerusalem has led a number of historians of Zionism, beginning with Nahum Sokolow, to regard Salvador as one of the precursors of Zionism, but the Jerusalem of his dreams was a "heavenly Jerusalem," and the society of which it was to be the center was a universal culture and not that of a restored Jewish people. In his search for a general religious synthesis, Salvador might also have been motivated by the urge to solve his own spiritual dilemma, as his mother was a Catholic. Moreover, Salvador's outlook comes close to that of the Saint-Simonians; Benjamin Olinde Rodrigues, one of Saint-Simon's foremost Jewish disciples, seems to have been influenced by Salvador's writings (see *Saint Simonism).
He also wrote La Loi de Moïse, ou, Système réligieux et politique des Hébreux (1822); De quelques faits relatifs au système historique des Evangiles (1839); and Histoire de la domination romaine en Judée et de la ruine de Jérusalem (1846). The Catholic Church put two of Salvador's works, Jésus-Christ et sa doctrine and Paris, Rome, Jérusalem…, on its official index of forbidden books.
G. Salvador, J. Salvador; sa vie, ses oeuvres et ses critiques (1881); H. Reinhold, in: Zion, 9 (1944), 109–41.