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Uriel Acosta

Acosta, Uriel (ōrˈyĕl äkōˈstä) [key], or Uriel da Costa dä kōˈstä, c.1585–1640, Jewish rationalist, b. Oporto, Portugal. His original name was Gabriel da Costa, and his family had been converted to Roman Catholicism. When he reached manhood, he was restive in the Christian faith and persuaded his family to move to Amsterdam, where all of them returned to Judaism. In a work in 1624, he expressed rationalistic doctrines and criticized rabbinical Judaism. He was tried, imprisoned, and excommunicated. In 1633 he recanted, but soon he again offended and was excommunicated. After seven years, he once more recanted and was subjected to public humiliation. Rather than endure further trouble he committed suicide. He left an autobiographical sketch, Exemplar humanae vitae (1687, Eng. tr., Specimen of Human Life, 1695). Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow wrote a tragedy about him, Uriel Acosta.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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