Jonathan Nathan

PhD Candidate in Early Modern History
I graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Chicago in 2015, and have been in Cambridge ever since.
Above all I am interested in the history of early-modern atheism. In my (somewhat-controversial) opinion, the role that secret atheism played before the eighteenth century was extremely slight, despite the fascination it continues to exert on modern historians who are hungry for any form of subversion. Nevertheless, the *myth* of atheism was a phenomenon that was crucial to intellectual history from the Renaissance down to the present.

I am writing my doctoral dissertation on Cymbalum mundi, a collection of four dialogues written in French and published in Paris in 1537. The book, which was written by the Evangelical Bonaventure Des Periers, was learned and mildly funny; but its real historical interest lies in the fact that it was accused from very early on of concealing a secret atheist meaning. Over the centuries the Cymbalum mundi attracted a reputation for being the very type of esoteric Renaissance atheism, which was propounded in turn by eighteenth-century Deists, nineteenth-century liberals, and twentieth-century Communists.

I have several side-interests, including epigraphy, the Old Testament and its early-modern interpretation, bibliography, and Renaissance Latinity.
I have supervised for papers 19 and POL7.


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Key publications

"The Meaning and Syntax of taʿărōg", Vetus Testamentum (Forthcoming)