Catalogue Entry: THEM00045

Various texts on Revelation, Solomon's Temple and Church history

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Yahuda Ms. 2, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Custodial History

SL228 was bought at the Sotheby sale by 'Ulysses' (Jacob Schwartz?) for £85, and subsequently acquired by Yahuda.

Sotheby Lot

Part of SL228


Very rough, fragmentary and heavily corrected holograph drafts, many pages badly stained and/or crumbling.

Ms. 2.1

ff. 1-10 Part of a treatise on interpreting the symbolism of Biblical prophecy (1670s), in English.

Ms. 2.2

ff. 1-28 'Cap 3. Quod Bestia bicornis locuta sit ut Draco.' (late 1670s/early 1680s), in Latin, incomplete.

Ms. 2.3

ff. 1-103 Drafts towards a history of the Church (late 1670s/early 1680s), in Latin.

Ms. 2.4

ff. 1-21, 22-24 Two partial drafts relating to Solomon's Temple (1680s/1690s), mainly in Latin. Apparently drafts of Babson Ms. 434 (see Westfall, 'Newton's Theological Manuscripts', 135).

ff. 25-33 'Appendix/ De magnitudine cubiti sacri', in Latin. An English translation of this was published in the Miscellaneous Works of John Greaves, Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford, ed. Thomas Birch (2 vols., 1736-7), 2: 405-33, as 'A Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews [...] Translated from the Latin of Sir Isaac Newton'.

ff. 34-37, 38-45 Two further incomplete drafts of the above.

ff. 46-49 Another Latin draft about the Temple.

Ms. 2.5a

ff. 1-11 Latin draft on deciphering the symbolism of Revelation (c. 1680s).

Ms. 2.5b

ff. 1-59 Draft treatise on Athanasius and fourth-century Church history (ff. 1-31); dates and notes relating to the early Roman Empire (f. 32); notes on the Church Fathers (f. 33); notes on Church history under the early Roman Empire (ff. 34-9); listing with occasional comments by Newton of the most important dates relating to developments in the fourth century (ff. 40-47); notes from Church Fathers (ff. 48-59). All in Latin apart from occasional linking passages in English in ff. 48-59.

Two more unnumbered leaves of notes in the same vein, in Latin and English, written around and partly over a draft letter in English to Sir Robert [surname illegible], whose son Newton seems to have been supporting financially.


SL228 is described in the Sotheby catalogue as 'nearly 700 pp.', presumably meaning written sides rather than leaves. Two sections from this were transferred to Yahuda Var. 1 Ms. 1. The Yahuda listing states: 'Many leaves have been taken out and [sic] as they belong to Lot 227 [i.e. Yahuda Var. 1 Ms. 1] and 263 [now Babson Ms. 434]'. On 24 May 1949 Yahuda told the London dealer Heinrich Eisemann 'You will notice that lot 228 has 607 pages (instead of 700) because many leaves belonged to other lots', adding that he had also removed 'the leaves erroneously incorporated in this lot'. He was hoping to sell the item for $3,000, but evidently without success, and must subsequently have removed more sheets.

© 2023 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

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