Newton as Historian

Image of Stonehenge, from William Stukeley, Stonehenge a Temple Restor’d to the British Druids (London: 1740)

Newton expended vast energy researching the period before Christ, and he believed that there had once been a religion common to the entire world. In the first ages, he argued, knowledge that the earth was a planet circling the Sun was integrated into religious practices that involved worship around a central fire. Stonehenge was one of these sites. Newton also spent an astonishing amount of his time assessing how the simple original truths of Christianity had been corrupted. Picking up a theme central to his work on prophecy, he identified the fourth century cleric Athanasius and his deviant associates as the vanguard of those who had introduced (as Newton saw it) the false religion of Catholicism, and in particular, the hideous doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

© 2024 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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