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The Watershed of Conversion: Antonio Possevino, New Christians, and Jews

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Chapter Summary

Antonio Possevino is one of the most fascinating Jesuits of the early modern period, author of an impressive Encyclopedia of the Counter-Reformation and renowned for his political and diplomatic activities in Central and Eastern Europe. It is difficult to affirm that Possevino had Jewish ancestry. Certainly his supposed Jewish origins were not a relevant element in the debates on the admission of New Christians to the Society of Jesus. Possevino's Bibliotheca Selecta is not only a great scholarly work but "Possevino's final and most complete version of his thinking on world evangelization". He reemphasized the importance of promoting within the Society the apostolate to Jews among the hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Ottoman Empire, Africa, and India. Religious conversion was the possibility, for these "enemies of the Church", to abandon their "vomit" and to become members of the household of God.

Keywords: Antonio Possevino; Bibliotheca Selecta; Jews; New Christians; religious conversion; Society of Jesus



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