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BARLOW, THOMAS:

Bishop of Lincoln; born in Westmoreland in 1607; died Oct. 8, 1691. He was educated at Appleby, and removed thence to Queen's College, Oxford. In 1654 he was appointed keeper of the Bodleian Library. Afterward he was made provost of his college; Lady-Margaret professor; and in 1675 bishop of Lincoln. Among his numerous theological writings there is an essay entitled "The Case of Lawfulness of the Toleration of the Jews," published much later, but seemingly composed about 1654, when the question of the readmission of the Jews to England had been raised by Manasseh ben Israel. In this essay Barlow gives his opinion on the question, having been asked for it by a "person of quality." Barlow advocates the readmission, not because of his tolerance, but rather because the current of public opinion, and especially that of Cromwell, was at the time of writing well disposed toward the Jews. "The Trimmer," as Barlow was called on account of his coquetry with all régimes, displays his usual tendency on this occasion. According to Barlow, the Jews ought to be admitted on the ground that the state can derive pecuniary advantage from them, and because of the spiritual gain to the Church in their possible conversion, which latter is "a sacred and heavy obligation upon Christians." For the government of the Jews, Barlow propounds a special system of legislation not far removed from the restrictions of the medieval canon law: Let them profess, but not propagate, their religion. They might repair their old synagogues, but were not tolerated to build new. By the canon law they might not come abroad on Good Friday. They were not permitted to wear garments exactly of the Christian fashion, but were to have distinct habits that all might know them to be Jews.

Bibliography:
  • S. Levy, in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, iii. 151 et seq.
J. I. Br.
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