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CUNÆUS, PETRUS (also known as Peter van der Kuhn):

Dutch Christian and rabbinical scholar; born at Flushing 1586; died at Leyden Dec. 2, 1638. From 1617 until his death he was professor of jurisprudence and politics at the University of Leyden. Cunæus holds a position of some importance in the development of Biblical archeology as the author of "De Republica Hebræorum," which appeared in three volumes, in 1617, at Leyden. It was republished in 1632 by Elzevir; and was translated into French in 1703. It was also reproduced in the "Critici Sacri" and in Ugolini's "Thesaurus."

In this book Cunæus deals with the constitution of the old Hebrew kingdom, which he regards as a purely theocratic one. The Lord was the sole ruler, and made the laws, appointed judges, decided questions of war and peace, and was high priest, liberator, and leader of the people. Cunæus had often compared the conditions of Jewish with those of Roman and Greek life, and concluded that Jewish laws were superior to those of the classical world. He instanced the jubilee year of the Hebrews, which, according to his view, would have been the only remedy for the evils of the "latifundia" in Rome. He made use of the teachings of the Rabbis, especially of Maimonides. Cunæus and Grotius were the first Christian scholars who accepted, in their Biblical interpretations, the explanations of the Rabbis.

Bibliography:
  • Diestel, Gesch. des Alten Testaments in der Christlichen Kirche, pp. 376, 467, 468, 516, Jena, 1869;
  • GeÏllustreede Encyclopaedie, s.v., Rotterdam, 1884.
J.F. T. H.
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