'Three books on the resurrection of the dead' (Roth Collection 631) is in Latin, which suggests it was for a Christian audience. It is preceded by epigrams by various Christian authors, letters by the author to various Christian scholars, and an extraordinary Hebrew echo-poem by Gerbrandus C.F. Ansloo, the owner of a noted Oriental library and patron of translations from Persian and Hebrew.
The printer’s device is the same ’magical square‘ as in the De Creatione Problemata.
A Spanish version also exists, however, which indicates that this text was also written for a Jewish audience, which in 1636 was split by theological dissent. This and the Sefer Nishmat hayim can be seen as a response to the challenges of Uriel Acosta (1585–1640).
Acosta was a sceptic philosopher who in 1624 had published ‘An Examination of the Traditions of the Pharisees’. Acosta was suggesting that rabbis were descended from the Pharisees. The Pharisees were theologically opposed by the Sadducees. Menasseh notes that his work is written “contra Zaducaeos” (“against the Sadducee”), almost certainly a reference to Acosta. Acosta questioned the idea of the immortality of the soul, regarding it as a concept invented by the rabbis without any biblical foundation. He was excommunicated several times, and committed suicide in 1640.
His fate, more even than that of Baruch Spinoza, embodied the tremendous psychological, intellectual and social tensions experienced by the refugee Conversos. They were returning to a form of Judaism that they had yearned for but never known, and that they often struggled to understand and integrate with.