Religious Toleration: "the Variety of Rites" from Cyrus to Defoe
John Christian Laursen
St. Martin's Press, 1999 - Political Science - 252 pages
Delving into rich but little-known sources, "Religious Toleration" combats the standard understanding of toleration as a development of the modern West by demonstrating its occurrence in ancient Persia and China, medieval Europe, colonial Latin America, and Europe before the Enlightenment. Cyrus of Persia returned the Jews to Jerusalem, founding biblical and Greek traditions of toleration. The ancient Chinese tolerated the Jews as well, and arguments for mutual toleration in early Spanish America came from both the Spanish and the native sides. From medieval times to the rise of commercial society, Europeans experimented with ideas about toleration that have been forgotten until recently. This book brings to light a substantial portion of religious history by reviving the heritage of toleration, and it is the first to juxtapose early theories and practices of toleration in a global comparative perspective.
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