Did the False Jewish Messiah Sabbatai Sevi Inspire J ohn Milton’s ‘Paradise Regained’?
The news of a Jewish enthusiast claiming the title of messiah and reports of his massive following throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa found an avid audience in an England that had been pondering the fate of the Jews in relation to its own status as chosen nation for more than half a century. Reports came in a variety of forms, from letters exchanged between mercantile trading partners to extended narratives such as that of Paul Rycaut, who initially published his account anonymously as part of John Evelyn’s The History of the Three Late Imposters (1669). Rycaut marveled how
Millions of People were possessed, when Sabatai Sevi first appear’d at Smyrna, and published himself to the Jewes for their Messiah, relating the greatness of their approaching Kingdome, the strong hand whereby God was about to deliver them from Bondage, and gather them from all partes of the World.