The New International Encyclopædia/Acosta, Gabriel

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ACOSTA, ȧ-kōs'tȧ, Gabriel, later Uriel (1594?-1647) A Portuguese philosopher, descended from a Jewish family. He was born at Oporto. After being educated in the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, when twenty-five years of age he became skeptical, and then adopted the Jewish faith; but as the profession of such was not allowed him in his own country, he fled to Amsterdam, where he was formally received into the Jewish community, and changed his name, which had been Gabriel, to Uriel. But what he conceived to be the Pharisaism and spiritual pride of the Amsterdam Jews disgusted him, and he opposed many of their ideas, and especially denied that the doctrine of immortality had any Mosaic sanction. Hence he became involved in a controversy with his rabbinical teachers. On account of his work, entitled Examen dos tradiçoens Phariseas conferidas con a ley escrita (“Examination of Pharisaic Traditions Compared with the Scripture”), 1624, he was charged with atheism by the Jews before the city magistracy and fined. He was also excommunicated, and so remained for seven years, when he recanted after ignominious treatment. He died in 1647 by suicide. His autobiography was first published by P. Limborch in Latin, 1687; English translation, London, 1740; Latin and German edition, H. Jellinek, Leipzig, 1847. He is the hero of an effective tragedy by Gutzkow.