The Treatise of the Three Impostors

The Treatise of the Three Impostors

The Treatise of the Three Impostors ("De Tribus Impostoribus") is a work of the Enlightenment which helped to advance the critique of religious dominance. Its first printing was accredited to the printer M.M. Rey, but may have existed in manuscript form for some time before it was published. It is unlikely to have been around since the time of Frederick II which was part of the mythology of the manuscript. It was nominally a text handed down from generation to generation detailing how the three major figures of Biblical religion: Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses were in fact misrepresenting what had happened to them. At the time, this novel approach was used to allow thinkers to conceptualize a world where explanation ruled over mere "mystery", a term used for the miraculous intervention on earth by God. It was useful to both Deists and Atheists in legitimizing their world view and being a common source of intellectual reference.

In 1770, the great Enlightenment satirist Voltaire published a response to the treatise entitled Épître à l'Auteur du Livre des Trois Imposteurs, which contains one of his best-known quotations, "If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent Him."

External links

* [ Full Text provided by]
* [ Bio on Friedrick II -- subheading "Struggle with the papacy." (3/5ths of the way down the page)] from the Encyclopedia Britannica
* [ Discussion] by Louise Forsyth
* [ Audio Lectures] by [ James Schmidt, PhD] (specifically lecture 3)
* [ What Is Enlightenment?: Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions] by James Schmidt, PhD
* [ The Treatise of the Three Impostors on]

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