Sir Isaac Newton manuscript on the nature of God goes on sale

06 March 2020

The creation is set to sell for an estimated £120,000 at auction in the United States

BONHAM’S

A handwritten manuscript by Sir Isaac Newton, in which he discusses theology

A handwritten manuscript by Sir Isaac Newton, in which he discusses theology

A HANDWRITTEN manuscript in which the 17th-century scientist Sir Isaac Newton explores the nature of God and the creation is expected to sell for an estimated £120,000 at auction in the United States today.

Written in about 1710, when Newton was already famous for his work on gravitation, astronomy, and mathematics, the document, which is extensively reworked, underlined, and amended, shows examples of his theological thinking. Newton considered his theological studies to be “a duty of the greatest moment”.

BONHAM’SA handwritten manuscript by Sir Isaac Newton, in which he discusses theology

Most of Newton’s manuscripts are held in institutions, but this one comes from a private collection. It examines the Gospel of St John and the divine word at the core of creation. He considers the views of Christ held by the earliest Christian sects, concluding in his final paragraph that “this state of the primitive Church explains to us the true meaning of the beginning of the Gospel of John,” and sets out his understanding of “In the beginning was the Word. . .”

Darren Sutherland, the senior specialist of books and manuscripts at Bonham’s sale-rooms in New York, where the auction will take place, said: “This is the most significant Newton manuscript on theology to be offered at auction during the past 50 years — a spectacular example of Newton’s penetrating genius at work — illuminating Newton’s personal view of God and his word.

“This manuscript advances our understanding of the theophysical underpinnings of the Principia — one of the most important works in the history of science — in which he expressed his theory of universal gravitation.”

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