He’s considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. But Sir Isaac Newton was also an influential theologian who applied a scientific approach to the study of scripture, Hebrew and Jewish mysticism. Now Israel’s national library, an unlikely owner of a vast trove of Newton’s writings, has digitized his theological collection – some 7,500 pages in Newton’s own handwriting – and put it online. Among the yellowed texts are Newton’s famous prediction of the apocalypse in 2060.
Newton revolutionized physics, mathematics and astronomy in the 17th and 18th century, laying the foundations for most of classical mechanics – with the principal of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion bearing his name. However, the curator of Israel’s national library’s humanities collection said Newton was also a devout Christian who dealt far more in theology than he did in physics and believed that scripture provided a “code” to the natural world.
“Today, we tend to make a distinction between science and faith, but to Newton it was all part of the same world,” said Milka Levy-Rubin. “He believed that careful study of holy texts was a type of science, that if analyzed correctly could predict what was to come.”