This is a study of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic of all seventeenth-century figures. Like its famous predecessor The Cheese and The Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, it explores the everyday life and mental world of an extraordinary yet humble figure. Born in Lincolnshire with a family of Cambridgeshire origins, Thomas Totney (1608-1659) was a London puritan, goldsmith and veteran of the Civil War. In November 1649, after fourteen weeks of self-abasement, fasting and prayer, he experienced a profound spiritual transformation. Taking the prophetic name TheaurauJohn Tany and declaring himself 'a Jew of the Tribe of Reuben' descended from Aaron the High Priest, he set about enacting a millenarian mission to restore the Jews to their own land. Inspired prophetic gestures followed as Tany took to living in a tent, preaching in the parks and fields around London. He gathered a handful of followers and, in the week that Cromwell was offered the crown, infamously burned his bible and attacked Parliament with sword drawn. In the summer of 1656 he set sail from the Kentish coast, perhaps with some disciples in tow, bound for Jerusalem. He found his way to Holland, perhaps there to gather the Jews of Amsterdam. Some three years later, now calling himself Ram Johoram, Tany was reported lost, drowned after taking passage in a ship from Brielle bound for London. During his prophetic phase Tany wrote a number of remarkable but elusive works that are unlike anything else in the English language. His sources were varied, although they seem to have included almanacs, popular prophecies and legal treatises, as well as scriptural and extra-canonical texts, and the writings of the German mystic Jacob Boehme. Indeed, Tany's writings embrace currents of magic and mysticism, alchemy and astrology, numerology and angelology, Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, Hermeticism and Christian Kabbalah - a ferment of ideas that fused in a millenarian yearning for the hoped for
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: TheaurauJohn Tany and the English Revolution. Part I Genesis: Genesis; The bitterness of the godly; The wilderness of Zin; Birth of the Prophet. Part II Genealogy of the High Priest: TheaurauJohn; Genealogy of the High Priest; Justice; Hell. Part III King of the Jews: King of the Jews; Canonical and extra-canonical sources; Son of the morning stars; The book of Theos-ologi according to TheaurauJohn; To your tents, O Israel; Gold Tried in the Fire. Bibliography; Indexes.
Ariel Hessayon is Lecturer in the History Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.
'This work brilliantly extends our understanding of the radical protestant mind opened up by Christopher Hill and Paul Seaver - it will become a standard work for anyone wishing to explore radical sectarian mentalities of the English Revolution. By recovering the mental, social and religious world of Thomas Tany in the 1630s and 1650s, it explores the religious transformation of an obscure London Goldsmith Thomas Totney into the prophetic King of the Jews, TheauraJohn Tany. Hessayon’s deep archival research has allowed him to decode Tany’s writings and public performances, placing them in the various alchemical, Behmenist, Gnostic, astrological, and millennial contexts. The name Tany will become as familiar as that of William Walwyn, Lodwick Muggleton and Gerard Winstanley.' Justin Champion, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK 'This is a remarkable book: Hessayon's study of this farmer-cum-gold-trinket-maker is a work of academic alchemy, taking Tany's bizarre utterances and transforming them into a burnished shield that shows us the English Revolution in dramatically new lights. As Hessayon applies his cool intellect to Tany's white hot imaginings and prophecies, sparks fly in all directions, making this a compelling read for all those interested in the ideas, literature or religious heterodoxy of the mid seventeenth century.' John Morrill, Selwyn College, Cambridge, UK 'A groundbreaking study with some breathtaking archival work that shows how much value there is in working on the life records of one obscure person. Hessayon reveals the deep knowledge of history, theology and the occult known to a humble goldsmith who became one of the more flamboyant prophets during the turbulent years of the English Interregnum, and in doing so he sheds important light on the pre-1640 origins of Civil War radicalism.' Nigel Smith, Princeton University, USA ’This is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary figure... The bare facts of Totney's/Tany's life, wh