The David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project
This exhibition sheds new light on Isaac Newton, the greatest physicist of all times. The manuscripts of this collection, one of the treasures of the National Library, discuss Biblical interpretation, the architecture of the Jewish Temple, ancient history, alchemy and the Apocalypse.
The manuscripts exhibited unveil some of ‘Newton’s Secrets’ in two senses.
First, through them we make our acquaintance with aspects of Newton’s work and personality that, for a long time, lay hidden from the public eye, especially his alchemical experiments and his interest in ancient history and apocalyptic prophecies.
Second, they reveal to us that Newton put great effort into deciphering what he considered to be secret knowledge, knowledge encoded in the sacred texts of ancient cultures and other historical records. His attempts to extract scientific information from the biblical and talmudic descriptions of the Tabernacle and the Temple exemplify his passionate engagement in this enterprise.
Newton approached these studies with the meticulous diligence he manifests in his scientific work, and approached science with the religious fervor that led him to see himself as a kind of prophet. The treasures of this exhibition invite us to rethink traditional dichotomies: ancients and moderns, science and religion, the rational and the irrational.