Thursday, January 17, 2008
THE ASIATIC BRETHREN
I'm still tracking this one down. The organization is important because it was the first Masonic lodge that admitted Jews in Germany, and Germany was the home of the Sabbatean-Frankists. The Frankists were influential in the founding of this lodge.
Sources for the information in no particular order:
Jewish historian Jacob Katz, JEWS AND FREEMASONS IN EUROPE, 1723-1939, Harvard University Press
Christopher McIntosh, E. J. Brill Academic Publishers. (This book was McIntosh's doctoral thesis in history at the University of Oxford)
Marvin S. Antelman, TO ELIMINATE THE OPIATE, Zahavia, Ltd.
Some of the material is online. I will link it where appropriate.
The acceptance of Jews into European society was conditioned by the change in their civil status. Previously regarded as foreigners who were granted residence privileges by special decree, Jews had now, as a result of the emancipation, acquired civil rights. Yet such rights were not conferred upon them automatically. In most localities, Jews were forced to engage in a protracted struggle. They achieved full citizenship step by step, having to wrest each new position in turn. Surprisingly, the Jewish effort to secure emancipation ran parallel with the history of their relations with the Freemasons.(Katz)
The earliest attempt to found a Masonic order with the avowed purpose of accepting both Jews and Christians in its ranks was the formation of the Order of the Asiatic Brethren or, to give it its full name, Die Brьder St. Johannes des Evangelisten aus Asien in Europa. We are fully familiar with the history of this society which was more important than all the others because of the scope of its activities and its influence. Founded in Vienna in 1780-81, its central figure and promoter was Hans Heinrich von Ecker und Eckhoffen, of Bavarian extraction. ...(Katz)
Althouogh it did not use the word "Rosicrucian" in its name, it can be considered part of the neo-Rosicrucian current...the initiates to the highest of the five grades of the order, the grade of Melchisedek, were known as "Royal Priests" or "True Rosicrucians".(McIntosh, p. 161)
The main document on its origins is a history of the order written by one of its members, the kabbalistic scholar Franz Josef Molitor....(Katz)
Jewish-Christian syncretism...characterized the later version of the order....
While in the Tyrol, Ecker made the acquaintance of a Jew named Joseph Hirschfeld, who was to play a key role in the re-shaping of the order. ...Hirschfeld had a sojourn in Berlin where he was befriended by Moses Mendelssohn...(McIntosh, p. 162-165)
Ephraim Joseph Hirschfeld...belonged to a cabalistic sect identified...as a vestige of the Sabbatai Zevi movement. He entrusted all his affairs to his sons, while he himself traveled from polace to place as an emissary of the sect....the connection of the Asiatic brethren with the Sabbatian movement is conclusively proved...participation of...Baron Thomas von Schoenfeld, an apostate Jew ["is beyond doubt"]....Schoenfeld was a grandson of R. Jonathan Eybeschutz, whose collection of Sabbatian cabalistic works he had inherited...He was a member of the Dobruschka family...Mosheh Dobruschka, alias Thomas von Schoenfeld, actually had been an active adherent of the Sabbatian movement...he incorporated liberal portions of the Sabbatian doctrines in the teachings of the Order.
In 1782 Moses Dobrushka, now Schoenfeld, founded a Masonic lodge called the Asiatische Bruder which was one of the four illuminati lodges in Vienna. After his uncle's death on August 10, 1791, he was offered the leadership of the Franklist movement which he refused... (Antelman, p. 106)
The Asiatic Brethren, Illuminati lodge to which we have previously referred, founded by Moses (alias Dobrushka) Schonfeld in 1782, was a meeting ground for many Frankists in Vienna. (Antelman p. 115)
The Asiatic Brethren, Illuminati aberration, had lodges in Prague, Innsbruck, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. [Isaac Daniel] Itzig was a member of the Berlin Asiatic Brethren. (Antelman 117)
By just following the Itzig family alone one can trace through their marriages and social circles most of the Illuminati-Frjankist political intrigues of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. (Antelman, p. 120)
The ideology of the Asiatic Brethren has been subjectd to a critical analysis by Professor Gershom Scholem. His study has revealed that on its theoretical level this ideology was a conglomeration of principles drawn from Christian and Jewish sources. Cabalistic and Sabbatian ideas were jumbled together with Christian theosophic doctrines. (Katz)