Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity

frauds_225x353This is fascinating.

“Identity theft” seems a uniquely 21st-century crime, and is very common in the contemporary world. But in a new book, Prof. Miriam Eliav-Feldon of Tel Aviv University‘s Department of Historyobserves that identity theft and associated fraud have deep historical roots. From royal pretenders to women masquerading as men and those who resort to fraud to conceal their religious faith, history is brimming with stories of impostors. The battle between frauds and those who try to thwart them has been constant from the beginning of humanity, she says – and the battle is still going strong.


With so many frauds and impostors throughout the early modern period, the question of how and why they succeeded in their deception remains a mystery, notes Prof. Eliav-Feldon, who identifies it as one of the key issues of the phenomenon. The answer, she says, relies on a different notion of truth.

One example is the tale of David Reuveni, who in 1524 came to Venice and declared himself a prince of the lost tribes of Israel. Appearing before the Pope and various kings of Europe, he vowed to forge an alliance with European leaders to liberate the holy land from the Muslims. Despite the absence of proof, Jews and non-Jews alike rallied to his cause. It was years before his deception was uncovered.

Prof. Eliav-Feldon believes that Reuveni succeeded so well because kings and church prelates alike desperately wanted his tale to be true. “They wanted to believe that they had a potential ally — and were willing to suspend judgment because it fit their interests,” she explains. “Many impostors succeeded for a long time not because everybody believed them, but because they had no way of confirming they were impostors.”

Fascinating.  People believe fraud not because they’re foolish- but because they wish the fraud to be true.  This nicely explains why the purveyors of Talpiot, for example, continue to maintain its purported significance: they wish it to be so.  The ‘Lead Codices’ sycophants wish it to be true.  And on, and on.

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2 thoughts on “Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity

  1. Joe Zias 8 Jan 2013 at 11:04 am

    Still going on there in the region. Below are two book reviews, Cult like org. is now centered in Charlotte, NC rumored to be headed by a UNC-C professor.

    Cult like organization UIWU.
    From: Jeffrey D.
    Subject: The Bible In the Hands of Its Creators
    Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002
    The book was written by Moses Guibbory, and David Horowitz. Horowitz met Guibbory while he was living in the Sanhedrin Cave outside of Jerusalem in 1927. Guibbory convinced Horowitz that he was the messiah, and Horowitz dedicated his life to Guibbory and his work. Guibbory used Horowitz terribly, sending him back to the USA to solicit large donations and set up a foundation. It was Horowitz, with the help of a few others (Including the then famous Boake Carter radio personality) who actually go the book published. When all the work was done, Guibbory came to the US and took the whole thing over, took Carter’s house, possessions, and wife, and tossed Horowitz. During the time that Horowitz was struggling to get the book published for Guibbory, a mysterious black man called “Aber Goldstein” conned Horowitz into believing that he was Moses Guibbory in another body. The book was published before Guibbory actually arrived in the US, so Aber “signed” the books “as” Guibbory. By the time Guibbory arrived, Aber had been picked up by the FBI on past charges (he had also been sexually abusing Boake Carter’s wife and another young girl) and Moses was furious that Horowitz had been duped by Aber. Moses signed the rest of the books, and in some cases actually signed OVER the forgery of Aber. Guibbory lapsed into obscurity, but Horowitz went one to work for the UN and was an accomplished statesman.

    Book Review
    “The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators” by Moses Guibbory

    “Regarding himself as sort of a modern prophet chosen by God for revealing the ‘true’ meaning of the Bible, the author of this phantasmagoria charges that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have falsified the Word of God which is to be restored to its pristine purity Moses Guibbory and his followers. Obviously, this volume will be of greater interest to the student of psychopathology than to Biblical scholars. It is studded with the denunciations of Judaism and Christianity and bristles with the weirdest nonsense and superstitions.” (Trude Weiss Rosmarin, Journal of Bible and Religion, 13/4 (1945), pp. 234-235).


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