CUNAEUS (Van der Cun), PETRUS° (1586–1638), Dutch humanist legal scholar and poet. Cunaeus was appointed professor of Latin (1612), politics (1613), and law (1615) at Leiden University. From 1601 he had studied Hebrew under Ambrosius Regemorter at Leiden. Later he went to Franeker, where he learned Aramaic and read rabbinic texts with Johann *Drusius. His main work, De Republica Hebraeorum libri tres (Leiden 1617, with translations into English (1653), Dutch (1700), and French (1705)), was a comparative discussion of the political and theological institutions of the ancient Hebrews. Continuing similar studies by Carlo Sigonio and Cornelius Betram, Cunaeus forged political theory, historical research, and biblical studies into an integrated methodology. Taking *Josephus as his point of departure, he tried to show the superiority of the Israelite theocracy to the Greek and Roman polity. His exposition was one of the first to systematically rely on talmudic and medieval Jewish sources.
A.J. van der Aa, Biografisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden III (1854), 914–20; P.C. Molhuysen et al., Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek I (1911), 658–60; Nouvelle Biographie Universelle, 10 (1858), 351–52; J.R. Ziskind, in: JQR, 68 (1978) 235–54.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.