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ELHANAN (Paulus Pragensis?; 16th century), apostate and author of missionary works, favored by the Hapsburg emperor *Rudolf II. Born in Prague, Elhanan became converted to Christianity and was baptized in Chelm, Poland, although his wife and children did not follow suit. He received stipends from the Polish kings Sigismund Augustus and Henry of Valois. He conducted missionary activities among the Jews in Frankfurt in 1579. In 1580 at the Protestant University of Helmstaedt, he published his Mysterium Novum, prefaced by a poem in Hebrew, in which he attempted to prove by kabbalistic methods that Jesus was the messiah. He reached Catholic Vienna in 1581, and published a missionary treatise there. Having submitted his works to the emperor, he asked Rudolf to support him in order to publish his Hebrew translation of the New Testament. Possibly Elhanan is to be identified with the apostate Paulus Pragensis, who published a missionary pamphlet, Symbolum Apostolicum, in Protestant Wittenberg in 1580 and the Jona Quadrilinguis (Helmstedt, 1580) – the Book of Jonah in four languages: Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German. Pragensis is said to have died after abjuring Christianity.


Diamant, in: Archiv fuer juedische Familien-forschung, 2:1–3 (1913/14), 17–24.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.