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Newton’s Jewish interests on display

Sir Isaac Newton’s lesser-known interest in Jewish mysticism is on display at an Israeli university. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Sunday unveiled manuscripts by the 18th-century physicist in which he discusses prophesy, the ancient Jewish temple and Hebrew prayer. “These manuscripts back up speculations that Sir Isaac Newton was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion secret society (1691-1727), a post also said to have been held by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Victor Hugo, and which inspired Dan Brown’s bestseller ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ ” the university said in a statement. The manuscripts, which have never been shown to the public, were obtained privately and donated to Israel in 1951 by orientalist Abraham Shalom Ezekiel Yahuda. They were entrusted to the Hebrew University, which kept them under wraps until recently.Of special interest in this exhibition are Newton’s comments on a text by Maimonides and the Hebrew prayer “Shema,” as well as his prediction that the world would end in 2060.