John Traske’s impact on the historical world is immeasurable. Unfortunately, too little information about him is preserved till the present day, but what survived through hundreds of years, even if written mostly by his enemies, gives us a great outline into Traske’s life and shows his importance for the Jewish-Christian relations. The activities of John Traske became crucial for rediscovering the understanding of Sabbath.
It is supposed (there is no exact date) that John Traske was born about 1585 in Somerset. John Traske, the youngest son of Lionel Traske, was baptized at East Coker on the 15th of October, 1585.In the same parish he was married twenty-one year later on the 23rd of November, 1606.The main occupation of John Traske to earn his living and provide for the family was working at one gentleman’s house as a school master. He earned good money and would probably have had a great life if he continued doing this way, however, John Traske was not destined to lead a quiet life (Lyell n.d.).
The historical resources concerning what exactly influenced his drastic change of the worldview are not known to the present-day scientists, but it is documented that Traske’s wife had died just before he stepped on the new path of his activities. This death can be considered the turning point as they were married just for a couple of years when his beloved wife left him. It is even possible that her death was not self-inflicted but caused by those who later on became Traske’s targets.
Regardless the cause, Traske totally devoted his life to serving the God. Moreover, he started preaching. Because of the lack of the good training, John Traske’s application for the ordination to the bishop of Wells and Bath at James Montagne was rejected by Dr. Samuel Ward, the chaplain of the bishop. But Traske did not give up. His persistence to gain the position was so strong that in 1611 he was finally ordained. By the middle of 1615 john Traske was beginning to become quite well-known: He visited London on one preaching tour (maybe there were more tours, however, no detailed information exists about it), and even published one of his sermons which was not so easy to do at those times when publishing had just started several years ago. However, on this his career came to a halt: John Traske was imprisoned for “going up and down as a wandering minister” in Newgate (White 1958).
The reason for the imprisonment was simple: Only credentialed and trained by the Church of England preachers could deliver their teachings to the public. Moreover, those teachings should have followed closely the official doctrine, and it was not allowed to conduct them just anytime and anywhere. The freedom of speech was very limited. Only after a lot of such activists as John Traske, including two civil wars, the situation started to change slowly (Katz 1982).
Traske wrote a book. “A Pearl For A Prince” was first published in 1615 and revealed a great influence by the teachings of Wolfgang Marculus together with the Puritan theologians. At that time the Puritans were trying to reform the Church from the inside, not being satisfied anymore with its practices and morals. Traske had many disagreements with the doctrine of the Church of England which he revealed in public, however, the details did not reach the modern days.
Since 1617, the word of John Traske began spreading quickly with his arrival to London. In February, the same year, he got married with Dorothy Coome. There, Traske’s teachings took on a different, bold way and he started to develop his own version of the preparationist theology. His congregation was separate from the Church, and despite the fact that the country was full of such non-conformist congregations, Traske’s was the most influential. He was one of the first who considered the Old Testament to be the revelation of truths from God and not just a history of Israel. He called for his congregation to obey the newly discovered meaning. Understanding of the Old Testament became pivotal cause which led to Traske’s acceptance of Sabbath.
However, it was very difficult for Traskites, as his followers called themselves, to accept the fact that their leader was still a Christian. The irritation grew and soon it reached such limits that Traske together with some of the followers was put into jail. The bishops in the Court of High Commission were trying to turn him back to orthodoxy, however, their efforts were spent in vain – Traske was faithful to his beliefs, and became the first known Christian who observed the Passover date.
After release, he wrote a recantation “A Treatise of Liberty from Judaism” which expressed his pain for the people who are erroneously led by the wrong-doers. He continued to preach and traveled around the whole country, however, his reputation was greatly undermined by the events that followed his life. To avoid persecution, he claimed to forget Sabbath forever, but recognized that his wife still followed it. Traske found comfort among Baptists, however, he was caught and put into jail with them. Due to his declining health, he was released. The influence of Baptists on Traske’s world-view are vital as it led to the re-admission of Jews to England later on (Lyell n.d.).
John Traske’s impact on the people was enormous – he found answers in his straightforward translation of the Bible to those spiritual questions the people used to have and which were not satisfied by the Church of England.