Rabbi and scholar David Nieto was born on 18 January 1654 in Venice. He studied medicine in Padua, and then worked as a preacher and physician in Livorno. In 1701 Nieto was called to London as haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish congregation which that year moved to the newly built Bevis Marks Synagogue at no. 4 Heneage Lane. He entered into the discussion concerning the relationship of science and religion which had been stimulated by Isaac Newton’s thinking.
Like Christian advocates of Newtonian science, he rejected both Aristotelianism and the mechanistic world views of Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes. Recent inventions of the barometer, thermometer, and telescope could not be explained merely as scientific discovery, but demanded theological explanations of divine providence. His first work Pascalogia (written in 1693, published in 1702), written in his native Italian, demonstrated his preoccupation with astronomy and calendration. He continued to publish in Hebrew and Spanish for the benefit of crypto-Jews who, newly arrived from the Iberian Peninsula, were returning to open Judaism. Nieto died in London in January 1728. Isaac Nieto succeeded his father as religious leader of Bevis Marks.