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In the Dutch-speaking world, even at the mercantile level, medieval damnations could be bypassed.Many local merchants "were members of dissenting Protestant sects, such as the Mennonites, and thus broader in their reading and much more open in their thinking than orthodox Calvinists" (ibid:101).For several generations, his family had been officially Roman Catholic (or ), prior to resuming a Jewish identity at Amsterdam.Both of these religious backgrounds were at variance with the Calvinism so dominant in Holland.

Three early biographies of the subject (by Bayle, Lucas, and Colerus) all have disadvantages with regard to a comprehensive picture of events.The excommunication document refers to "abominable heresies" of the subject, but without describing these.The indictment asserted, in evocative terms, that "by decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God" (Nadler 190).A familiarity with Dutch became common amongst Jews, assisting commerce and general communication with other communities."Even when he was older, Spinoza, although perfectly fluent in Latin and knowledgeable in Hebrew, was always more comfortable in Portuguese than in any other language" (Nadler 19).

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