Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-05-28
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is one of the most important philosophical works of the early modern period. In it Spinoza discusses at length the historical circumstances of the composition and transmission of the Bible, demonstrating the fallibility of both its authors and its interpreters. He argues that free enquiry is not only consistent with the security and prosperity of a state but actually essential to them, and that such freedom flourishes best in a democratic and republican state in which individuals are left free while religious organizations are subordinated to the secular power. His Treatise has profoundly influenced the subsequent history of political thought, Enlightenment 'clandestine' or radical philosophy, Bible hermeneutics, and textual criticism more generally. It is presented here in a new translation of great clarity and accuracy by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, with a substantial historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Israel.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. viii
Chronologyp. xxxv
Further readingp. xxxviii
Note on the text and translationp. xlii
Prefacep. 3
On prophencyp. 13
On the prophetsp. 27
ON the vocation of the Hebrews, and whether the prophetic gift was peculiar to themp. 43
On the divine lawp. 57
On the reason why ceremonies were instituted, and on belief in the historical narratives, i.e. for what reason and for whom such belief is necessaryp. 68
On miraclesp. 81
On the interpretation of Scripturep. 97
In which it is shown that the Pentateuch and the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel and Kings were not written by the persons after whom they are named. The question is then asked whether they were written by several authors or by one, and who they werep. 118
Further queries about the same books, namely, whether Ezra made a definitive version of them, and whether the marginal notes found in the Hebrew MSS are variant readingsp. 130
Where the remaining books of the Old Testament are examined in the same manner as the earlier onesp. 144
Where it is asked whether the Apostles wrote their Epistles as apostles and prophets or as teachers, and the role of an Apostle is explainedp. 155
On the true original text of the divine law, and why Holy Scripture is so called, and why it is called the word of God, and a demonstration that, in so far as it contains the word of God, it has come down to us uncorruptedp. 163
Where it is shown that the teachings of Scripture are very simple, and aim only to promote obedience, and tell us nothing about the divine nature beyond what men may emulate by a certain manner of lifep. 172
What faith is, who the faithful are, the foundations of faith defined, and faith definitively distinguished from philosophyp. 178
Where it is shown that theology is not subordinate to reason nor reason to theology, and why it is we are persuaded of the authority of Holy Scripturep. 186
On the foundations of the state, on the natural and civil right of each person, and on the authority of sovereign powersp. 195
Where it is shown that no one can transfer all things to the sovereign power, and that it is not necessary to do so; on the character of the Hebrew state in the time of Moses, and in the period after his death before the appointment of the kings; on its excellence, and on the reasons why this divine state could perish, and why it could scarcely exist without seditionp. 208
Some political principles are inferred from the Hebrew state and its historyp. 230
Where is shown that authority in sacred matters belongs wholly to the sovereign powers and that the external cult of religion must be consistent with the stability of the state if we wish to obey God rightlyp. 238
Where it is shown that in a free state everyone is allowed to think what they wish and to say what they thinkp. 250
Annotations: Spinoza's supplementary notes to the Theological-Political Treatisep. 260
Indexp. 276
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