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Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority

Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority

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J. Samuel Preus
Cambridge University Press, 3/15/2001
EAN 9780521800136, ISBN10: 0521800137

Hardcover, 246 pages, 21.6 x 14 x 1.7 cm
Language: English

Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is a landmark both in democratic political theory and in the history of biblical interpretation. Spinoza championed liberty of thought, speech and writing by discrediting the Bible as the standard for truth and a source of public law. Applying a new historical criticism, he showed that biblical teaching and law were irrelevant for a modern pluralistic state and its intellectual life. J. Samuel Preus highlights Spinoza's achievement by reading the Treatise in the context of a literary conflict among his contemporaries about biblical interpretation - a conflict fraught with political implication. Preus's exposition of neglected primary sources surrounding Spinoza's work offers evidence regarding his rhetorical strategy and intent in the Treatise. The book provides not only a valuable contribution to Spinoza scholarship but an important account of the origins of modern methods of biblical interpretation.

1. Spinoza versus the interpreters
2. Rationalism unleashed
Ludwig Meyer's new hermeneutic
3. Disengagement
response from the right
4. The liberal engagement
reason, usage, history
5. Starting over
Spinoza's naturalised bible.