Hobbes, Ezra, and the Bible: The History of a Subversive Idea

Noel Malcolm

in Aspects of Hobbes

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780199247141
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597992 | DOI:
 Hobbes, Ezra, and the Bible: The History of a Subversive Idea

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Examines the nature and origins of Hobbes's Biblical criticism, concentrating on what has always seemed his most radical claim—the argument that the Pentateuch was written not by Moses but by a much later figure, Ezra the Scribe. It traces the origins of this theory, showing how some key elements of Hobbes's biblical criticism were already present in the mainstream tradition; but it argues that Hobbes's insistence on the grounding of the authority of the text in political authority did give a radical new edge to his theory. Finally, it considers whether it is correct to describe Hobbes (and/or La Peyrère, and/or Spinoza) as having founded modern biblical criticism.

Keywords: biblical criticism; Hobbes; Isaac La Peyrère; Richard Simon; Spinoza

Chapter.  28696 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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