Chapter

What Divine Law Is Not

Susan James

in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698127
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740558 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.003.0004
 							What Divine Law Is Not

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Spinoza's theological opponents agree that the core religious teaching of the Bible is the divine law revealed by the prophets, but disagree about the law's status and content. In order to show what is superstitious in their opinions, Spinoza must confront these disputes. His first step is to establish that the divine law is universal. The claim that the law was ordained for the Jews, as the Old Testament seems to claim, thus rests on a misinterpretation. This chapter examines Spinoza's philosophical argument for this conclusion. It shows how his view threatens Calvinist providentialism, and constitutes an attack on two flourishing seventeenth‐century movements, Christian millenarianism and Jewish Messianism. The argument is therefore not merely about the proper interpretation of the Bible. It is also a theologico‐political intervention in Dutch affairs.

Keywords: divine law; election of the Jews; universality of divine law; providentialism; messianism; millenarianism; philosophical knowledge

Chapter.  7878 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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