Chapter

Putting the Interpretative Method to Work

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/9780199698127.003.0008
 							Putting the Interpretative Method to Work

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Before Spinoza can use his method to explain what the Bible teaches and show that its doctrine is compatible with the freedom to philosophise, he needs to clear away four errors defended by his theological opponents. Against the claim that scriptural doctrine was conveyed to the prophets by supernatural means, Spinoza argues that the Bible is a compilation written by many human authors over a long period of time. Against the view that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, he concludes that Moses was not the author of any surviving texts. Addressing an ongoing debate about the significance of the Masora, he dismisses the suggestion that these biblical annotations convey religious mysteries. Finally, despite appearances, the Apostles did not teach any speculative or philosophical doctrines. Throughout, however, Spinoza's aim is not to undermine the divinity of Scripture, but to separate its true teaching from superstitious misinterpretations.

Keywords: biblical interpretation; authorship of the Pentateuch; Bible as a historical compilation; Masora; Apostle's teaching; philosophy and theology

Chapter.  10861 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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