Levinas, Spinoza, and the Theologico-Political Meaning of Scripture

Hent de Vries

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
Levinas, Spinoza, and the Theologico-Political Meaning of               Scripture

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In his 1955 “The Case of Spinoza”, Emmauel Levinas accepts Jacob Gordin's summary verdict: “Spinoza was guilty of betrayal”. Levinas gives as the main reason for his condemnation that Baruch Spinoza sought to overcome Judaism with Christianity, then Christianity with a philosophical wisdom considered to represent the proper—that is, the intellectual—love of God. However, the harsh judgment about Spinoza's “betrayal” is mitigated and qualified in importantly nuanced ways, to the extent that Levinas praises Spinoza's writings, especially the Theologico-Political Treatise and the Ethics (despite their major blind spot in a probable ignorance of rabbinic literature, especially the Talmud), for their remarkable, albeit largely latent, “anti-Spinozism”. Levinas's anti-Spinozism has a remarkable element of Spinozism. This chapter examines what Levinas comes to call “interiorization” and to what extent it presupposes an interrogation of the theologico-political meaning of Scripture.

Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas; Baruch Spinoza; Scripture; theologico-political meaning; Judaism; Christianity; Talmud; Spinozism; anti-Spinozism; interiorization

Chapter.  8354 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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