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Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and PoliticsThe Theologico-Political Treatise$
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Susan James

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.001.0001

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Putting the Interpretative Method to Work

Putting the Interpretative Method to Work

Chapter:
(p.161) Chapter 7 Putting the Interpretative Method to Work
Source:
Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics
Author(s):

Susan James

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.003.0008

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

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