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Hobbes on Politics and Religion$
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Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803409.001.0001

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Mosaic Leviathan

Mosaic Leviathan

Religion and Rhetoric in Hobbes’s Political Thought

Chapter:
(p.116) 7 Mosaic Leviathan
Source:
Hobbes on Politics and Religion
Author(s):

Alison McQueen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198803409.003.0008

This chapter defends three connected claims. First, we can account for Hobbes’s turn towards the Hebrew Bible by understanding the place of biblical Israel in the political and religious debates of seventeenth-century England. Second, Hobbes’s particular focus on the Mosaic polity is harder to explain. This focus is puzzling because, for both contextual and textual reasons, the period of Davidic kingship seems to fit much better with Hobbes’s philosophical account of the basis of sovereign authority. Third, Hobbes’s focus on the Mosaic polity is best seen as a rhetorical and polemical move designed to appropriate the images and narratives of parliamentarians, republicans, and radicals, and to subversively redirect them in the service of absolutism. There is suggestive textual evidence that Hobbes knew that this was both a radical and a risky strategy.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, religion, Bible, Old Testament, Moses, David, rhetoric

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