Chapter 4 Prophecy and the Prophetic Kingdom of God in the Hobbesian Analysis of the Holy Scriptures

In: The Philosophers and the Bible
Author:
Anna Lisa Schino
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Abstract

The Hobbesian reading of the Bible is articulated on two levels. The first level is a careful scriptural analysis from which Hobbes brings out the confirmation of the political model of a unified and unitary sovereignty; in the course of this analysis he examines sacred history as the political history of a people, the Jews, whose sovereign was Yahweh, who ruled through the prophets, first of all Abraham and Moses, his lieutenants and interpreters among the people of Israel (prophetic kingdom of God); he thereafter examines the advantages and disadvantages of this theocratic system.

At the same time, however, Hobbes puts forward many doubts about the real possibility of a communication between God and men realized through some chosen ones, and therefore about the value of the Scriptures as a testimony of revelation. In this regard, Hobbes brings prophecy back to a dream, according to argumentative modalities that echo themes typical of French “libertinage érudit”.

In this perspective, however, political theology is led by Hobbes not so much to the political use of religion as to the thesis that until the second coming of Christ on Earth there can be no political kingdom of God. Religion thus loses its political centrality, and is referred to a dimension that is only individual and interior.

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The Philosophers and the Bible

The Debate on Sacred Scripture in Early Modern Thought

Series:  Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, Volume: 333