The Sovereign and the Prophets

Spinoza on Grotian and Hobbesian Biblical Argumentation


Tracing key biblical topics recurrent in Grotian and Hobbesian discourses on the church-state relationship, The Sovereign and the Prophets examines Spinoza’s Old Testament interpretation in the Theologico-political Treatise and elucidates his effort to establish what Hobbes could not adequately offer to the Dutch: the liberty to philosophize. Fukuoka develops an original method for understanding seventeenth-century biblical arguments as a shared political paradigm. Her in-depth analysis reveals the discourses that converged on the question, ‘Who stands immediately under God to mediate His will to the people?’ This subtly nuanced theme not only linked major theoreticians diachronically—from the Remonstrants such as Grotius to the anti-Hobbesian jurist Ulrik Huber (1636–1694)—but also synchronically built the axis of resonances and dissonances between Leviathan and the Theologico-political Treatise.

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Atsuko Fukuoka, Ph.D. in Law, Goethe University Frankfurt (2014), is associate professor of Constitutional Law at the Department of Advanced Social and International Studies, University of Tokyo.
“The Sovereign and the Prophets is a vital resource, an exemplary study not only of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus but of an entire politico-theological milieu.”
Russ Leo, Princeton University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 73 , No 4 (Winter 2020), pp. 1443–1445.


List of Illustrations

Notes on References and Abbreviations


1 ‘God Sets Out Things by Mediation of Other Men’: The Question of Mediation in the Remonstrant Controversy
 1 Introduction: Immediate Proximity to God as a Key Criterion
 2 Antonius Walaeus: Pastors as Onder-Rechters and Their Judgment
 3 A Critical Evaluation of Walaeus’s Idea of ‘Judgment’ by G. J. Vossius
 4 An Elaboration of ‘Judgment’ by Hugo Grotius

2 Hobbes’s Twist on Mediation: The Sovereign Prophet
 1 Introduction: Hobbes’s Biblical Interpretation and the Dutch
 2 Part III of Leviathan: Its Purpose
 3 Hobbesian Sacred History
 4 The Epistemological Critique of Revelation
 5 The Sovereign: Supreme Pastor and Sovereign Prophet

3 The Bible as Shared Political Paradigm
 1 Introduction: Into the ‘Web’ of Interpretations
 2 Tremellius, Junius, and Walaeus: The Distinction between Priests and Judges
 3 Grotius: The Great Sanhedrin
 4 Hobbes: High Priest as Sovereign
 5 Van Velthuysen and Du Bois: A Cartesian Twist
 6 The Brothers De la Court: The Great (Republican) Sanhedrin
 7 Van Berckel: Repulicizing Leviathan
 8 Spinoza: A Secret Poison
 9 The Tractatus theologico-politicus and Leviathan

4 Spinoza on Jus circa sacra
 1 Introduction: Echoes of Contemporary Controversies
 2 The ‘Framework of Mediation’ Meets Social Contract Theory
 3 Two Radicals: Hobbes and Spinoza
 4 Charms and Traps of the Criterion of God’s Direct Speech

5 Spinoza on Libertas philosophandi
 1 Introduction: The Nexus between Libertas philosophandi and Jus circa sacra
 2 Prophets and Libertas philosophandi
 3 Prophets and Jus circa sacra

6 Spinoza and Hobbes on the Authority of the Bible
 1 Introduction: Helpful and Unhelpful Leviathan
 2 Hobbes: ‘Submission of Intellect’ Replaced with ‘Obedience’
 3 Spinoza: Biblical Command of Obedience and Human Intellect
 4 Reading Spinoza in Light of Hobbes

7 The Making of Hobbes’s and Spinoza’s Polarity (1): Media of Revelation
 1 Introduction: A Bold Step Grotius Did Not Dare to Make
 2 ‘How God Hath Spoken’ in Leviathan
 3 Mediae revelationis in the Tractatus theologico-politicus

8 The Making of Hobbes’s and Spinoza’s Polarity (2): The Spirit of God
 1 Introduction: Similar Goal, Different Paths
 2 Hobbes and the Spirit of God
 3 Spinoza and the Spirit of God
 4 Conclusions from Epistemologia Sacra

9 Ulrik Huber and the Hobbesiani: The Mediator Concept within Jus Publicum Universale
 1 Introduction: A Law Professor’s Mysterious Engagement with Theology
 2 Huber’s Version of the ‘Framework of Mediation’
 3 A Defence of the Holy Spirit against Hobbes and the Hobbesiani


 Index of Biblical Citations
 General Index
All readers interested in Spinoza, Hobbes, Grotius, and the intersection of legal and political philosophy with biblical language and those concerned with the origin of the modern state.
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