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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.

In: The Philosophers and the Bible
The Debate on Sacred Scripture in Early Modern Thought
The Bible is the crucible within which were forged many of the issues most vital to philosophy during the early modern age. Different conceptions of God, the world, and the human being have been constructed (or deconstructed) in relation to the various approaches and readings of the Holy Scriptures. This book explores several of the ways in which philosophers interpreted and made use of the Bible. It aims to provide a new perspective on the subject beyond the traditional opposition “faith versus science” and to reflect the philosophical ways in which the Sacred Scriptures were approached. Early modern philosophers can thus be seen to have transformed the traditional interpretation of the Bible and emphasized its universal moral message. In doing so, they forged new conceptions about nature, politics, and religion, claiming the freedom of thought and scientific inquiry that were to become the main features of modernity.

Contributors include Simonetta Bassi, Stefano Brogi, Claudio Buccolini, Simone D’Agostino, Antonella Del Prete, Diego Donna, Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero, Guido Giglioni, Franco Giudice, Sarah Hutton, Giovanni Licata, Édouard Mehl, Anna Lisa Schino, Luisa Simonutti, Pina Totaro, and Francesco Toto.
In: The Philosophers and the Bible