The Intellectual Consequences of Religious Heterodoxy, 1600-1750


It is too often assumed that religious heterodoxy before the Enlightenment led inexorably to intellectual secularisation. Challenging that assumption, this book expands the scope of the enquiry, hitherto concentrated on the relation between heterodoxy and natural philosophy, to include political thought, moral philosophy and the writing of history. Individual chapters are devoted to Grotius, the Dutch Remonstrants and Socinianism, to Hobbes, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, Dutch Collegiants and English Unitarians, Giambattista Vico, Conyers Middleton, and David Hume. In their opening essay the editors argue that the critical problems for both Protestants and Catholics arose from destabilising the relation between the spheres of Nature and Revelation, and the adoption of an increasingly historical approach both to natural religion and to the Scriptual basis of Revelation.

Contributors include: Hans Blom, Justin Champion, Jonathan Israel, Martin Mulsow, Enrico Nuzzo, William Poole, Sami-Juhani Savonius, Richard Serjeantson, and Brian Young.

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Biographical Note

Sarah Mortimer (D.Phil., Oxford, History, 2007) is an Official Student and Tutor of Christ Church, Oxford, and a University Lecturer in History. She was formerly a Junior Research Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. She is the author of Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: the Challenge of Socinianism (Cambridge, 2010).

John Robertson (D.Phil. Oxford, History, 1981) is Professor of the History of Political Thought at the University of Cambridge, where he is a Fellow of Clare College. He was formerly a University Lecturer at Oxford, and Fellow of St Hugh's College. He is the author of The Case for the Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples 1680-1760 (Cambridge, 2005).     

Review Quotes

"The standard of the papers in The Intellectual Consequences of Religious Heterodoxy is uniformly high. They are all extremely well written."
Alastair Hamilton, The Warburg Institute, London. In: Church History and Religious Culture, Vol. 94, No. 1 (2014), pp. 146-148.

‘’Ce volume collectif bien dense rassemble dix études approfondies sur l’hétérodoxie à l’époque moderne rédigées par les meilleurs specialists […] il est bien stimulant et représente une mise au point parfaite de la recherche actuelle sur l’hétérodoxie par ses meilleurs connaisseurs.’’
Cornel Zwierlein, Harvard/Ruhr-Universitat Bochum. In: FranciaRecensio, 1, 2014.

Table of contents

Notes on Contributors

1. Nature, Revelation, History: the intellectual consequences of religious heterodoxy 1600-1750, Sarah Mortimer and John Robertson

2. Styles of heterodoxy and intellectual achievement: Grotius and Arminianism, Hans Blom

3. Human and divine justice in the works of Grotius and the Socinians, Sarah Mortimer

4. ‘The Kingdom of Darkness’: Hobbes and heterodoxy, Justin Champion

5. Henry Stubbe, Robert Boyle and the idolatry of nature, Martin Mulsow

6. Heterodoxy and Sinology: Isaac Vossius, Robert Hooke and the early Royal Society’s use of Sinology, William Poole

7. ‘Lovers of Truth’ in Pierre Bayle’s and John Locke’s thought, S.-J. Savonius-Wroth

8. Spinoza and the religious radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel

9. Between orthodoxy and heterodoxy in Italian culture in the early 1700s: Giambattista Vico and Paolo Mattia Doria, Enrico Nuzzo

10. Conyers Middleton: the historical consequences of heterodoxy, Brian Young

11. David Hume’s Natural History of Religion (1757) and the end of modern Eusebianism, Richard Serjeantson



All those interested in early modern European intellectual history, particularly heterodox religious thought, political thought, natural philosophy, and the Enlightenment.

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