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Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
 
 

Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) [Kindle Edition]

Spinoza , Jonathan Israel , Michael Silverthorne
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is one of the most important philosophical works of the early modern period. In it Spinoza discusses at length the historical circumstances of the composition and transmission of the Bible, demonstrating the fallibility of both its authors and its interpreters. He argues that free enquiry is not only consistent with the security and prosperity of a state but actually essential to them, and that such freedom flourishes best in a democratic and republican state in which individuals are left free while religious organizations are subordinated to the secular power. His Treatise has profoundly influenced the subsequent history of political thought, Enlightenment 'clandestine' or radical philosophy, Bible hermeneutics, and textual criticism more generally. It is presented here in a new translation of great clarity and accuracy by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, with a substantial historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Israel.

Book Description

Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is one of the most important philosophical works of the early modern period. It is presented here in a new translation of great clarity and accuracy by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, with a substantial historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Israel.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Glen Tochas liked it a lot 21 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not an easy read, but a rewarding one. Spinoza was one of the first in biblical criticism, for which he was excommunicated. Having so far gone though it only once, I will say, like all good books it'll stand many readings, and to keep you going to the last page, it wasn't the butler that did it.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical Hermeneutics 25 Sep 2009
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Spinoza's TTP remains a crucial pre-enlightenment work of political/theological philosophy. Contrary to his foil, Moses Maimonedes, Spinoza attempts to provide a new and unprejudiced reading of the Old and New Testaments, so as to situate the work within the framework of naturalistic philosophy and to strip it of its spiritual biases. Spinoza concludes (much to the chagrin of his contemporaries) that miracles and prophecy are internally incoherent according to the rationalists' conception of God, and that much of the prior interpretations of the bible have failed to provide sufficient hermeneutical accounts of the historicity of biblical creation. The TTP is also a great work of political theory-and an immensely important the Hobbsian Social Contract. Philosophy is still attempting to catch up with the overwhelming radicalism of Spinozism, and this text is an invaluable precursor to the Ethics.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, edgy, playful 20 Dec 2009
By David M. Reed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Spinoza wrote his Theological-Political Treatise after his Ethics as a kind of explanation, as a defense against attacks against him of heresy, as a demonstration of the philosophical principles in action which he had previously laid out in the highly theoretical Ethics, and - so it has been many times claimed - as to make his views readable to a much wider audience. The result is a highly readable, extended meditation on the history of biblical interpretation. He makes a persuasive case for the total lack of consistency among religious authorities who have laid down the law before, raising questions about their claims to having access to a true or pure understanding. In fact, his expose impresses upon the reader that every attempt at interpretation of the bible will inevitably be political. That is, no matter how well intentioned and how well informed, all attempts at interpreting the bible cannot help but be shaped by the cultural, historical, and political context of the interpretor. Of course, from the very outset of this work, Spinoza makes a concerted effort to show that all claims of prophetic authority are unfounded.

I found it particularly engaging and interesting to watch Spinoza make these incredible daring (for the time) arguments while at the same time always being careful to insist that he is a deeply religious person and that this work is -- and all his works are -- neither scandalous nor subversive. There are times when it seems like he is engaged in defensive maneuvers to save his life, and other times when his equivocal positioning seems a virtuoso act of rhetorical fencing.

This particular edition comes with Cambridge's usual high quality scholarly reference material throughout.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great edition 25 April 2012
By David T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Since love of God is the highest felicity and happiness of man, his final end and the aim of all his actions, it follows that he alone observes the divine law who is concerned to love God not from fear of punishment nor love of something else, such as pleasure, fame, ect., but from the single fact that he knows God, or that he knows that the knowledge and love of God is the highest good". (pg 60)

Spinoza's Theological-Politcal Treasise has intrigued me for a while, here was one of the earlier books to approach the bible as fallible and openly raise questions which would later be the subject of much later biblical debate, such as the authorship of the Pentateuch. Since this was one of the first books like this, written in a time when freedom of speech wasn't a given, the book is a little uneven. During parts Spinoza tries to reinterpret scripture using scripture which seems to give authority to scripture, while in other parts he tries to show how scripture is a product of man and not God. My guess is that while he's trying to decrease the reliance on scripture for discovering god, he also wants to take care not to offend those people. In the end it slightly backfired, for a while he was thought of as an atheist and his book was banned, although now days the book's influence on historical criticism is felt.

A large chunk of the book Spinoza seems to try to take the supernatural elements out of the bible. To him things such as ten plagues in Egypt can easily be explained with natural causes, for example the locusts came by a wind from the east or a natural cause. If these things can be explained by natural causes, then its likely that the harder to explain things also likely happened with natural causes (although I don't remember him trying to explain away the virgin birth, but that might have been too dangerous). Furthermore he believes that god established the natural laws, and if god were to bend them at all to perform a miracle then that would in fact mean that he made a mistake establishing the laws.

The political part of the book is much smaller, its takes up the last few chapters, although the entire book is leading up to this point. Spinoza has been tearing down the inerrancy of the bible for the purpose of trying to get the government to allow freedom of speech and to philosophize, perhaps if the bible isn't so divine then people won't feel the urge to silence anyone who disagree with it. This freedom and a democracy leads to a more happy individual and state.

On a side note, I read this with the Cambridge edition, I've been really pleased with the two books I've bought so far from the series. They seem to have high quality acid-free paper which will last for a while and contain great introductions, easy to read translations and have plenty of footnotes. I've been getting more things on the Kindle, but this series is one I'll continue to get paper copies of.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benedictus Spinoza Started The Enlightenment Era, 1670! 18 Aug 2013
By Jim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Spinoza's "Theological-Political Treatise" originally in Latin was edited by Jonathan Isreal,Enlightenment authority, and translated into English by Israel and Michael Silverthorne.Benedictus' treatise opened the Enlightenment era and is very important philosophy for the modern era. It has been about two years sibce I labored over the words, but I believe Spinoza broke the barriers of church/state orthodoxy and caused free thinking to blossom 1670-1800.The universe was mechanistic and followed natural laws, there were natural laws, but no supernatural laws...Science, separation of church/state, the demise of Divine Right,natural rights of man etc all follow his lightening strike! I often refer to his Moses/Ten Commandment analysis when confronting Tea Party nihilists and government haters with Spinoza's belief that when the hunter/gatherer Hebrews accepted the limitaions of the Ten Commandments from Moses, the Hebrews became more secure and more free because they had Jaweh's protection and the services of the Jewish State to give them security and happiness thus actually more freedom.Spinoza attacked Bible literalism( Fundamentalism) and wrote "how pernicious for both religion and state to allow ministers of things sacred to acquire the right to make decrees or handle the business of government." And for all the Occupy Movement Spinoza wrote "for everyone is guided ny their own pleasure, and the mind is often preoccupied with greed,glory,jealousy,anger etc, that there is no room for reason." Take heed GOP!Needless Spinoza was "verboten" by Orthodoxy...and expelled from his synangogue. Oh, the travails of free thinking and rational discernment!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 Oct 2012
By Dr.Felipe A. Garcia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent reading and learning. Einstein inroduced me to Spinoza and after studying "Ethics"had to take on the Treatise. Cleared my mind and I am in debt with Einstein.
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