Theologico-Political Treatise, by Benedict de Spinoza

Table of Contents

  1. Of Prophecy.
    • Definition of prophecy.
    • Distinction between revelation to Moses and to the other prophets.
    • Between Christ and other recipients of revelation.
    • Ambiguity of the word “Spirit.”
    • The different senses in which things may be referred to God.
    • Different senses of “Spirit of God.”
    • Prophets perceived revelation by imagination.
  2. Of Prophets.
    • A mistake to suppose that prophecy can give knowledge of phenomena
    • Certainty of prophecy based on: (1) Vividness of imagination, (2) A Sign, (3) Goodness of the Prophet.
    • Variation of prophecy with the temperament and opinions of the individual.
  3. Of the Vocation of the Hebrews, and whether the Gift of Prophecy was peculiar to them.
    • Happiness of Hebrews did not consist in the inferiority of the Gentile.
    • Nor in philosophic knowledge or virtue.
    • But in their conduct of affairs of state and escape from political dangers.
    • Even this Distinction did not exist in the time of Abraham.
    • Testimony from the Old Testament itself to the share of the Gentiles in the law and favour of God.
    • Explanation of apparent discrepancy of the Epistle to the Romans.
    • Answer to the arguments for the eternal election of the Jews.
  4. Of the Divine Law.
    • Laws either depend on natural necessity or on human decree. The existence of the latter not inconsistent with the former class of laws.
    • Divine law a kind of law founded on human decree: called Divine from its object.
    • Divine law: (1) universal; (2) independent of the truth of any historical narrative; (3) independent of rites and ceremonies; (4) its own reward.
    • Reason does not present God as a law-giver for men.
    • Such a conception a proof of ignorance — in Adam — in the Israelites — in Christians.
    • Testimony of the Scriptures in favour of reason and the rational view of the Divine.
  5. Of the Ceremonial Law.
    • Ceremonial law of the Old Testament no part of the Divine universal law, but partial and temporary. Testimony of the prophets themselves to this Testimony of the New Testament.
    • How the ceremonial law tended to preserve the Hebrew kingdom.
    • Christian rites on a similar footing.
    • What part of the Scripture narratives is one bound to believe?
  6. Of Miracles.
    • Confused ideas of the vulgar on the subject.
    • A miracle in the sense of a contravention of natural laws an absurdity.
    • In the sense of an event, whose cause is unknown, less edifying than an event better understood.
    • God’s providence identical with the course of nature. How Scripture miracles may be interpreted.
  7. Of the Interpretation of Scripture.
    • Current systems of interpretation erroneous.
    • Only true system to interpret it by itself.
    • Reasons why this system cannot now be carried out in its entirety.
    • Yet these difficulties do not interfere with our understanding the plainest and most important passages.
    • Rival systems examined — that of a supernatural faculty being necessary — refuted.
    • That of Maimonides.
    • Refuted.
    • Traditions of the Pharisees and the Papists rejected.
  8. Of the authorship of the Pentateuch, and the other historical books of the Old Testament.
    • The Pentateuch not written by Moses.
    • His actual writings distinct.
    • Traces of late authorship in the other historical books.
    • All the historical books the work of one man.
    • Probably Ezra.
    • Who compiled first the book of Deuteronomy.
    • And then a history, distinguishing the books by the names of their subjects.
  9. Other questions about these books.
    • That these books have not been thoroughly revised and made to agree.
    • That there are many doubtful readings.
    • That the existing marginal notes are often such.
    • The other explanations of these notes refuted.
    • The hiatus.
  10. An Examination of the remaining books of the Old Testament according to the preceding method.
    • Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs.
    • Isaiah, Jeremiah.
    • Ezekiel, Hosea.
    • Other prophets, Jonah, Job.
    • Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.
    • The author declines to undertake a similar detailed examination of the New Testament.
  11. An Inquiry whether the Apostles wrote their Epistles as Apostles and Prophets, or merely as Teachers, and an Explanation of what is meant by Apostle.
    • The epistles not in the prophetic style.
    • The Apostles not commanded to write or preach in particular places.
    • Different methods of teaching adopted by the Apostles.
  12. Of the true Original of the Divine Law, and wherefore Scripture is called Sacred, and the Word of God. How that, in so far as it contains the Word of God, it has come down to us uncorrupted.
  13. It is shown, that Scripture teaches only very Simple Doctrines, such as suffice for right conduct.
    • Error in speculative doctrine not impious — nor knowledge pious. Piety consists in obedience.
  14. Definitions of Faith, the True Faith, and the Foundations of Faith, which is once for all separated from Philosophy.
    • Danger resulting from the vulgar idea of faith.
    • The only test of faith obedience and good works.
    • As different men are disposed to obedience by different opinions, universal faith can contain only the simplest doctrines.
    • Fundamental distinction between faith and philosophy — the key-stone of the present treatise.
  15. Theology is shown not to be subservient to Reason, nor Reason to Theology: a Definition of the reason which enables us to accept the Authority of the Bible.
    • Theory that Scripture must be accommodated to Reason — maintained by Maimonides — already refuted in Chapter vii.
    • Theory that Reason must be accommodated to Scripture — maintained by Alpakhar — examined.
    • And refuted.
    • Scripture and Reason independent of one another.
    • Certainty, of fundamental faith not mathematical but moral.
    • Great utility of Revelation.
  16. Of the Foundations of a State; of the Natural and Civil Rights of Individuals; and of the Rights of the Sovereign Power.
    • In Nature right co-extensive with power.
    • This principle applies to mankind in the state of Nature.
    • How a transition from this state to a civil state is possible.
    • Subjects not slaves.
    • Definition of private civil right — and wrong.
    • Of alliance.
    • Of treason.
    • In what sense sovereigns are bound by Divine law.
    • Civil government not inconsistent with religion.
  17. It is shown, that no one can or need transfer all his Rights to the Sovereign Power. Of the Hebrew Republic, as it was during the lifetime of Moses, and after his death till the foundation of the Monarchy; and of its Excellence. Lastly, of the Causes why the Theocratic Republic fell, and why it could hardly have continued without Dissension.
    • The absolute theory, of Sovereignty ideal — No one can in fact transfer all his rights to the Sovereign power. Evidence of this.
    • The greatest danger in all States from within, not without.
    • Original independence of the Jews after the Exodus.
    • Changed first to a pure democratic Theocracy.
    • Then to subjection to Moses.
    • Then to a Theocracy with the power divided between the high priest and the captains.
    • The tribes confederate states.
    • Restraints on the civil power.
    • Restraints on the people.
    • Causes of decay involved in the constitution of the Levitical priesthood.
  18. From the Commonwealth of the Hebrews and their History certain Lessons are deduced.
    • The Hebrew constitution no longer possible or desirable, yet lessons may be derived from its history.
    • As the danger of entrusting any authority in politics to ecclesiastics — the danger of identifying religion with dogma.
    • The necessity of keeping all judicial power with the sovereign — the danger of changes in the form of a State.
    • This last danger illustrated from the history of England — of Rome.
    • And of Holland.
  19. It is shown that the Right over Matters Spiritual lies wholly with the Sovereign, and that the Outward Forms of Religion should be in accordance with Public Peace, if we would worship God aright.
    • Difference between external and inward religion.
    • Positive law established only by agreement.
    • Piety furthered by peace and obedience.
    • Position of the Apostles exceptional.
    • Why Christian States, unlike the Hebrew, suffer from disputes between the civil and ecclesiastical powers.
    • Absolute power in things spiritual of modern rulers.
  20. That in a Free State every man may Think what he Likes, and Say what he Thinks.
    • The mind not subject to State authority.
    • Therefore in general language should not be.
    • A man who disapproving of a law, submits his adverse opinion to the judgment of the authorities, while acting in accordance with the law, deserves well of the State.
    • That liberty of opinion is beneficial, shown from the history of Amsterdam.
    • Danger to the State of withholding it.
    • Submission of the Author to the judgment of his country’s rulers.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30