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DE BETEKENIS VAN DE OUDTESTAMENTISCHE THEOCRATIE VOOR DE POLITIEKE FILOSOFIE VAN SPINOZA. EEN HOOFDSTUK UIT DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE POLITIEKE THEOLOGIE

M. Terpstra
Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
60ste Jaarg., Nr. 2 (JUNI 1998), pp. 292-320
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40887911
Page Count: 29
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
DE BETEKENIS VAN DE OUDTESTAMENTISCHE THEOCRATIE VOOR DE POLITIEKE FILOSOFIE VAN SPINOZA. EEN HOOFDSTUK UIT DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE POLITIEKE THEOLOGIE
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Abstract

Spinoza's appreciation of the biblical theocracy, by which he refers to the Jewish political order in the period after Moses' death and before the establishment of a monarchy, is fundamentally ambivalent. Spinoza states on many occasions that this political order was too weak to survive, that it could not be maintained and that it should not be imitated. Nevertheless, most of c.XVII deals with 'the excellence' (praestantia) of Hebrew theocracy. Most scholars interpret Spinoza's account of the political history of the Jews in purely secular terms, as Spinoza himself also did, but unfortunately overlook the word „praestantia”. This seems to lead to a biased judgment on Spinoza's thought. If we consider the debate on theocracy in the seventeenth century we must, as shown by recent research, accept a more differentiated view on the meaning of the idea of theocracy. It seems that Spinoza tried to save a particular meaning of theocracy (i.e. the prohibition of government by men over men) from the historical criticism which reduces theocracy to hierocracy (i.e. a representational political theology). If we take this into consideration, Spinoza's naturalist political philosophy will gain a new dimension, that also seems to be very germane to the present debate on democracy and its 'theo-political' foundation.

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