Spinoza and the Irrelevance of Biblical Authority
Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is a landmark both in democratic political theory and in the history of biblical interpretation. Spinoza championed liberty of thought, speech and writing by discrediting the Bible as the standard for truth and a source of public law. Applying a new historical criticism, he showed that biblical teaching and law were irrelevant for a modern pluralistic state and its intellectual life. J. Samuel Preus highlights Spinoza's achievement by reading the Treatise in the context of a literary conflict among his contemporaries about biblical interpretation - a conflict fraught with political implication. Preus's exposition of neglected primary sources surrounding Spinoza's work offers new evidence regarding his rhetorical strategy and intent in the Treatise. The book provides not only a valuable contribution to Spinoza scholarship but an important account of the origins of modern methods of biblical interpretation.