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Hobbes on Politics and Religion$
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Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803409.001.0001

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The Politics of Hobbes’s Historia Ecclesiastica

The Politics of Hobbes’s Historia Ecclesiastica

(p.150) 9 The Politics of Hobbes’s Historia Ecclesiastica
Hobbes on Politics and Religion

Patricia Springborg

Oxford University Press

Hobbes’s Historia Ecclesiastica takes the name of the great Byzantine ecclesiastical histories from the fourth century on by Eusebius, Rufinus, Socrates of Constantinople, by Sozomen and Evagrius, by the Arian Philostorgius and the Nestorian Theodoret. Hobbes’s choice of title could not have been accidental, even if the poem represents a major genre problem. His preoccupation with heresy was a principal motivation for the burst of creative activity on that subject in the 1660s, which includes his Ecclesiastical History, and it is true that from Eusebius on, Christian historiographers were obsessed with heresy. But there is an alternative and not unrelated hypothesis, and that is that Hobbes, who condoned Cromwellian Independency and was an Erastian at heart, was hoping to establish the credentials of a more latitudinarian Anglicanism as a civil religion, thus appealing to the relative tolerance of the humanist historiographers against the rabid sectarianism of heresiographers of the 1640s.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, Ecclesiastical History, heresy, heresiographers, latitudinarianism

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