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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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A Profile in Cowardice? Hobbes, Personation, and the Trinity

A Profile in Cowardice? Hobbes, Personation, and the Trinity

(p.167) 10 A Profile in Cowardice? Hobbes, Personation, and the Trinity
Hobbes on Politics and Religion

Glen Newey

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the development of Hobbes’s political theology during the 1660s, particularly in the Appendices to his Latin translation of Leviathan. It challenges the widely held view that Hobbes adapted his views through fear of being arraigned for heresy after his being named during parliamentary proceedings on the Atheism Bill. Hobbes was not in serious danger of being tried for heresy. Regardless of whether he took the risk seriously, Hobbes uninhibitedly restated controversial theological doctrine, notably in applying his theory of personation to the Trinity, and in certain respects made his position more rather than less radical. There is little interpretative merit in juxtaposing the English Leviathan of 1651 with the Latin version of 1668, and assuming that the latter aimed to accommodate resurgent Restoration Anglicanism. The wider moral is to beware of applying personal or political context too mechanically to the historical interpretation of philosophical texts.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, theology, heresy, personation, the Trinity, atheism, Latin Leviathan

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