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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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Natural Sovereignty and Omnipotence in Hobbes’s Leviathan

Natural Sovereignty and Omnipotence in Hobbes’s Leviathan

(p.29) 2 Natural Sovereignty and Omnipotence in Hobbes’s Leviathan
Hobbes on Politics and Religion

A. P. Martinich

Oxford University Press

According to Thomas Hobbes, God is a natural sovereign because he is omnipotent. This claim is part of the general political philosophy he presents in Part Two of Leviathan. The assertion of God’s sovereignty complements Hobbes’s earlier claim that the laws of nature are commanded by God, speaking through reason. For Hobbes as for some of his other contemporaries, understanding the properties of God as absolute sovereign helps to illuminate the properties of an absolute, human sovereign. When a king was thought of as God’s vicegerent or representative, the king’s attributes were thought to be reflections of or approximations to God’s sovereign attributes. Hobbes’s civil sovereign is modelled on the divine sovereign as represented in the Old Testament. Hobbes favoured some of the psalms; but he probably had other familiar biblical texts in mind as well.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, omnipotence, sovereignty, warrior-god, Psalms, problem of evil

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