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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VIII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829294.001.0001

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Hobbes on the Authority of Scripture

Hobbes on the Authority of Scripture

(p.68) 3 Hobbes on the Authority of Scripture
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VIII

Thomas Holden

Oxford University Press

To understand Hobbes’s handling of scripture we need to see it in the light of his philosophical account of the norms controlling public religious speech and practice. Hobbes holds that we ought rationally to venerate the first cause of all and that the proper way to do this is to publicly adopt the local culture’s religious practices, however arbitrary or conventional those practices might be. He therefore embraces his own culture’s Anglo-Protestant scriptural religion in a spirit of genuine piety and reverence. At the same time, Hobbes also regards this form of devotion as a conventional human artifact that, given the ear of the sovereign and the cooperation of the universities, he might hope to shape in favor of Hobbesian moral and political ideals. The proposed interpretation of Hobbes’s treatment of scriptural religion dissolves problems facing irreligious readings on the one hand, and more straightforwardly Christian readings on the other.

Keywords:   Hobbes, Thucydides, Christianity, religion, atheism, scripture, worship, honor

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