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Theologico-Political Treatise — Part 2   By: (1632-1677)

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A Theologico Political Treatise Part 2 Chapters VI to X by Baruch Spinoza

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

CHAPTER VI Of Miracles.

Confused ideas of the vulgar on the subject.

A miracle in the sense of a contravention of natural laws an absurdity.

In the sense of an event, whose cause is unknown, less edifying than an event better understood.

God's providence identical with the course of nature. How Scripture miracles may be interpreted.

CHAPTER VII Of the Interpretation of Scripture.

Current systems of interpretation erroneous.

Only true system to interpret it by itself.

Reasons why this system cannot now be carried out in its entirety.

Yet these difficulties do not interfere with our understanding the plainest and most important passages.

Rival systems examined that of a supernatural faculty being necessary refuted.

That of Maimonides.

Refuted.

Traditions of the Pharisees and the Papists rejected.

CHAPTER VIII. Of the authorship of the Pentateuch, and the other historical books of the Old Testament.

The Pentateuch not written by Moses.

His actual writings distinct.

Traces of late authorship in the other historical books.

All the historical books the work of one man.

Probably Ezra.

Who compiled first the book of Deuteronomy.

And then a history, distinguishing the books by the names of their subjects.

CHAPTER IX. Other questions about these books.

That these books have not been thoroughly revised and made to agree.

That there are many doubtful readings.

That the existing marginal notes are often such.

The other explanations of these notes refuted.

The hiatus.

CHAPTER X. An Examination of the remaining books of the Old Testament according to the preceding method.

Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs.

Isaiah, Jeremiah.

Ezekiel, Hosea.

Other prophets, Jonah, Job.

Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.

The author declines to undertake a similar detailed examination of the New Testament.

Author's Endnotes to the Treatise

CHAPTER VI. OF MIRACLES.

(1) As men are accustomed to call Divine the knowledge which transcends human understanding, so also do they style Divine, or the work of God, anything of which the cause is not generally known: for the masses think that the power and providence of God are most clearly displayed by events that are extraordinary and contrary to the conception they have formed of nature, especially if such events bring them any profit or convenience: they think that the clearest possible proof of God's existence is afforded when nature, as they suppose, breaks her accustomed order, and consequently they believe that those who explain or endeavour to understand phenomena or miracles through their natural causes are doing away with God and His providence. (2) They suppose, forsooth, that God is inactive so long as nature works in her accustomed order, and vice versa, that the power of nature and natural causes are idle so long as God is acting: thus they imagine two powers distinct one from the other, the power of God and the power of nature, though the latter is in a sense determined by God, or (as most people believe now) created by Him. (3) What they mean by either, and what they understand by God and nature they do not know, except that they imagine the power of God to be like that of some royal potentate, and nature's power to consist in force and energy.

(4) The masses then style unusual phenomena, "miracles," and partly from piety, partly for the sake of opposing the students of science, prefer to remain in ignorance of natural causes, and only to hear of those things which they know least, and consequently admire most. (5) In fact, the common people can only adore God, and refer all things to His power by removing natural causes, and conceiving things happening out of their due course, and only admires the power of God when the power of nature is conceived of as in subjection to it... Continue reading book >>




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