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Theologico-Political Treatise — Part 3   By: (1632-1677)

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A Theologico Political Treatise

Part III Chapters XI to XV

by Baruch Spinoza


CHAPTER XI An Inquiry whether the Apostles wrote their Epistles as Apostles and Prophets, or merely as Teachers, and an Explanation of what is meant by Apostle.

The epistles not in the prophetic style.

The Apostles not commanded to write or preach in particular places.

Different methods of teaching adopted by the Apostles.

CHAPTER XII Of the true Original of the Divine Law, and wherefore Scripture is called Sacred, and the Word of God. How that, in so far as it contains the Word of God, it has come down to us uncorrupted.

CHAPTER XIII It is shown, that Scripture teaches only very Simple Doctrines, such as suffice for right conduct.

Error in speculative doctrine not impious nor knowledge pious. Piety consists in obedience.

CHAPTER XIV Definitions of Faith, the True Faith, and the Foundations of Faith, which is once for all separated from Philosophy.

Danger resulting from the vulgar idea of faith.

The only test of faith obedience and good works.

As different men are disposed to obedience by different opinions, universal faith can contain only the simplest doctrines.

Fundamental distinction between faith and philosophy the key stone of the present treatise.

CHAPTER XV Theology is shown not to be subservient to Reason, nor Reason to Theology: a Definition of the reason which enables us to accept the Authority of the Bible.

Theory that Scripture must be accommodated to Reason maintained by Maimonides already refuted in Chapter vii.

Theory that Reason must be accommodated to Scripture maintained by Alpakhar examined.

And refuted.

Scripture and Reason independent of one another.

Certainty, of fundamental faith not mathematical but moral.

Great utility of Revelation.

Authors Endnotes to the Treatise.


(1) No reader of the New Testament can doubt that the Apostles were prophets; but as a prophet does not always speak by revelation, but only, at rare intervals, as we showed at the end of Chap. I., we may fairly inquire whether the Apostles wrote their Epistles as prophets, by revelation and express mandate, as Moses, Jeremiah, and others did, or whether only as private individuals or teachers, especially as Paul, in Corinthians xiv:6, mentions two sorts of preaching.

(2) If we examine the style of the Epistles, we shall find it totally different from that employed by the prophets.

(3) The prophets are continually asserting that they speak by the command of God: "Thus saith the Lord," "The Lord of hosts saith," "The command of the Lord," &c.; and this was their habit not only in assemblies of the prophets, but also in their epistles containing revelations, as appears from the epistle of Elijah to Jehoram, 2 Chron. xxi:12, which begins, "Thus saith the Lord."

(4) In the Apostolic Epistles we find nothing of the sort. (5) Contrariwise, in I Cor. vii:40 Paul speaks according to his own opinion and in many passages we come across doubtful and perplexed phrase; such as, "We think, therefore," Rom. iii:28; "Now I think," [Endnote 24], Rom. viii:18, and so on. (6) Besides these, other expressions are met with very different from those used by the prophets. (7) For instance, 1 Cor. vii:6, "But I speak this by permission, not by commandment;" "I give my judgment as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful" (1 Cor. vii:25), and so on in many other passages. (8) We must also remark that in the aforesaid chapter the Apostle says that when he states that he has or has not the precept or commandment of God, he does not mean the precept or commandment of God revealed to himself, but only the words uttered by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount... Continue reading book >>

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