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SPINOZA, JOSEPHISM AND THE CRITIQUE OF THE HEBREW REPUBLIC

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This paper attempts to treat Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico Politicus in the context of recent work on 'political Hebraism'. First it examines the role of the ancient historian Flavius Josephus in the general context of political Hebraism, and then it discusses his place in Spinoza's writings more specifically. The argument attempts to show that a particular mode of reading Josephus ('Josephism') emerged in the political Hebraist tradition, and that Spinoza may be seen as both the end of this tradition and a sophisticated critic of it. The conclusion reached suggests that Spinoza's radical ideas about the method of political inquiry and the role of reason therein made him a natural and necessary opponent even of such relatively liberal thinkers as the 'Josephists'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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