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A Theologico-Political Treatise, by Benedict de Spinoza, [1883], at

A Theologico-Political Treatise



Origin and consequences of superstition.

Causes that have led the author to write.

Course of his investigation.

For what readers the treatise is designed. Submission of author to the rulers of his country.

CHAPTER I—Of Prophecy.

Definition of prophecy.

Distinction between revelation to Moses and to the other prophets.

Between Christ and other recipients of revelation.

Ambiguity of the word "Spirit."

The different senses in which things may be referred to God.

Different senses of "Spirit of God."

Prophets perceived revelation by imagination.

CHAPTER II—Of Prophets.

A mistake to suppose that prophecy can give knowledge of phenomena

Certainty of prophecy based on: (1) Vividness of imagination, (2) A Sign, (3) Goodness of the Prophet.

Variation of prophecy with the temperament and opinions of the individual.

CHAPTER III—Of the Vocation of the Hebrews, and whether the Gift of Prophecy was peculiar to them.

Happiness of Hebrews did not consist in the inferiority of the Gentile.

Nor in philosophic knowledge or virtue.

But in their conduct of affairs of state and escape from political dangers.

Even this Distinction did not exist in the time of Abraham.

Testimony from the Old Testament itself to the share of the Gentiles in the law and favour of God.

Explanation of apparent discrepancy of the Epistle to the Romans.

Answer to the arguments for the eternal election of the Jews.

CHAPTER IV—Of the Divine Law.

Laws either depend on natural necessity or on human decree. The existence of the latter not inconsistent with the former class of laws.

Divine law a kind of law founded on human decree: called Divine from its object.

Divine law: (1) universal; (2) independent of the truth of any historical narrative; (3) independent of rites and ceremonies; (4) its own reward.

Reason does not present God as a law-giver for men.

Such a conception a proof of ignorance—in Adam—in the Israelites—in Christians.

Testimony of the Scriptures in favour of reason and the rational view of the Divine.

CHAPTER V.—Of the Ceremonial Law.

Ceremonial law of the Old Testament no part of the Divine universal law, but partial and temporary. Testimony of the prophets themselves to this Testimony of the New Testament.

How the ceremonial law tended to preserve the Hebrew kingdom.

Christian rites on a similar footing.

What part of the Scripture narratives is one bound to believe?

Authors Endnotes to the Treatise.

Next: Preface.