Philosophy Colloquium- Spinoza on the Divinity of Scripture

Starts 4:40 PM
Thursday Mar 23, 2017
Harmon Room, DeWitt Wallace Library

Steve Nadler, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be speaking. All are welcome, refreshments will be served. 

The Bible is traditionally regarded as “divine”. But in what sense is the divinity of Scripture to be understood? Did God literally write (or at least dictate to Moses) the Torah, along with the historical and prophetic texts that compose the books of the Hebrew Bible? According to Spinoza, this would be metaphysically impossible, since God is nothing but Nature itself, and thus not a kind of person or agent who can do things like write or dictate or even command. The authors of the Bible, on his account, were ordinary human beings, and thus the Bible is nothing but a work of mundane literature — it is, in fact, an arbitrarily selected and “mutilated” set of writings that were copied over time and again, handed down through generations and finally edited into a single anthology sometime in the Second Temple period. They are not literally divine. However, Spinoza does want to say that there remains a sense in which the Biblical writings are special, even “divine”. What their divinity consists in is their superior ability to inspire us to true piety and acts of justice and charity toward our fellow human beings. What this means is that the divinity of the Bible is not some absolute feature of the text that it has independent of anything else in the world. Rather, it is a relative property that the Bible has only because, given both its content and human nature, it is well-suited for moving people toward a certain way of life.

This event is for: Students

Sponsored By: Philosophy

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