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Guttman Mendelssohn and Spinoza

Guttman Mendelssohn and Spinoza

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Published by: pruzhaner on Oct 11, 2011
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STUDIES IN
JEWISHTHOUGHT
An Anthology of German JewishScholarship
Selected, Edited, and Introduced by Alfred JospeWayne State University Press Detroit, 1981
 
Copyright 
©
1981 by Wayne Slate University Press, Detroit. Michigan 48202 All rights are resen-ed. No part of this book may be reproduced without formal permission
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Main entry under title.Studies in Jewish thoughtIncludes bibliographical references and index1 Judaism—History—Addresses, essays, lectures.2 Judaism—Doctrines—Addresses, essays, lecturesMendelssohn, Moses. 1729-1786—Addresses, essays,lectures. I. Jospe. Alfred. 1909-BM43.S78 296 80-29338
ISBN
08143-1676-X
 
15MENDELSSOHN'S
JERUSALEM 
AND SPINOZA'S
THEOLOGICO-POLITICAL TREATISE
 Julias Guttmann
pinoza's philosophical system, as is well known,began to influence European thought only more than a century after thephilosopher's death. True, his younger contemporary E. W. von Tschirn-haus derived some of his views from Spinoza, and even a thinker of Leibniz's stature was significantly influenced by him. But then his impactwaned, and it was only in the muddled heads of some religious enthusiasts that one could find versions of Spinoza's ideas, usually torn out of context.'Yet at the very time when Spinoza's
Ethics
was bypassed and ignored by the emerging philosophical systems, his
Theologico-PoliticalTreatise
exerted a strong influence on the history of religious enlightenment. His historical critique of the Bible was widely used in the literatureof English Deism and, as a consequence, had a significant impact on theFrench and the German Enlightenment.
2
We cannot trace here everydetail pertaining to the importance of the
Theologico-Political Treatise
foreighteenth-century Deism. One point may suffice to show the strength of this influence. Spinoza's conception of Judaism—his thesis that the Mosaic legislation had a purely political, not a religious character—was decisively influential on the self-definition of Judaism in the eighteenth century. Its impact on English Deism was equally strong, and it was thesource for the central idea of the fourth of Lessing's
Wolfenbiitteler Fragments
which claimed "that the books of the Old Testament were not361

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