Prophetic revelation and miracle in Spinoza's ”Tractatus theologico-politicus' - A philosophical and/or theological question?

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 66 (3):449-472 (2004)
In Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus two phenomena, which are of crucial importance for revealed religion, namely prophetic revelation and miracle, are investigated in two different ways. The first phenomenon, prophetic revelation, is primarily considered as a theological issue and is mainly discussed on the basis of biblical research. The second phenomenon, miracle, is primarily considered as a philosophical issue and is mainly discussed on the basis of rational principles. The question is raised why Spinoza is using two different methods to discuss these two issues. Some have argued that Spinoza is using these two different methods on account of strategic reasons. Nevertheless, such a strategic explanation is not entirely satisfactory in so far as it ignores more substantial reasons, which are related to the content of the issues mentioned. In search of these substantial reasons it is necessary to investigate Spinoza’s discussion of the phenomena of prophetic revelation and miracle in more detail. This investigation leads to the conclusion that Spinoza exerts himself more to give causal explanations of miracles than of prophetic revelations, although both phenomena are considered by him as purely natural. However, in the last analysis both extraordinary phenomena are considered as inexplicable natural events, which in this respect are not different from all ordinary natural events. In this way we discover at the border of Spinoza’s rigorous rationalism a new enchantment of the world
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