June 16, 2011

Locke and the Bible

Ross J. Corbett, Northern Illinois University, has published Locke's Biblical Critique. Here is the abstract.

This paper seeks to clarify the relationship between Locke’s political and religious thought. To the extent that Locke’s political thought is an outgrowth of a particular strand of Christianity, its claims to universality would be significantly diminished. This would be the case, however, only if Locke were genuinely religious. Plausible accounts of his religiosity have been offered by Dunn, Waldron, et al, but such accounts become implausible given the presence of a biblical critique within the Two Treatises. The evidence for a critique of the Bible on moral grounds pointed to by Strauss, Pangle, et al is ambiguous, however, and so fails to refute the pious-Locke hypothesis. This paper argues that close attention to Locke’s analysis of the Hebrew text of Gen. 1:28 unambiguously points to a critique of the Bible on textual grounds. This serves to set the moral critique upon firmer foundations, to imply that the moral critique really is present in the text, and to reestablish the universalist claims of Locke’s political thought.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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