Biblical Interpretation and the Constitution in Hobbes’s Leviathan

JMC Fellow and Research Director at the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard Mark Somos has published “Biblical Interpretation and the Constitution of the Christian Commonwealth in Hobbes’s Leviathan, Part III” in Storia del pensiero politico. This article is based off research done during his JMC-Huntington Library Research Fellowship.

Abstract: Few aspects of Hobbes’s thought received as much recent attention as his religion; yet there are no comprehensive analyses of Hobbes’s biblical exegesis. To illustrate a possible method and the value of such studies, this article traces Hobbes’s strings of references in “Leviathan”, Part III. It shows that despite ascribing the authority to finalise, censor, and otherwise control biblical editions to the Sovereign, Hobbes preferred the Geneva to the King James Bible. The article also considers some implications of Hobbes’s Bible interpretations for the constitutional design of his Christian Commonwealth, including representation, the Christian Sovereign, anticlericalism, and the Second Coming.

Read the paper here.