The Political Thought of John Locke and the Significance of Political Hebraism

Hebraic Political Studies, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 568-592, Fall 2006

25 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2007 Last revised: 9 Apr 2010

See all articles by Fania Oz-Salzberger

Fania Oz-Salzberger

Faculty of Law, University of Haifa; Princeton University, Center for Human Values; Monash University

Abstract

European political and legal theory in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was profoundly informed by philosophical readings of the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts, including Talmud and rabbinic literature. Hebraist impact on early modern political and legal thought, previously often ignored, is now a growing field of scholarly interest. This paper offers a fresh look at the political thought of John Locke in the light of his deep and sustained interest in the Hebrew Bible. Locke's 'Two Treatises on Government,' his major contribution to political theory, considers the Bible is a historical record of a political nation - the Israelites - which developed a constitution, a republic, and in many senses an exemplary system of law and governance. Locke's highly influential theories of primitive society, the growth of civil society, the rule of law and the essence of political and social morality all draw heavily on his political reading of the Hebrew Bible.

Keywords: John Locke, seventeenth-century legal and political philosophy, Political Hebraism

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K20, K29, K30, K39, K40

Suggested Citation

Oz-Salzberger, Fania, The Political Thought of John Locke and the Significance of Political Hebraism. Hebraic Political Studies, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 568-592, Fall 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1029121

Fania Oz-Salzberger (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Princeton University, Center for Human Values ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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