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
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: Suggested Citation