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Horst Steinke


more significantly,


, Part V, Proposition XVII, comes to

mind: «God is without passions, neither is he affected by any

emotion of pleasure or pain»


. This insight belongs to



, the third kind of knowledge, alone, whereas Scripture at

best can aspire at gathering the first kind of knowledge in the

form of data, and elucidating its «meaning» at the level of the

second kind of knowledge.

In the light of this «clarification (

clarius intelligantur

)», the intro-

ductory statement takes on a particular connotation that is not

expressed directly. The passage reads:

The pronouncements (


) made in each book should be assem-

bled and listed under headings, so that we can thus have to hand all the

texts that treat of the same subject. Next, we should note all those that

are ambiguous or obscure, or that appear to contradict one another



, p. 88).

Spinoza thus proposes, or rather demands, that biblical study

– now dealing with the contents, rather than the language in

which it is written – approach statements in Scripture analogous-

ly to phenomena in science, that is, as initial raw data; with this

approach, the individual statements of Scripture become part of

the first kind of knowledge, consistent with the programmatic

promise made at the beginning of the chapter. From a historical

point of view, the echo of, and appeal to, Bacon’s scientific

methodology is unmistakable


. However, familiarity with Ba-

con’s theory of scientific epistemology may send up certain “red

flags” with respect to the closeness or coextension of the con-

cepts of both thinkers. Spinoza presents this step as a sort of, if

not “mechanical”, then relatively unchallenging task of produc-

ing a listing of individual statements, organized according to sub-

ject. Thus, in practice, the subjects become literal headings on a

piece of paper, and what remains to be done is going through the

biblical text, picking out statements, and classifying them under

the established headings. It is conspicuous that nothing is said