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Horst Steinke


the initially established methodological principle of accordance

with the scientific study of Nature. On the face of it, Scripture

and Nature seem to be different worlds, the former a cultural,

intellectual creation or product, the latter physical reality external

to humans; it is thus anything but transparent or trivially obvious

that both realms can and need to be dealt with uniformly. Spino-

za simply makes this assertion («I hold that …»


), without any

supporting arguments; but due to the centrality of this nexus,

Spinoza’s stance regarding the natural sciences cannot be left out

of purview and not brought to bear on his biblical hermeneutics.


Spinoza’s philosophy of science

It might be said, loosely speaking, that Spinoza had the good

fortune of living at a time, and in a place, that coincidentally was

not out of sync with his own epistemic and philosophical preoc-

cupations. Historians have felt that there is sufficient evidence to

warrant speaking of a “golden age” of Dutch culture and sci-



. Although Spinoza’s core interests and predilections were

philosophical, it is noteworthy that he was also personally en-

gaged in both theoretical and applied science.







), and


were specific fields in which he participated

in the prevailing discourse


, most prominently optics by choos-

ing the manufacture of optical lenses and instruments in his own

workshop as his occupation to support himself, not being asso-

ciated with, or receiving remuneration from, academic institu-

tions. This “hands-on” involvement, however, put him at the

center of key technological advances of telescopes and micro-



, and brought him into association with and made him a

part of the community of outstanding scientists such as Christi-

aan Huygens, and theorists-philosophers like Leibniz



Spinoza’s own scientific research activities are insofar of par-

ticular interest in relation to our subject as they can be consid-

ered as a correlate to his biblical studies. As discussed above,

Spinoza’s approach (hermeneutics) to biblical studies was in-