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Document Details :

Title: Het raadsel van Spinoza's christologie
Author(s): JUFFERMANS, Paul
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 68    Issue: 4   Date: 2007   
Pages: 375-398
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.68.4.2023984

Abstract :
In this article I discuss two questions with relation to Spinoza’s Christology. The first question is: how can we bring Spinoza’s thesis of the separation of theology (faith) and philosophy (reason) in agreement with his understanding of Christ as a philosophical figure in a book of revelation, the Bible? The second question is: how must we interpret Spinoza’s faith in Christ as a person, who has adequately understood the central message of prophetic revelation, a message of salvation through good works?
The first question is discussed by means of a comparison between Maimonides’ prophetology in The Guide of the Perplexed on the one hand and Spinoza’s prophetology and christology in the Theological Political Treatise on the other hand. I show that Spinoza’s figure of Christ has the same kinds of knowledge as Maimonides’ prophet. A difference between Spinoza’s Christ and Maimonides’ prophet is that the first has no political ambitions while the last is – especially in the person of Mozes – evidently a political figure. The second question is discussed by an investigation of Spinoza’s conception of the subject of incarnation in his correspondence with Henry Oldenburg. It is argued that Spinoza understands incarnation as an expression of God’s wisdom in all things. Incarnation is not an exclusive but an all including principle of divine production of and manifestation in different modes of being. Nevertheless, we can distinguish hierarchies of modes of being. In this respect God’s wisdom is more incarnated in human beings than in non-human modes of being, and among human beings it is most incarnated in Christ. However, the question how Christ as a human being can understand adequately the message of revelation, which cannot be cleared up by philosophical reason, remains unanswered. In the concluding remarks it is argued that Spinoza with his christology tried to build a bridge to the enlightened parts of the christian communities of his time. Moreover, this christology functions for himself as a guarantee that the sphere of revelation and faith is ultimately included in the intuitive knowlegde sub specie aeternitatis. So the thesis of separation of faith and reason can only be understood as provisional.