Hobbes’ Critique of Religion: A Necessary Byproduct of the Modern Project?
Though Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan has been analyzed thoroughly by students of political theory, few scholars have examined his critique of religion and reinterpretation of scripture, which occurs in Part III of his work. Scholars who have attempted to analyze his critique do not agree about what he intended to accomplish with this reinterpretation. Some scholars claim that Hobbes’ reinterpretation is merely subversive; others have noted that Hobbes did not deny completely the existence of a god; finally, many have noted that Hobbes merely critiqued religion in order to ensure that it would not damage his political and scientific projects. While there is evidence in the text to support all of these claims, this thesis will aid in closing a gap within the literature by offering a more thorough exegetical analysis of the Part III, chapter 42, entitled Of Ecclesiastical Power. Through a textual analysis of Hobbes’ most substantive condemnation of religion and the Catholic Church, this thesis will examine the factors that led Hobbes to offer a radical reinterpretation of scripture.