Spinoza is one of most renowned philosophers in the field of theology. Spinoza’s philosophy banks on the assertion that natural knowledge has several subspecies and that revealed knowledge is one of those. His book trashes the assumption that revealed knowledge is made special from the fact that it is received from super natural interventions. Instead, the philosopher provides a different account of what makes revealed knowledge special. Essentially, the first two chapters of his book detail this account and are broken down into the special features of prophecy and prophets respectively.
Spinoza argues that prophets are not inteelectial beings with exceptional talents but rather morally upright individuals. According to Spinoza, prophecy is knowledge about certain things revealed to men by their God. It is true that prophecy is a form of natural knowledge since it is acquired from God and is available to all men on earth (Spinoza & Jonathan, pp 17). The philosopher posits that the prophecies are either true or imaginations of the prophets themselves. In Exodus 25.22, God reveals the laws directly thereby showing a true message of what he wished his people to follow. Further, Samuel also heard the true voice of God in 1 Samuel 3.21 when he was called while sleeping.
The philosopher further asserts that people refer to prophecy as not inherent from natural knowledge. This is because they speak of things that they do not always understand and that are alien and strange to their understanding. Ideally, the writer argues that natural knowledge is not subservient to prophetic knowledge because both are gotten from God. Prophecy is not special just by virtue of it being a sub species of natural knowledge. Essentially, even natural knowledge is special and is a acquired from the same source that is God. Even when prophecy is revealed to the men, it is perceived from the prophets’ imaginations and from words that could either be true or imaginary. In essence, therefore, it is not clear by what natural laws prophetic insights appeared to the prophets. The philosopher asserts that no one has ever received revelations from God in truth but all this is through their own imaginations. It is only Jesus who ever received direct revelation from God.
It was through visions that prophets received God’s message and sometimes these images were not real. As thus, revealed knowledge is not in any way more special than natural knowledge. According to the philosopher, prophets are men who reveal God’s message through words and visions. In essence, everyone receives from God on a continuous basis and they are free to share the messages with anyone. Ideally, prophets are not in any way special from the fact that they receive messages from God (Spinoza & Jonathan, pp 29). The fact that they perceive God’s message from their own imaginations is testament to their lack of special features. It is also true that prophecies, way back from ancient rime, have varied in terms of temperament and imaginations to the point that different prophecies could be used to communicate the same messages. Ultimately, the prophets’ imaginations and perceptions dictate the nature of the message revealed to them.
The mere imagination by prophets does not in any way show certainty in things that are being revealed. It is only through reason that imagination can be proved to be true and real. The prophets cannot therefore claim to be any special in revelation of natural knowledge because what they say cannot be tested logically. Ideally, prophecy depends only on imagination and can also not be reasonably ascertained making the prophets not any special. Consequently, revealed knowledge from prophets is way inferior to natural knowledge since the latter is certain in its original format. Nevertheless, prophetic messages are not dubious revelations because it does have elements of certainty albeit not logically.
Spinoza, Benedictus , and Jonathan I. Israel. Theological-political Treatise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.
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