Original Research

Baruch Spinoza and the naturalisation of the Bible: An epistemological investigation

Nicolaas J. Gronum
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a2885 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2885 | © 2015 Nicolaas J. Gronum | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 January 2015 | Published: 28 September 2015

About the author(s)

Nicolaas J. Gronum, Department Science of Religion and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article investigates the naturalisation of the Bible. Three voices are of special importance in the narrative presented in this article; they are Aristotle (384–322 BC), Rene Descartes (1596–1650) and Baruc Spinoza (1632–1677). This article will investigate the scientific method and metaphysics espoused by each of the three scholars, thereby highlighting changes in scientific method and metaphysics that lead to the naturalisation of the Bible. Firstly, Aristotle pioneered a scientific method (his logic) that would dominate for centuries, as well as a highly influential metaphysics. Secondly, Descartes, witnessing the horrors of the Thirty Years War and seeing first-hand the new discoveries that brought about the scientific revolution, reacted against Aristotle’s metaphysics. Ironically he then used Aristotle’s scientific method to provide a foundation for the new science resulting in Descartes’s famous dualism. Thirdly, Spinoza, equally horrified by the amount of religious violence of his time, reacts against Descartes’s dualism, providing scholars with a monist metaphysics that would contribute greatly to the naturalisation of the Bible. This article will be relevant to theologians who wish to engage more fully with contemporary Western culture.


Liberalism; Naturalism; Spinoza; Liberal Theology


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