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Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham

, 304 pages

1 b&w photo

December 2004



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Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham

In this book noted scholar Thomas L. Pangle brings back a lost and crucial dimension of political theory: the mutually illuminating encounter between skeptically rationalist political philosophy and faith-based political theology guided ultimately by the authority of the Bible. Focusing on the chapters of Genesis in which the foundation of the Bible is laid, Pangle provides an interpretive reading illuminated by the questions and concerns of the Socratic tradition and its medieval heirs in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic worlds. He brings into contrast the rival interpretive framework set by the biblical criticism of the modern rationalists Hobbes and Spinoza, along with their heirs from Locke to Hegel. The full meaning of these diverse philosophic responses to the Bible is clarified through a dialogue with hermeneutic discussions by leading political theologians in the Judaic, Muslim, and Christian traditions, from Josephus and Augustine to our day. Profound and subtle in its argument, this book will be of interest not only to students and scholars of politics, philosophy, and religion but also to thoughtful readers in every walk of life who seek to deepen their understanding of the perplexing relationship between religious faith and philosophic reason.

Thomas L. Pangle holds the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His many acclaimed publications include The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age; The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke; and Montesquieu's Philosophy of Liberalism.

"Like all of Thomas Pangle's work, Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham is stunningly erudite and discerning. Pangle makes splendid use of the great commentators and critics, listening to voices as diverse as the Rashi, Maimonides, Ibn Ezra, Calvin, Spinoza, and Kierkegaard, but Pangle's argument is very much his own. He is intellectually relentless, wrestling with titanic questions, arguing with elegance and clarity."

"The dialogue between philosophic rationalism and faith-based wisdom is here brought back to life with a depth and intensity that is unique in contemporary thought and discourse."

"His goal is ambitious—nothing less than to reinvigorate what he describes as 'the encounter between political philosophy and the Bible' at the highest intellectual level."

"Noted scholar Thomas L. Pangle discusses the mutually illuminating encounter between skeptically rationalist political philosophy and faith-based political theology guided ultimately by the authority of the Bible."

"An enticing introduction to the richly provocative debate about fundamental questions of faith raised among the Bible's greatest students—Augustine and Aquinas, Ibn Ezra and Maimonides, al-Ghazali and Averroes, Luther and Calvin—and an array of writers from ancient and modern philosophical traditions as well... No one who follows Pangle's investigation could fail to be moved by the weight and force of the deeply serious moral world of the Bible."

"A far more sophisticated and erudite, but by no means less passionate, plea for the restitution of the Biblical vision of world order than is observable amongst the American evangelical right is found in Thomas Pangle's Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham... A tribute to the resources of the religious intellect."

"Pangle takes the reader on a fascinating tour of a period in Western intellectual history when modernist philosophy takes its leave of biblical authority."

"Of all his excellent books, Pangle seems to have taken the greatest care in writing Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham. Every sentence, every phrase, every word counts."

"This wise book is of considerable merit and importance."

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