Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

8/1/2007 - 7/31/2008

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Enlightenment Political Philosophy and the Bible: Liberal Interpretations in Illiberal Times

FAIN: FA-53302-07

J. Judd Owen
Emory University (Atlanta, GA 30322-1018)

By offering a liberal interpretation of the Bible, Hobbes, Bayle, Spinoza, and Locke did something that contemporary liberal theory would never dream of doing. For John Rawls's "political liberalism," for example, attempting such interpretation would in itself violate the principles of liberal theory. Yet the early liberals confronted a society in which Scripture was the authoritative guide for the conduct of human affairs. This made engagement with the Bible by proponents of the new politics of the Enlightenment imperative. I seek support for a book-length study of the Enlightenment's political engagement with the Bible with a view to advancing our understanding of the liberalization of religion they hoped to effect.

Associated Products

Making Religion Safe for Democracy: Transformation from Hobbes to Tocqueville (Book)
Title: Making Religion Safe for Democracy: Transformation from Hobbes to Tocqueville
Author: J. Judd Owen
Abstract: J. Judd Owen sheds new light on the ambiguous status of religion in modern democratic society by tracing a surprisingly unified reinterpretation of Christianity by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Thomas Jefferson and comparing that reinterpretation to Alexis de Tocqueville's analysis of the democratic transformation of religion the early United States.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Secondary URL:
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 1316609316
Copy sent to NEH?: No