Machiavelli on Reading the Bible Judiciously

Christopher Lynch

Abstract: This article examines the meaning and purpose of what Machiavelli calls "reading the Bible judiciously." It (i) surveys Machiavelli's discussions of figures and events of the Hebrew Bible in his major and minor works and letters; (ii) infers from these discussions what could be called his biblical hermeneutics; and (iii) sketches the importance of the proper reading of the Hebrew Bible for understanding Machiavelli’s thought. Such reading entails understanding the Hebrew Bible in light of what can be known of politics and war by means of human reason, and serves the purpose of resurrecting political life from the tomb in which it was placed by Christianity.

Biography: Christopher Lynch is the program director of Great Ideas: Intellectual Foundations of the West and a professor of political science at Carthage College. He received his BA from St. John’s College and his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, where he studied political philosophy and wrote his dissertation on Niccolע Machiavelli. He has taught at Boston College and at the Rome campus of the University of Dallas. His first book, a translation of Machiavelli’s Art of War with an introduction, notes, and commentary, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2003. He recently received an Olin Faculty Fellowship to begin work on a new book on war in Machiavelli’s thought.

Volume 1, Number 2 (Winter 2006) pp. 162–185