Why Draw a Politics from Scripture? Bossuet and the Divine Right of Kings

Emile Perreau-Saussine

Abstract: In the centuries leading up to absolutism, secular power took on the attributes of the church in order to dominate it. This process culminated with the thesis of the divine right of kings. Bossuet’s Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture is one of its most accomplished manifestoes. Bossuet offers a political theology for the state. In Scripture, particularly in the book of Kings, he discovers a "people whose legislator is God himself." In the kingdoms of David and Solomon, he finds the precedent he seeks: kings who owe their legitimacy directly to God, unmediated by the people.

Biography: Born in 1972, Emile Perreau-Saussine received his Diplôme (BA) from L’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, and then studied for his PhD at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Centre Raymond Aron), spending time as a visiting scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and as an Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago (Committee on Social Thought). Since 2001, he has been a fellow of Fitzwilliam College, lecturing at the University of Cambridge on the history of political thought. His two latest articles, the first on Raymond Aron and Carl von Clausewitz, the second on Liberals and revolutions, have been published in Commentaire. His first book, Alasdair MacIntyre, une biographie intellectuelle. Introduction aux critiques contemporaines du libéralisme, with a foreword by Pierre Manent, was published in September 2005 by Presses Universitaires de France.

Volume 1, Number 2 (Winter 2006) pp. 224–237