Old Testament and English Political Thought

This is a Reading List based upon a Liberty Fund Conference on “Liberty, Covenant, and the Old Testament Roots of English Political Thought.”

Liberty, Covenant, and the Old Testament Roots of English Political Thought


These readings explore the ways in which a number of leading early modern political theorists (Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, James Harrington, and John Milton) were influenced by the Old Testament, in particular the ideas of God giving the Law to Moses and the covenant between God and the Hebrew people.

Guide to the Readings

Editions used:

See also in the Online Library of Liberty:

For additional reading see;

Session I: Old Testament

The Parallel Bible. The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments translated out of the Original Tongues: being the Authorised Version arranged in parallel columns with the Revised Version (Oxford University Press, 1885).

Session II: Spinoza

Benedict de Spinoza, The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, translated from the Latin, with an Introduction by R.H.M. Elwes, vol. 1 Introduction, Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus, Tractatus Politicus. Revised edition (London: George Bell and Sons, 1891).

Session III: Hobbes

Hobbes’s Leviathan reprinted from the edition of 1651 with an Essay by the Late W.G. Pogson Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909).

Session IV: Locke

Two Treatises of Government, ed. Thomas Hollis (London: A. Millar et al., 1764).

Session V: Harrington

James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).

Session VI: Milton

John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.