Jesus in an Age of Enlightenment

Radical Gospels from Thomas Hobbes to Thomas Jefferson

  • Jonathan C. P. Birch

Part of the Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World book series (CTAW)

Table of contents

About this book


This book explores the religious concerns of Enlightenment thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to Thomas Jefferson. Using an innovative method, the study illuminates the intellectual history of the age through interpretations of Jesus between c.1750 and c.1826. The book demonstrates the persistence of theology in modern philosophy and the projects of social reform and amelioration associated with the Enlightenment. At the core of many of these projects was a robust moral-theological realism, sometimes manifest in a natural law ethic, but always associated with Jesus and a commitment to the sovereign goodness of God. This ethical orientation in Enlightenment discourse is found in a range of different metaphysical and political identities (dualist and monist; progressive and radical) which intersect with earlier ‘heretical’ tendencies in Christian thought (Arianism, Pelagianism, and Marcionism). This intellectual matrix helped to produce the discourses of irenic toleration which are a legacy of the Enlightenment at its best.  


Thomas Hobbes Thomas Jefferson Enlightenment thinkers moral-theological realism natural law ethic Arianism Pelagianism Marcionism

Authors and affiliations

  • Jonathan C. P. Birch
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Critical StudiesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-51275-8
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-51276-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site