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Journal > Volumes > 49 (2018) / 2 (Summer)
The “Hairy War” (1640–50): Historicizing the Bible in the Dutch Republic on the Eve of Spinoza
Dirk van Miert
Utrecht University

This article argues that the textual criticism and historicization of the Bible was not the prerogative of radical thinkers, but was developed within the boundaries of orthodox Calvinism and widely disseminated in the 1640s in the Dutch Republic. Since this biblical philology was of a high standard, it makes little sense to label the time before Spinoza as a “precritical” period. This appears from an analysis of the arguments employed by scholars of different backgrounds during the so-called “Hairy War.” This pamphlet war evolved around the question what the apostle Paul meant when he condemned long hair on men. The article is based on neglected sources, in particular two by the polymath Claudius Salmasius. The controversy made a general public aware of the historicizing methods that scholars employed in the assessment of the biblical text. Twenty-five years later, Spinoza used these same methods for a much more radical agenda.

Pages: 415 - 436