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Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise edited by Martin Yaffe (Focus, 480 pp., $24.95) Anyone lacking Latin who is seriously interested in, among other things, the philosophical foundations of liberal democracy, the rise of the historical-critical approach to the Bible, and Leo Strauss owes Martin Yaffe a substantial debt of gratitude for his edition of Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise. Yaffe's edition of the Treatise far surpasses all its competitors in its faithfulness to Spinoza's peculiar manner of writing. It thus provides us fresh access to the late 17th-century work, which is at once "the philosophical founding document of both modern liberal democracy and modern biblical criticism."
Yaffe's excellent interpretive essay helps readers to see why Spinoza regarded his dual foundings--of liberal democracy and of a "critical" way of reading the Bible--as being inextricably linked. As for Yaffe's contribution to the study of Strauss, it consists not only of the way in which he follows Strauss's admonition to translators not to impose their own prejudices on a text, but also the way he keys his text to the Latin editions that Strauss employed in his great essay "How to Study Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise."
Yaffe thereby enables Latinless readers to investigate the hundreds of citations to the Treatise that Strauss provides throughout his essay. Because of his seriousness and because of his modesty--he does not confuse himself with a thinker of Spinoza's rank--Yaffe is a most able guide to Spinoza.
-- Steven Lenzner, Weekly Standard