Political philosophers Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin share an abiding interest in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Disturbing Revelation, the first book to focus on their treatment of the Bible, John Ranieri explores how they draw on its texts in their philosophies and shows what these considerations say about whether the combination of religion and politics leads to violence or can prevent it.
In addressing fundamental questions of reason and revelation, Ranieri focuses not on Strauss’s treatment of Judaism or Voegelin’s of Christianity, but rather on the place of the Bible in their thought. He first examines the differences between their methodological approaches and attitudes toward the Bible and biblical criticism—rather than their attitudes toward religion or questions of faith—and then explores in depth their interpretations of the biblical message and its contribution to the modern world.
Ranieri shows how both men recognized that biblical texts must be seriously engaged in order for us to understand our contemporary situation—but that their appreciation of the Bible is marked by deep ambivalence concerning its vision of life and its influence on the political sphere. He brings their thought into conversation with that of René Girard, whose writings on violence and religion shed light on the problems that arise when biblical insights take root in a culture, and also offers fresh insight into Strauss’s elusive writings, such as his indebtedness to Nietzsche.
Disturbing Revelation reveals how Strauss and Voegelin viewed the applicability of biblical texts to what they considered the crisis of modernity without belaboring questions of their own personal faith. It is a clearly written exposition that reflects a rich understanding of the work of these thinkers and is as provocative as it is informative, not only for students of the two men but also for anyone interested in the relationship between philosophy and religious belief.