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Note on the text and translation  pp. xlii-xlvi

Note on the text and translation

By Jonathan Israel and Michael Silverthorne

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The present translation was first made by Michael Silverthorne and scrutinized by Desmond Clarke, then extensively revised by Jonathan Israel in close collaboration with the translator.

Spinozawrote his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus in Latin, and although some scholars regard it as quite likely that he also had some hand in the subsequent French (1678) translation, it is not certain that he did. Hence the Latin version, anonymously and clandestinely published and distributed in Amsterdamby Jan Rieuwertsz, ostensibly in 1670 (but in fact in 1669), is the original and only defnitely authentic version of the text. Despite its clandestine nature and the fact that it was widely banned, copies of the book surviving in libraries today are surprisingly numerous. This seems to have been mainly due to the brisk demand for copies all over Europe during the late seventeenth century and Rieuwertsz's ruse of issuing several unnoticed new editions through the 1670s, retaining what looked like the original title-page bearing the original false date and place of publication “Hamburg, 1670”

Until quite recently the best modern critical edition of the original text was that prepared by Carl Gebhardt and published atHeidelberg in 1925, in the third volume of his complete edition of Spinoza's works. An improved critical edition prepared by the expert Dutch Latinist, Fokke Akkerman, was published in a bilingual Latin–French version by the PressesUniversitaires de France, in Paris, in 1999.