From Radical Reformation to Mystical Pre-Enlightenment

Document Type


Publication Date



Jonathan Israel’s Radical Enlightenment appears in a different light when read in conjunction with George H. Williams’ Radical Reformation and Israel’s own history of The Dutch Republic. The radical dissent of the Reformation and its aftermath extended to Holland, influencing Spinoza’s milieu and creating preconditions for his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670). The radical turn attributed by Israel to Spinoza appears less unprecedented when juxtaposed with its extended Reformation background, including the German speculative or mystical dissenters who anticipated his themes.


This book chapter was originally published as “From Radical Reformation to Mystical Pre-Enlightenment,” pp. 80-111. In The Radical Enlightenment in Germany: A Cultural Perspective, ed. Carl Niekerk. Leiden, Boston: Brill-Rodopi, 2018.