Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lunatic, Liar or Lord?

I have now scanned in Question 2 of the Prologue to Scotus' Ordinatio. There is much of interest here.  There is the well-known allusion to the defeat of the Egyptians at the battle of Hims (also known as the battle of Wadi al-Khazandar)  in 1299. The battle was on 22-23 December 1299, but the news did not reach Oxford until the summer of 1300, which is taken as evidence that Scotus began the revision of the Ordinatio then. He writes that, with the co-operation of God, Islam will soon be ended "for it is greatly weakened in the year of Christ 1300, and many of its devotees are dead and some have fled".  This was gravely lacking in foresight.

There is also a reference to Josephus' history of the Jews, which for a long time was used as evidence for the "historical Jesus".  Josephus questions whether Jesus was really a man, says he was the worker of miracles, and was the Messiah.  We are not now certain whether this passage is authentic, or a Christian interpolation.

And there is an argument that must be a very early version of the one now known as Lunatic, Liar or Lord?, popularised by C.S. Lewis and many other Christian apologists.

The argument as we now have it is that Christ (or in other versions, the Christians who wrote the gospels) either deceived by conscious fraud, and so was a liar, or was himself deluded, and so a lunatic, or was telling the truth, and so was the Lord. This is the 'trilemma'. The argument (1) that Jesus (or the Christians who wrote the gospels) could not have been lying, because Christianity forbids lying, (2) that he could not have been deluded, because of the evidence of his rationality (or the rationality of the Christians who wrote or preached the gospels).

Scotus argument is essentially the same, although a little more complex. I will discuss it later.

1 comment:

Edward Ockham said...

Off topic or ad hominem comments will be deleted. This is a logic blog, right?