A pure bleg , as a beg for information from blog readers seems now to be called:

I know there’s a theological tradition of considering what might have been had Adam not fallen. Russell Hittinger has written of it, and it extends in the tradition from the patristical era all the way down to C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi novels.

But is there also a tradition of considering what might have been had Christ not been crucified? If he had come in the flesh, and the world had known him and embraced him instead of killing him?

I seem to remember something in the Victorines, Hugh or Richard, on this, but I can’t find it with a casual online search, and, anyway, my memory ain’t what it used to be.

Do you of you know about discussion in the tradition on this point?

The great theologian Thomas Guarino pointed me to a passage from Dante’s Convivio :

Hence it is said of Plato, who may be said to have possessed a supremely excellent nature both for the perfection of its being and for the physiognomic image which Socrates observed in him when he first saw him, that he lived to the age of 81, as Tully affirms in his book On Old Age . I believe that if Christ had not been crucified and had lived out the term which his life could have encompassed according to its nature, he would have undergone the change from mortal body to immortal in his eighty-first year.

Which indicates, at least, that the counterfactual was known in the tradition. But Dante doesn’t use it to engage any serious theological or metaphysical issues. Who does?

Any help with this gratefully received.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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