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Does anybody know where, in the Christian tradition, there’s speculation about what would have happened if Jesus not been crucified—if he had come in the flesh, and the world had known him and embraced him instead of killing him?

First Things’ editor, Jody Bottum, asked me for our help on this. He points to 1 Corinthians 2:8 (“had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”) and a passage in Dante as proof that the counterfactual was known, and he asks if anyone remembers passages in the theological tradition, from the patristical era on, developing the idea.

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