Robert Holcot: Divine Deception
In his Quodlibetal question on the General Resurrection Robert Holcot discusses whether God might deceive us.
Present his argument and discuss whether it supports his conclusion. Does he think God ever should deceive and if so why or why not?
Quodlibet III, Question 818
Is There Necessarily Going To Be A General Resurrection?
<1> It seems that THERE IS, because if not
follows that Christ might have been deceived and men misled; indeed
this is possible: “Christ is now deceived and all the blessed are deceived,” The
consequent is false and contrary to Augustine19 in De Fide et Symbolo. The consequence,
however, is proved, and firstly that
now necessary: “Christ at
resurrection,” where “A” is some time in the life of Christ. Therefore, if it might be that
there was never going to be a resurrection, then it might be that Christ at
believed a falsehood. And furthermore, therefore, it might be that Christ at
In a similar fashion, it is proved that this is possible so long as the terms keep the
same meaning: “Christ is now deceived and all the blessed are deceived.” And in the
same way it is clear that this is now possible: “Christ deceived men in preaching and
asserting that there was going to be a resurrection.” And it then follows that this is
“possible; “Christ is not truth,” according to the consequence
Augustine20 in question 14 of his 83 Quaestionés : “If Christ,” he says “mislead, he is not
truth,” The antecedent is possible; therefore so is the consequent.
<2> Furthermore, if this might be false: “There was going to be a resurrection,”
then the faith of the blessed Virgin and of the other saints concerning a future
resurrection would not have been true; and if it was not true, it was able to produce no
benefit. This conditional is set out by Anselm21 in Book II of Cur Deus Homo, chapter
16. Therefore, it is now possible that the blessed Virgin never merited through faith in a
resurrection, which is impossible, because this is absolutely necessary: ‘The blessed
Virgin merited in believing that there will be a resurrection.”
Cambridge, Pembroke 236, 183vb-188ra; London, BL, Royal 10 C VI, 161vb-163rb; Oxford, Balliol 246,
Perhaps Holcot refers to Augustine, De Fide et Symbolo, 24 (CSEL 41: 30), “Resurget igitur corpus
Augustine, De Diversis Questonibus Octoginta Tribus, q. 14 (CCL 44A: 20)
Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 2.17, ed Franciscus Schmitt, S. Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera
Omnia (Edinburgh, 1946), 2: 125.1-2.
4. <3> Furthermore, take a member of the sect of the Saducees22 who was damned
precisely because he did not believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead; it is then
be argued as follows: this man was damned because he believed the truth, therefore he
was unjustly damned. The consequent is impossible, therefore so is the antecedent.
5. <4>. Furthermore, Christ said that there was going to be a resurrection of bodies;
therefore it is impossible for that not to be going to be. The antecedent is necessary, and
the consequence is proved
“he rose up just as he said,” where Gloss says thus of this truth that “it is impossible that
what he said not come to be’
6. <5> Furthermore, in Corinthians 1524, the Apostle argues as follows to prove
the resurrection: “If,” he says, “the dead will not rise up, then Christ did not rise up.”
And according to A u g u s t i n e ^ , in the second book of De Doctrina Christiana, chapter
31 : “The consequences which the Apostle forms are good, although the sentences that
they are formed from are false,” that is, “although the antecedent and consequent are
false”. If, therefore, the antecedent might be true, then the consequent might also be true,
that is: “Christ did not rise up from the dead,”
7. <6> Furthermore, if the resurrection might not have been going to be, then Christ
might not fulfil what he promised, and in consequence he might become not-faithful or
unfaithful. The consequent is false, because
perjure himself, contrary to the Apostle26 in Timothy 2: “He remains faithful; he cannot
which would happen it he did not fulfil what he said”.
8. <7> Furthermore, Christ after his resurrection said to his disciples, according to
Luke 2427 : ‘These are the words which I spoke to you when I was with you: that it is
necessary that all be fulfilled which is written about me in the law of Moses, and in the
Prophets and in the Psalms,” But it is written in the prophets that there is going to be a
resurrection of the body; therefore it is necessary that this is fulfilled, and in consequence
that it?will not be so contingently.
2 2 The Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes were the three sects into which the Jews were divided at the time of
Christ. According to the NT, and Josephus, the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead, the
existence of spirits, and the obligation of the unwriten law alleged by the Pharisees to have been handed
down by tradition from Moses.
2 3 Matt. 28:6; Glossa Ordinaria in Biblia Sacra Cum Glossa Ordinaria… 7 vols (Paris, 1590), 5, interlin. at
2 4 1 Cor. 15:16.
2 5 Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, 2:31 (CCL 32: 66-67).
2 6 2 Tim. 2:13; Glossa Ordinaria, 6, interlin. at col. 739-740.
2 7 Luke 24:44.
9. <8> Furthermore I argue in this form: A general resurrection has been predicted
prophetically; therefore necessarily and immutably it will be just as has been prophesied.
The antecedent is clear
the consequence by
prophecy is a divine inspiration announcing, with unchangeable truth, the outcome of
things. Therefore if something is prophesied to be going to be so, it will unchangeably be
so; therefore God cannot make it not to be so28.
10. <9> Furthermore, Anselm29
God immutably proposes that he is going to bring about a general resurrection of bodies,
then before it comes about, it cannot not be going to be.”
11. <10> Furthermore, if what has been revealed should remain contingent after the
revelation, let us posit that it is revealed to the Church concerning some viator, say
Socrates, that he will be damned. With this posited, I ask whether it is permissible for the
Church to hope that it is possible that Socrates will be saved or not
then to the contrary: this is contingent: “Socrates will be damned,” therefore it is
permissible to hope that it might be false, indeed
be false; therefore it knows that Socrates might be saved; therefore it is permissible for it
to hope for the salvation of Socrates. Thus if the consequence is conceded, then it is
permisible to pray for such a thing. Against this is the blessed Augustine30 in Book 21 of
de Civitate Dei, chapter 17, where he says the following: “consequently, if the Church
were so sure concerning certain men that it knew about them, although they were still
alive, that they were nevertheless predestined go into eternal fire with the devil, it would
pray for them just as little as it would pray for him.” But if it were permissible to hope
for the salvation of the viator Socrates, then it would be permissible to pray for it.
Therefore if it is no more permissible in this hypothetical situation to pray for such men
than it is to pray for the devil, it is no more permissible to hope for the salvation of such a
man than to hope for the salvation of the devil. And it is clear that the devil is now as a
matter of fact damned, so that this is necessary: ‘The devil is damned.” Therefore, this is
equally necessary: “Socrates will be damned,” with the stated hypothetical situation
12. <11> Furthermore, if there might never have been going to be a resurrection, it
follows that God might be deceived in accordance with the knowledge of the deity and
2 8 Definition of prophecy is from Cassiodorus, Expositio Psalmorum, praefatio, 1 (CCL 97: 7.1-2; PL 70:
12); the biblical passages are probably Daniel 12:1-4; Ezechial 37:12-14; Job 14: 7-15, these are quoted in
2 9 Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 2.17 (Schmitt, 2:123.?-?).
3 0 Augustine, De Civitate Dei. XXI, c. 24, (CCh 48, 789).
not only by the communication of idiomata31 ; <1 say this> because perhaps someone
might concede that God can be deceived in the latter sense. I prove the consequence as
follows: Everyone who reckons that something will be which will not be is deceived;
God might himself be someone who reckons that something will be which will not be;
therefore God might be deceived. The major is necessary, and the derivation is clear from
the first book32 of the Prior Analytics. Because if the major is a de necesse
in this case therefore etc. The minor is proved, that is this: “God might be someone who
reckons that something is going to be which is not going to be,”because God might make
it to be that there will not be a resurrection; and then the argument goes as follows: God
might reckon 33 to be going to be which will never be; therefore God
might reckon something to be going to be which will never be. The consequence is clear,
as the,move from an inferior to a superior.
13. Similarly it is argued thus: God believes that Antichrist will be, and so it is; and he
might believe Antichrist will not be; therefore he might believe things to be other than
they are. And this follows: He might believe things to be other than they are, therefore he
might be deceived.
14. <12> Furthermore, Anselm34 in De Casu Diaboli, chapter 21, asking whether an
evil angel was able to have foreknown his fall, distinguishes
exists when something is understood by means of a certain reason, I reply that it is
entirely not possible that that which might not be is known. For what might not be, might
can no means be concluded to for a certain reason,” And thus, since his fall was not
necessarily going to be, the angel could not foreknow it with this kind of knowledge.
And consequently he objects against this, that according to this argument neither can God
foreknow that which will come about by free will, because that is not necessarily going
to be. He replies that the foreknowledge of God and the foreknowledge of a ceature are
not alike, and it is it is not necessary that divine and angelic foreknowledge have the
same-consequence in the hypothetical situation in question; Here he satisfactorily shows
that this consequence is evidently good: “the angel foreknows his fall, therefore it is
necessary for him to fall,” but this does not hold: “God knows that Socrates is going to
3 1 The doctrine of Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) et al. that the properties of the distinct human and divine
natures united in the single person of Christ could in that union, be predicated of one another. Received
conciliar authority with its inclusion in the ‘Tome” of St. Leo (449).
3 2 See Aristotle, Analytica Priora, Translatio Boethii, 1.16 (AL 3,1-4: 36-39) for mixed syllogisms “de
necesse et de possibili” but this precise rule is not found. It seems, nevertheless, to have been commonly
accepted. Among Holcot’s sources, see, for example: William of Ockham, Summa Logicae, 3.1.44 (OP 1:
474.7-9); Thomas Aquinas, Commentarium in IVLibros Sententiarum, 126.96.36.199 (Parma 1856; rpt. Paris
. 1929), 1:316.
3 3 Here the mss. apparently all have’Deiw potest reputar a fore; igitur Deus potes reputare aliquidfore … ”
but the sense seems to be as in the translation.
3 4 Anselm, De Casu Diaboli, 21 (Schmitt. 1: 266.17-20).
sin, therefore Socrates necessarily will sin.” From this it is argued as follows: “< the soul of Christ knew that there was going to be a resurrection, therefore it necessarily will be,” or “if a blessed angel knows that there will be a resurrection, therefore necessarily it will be.” The antecedent is clearly true, because neither the soul of Christ nor some blessed being, has faith with respect to this article
there was faith in neither Christ nor in the blessed, according to the Master35 in Book 3,
distinction 26 of the Sententiae, and it is certain that they assent to this article, therefore
cthey can assent to it> only by knowledge.
15. Similarly, from the first part of the authority, it seems that a creature cannot have
certain knowledge of a future resurrection, because he says thus, that what might not be,
can by no means be concluded for a certain reason. It seems to follow also that a blessed
creature cannot have the security of his blessedness nor of the renewal of the host of the
16. <13> Furthermore, Anselm36, in chapter 5 ofBook 13 of Cur Deus Homo, concludes
at the end of the chapter as follows: “We should say, however, that it is necessary that the
goodness of God, on account of his immutability, would complete of man what he
began.” And it is his intention in this chapter to prove this conclusion: that although it is
necessary that God complete whatever he began, nevertheless he does not do this on
account of a compelling necessity. As evidence of this Anselm distinguishes two kinds of
necessity, and says that there is a necessity which removes or diminishes the grace37 due
to someone doing good, and a necessity on account of which a greater grace is owed for
doing good. The first is the necessity of coercion which makes some thing involuntary,
and the second is the necessity of
today you freely promise today that you will give something tomorrow, and willingly
give that same thing tomorrow; although it is necessary that you render what you have
promised if you are able, or else that you lie, nonetheless he to whom you have given
what you promised owes you the same for a great kindness as he would if you had not
promised,” And below he says that God fulfils his promise by a certain necessity of
preserving his honour, which “necessity is none other than the immutability of his
honour, which he has from himself and not from another, and for this reason is
improperly called necessity.”
17. From these premisses it can be argued thus: God promised that there will be a
resurrection of the body; therefore it is necessary for him to bring this about if he can, or
else to lie if he can not. But he is not able to lie; therefore etc.
3 5 Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 3.26.4 (Quaracchi, 1916; re-ed. Grottaferrata, 1971, 1981), 2: 160-161.
3 6 Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 2.5 (Schmitt, 2: 100.26-27).
37 “Gratia ” may mean either a favour or a service done or the thanks or gratitude shown for a service
rendered. In characterising God’s relation to man it is usually translated as “grace” and the emphasis is
usually, if not always, on the first meaning.
18. Secondly thus: God ordains that this will be, therefore he will fulfil this with the
necessity of immutability.
19. Thirdly thus: If God were not to fulfil what he promises, God would be mutable;
but this is impossible; therefore etc. And the consequence is clear from what Anselm
intends, because otherwise immutable necessity would not be located in God.
20. <14> Furthermore, if I ought to believe that there will be a resurrection
contingently, it follows that I am not bound to hold all the articles of faith with equal
certainty. The consequent is false and contrary to Augustine38 in De Fide ad Petrum,
where he says: “Most firmly believe, or hold etc.,” and contrary to Richard
more :constant than what we apprehend with faith.” The consequence is proved because it
is impossible that a man believes as firmly something the opposite of which he knows
God to be able to do as
not to be able to do. But for many articles of faith, we believe that God cannot do the
the dead,” “God is three and one”; therefore etc.
21. <15> Furthermore, it God might make what is going to be not to be going to be,
then for the same reason he can make what is not going to be to be going to be. The
consequent is false, because let it be posited to be the case that God at some instant
makes B to be going to be (where “B” signifies something which is not going to be, for
example an angel more perfect than the most perfect angel who now exists), and let that
instant be A, and then I argue as follows: B is now going to be, therefore from
eternity was going to be, because if it is now true to say that B will be, then it was before
true to say that B is going to be. But this follows: from eternity it was true, therefore it is
not something which is newly going to be. And further, therefore God did not make B
today to be newly going to be. Therefore it is not possible that God make of something
which is not going to be something which is going to be.
22. Likewise in this form: if God might make of something which is not going to be
something which is going to be, then it follows that God is able or was able to have made
of something which is not going to be something which is going to be. And then this is
possible: God made of something which is not going to be something which is going to
be. Either therefore from eternity or from a time. If from eternity, therefore such a thing
which is going to be was going to be from eternity; therefore it was never not going to
be. If from a time, therefore something began to be going to be. The consequent is false,
as is clear.
Actually by Augustine’s follower Fulgentius (468-553), De Fide ad Petrum, 78 (CCL 91 A: 756.1334-
Richard of Saint Victor, De Trinitate, 1.2, ed. Jean Riballier, Richard de Saint-Victor, De Trinitate, Texte
critique avec introduction, notes et tables in Textes Philosophiques du Moyen Age (Paris, 1958), 6:88.23-
23. Likewise in this form: God might make something to be newly going to be, suppose
therefore that he does it and let it be A.: I argue thus: If A is something newly going to
be, then God newly knows A to be going to be, therefore something is going to be which
God did not know from eternity to be going to be, which is improper.
24. Likewise in this form: God makes of something which is not going to be something
which is going to be. Therefore he does this by some act of making, either suddenly or
progressively, and whether it be this way or that the deduction is clear, as is that of the
25. <16> Furthermore, for the principal
might not be going to be, it follows that God by no necessity fulfills his word or his
promise, and thus he no more remains obligated to doing A after swearing that he is
going to do A than before, and thus that it would be no less improper for God to omit
what he promised than to do that which he never promised. The consequent is false. The
reasoning is confirmed by this form
that something is going to be and that in vain God creates, and that in vain the prophets
prophesy. If so, then since whatever little is improper in God is impossible for God,
according to Anselm, it is impossible for God to omit something which he promised.
Therefore if God promised something, it is necessary that he fulfil that.
: 26. <17>Furthermore, this conditional is good: “If God promises that there is going to
be a resurrection, then there will be a resurrection.” Therefore the consequence is
necessary. But the antecedent is necessary. Therefore so is the consequent. That the
antecedent is necessary is clear, because it is a truth about the past not depending on the
nevertheless that God has promised that there is going to be a resurrection is many years
in the past.
27. <18> Furthermore, it is argued as follows: Of necessity God will make the
resurrection come about or God will be false; but it is impossible for God to be false;
therefore it is necessary for God make the resurrection come about. This is confirmed by
the words of the Apostle40 in Hebrews 6, where, proving that the hope of the elect cannot
be frustrated, because God promised and swore that things would be just as they hope
for, he says this: “God, wishing more abundantly to show his promise to its heirs and the
unchanging character of his plan, also swore an oath so that by two unchanging things, in
which it is impossible for God to lie, we should have the most powerful solace.” “By two
unchanging things,” that is, I say, by a promise and an oath. From which authority it is
clear that the plan of God with regard to salvation is unchanging, and similarly that the
divine promise and oath are Unchanging, and similarly that it is impossible for God to lie,
4 0 Heb. 6:17-18.
that is, to be false. And so it follows that it is necessary for God to fulfil what he has
promised with respect to the salvation of the elect.
28. <19> Furthermore, it is as necessary that there will be a resurrection as it was
necessary before he died that Christ die for the redemption of the human race. But that
Christ die was necessary, because according to the Master41 in Book IH of the Sentences,
distinction 16: “Christ accepted the necessity of dying,” therefore it was necessary before
he died that he die.
29. <20> Furthermore, if the resurrection of bodies is only contingently going to be,
then by parity of reasoning,
production of whatever is going to be and the continuation of whatever is depends on the
free yill of God. Therefore there is certainty with regard to nothing which is going to be,
and thus perishes the principal part of beatitude which according to Augustine is said to
be the security of future beatitude.
30. FOR THE OPPOSITE it is argued thus: A general resurrection will be brought about
freely by God, therefore it will be brought about contingently by God. This consequence
is clear, because if it should be brought about necessarily by God, God would be
necessitated in effecting something outside of himself; but the consequent is false;
31. Furthermore, God might annihilate all angels and everything other than himself
according to Anselm in de Libero Arbitrio, chapter 8. But he is not necessitated to restore
absolutely necessary that there be a resurrection.
32. Furthermore, God is no more necessitated to cause the resurrection than to
conserving the creatures he has produced or to governing the universe. But he is not
necessitated to do these things, but rather does them contingently. Therefore also the
33. In this question I intend to do three things. Firstly [A] I will deal with the article:
“Does what has been revealed by God remain contingent after the revelation, as it was
before” – and here I mean some proposition about what is going to be which has been
revealed to men, such as: “there will be a resurrection of bodies.” Secondly, [B] I will
deal with the question in the form in which it was stated. Thirdly [C] I will deal with the
41 Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 3.16 (2: 103-105).
34. With respect to the first there are three points. First [Al] I will set out the opinion
of some modern philosophers. Second [A2] I will raise an objection to it. Third [A3] an
35. [Al] With regard to the first that it must be noted that it is the opinion of a certain
senior colleague42 of mine that if an unqualified revelation has been made of some article
that article will not remain contingent after
that things be just as they are revealed by it to be going to be. Nor is God able impede
be able to do such a tihing would be contrary to the will of God and to truth. And so it
would not be an ability, just as to be able make contradictories true at the same time is
not an ability, but rather contrary to the power of God.
36. When, however, it is said that God by means of his absolute power might do the
opposite, he says that this proposition might be understood in two ways.
37. One sense is that in which it generally understood and according to which God
might abandon the ordering that he has made and do the opposite, so that this is true
simply and absolutely: “God might do the opposite,”
38. The second sense is this: unless God were so to have ordained things so, God might
do the opposite, so that considering the power of God as a power absolutely apart from
any defect in doing this.
39. The first sense is denied and the second sense is conceded.
40. And so this opinion has it that a proposition about the future revealed without
qualification or asserted by God is simply necessary, in such a way that on account of
such an assertion or revelation, God cannot do the opposite, nor prevent happening or
coming about what has been revealed.
4 2 By using the term ‘valens’ here Holcot cites a more senior colleague, probably the ‘master Walter’ to whom
Adam Wodeham refers; see Introduction to edition, n. 108: “here a certain modern cmarg. master Walter>
responds, for the sake of argument rather than with an assertion, and no one better in the whole of Town I
reckon, that with an absolute revelation having been made, such as of the resurrection of the dead or some
other article of faith, the opposite cannot come about, nor may it be impeded because to be able
contrary to truth would not be possible.” Translated from quotation in W. J. Courtenay, “Augustinianism at
Oxford in the Fourteenth Century,” Augustiniana, 30 (1980), p. 67. J. -F. Genest argues that the author of
this opinion is not Thomas Bradwardine, as F Hoffmann had suggested, Die Theologische Methode des
Oxforder Dominikanerlehrers Robert Holcot, BGPTM, Neue Folge, Bd. 5, Munster, 1971„p. 328; cf J. –
FGenest, “Le « D e Futuris Contingentibus» de Thomas Bradwardine,” Recherches Augustiniennes, t.
14 (1979), pp. 249-336, p. 265n.
41. [A2] But against this opinion I argue as follows: I ask about divine ordering, or
revelation, or assertion:,whether God’s ordering is [a] God himself, or [b] a creature, or
creatures, or [c] God and a creature.
42. [a] If
repugnant to that ordering is repugnant to the divine nature, and in consequence to the
divine power. And if God on account of that ordering is necessitated to one of a pair of
opposites, it follows that God by his nature is necessitated to one of the pair of opposites,
which-this opinion, however, does not concede.
43. [b] If the ordering is a creature or creatures, or God and creatures, [i] God might
annihilate such a creature or creatures, because God can annihilate everything other than
himself, according to Augustine43 in Book IV of Super Genesim, chapter 14, expounding
these words of John: “My Father has worked until not, and I too work,” and when he
brings this passage together with Genesis, 1 : “On the seventh day God rested,” he says
that the Father and the Son effect the ordering of all creatures: “otherwise they
capacity of the omnipotent and of what holds everything together, is the cause of the
subsisting of all creatures, because if the capacity of ruling the things which have been
created should at some time cease, at the same time their species would cease to exist and
all nature would fall
goodness. Therefore the destruction of some creatures would entail no diminution in the
goodness of God. Nor will it do to say that this holds when understood of absolute but
not relative perfections, because such perfectional terms, according to our imagination45
4 3 Augustine, De Genesi Ad Litteram, 4.12 (CSEL 28,3.2: 108.15-22); John 5:17; Genesis 2:1.
4 4 Aristotle, Ethica Nichomachea, Translatio Roberti Grosseteste Lincolnensis, 5.1, 29b25-30a10 (AL 26, 1-
4-> i.e. what we imagine to be relative perfectons of God.
without which God might not exist, but they are predicated of him precisely per accidens
, just as the term “creating,” or “father,” and others.
45. And thus if God were to abrogate all his statutes and make it to be that they had
never been instituted, and do nothing of what had been promised, he would nonetheless
be as good as he was before the disposition of the world, when there was nothing except
46. Furthermore, [iii] I argue thus: God is not better in promising something and
keeping his promise than he would be in not promising and not keeping
therefore no goodness accrues to him on account of fulfilint his promise. The
consequence is clear and I prove the antecedent, because given that it were so, some of
God’s goodness would depend on a creature, which can certainly be seen to be improper.
If it should then be said that the goodness of God depends per accidens on a creature,
because God thus arranging and instituting things obligates himself to conserving the
creature or to causing creatures, <1 would reply that> this does not refute the argument,
or not. If not, you have the conclusion that God’s goodness depends on a creature, which
is certainly absurd. If so, in omitting to do what he promised or in not causing what has
been revealed to be caused, he would lose no goodness nor incur any imperfection.
47. If it is said
ordering,” stands for divine cognition or volition, and connotes some effect in a creature,
because the term “revelation,” construed actively, stands for God and connotes that in
some creature there is caused an assertive cognition of something, which we call “whathas-
been-revealed”; and so if this is revealed by God: “there will be a resurrection of the
body,” it is denoted that some creature assents to this on account of divine revelation, and
that it is true that it will be so, because what is false cannot be revealed; and so it cannot
both be that it has been revealed that there will be a resurrection of the body and
nevertheless that there will not be a resurrection or that it might be impeded. And the
same holds for the term ordering,” because it principally signifies the will of God and
connotes that God wishes that to be or to be going to be determinately, and in
consequence implies that it will be so; be,cause if God wishes that it will be so, then it
will be so. And so it cannot both be that God has arranged that there will be a
resurrection of the body, and there will not be a resurrection of the body.
48. [Rl] If, I say, this should be said, it does not follow on account of it that what has
been revealed will necessarily be or that what has been ordained by God will necessarily
be, because what has been willed by God might never have been willed by God, just as
what is foreknown by God might never have been foreknown by God, and Socrates who
is predestined might never have been predestined. For each of these is contingent: ‘There
will be a resurrection of the body,” “God predestined Peter,” or “God foreknew that
Christ would die,” as will be claimed below.
49. [R2] Furthermore, I argue also against the aforementioned opinion which posits
that everything which has been revealed is necessary after it has been revealed, that if this
were so, it would follow that God could not reveal propositions such as this: “Socrates
freely and contingently will choose this” or “that tomorrow.” Because if such a
proposition were revealed, then this would be necessary: “Socrates will choose that”, by
hypothesis, “and Socrates will contingently chose that same
consequence he might not choose it. Therefore this same proposition is necessary and
contingent: “Socrates will choose that.”
50. But perhaps it is said that God is not able to reveal such
“Socrates will freely and contingently choose this tomorrow.” To the contrary, let God
reveal this: “Socrates contingently will sin tomorrow,” because it will be such that he
will contingently sin; therefore, necessarily he will sin; therefore he will not sin;
therefore this will be contingent after the revelation: “Socrates will sin,” The antecedent
is proved because if he will not contingently sin, and he will sin, then he will necessarily
sin; therefore he cannot avoid it; therefore he will not sin.
51. R3a] Furthermore, God certified the soul of Christ concerning the manner of his
passion, that is to say that, without the defence of angels or of men, he would be taken
from the Jews and would be killed, and that Christ was not going to ask his father for
some help, according to John46 18: “Jesus knowing all that was to come for him etc..”
And nevertheless, not withstanding the revelation that was made to him in the hour of his
conception, he was able, with his passion imminent, to call upon his father to send angels
to defend him. Whence according to Matthew47 26 he said: “Do you think that I am not
able to call upon my father who would produce for me now more than twelve legions of
angels.” Therefore, God, after he had revealed that he was going to produce twelve
legions of angels, if Christ had called upon him, was able to produce twelve legions. And
similarly, after God revealed to the soul of Christ that Christ was not going to call upon
his father, Christ was able to call upon his father, because he said: “Do you think that I
am not able.”
52. [R3b] Furthermore, has been revealed to the soul of Christ what, and how many,
and what kind of things, God will do in the future; therefore it is impossible according to
‘ this opinion for God to do other than he is going to do. And thus it follows that it would
have been impossible for him to have liberated the race of man otherwise than by the
death of his son. The consequent is false and contrary the Augustine48 in Book 13 of de
Trinitate chapter 22 and the Master49 in Book 3 of the Sentences, distinction 20, chapters
1 and 2, where he says thus: “if therefore God who went before both of them, that is
before man and demon, wished to liberate man, he might rightly liberate man solely by
the power of his command.” Whence Augustine50 says in the same Book, chapter 36: he
4 6 John 18:4.
4 7 Matt. 26:53; also cited by Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 1.43. un.9 (1: 302).
4 8 Augustine, De Trinitate, 13.18 (CCL 50A; 413-414).
4 9 Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 3.20.4 (2: 127).
5 0 Augustine, De Trinitate. 13.16 (CCL 50A: 410.38-39).
might have used innumerable ways to liberate us.” And in chapter 22 Augustine51 says:
“God is not wanting in any kind of possibility, under the power of whom all equally
fall.” And Augustine52
taken up a man not from the race of Adam, indeed have created a man who was better
and have overcome the devil.
53. [R3c] Furthermore, Augustine53 in his book de Natura et Gratia , shortly after the
not able to make Judas rise up in the mind He was indeed able,” says Augustine, “but he
did not wish to do so.”
54. [R3d] Furthermore, the Master54 in Book 1 of the Sentences, distinction 43, chapter
able to do so?” Therefore, according to the Master, God is able save alLmen, but it is,
however, revealed to Christ and to the angels that this will not be so.
55. Many arguments might be brought forward against this way
nevertheless by those saying the opposite they can easily be solved, See what Anselm55
says in Book 1 of Cur Deus Homo : “For this reason God exalted him.”
56. [A.3] Third I propose a way
and I claim that every proposition about the future which is contingently true, is
contingently true just as long as it is true. That is that for just so long as this will be true:
“there will be a resurrection of bodies,” this will be true: “there will contingently be a
resurrection of bodies,” whatever revelation should have been made about it to some
creature, because God can always make it to be so that such a proposition was never true,
because it is true in such a way that it might never have been true – and that is what it is
to be contingently true, that is, to be true and to be able never to have been true.
57. [B] From these
proposed, the negative part
resurection of bodies is not going to be necessarily, but rather contingently, since it is
Ibid., 13.10 (CC 50A: 399.8.10).
Ibid., 13.18 (CC 50A: 413-414).
Augustine, De Natura et Gratia, 7.8 (CSEL 60: 237); quoted also by Lombard, see n. 37..
Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 1,43.un. 10(1: 303).
Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 1.8 (Schmitt, 2: 60.18).
never was going to be as is clear from the common way of dealing in the schools in
matters of future contingency56.
58. [C] <1> Thus
might have been deceived and also have mislead others. Here I say that that Christ is
deceived may have two senses: either [Dl] that God is deceived in such a way that there
an error is located in divine cognition, or that [D2] there is indicated to be an error or
deception in the soul of Christ.
59. In the first sense the consequence is to be denied.
60. In the second sense
never will have been be an error in the soul of Christ, it is nevertheless possible for God
to cause an error in it since this does not involve a contradiction. For, supposing that
Christ has a cognition of this proposition: “Socrates is sitting” and that God annihilates
Socrates but conserves in the soul of Christ the cognition mentioned. That cognition,
which before was knowledge, would now be error.
61. And thus it is only in divine cognition that there can be no error, granted that in it
there can be knowledge of opposites. And in the
conclusion which is deduced
argument proves its conclusion properly understood in this sense.
62. And so I say that that which the second part of the argument deduces is far less of a
difficulty for God, that is, that Christ might have mislead men, using “to miselead”
broadly. For the term “to mislead” is construed equivocally by the Doctors, as is clear
from the blessed Augustine57 in question 53 of his 83 Quaestiones , in which he says
something contradictory unless he is equivocating with respect to “to mislead.” For “to
mislead,” or “to deceive,” implies no more, properly speaking, than to cause in someone
an error on account of which he affirms a falsehood in place of a truth.
63. But construed, on the other hand, more strictly and more improperly, and in such a
way that in the definition expressing the meaning of the name there is included a
determination or syncategorematic expression
Cf. Jean-Francois Genest, “Le de futuris contingentibus de Thomas Bradwardine,” Recherches
Agustiniens, 14 (1979), esp. 254-265.
5 7 Augustine, De Diversis Quaestionibus, q. 53 (CCL 44A: 88-91).
64. In the first way it should be conceded that God might mislead; in the second way it
65. It must be remarked, however, that although this is possible: “Christ misled men,”
this, however, is not possible: “Christ mislead men in preaching during the time in which
he lived,” because he did not wish to, nor had he the intention of misleading in doctrine,
at least not with regard to good men. Whether, however, he mislead evil Jews and others
plotting against him, there is doubt at present. But if he did this, he did it justly and
66. And with regard to the consequence of Augustine58: “If Christ misled, he is not
truth,” it might be said that he is speaking of “deceiving” in the second sense, or,
alternatively, that the consequence is good if the antecedent is understood as Augustine
understood it, for example if Christ had deceived his disciples by showing them a
fantastic body, truth is not in him. And it is argued thus that from the impossible there
follows anything, and this is now impossible since it is a falsehood about the past not
requiring for its truth some truth about the future.
possible that the Blessed Virgin merited in a false faith. And as for Saint Anselm, when
he says: “If it was false, it might have brought no benefit,” the antecedent should be
supplemented as follows: “If it was false, with the divine ordering standing that only true
faith has the power to cleanse adults of original sin, it would have no power to benefit
with regard to that effect.” As a matter of fact, however, many merit in false faith and are
excused on account of invincible ignorance accompanying a good will for believing
justly damned, not because he believed something false in the posited hypothetical
situation, but rather because he did not believe as God had instructed that he should
69. – <4>
consequences of the Apostle are neither formal nor demonstrative but rather they are
probable and devised only to persuade men.
been going to be, then [a] Christ might not fulfil what he promised.” But it indeed
follows rather that: [b] this which he promised Christ might not fulfil.” The first
consequent, that is this: [a] “Christ might not fulfil what he promised,” seems to signify
that this is possible: “Christ does not fulfil and will not fulfil what he promised”; and this
is false, because these do not hold at the same time: “Christ promised something” and
“he has not fulfiled it” and “he is not fulfiling it” and “he will not fulfil it.” If we construe
“not to fulfil” as standing for the sake of brevity for these three. These, however, can
hold at the same time: “Christ promised this” and “
might never have sworn it. And so it does not follow that he might be perjurious or
mendacious, because he might never have asserted this.
73. But against this, it holds concerning what Christ said, that he happened to assert
something which it is necessary that he said. Whence this is necessary: “Christ said there
will be a resurrection of the dead,” when that proposition signified that there was going
to be a resurrection, and it is impossible that Christ did not say this and that it did not
then signify that etc.
74. Let it be posited, then, that there will never be a resurrection, because this is
contingent according to this way
the same way about a promise made by God or a oath sworn by God: it holds certainly
that when God swore an oath to Abraham, he made a sign, about which it can be asserted
that this was necessary and that it signified that there will be such a thing.
75. To this it might be said that this is necessary: “this was said by Christ,” or “this was
uttered by Christ”; but this is contingent: “this saying of Christ was a promise” or “this
utterance of Christ was an assertion of Christ with the swearing of an oath.” Whence
someone following this way
by Christ might be false, since it might be that it never was an oath sworn by Christ.
Whence this is necessary: “Christ said this,” that is “Christ uttered this.” But this is
contingent: “this which was uttered by Christ was an oath.”
76. But, you say, let it be posited that Christ has sworn an oath
77. I admit this.
78. To the contrary: according to you that which he swore to be going to be still might
79. Let it be posited, therefore, that it will not be.
80. I respond: I concede that the swearing of the oath is contingent. I say, however, that
if it is posited to be the case that there will not be a resurrection, then there never was an
oath sworn by Christ. For these are repugnant to one another: “this will not be,” and “this
was sworn on oath by Christ to be going to be.” each of which, however, is contingent,
and with one admitted, it is necessary to deny the other.
81. But to the contrary: You concede that this is possible: “Christ said this falsehood:
“there will not be a resurrection’”.
82. Let it be posited, therefore, and I argue further: Either he said this knowingly or
ignorantly. If the second, he was deceived. If the first, he was lying. Nor might it be said
that he said it as if doubtful. The response to this will be clear immediately.
83. <6.2> In another way it might be said that Christ might not fulfil what he promised.
And vtfhen it is argued that he might be mendacious, or perjurious, etc., it is said that the
consequence is to be denied. And the reason is that all such terms consignify, at least in
the usual way of speaking, a certain evil in the genus of morals, which is in no way
appropriate to God. And for this reason, this consequence might be denied: “God
promised that there will be a resurrection, and there never will be a resurrection;
therefore God was lying.” But it is conceded that God said something false knowingly
and that he deceived men, because it does not seem expressly to contain to evil with
respect to morals that he should say this falsehood knowingly, or that he should deceive.
84. Whence just as this does not follow: “God killed an innocent; therefore God
sinned,” so this does not follow: “God is not doing what he swore that he would do nor
will he ever do it, therefore he is perjurious.” Because the term “perjurious” signifies
ordained down to which he is subject and on the observation of which law his goodness
depends in such a way that he is obliged to observe the law or to forgo moral goodness.
85. God, however may be bound to no law in such a way that if he does not observe it,
he cannot be morally good, because then divine goodness would depend on a creature,
and God would be less good than he is, if he destroyed every creature; and similarly,
according to this
the law. Whence, just as a prince who is above the law might do some act without sin or
wickedness, while someone under the law might by no means do this without sin, so God
in not fulfilling what he promises does without the wickedness of falsity or of perjury
what someone living under the law might by no means do. And thus it should be said that
God might do the opposite of that which he promised he was going to do or to omit what
he swore he was going to do. These propositions do not explicitly signify evil, for a man
in the hypothetical situation is held to omit something which he swore that he was going
to do59, as is clear in the case of an illicit oath; and so such propositions may be conceded
86. But if by them an argument is used which reaches a proposition in which there
occurs a term bound up with wickedness according to the usual way of speaking, of
which “perjurious” and “mendacious” are examples, then the consequence is perhaps to
87. Whence, just as Christ when he was a viator might have carried of something
belonging to Zacchaeus without there being a theft and have had carnal .knowledge of his
wife without there being adultery because he was above the law, as the principal
legislator (‘theft” and “adultery” are terms bound up with evil according to Aristotle60 in
the second book of the Nichomachean Ethics, chapter 7), so with respect to what was
proposed: Christ might do the opposite of what is revealed, prophesied, promised, or
sworn by him himself, and nevertheless Christ might not be perjurious or mendacious.
88. And to the Apostle in Timothy 2: “he remains faithful etc61 ,”
fulfil his words by viciously omitting something. Or, on the other hand, it might be said
that “he cannot not deny himself’ is true of the ordinate power of God. That is he has
arranged things in such a way that he will never deny what he said.
etc. “Necessary that all be fulfilled,” that is be fulfilled with respect to the occurrence as
if they were going to be fulfilled necessarily, but nevertheless they will be freely and
been prophesied. And when it is argued that by
that a prophecy is a divine inspiration announcing the outcome of events with
unchanging truth, it should be said that there is in prophecies a truth which God causes to
be fulfilled, freely, however, and contingently, and which is fulfilled as if it were a
necessary truth at least with respect to the event. And so it is called “unchanging truth”
not because it is necessary absolutely, otherwise there would never be prophecies about
things which are going to be done by men.
5 9 There seems to be something slightly amiss here but the point is clear enough. A man’s omitting to
something that he has sworn that he will do is a moral evil but not so God’s omitting to do what he has
6 0 Aristotle, Ethica Nichomachia…. Grosseteste, 2.5, 7a10-12 (AL 26,1-3: 404).
6 1 i.e. “he remains faithful, he cannot deny himself.”
proposes that he is going immutably to do something, that might not not be going to be,
before it comes about.” It must be said that although he proposes that he is going
immutably to do something, he might, nevertheless, never have proposed that he is
immutably going to do something. As, for example God proposes that he is immutably
going to predestine or beatify Peter, but nevertheless might never have proposed that.
Whence Anselm’s intention is that these cannot hold at the same time: “God immutably
proposes that he is going to do something” and “that will not be,” or “he will not be
going to do it before he does it”; and this
that he is freely going to do whatever he promised he was going to do.
has been revealed does not remain contingent because let it be posited that it is revealed
to the Church that the viator Socrates will be damned, and then
Church can hope that the salvation of Socrates is possible or not. I say that in this
hypothetical situation the Church is not allowed to hope for the salvation of Socrates. But
nevertheless the Church knows that the salvation of Socrates is possible, just as the
Church knows now that God might save the devil but nevertheless the Church is not
allowed to hope that the devil will be saved.
93. And when it is accepted that this is now necessary: “the devil is damned,” I say that
it is not, but rather it is contingent, because for its truth there is required the truth of a
claim about the future with regard to a matter which is contingent, for example this one:
“the devil will be damned for eternity,” and an unlimited number of others of this sort.
Whence this does not follow: “It is possible that this be brought about by God, and I
know this, therefore it is permitted for me to hope for it.” Because it is one of God’s
precepts that I hope only for things which are certain and not for all that are possible.
distinguishes between the foreknowledge of God and the foreknowledge of creatures and
indicates that this consequence is good: “The angel foresaw his fall, therefore he
necessarily fell,” but this does not follow: “God foreknew that Socrates was going to sin,
therefore Socrates will necessarily sin.” He indicates in this case a certain distinction
concerning knowledge. Because in one way it is construed as knowledge acquired by
demonstration, and such he denies the angel to be able to have had of his fall. Whence if
the foreknowledge in something should be of this sort, there would follow, according to
him, in the same place, the necessity of the thing.
96. In another way he understands by knowledge true estimation or true suspicion, and
in this way, too, an angel cannot foreknow his fall according to him. Therefore if the soul
of Christ foreknows that there is going to be a resurrection, then that will necessarily be.
Thus he argues: “If an evil angel foreknew his fall, then it was necessary that he was
going to fall.” It should be said that speaking of foreknowledge as Anselm speaks here
when he denies that an evil angel has foreknown his fall, it is impossible that God or a
creature has foreknowledge. Whence this should be denied: “The soul of Christ foreknew
that there was going to be a resurrection,” as
“foreknow,” according to the first way of construing it, involves knowledge derived from
a demonstration concerning a proposition about the future. And it is manifestly clear that
it is in no way possible to demonstrate a proposition concerning the future in a contingent
matter. And so this proposition: “The angel foreknew his fall,” construing “foreknow” in
this way, includes a contradiction.
97. And when it is proved as follows that the soul of Christ foreknew that there was
going to be a resurrection, because if not, then he only believed it to be going to be,
therefore he had only faith in it. It must be said that, in what is proposed, “knowledge” is
construed either strictly, and so exists in respect of the conclusion of a demonstration or
of principles only, or, broadly, for evident assentive cognition of some truth. In the first
way the soul of Christ does not know that there will be a resurrection, but rather only in
the second way, because it assents evidently to this: “there will be a resurrection”; and it
will be that there will be a resurrection. Faith, however, is without evidence. So for this
might become error, if God so wished.
the existence of a creature and whether or not there is a creature.
100. God, however, is not better when he acts justly than when he does nothing. And so
no goodness can accrue to God on account of an action with respect to creatures.
101. And when Anselm says that when “you have promised today that you will give
something tomorrow” it is necessary that you fulfil that, if you are able, or that you lie,
especially if you are permitted to give what you have promised. I concede that things are
so for a man subject to the rule of another, but it is not so for God who is remains bound
to no law. And with respect to the first form
follows: “God promised that there will be a resurrection, therefore it is necessary that he
bring about a resurrection or that he lie.” I deny thé consequence, because he may omit to
do what he promised, but nevertheless without the violation of order,or evil, which “to
lie” signifies, as was said above in the discussion of the sixth argument.
102. Further, with respect to the other form
immutably to be that there is a resurrection, therefore necessarily he will fulfil this
immutably”, according to Anselm. I deny the consequence, because he will fulfil this
with no necessity, but only freely and contingently, and he might not fulfil it, if he
wishes, without any change on his part. Just as he may will what he never willed and do
what he was never disposed to do without any change, as the Master62 teaches in book
one of the Sentences, distinction 43, chapter 11: “God is able,” he says, “to do other than
he does; and nevertheless, if he were to do other, he would not himself be other. And he
is able to will other than he wills; but nevertheless his will would not be other, or new,
nor may it in any way be changeable. And even though he may will what he never willed,
may will what he was from eternity able to will.”
103. Therefore it is clear from the master that this consequence does not hold: “he may
will the opposite of that which he now wills; therefore his will is mutable.” Because he
might never have willed that which he now wills, just as he might never have willed that
Peter is predestined.
he might make what is not going to be to be going to be, it is to be said that the
consequence in one way does not hold because the antecedent is true and the consequent
false, because everything which is going to be might not be going to be. Whence
understood in this way it may be conceded that God might make what is going to be not
to be going to be, that is God might make a resurrection not to be going to be. On the
other hand it may be said that God cannot make what is going to be not to be going to be,
because this is impossible: “what is going to be is not going to be,”
fulfils what he promises by no necessity but merely freely. Nor would something
improper be found in God, if he were not to fulfil what he promised that he was going to
resurrection; the antecedent is necessary, therefore the consequent is necessary, and
therefore there will necessarily be a resurrection”. It has to be said that it is necessary to
concede that this is contingent: “God promised that there will be a resurrection,” because
it formally entails something contingent. For this follows: “God promised that there is
going to be a resurrection; therefore God knew that there is going to be a resurrection,
therefore there will be a resurrection.” This last is contingent, and so such as these are to
be conceded: “God promised and might never have promised,” “God swore that this is
going to be and it is possible that he never swore that this was going to be.” As has often
“A resurrection will so be in just the same manner as Christ was going to die; but Christ
was necessarily going to die, because according the Master, Christ assumed the necessity
of dying, therefore etc.” It should be said that the Masters” claim needs to be correctly
understood, because properly construed it is false. The Master’s meaning, however, is
that Christ accepted a nature which was corruptible – unless it were preserved by divine
power – because it was composed of contraries. Christ, however, was contingently going
to die, and so there is contingently going to be a resurrection.
have a security which will be freely continued and which might not be continued. For
otherwise he would be deceived if he believed himself to blessed in such a way that he
necessarily will be blessed.
Scriptural Authority for the
The prophetic authorities for the general resurrection to which Holcot refers are probably
Daniel 12: 1-4:
12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the
children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since
there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be
delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting
life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn
many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end:
many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my
people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and
bring you into the land of Israel.
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my
people, and brought you up out of your graves,
And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own
land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the
14:7 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the
tender branch thereof will not cease.
14:8 Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
14:9 Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
14:11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake,
nor be raised out of their sleep.
14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until
thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my
14:15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine
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