Monday, January 7, 2008

Scotus on Predestination I

Fr. Kimel has recently posted on the doctrine of predestination, in which he writes:


I do not believe God to be the absolute predestinarian of Augustine, Calvin, Beza, and Ba├▒ez. I do not believe God to be a God who has eternally decreed, before prevision of irrevocable rejection of divine love and forgiveness, the eternal salvation of some and the eternal reprobation of the rest.

I myself have not studied this issue in any detail in either Protestant or Catholic thought, but someone in Fr. Kimel's combox asked about Scotus's views, and Perry Robinson in his response to the pontificator's post made some remarks about Scotus as well. Hence this post.

I am going to restrict my translation to the Ordinatio, as the Reportatio has yet to be edited. I may bring in the Quodlibet. For secondary literature, I note that the contemporary treatments are generally short. The only secondary discussions I have noticed are in Richard Cross's Duns Scotus and Pelikans History of the Christian Doctrine vol. 4 I pass no judgment on their accuracy at this time. I don't think Scotus is particuarly known for his solution to the problem. According to Parthenius Menges' brief summary of the history of Scotism, Scotists took little part in the Molinist controversy.

To begin, we must note that the section of the Ordinatio which contains Scotus's remarks on predestination is problematic. There is a nest of interrelated (by Scotus himself, by means of internal citation) questions, one of which have been relegated to the appendix: d.39 of Book I. These questions are where Scotus develops his doctrine of synchronic contingency, but, due to the Vatican editor's reliance on the marginalia of Ms. Assisi 137 ("A" in the app crit) which says that Scotus left a blank space for d.39, the text is not considered genuine.

Distinction 40, which concerns whether someone who has been predestined can be dammed, I shall translate in full. The meat of Scotus's account is contained in d. 41, however, which treats of whether there is some merit resulting in predestination or reprobation. I shall translate only sections of this, but I do give a brief outline below. The section I intend to translate will appear in blue.

D. 41 q. unica: Utrum sit aliquod meritum praedestinationis vel reprobationis

I: arguments pro and con
II: To the question
IIa: An opinion proposed and then retracted by Augustine
IIb: The opinion of Peter Lombard
IIc: An opinion taken from Henry of Ghent's recitation of it, unclear whose it actually is...corresponds with Thomas in certain points
IIc 1: improbatio of IIc
IId: Henry of Ghent's attack of IIc, plus Henry's own view of the matter.
IId 1: improbatio Henrici
IIe: Scotus's own opinion
IIe 1: objections against Scotus's opinion and their solution
IIf: A conclusion about the five opinions
III: Response to the principal arguments (I)

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