It Could Have Been Otherwise

It Could Have Been Otherwise : Contingency and Necessity in Dominican Theology at Oxford, 1300-1350

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This volume deals with the Dominicans at Oxford University from 1300-1350. It describes the history of the Oxford friary, who the friars were, who were there, how they were chosen and the intellectual life they created. It develops the idea of the friary as a "conversational community."
The theology of four friars is dealt with in depth: Hugh of Lawton, Arnold of Strelley, William Crathorn and Robert Holcot, relying often on unedited manuscript sources. The focus is on their response to the modal theory of Duns Scotus and Ockham. Discussions of necessity, contingency, divine foreknowledge, a deceiver God, invincible ignorance, and God's absolute power, are highly ingenious. Several develop an "obligational theology" based on the technique of obligational debate.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 414 pages
  • 165.61 x 242.82 x 31.24mm | 890g
  • Leiden, Netherlands
  • English
  • New
  • 9004139079
  • 9789004139077

Table of contents


Chapter 1: The Making of a Conversational Community
A. The Provincial Priors
B. Doctors of Theology
1. Blackfriars from 1300 to 1312
2. Years of Crisis-Blackfriars from 1312 to 1320
3. Blackfriars under John of Bristol-1317 to 1327
4. Blackfriars under Simon of Boraston-1327 to 1336
5. The Provincialates of Winkley, Dutton and Strelley-1337 to 1349
C. Intellectual Life

Chapter 2: A Community Census
A. Blackfriars from 1300 to 1312
B. Blackfriars from 1312 to 1320
C. Blackfriars under John of Bristol-1317-1327
D. Blackfriars under Simon of Boraston-327-1336
E. The Provincialates of Winkley, Dutton and Strelley-1337-1349

Chapter 3: New Directions in Modal Theology
A. Thomas Aquinas on Modality
B. The Fourteenth Century Reaction
C. Enter the Ars obligatoria
D. Conclusion

Chapter 4: Emergence of an Obligational Theology
A. John Duns Scotus
B. Arnold of Strelley
C. Robert Holcot
D. Conclusion

Chapter 5: The Limits of Lying
A. Covenant and Contract among the Dominicans
B. Could God Deceive Us?
C. Conclusion

Chapter 6: Troubling Necessities
A. Immutability Implies Necessity
B. Necessities of Past and Consequent
C. Conclusion

Chapter 7: Invincible Ignorance
A. Arnold of Strelley
B. Intuitive Cognition of Non-Existents
C. William Crathorn
D. A Case of Mistaken Identity
E. Conclusion

Chapter 8: God's Absolute and Ordained Power
A. Revisiting the Modern Controversy
B. Dominicans on God's Power
C. God's Knowledge of a Non-Existent Rose
D. Conclusion


List of Abbreviations
Original Sources
Secondary Sources

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About Hester Goodenough Gelber

Hester Goodenough Gelber, Ph.D. (1974) in History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University. She covers Dominicans and Franciscans; see Exploring the Boundaries of Reason: Three Questions on the Nature of God by Robert Holcot, OP.
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