Bishops of History Response, Catholicism, Fractionation

The Paradigmatic Bishops of History- Agreement


  1. Agreement: Definitions and Preliminary Principles

What follows will largely highlight disagreement between BOH and myself, however, I think it’s important to note an important point of agreement. BOH summarizes my argument thusly:

If Jesus founded the RCC (A) then the monepiscopate originated with the Apostle Peter and was present in Rome when Peter died and in the years immediately after Peter’s death up to the middle of the second century(B), but the monepiscopate did not exist until the middle of the second century (~B). Consequently, Jesus did not found the RCC(~A). It is formally present below:

If A then B.


Therefore ~A.

This is an accurate summary of my argument *and* BOH concedes that it is a valid Modus Tollens. Under scrutiny, however, is whether or not this argument is sound. In other words, is my ~B claim justified? While we do not appear to agree on much of anything regarding the evidence for ~B, we at least agree that if ~B is sound, the argument undermines the claims of CtC.

In order to ensure, however, that there is no an equivocation on monepiscopacy, BOH seeks to disambiguate it’s meaning. If one means by monepiscopate there can only be one bishop, with the power to ordain, this would be a deficient definition. BOH provides an example,

Thus given the evidence we will discuss below there were at that time in the Church at Rome at least three persons capable of ordaining others: St. Peter, St. Linus who succeeded him, and St. Clement…The simultaneous presence of a plurality of persons having the third degree of Holy Orders is compatible with historical data indicating a plurality of presbyters because every bishop, whether such in sacramental Orders or also in jurisdictional authority, is a presbyter.

Thus, there need not only be one bishop per locale in order for Jesus to have founded the RCC. There can be multiple bishops in one city or locale.

At this point BOH and I are *also* agreed. And that agreement continues into their more precise understanding of monepiscopacy,

if by ‘monepiscopate’ Brandon is referring to there being only one man in a particular Church with supreme jurisdiction over that particular Church, then… the data to which he appeals does not show his second premise to be true

In order to prove ~B it, needs to be shown that it is unlikely (more on the use of this word below) such a bishop with “supreme jurisdictional authority” existed in the first two centuries.

At this point, I want to emphasize that we agree on the nature of the question and the definitions that have been set out.

Before examining the evidence directly, BOH sets out four very important preliminary principles. The first is the inscrutable likelihood differential (ILD). This principle points out that if two solutions are equally viable, then you cannot claim that just because it fits your case it is de facto evidence against your opponent’s case. If your opponent can equally integrate the evidence into their paradigm, then that piece of evidence is “inscrutable,” or impossible to arbitrate between competing ideas *in itself.*

The second principle is focused upon the conditions for silence to carry evidential weight. Those four principles are,

(a) we know by other means that the author of the text intended the text to provide an exhaustive list of the items or events of the sort to which the unstated entity or event would belong,

(b) the author is not the sort of person who would overlook the unstated entity or event,

(c) the missing entity or event is not the sort of thing that might be unnoticed or overlooked by the author, and

(d) we have good reason to believe that the author has no overriding reason for concealing the entity or event.

Related to the second, the third principles states a single positive may overturn any number of negatives. A single sound refutes all silences in a particular text. Fourth, and finally, proximate evidence informs underdetermined evidence. BOH explains,

This means that when the direct data is such that from this data alone multiple explanations are possible, and the difference between the likelihoods of the explanations is inscrutable without presupposing what is in question, then all other things being equal, the explanation most compatible with data proximate in time and space is to be preferred unless there is independent positive evidence of a discontinuity between the direct data and the proximate data. As a consequence, the likelihood of an explanation of underdetermined direct data is increased by the existence of proximate data that comports with that explanation, all other things being equal.

Broadly speaking, I submit my original work to this criteria and believe that it is upheld under the analysis of BOH. In order to explain why we agree on the principles but disagree on the application, I will now turn to an evaluation of the preliminary principles and elaborate on methodology.


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