Was Jesus Mad, Bad, or God?... Or Merely Mistaken?

Faith and Philosophy 21 (4):456-479 (2004)
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Reprinted in Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, Volume 1: Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement, Oxford 2009, ed. Michael Rea. A popular argument for the divinity of Jesus goes like this. Jesus claimed to be divine, but if his claim was false, then either he was insane (mad) or lying (bad), both of which are very unlikely; so, he was divine. I present two objections to this argument. The first, the dwindling probabilities objection, contends that even if we make generous probability assignments to the relevant pieces of evidence for Jesus’ divinity, the probability calculus tell us to suspend judgement on the matter. The second, and more telling objection in my opinion, the merely mistaken objection, contends that it is no less plausible to suppose that Jesus was neither mad nor bad but merely mistaken than that he was divine.

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Daniel Howard-Snyder
Western Washington University


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