Talk:Andreas Osiander

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The article says that Osiander's position on essential righteousness was "maintained after his death by Johann Funck (his son-in-law) but disappeared after 1566" but after working my way through Calvin's polemic against it (Institutes III,XI), I began to think that Osiander's position is considerably more significant in the history of Christian theology and, in fact, endures to this day, particularly in the Christian Perfection tradition.

It seems to me that the dispute boils down to the degree of distinction between justification and sanctification (or, to use Calvin's word, regeneration). Calvin maintains that the two are concomitant but entirely distinct. That is, that an individual who is justified will always be subject to regeneration but justification and regeneration are not the same thing. For Calvin, justification is a legal term that refers to a pronouncement by a judge (in this case God the Father) and regeneration is a process by which an individual becomes decreasingly sinful and increasingly holy.

I am more familiar with Calvin than I am with Osiander, but, from what I gather, Osiander holds that justification is far more than a judicial pronouncement. Rather, it is a transfer of "essential righteousness" (Osiander's term) where the sinful nature of an individual is replaced by the righteous nature of Christ, presumably at the moment of conversion. This blurs the distinction between justification and regeneration which Calvin is so careful to maintain.

It seems to me that Osiander's "essential righteousness" lives on the Christian Perfection tradition in general and Pentacostal movement in particular. Note the popular phrase "Saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost" as a description of the moment of salvation. I do not know if Osiander would have approved of this description, but it does follow his view of the relationship between justification and regeneration, collapsing the two into a single moment. This stands in stark contrast to contemporary Reformed theology which, following Calvin, maintains that, though justified before God, Christians remain sinners in thought, word, and deed until Christ returns to glorify them (Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 82).

--Mike Duskis 18:49, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Interference in Copernicus's De Revolutionibus[edit]

On the Nicolaus Copernicus talk page Roger wrote:

"David, back to your original point. The article on Andreas Osiander says, "He deleted important passages and added his own sentences which diluted the impact and certainty of the work." It cites a book by Stephen Hawking. Are you saying that this is wrong? Hawking is an authority on many things, but not this. I think that it should be removed unless there is a better source."

No, no-one can say for cetain that it's wrong. There's always a possibility that a historical assertion like that might be true, even if no evidence for it has yet come to light. But I don't even know for sure that there isn't any evidence for it. All I can say is that I have read several accounts, in good sources, whose authors might have been expected to mention the fact if they had been aware of it, but didn't do so. To avoid confusion, I should emphasize that I am referring here only to the first part of the disputed sentence ("He deleted important passages ..."). The second part ( ... and added his own sentences which diluted the impact and certainty of the work") could well be taken as a reasonable account of the addition of the unauthorised preface.

I agree that Hawking doesn't carry sufficient authority as a historian of science to justify inclusion of the claim in a Wikipedia article just on his say-so alone, but I wouldn't be prepared to dismiss him as a source out of hand. If the claim is justified, it should be possible to track it back to a more authoritative source. In my opinion, the proper procedure would be to consult the reference given (On the Shoulders of Giants, pp.5-6) to see what evidence (if any) Hawking cites for the assertion. This should take the form of a citation to a primary or good secondary reference. If he doesn't supply any such evidence, the claim in the article should then be tagged as dubious, and an explanation provided on this talk page. If no-one can substantiate the claim by providing a more authoritative source within a reasonable time (I usually allow about a month), then I believe you would be perfectly justified in removing it.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:11, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

It sounds like a myth to me. The heroic scientist cannot get his brilliant ideas published because of narrow-minded officials who cannot accept the truth. Nice story, but let's stick to the facts. Copernicus got his book published. Roger (talk) 17:07, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Hawking's biography of Copernicus[edit]

I have now had a chance to check the brief biography of Copernicus which Hawking gives in On the Shoulders of Giants. I'm afraid its quality leaves much to be desired. Several things which Hawking says in the biography do not tally with accounts given in other scholarly sources, and he provides no sources of his own. He also makes at least one egregiously unscholarly blunder. Here are a few specifics:

  • On p.4 Hawking says that in 1536 Pope Clement asked Copernicus to publish his work. This would have been a very neat trick, since Pope Clement (VII) had already been dead for 2 years by then, and the papal throne was occupied by Paul III. All the decent biographies of Copernicus that I have read say that it was Cardinal Nicholas Schönberg, archbishop of Capua, who wrote to Copernicus in 1536 and encouraged him to publish his work. There is nothing in Schönberg's letter to indicate that either Clement or Paul (or any other pope, living or dead) had anything to do with it.
  • Hawking describes Rheticus as a 22-year-old "former pupil" when he went to visit Copernicus in Frombork. According to conventional scholarly accounts he was actually 25 years old, and had never even heard of Copernicus until about a year or so before the visit.
  • In his account of the printing of De Revolutionibus, Hawking says (p.6) that after Rheticus had been obliged to leave Nuremburg before printing was finished, the manuscript "fell into the hands of Osiander", thus insinuating that there was something questionable in the way that Osiander obtained responsibility for completing the publication. All other scholarly sources I have seen say simply that Osiander was entrusted with this task by Rheticus himself.

According to other scholarly accounts I have seen, the only thing which Osiander added to the book was the preface entitled To the reader concerning the hypotheses of this work, and the only thing which he may have omitted was a Greek poem which Rheticus had asked Joachim Camerarius to compose as an introduction to it. Since Hawking doesn't mention either Camerarius's poem or Osiander's preface explicitly, it seems likely to me that his statement that Osiander " ... deleted important passages ... " is a garbled reference to the omission of the former, and his statement that Osiander " ... added his own sentences which diluted the impact and certainty of the work" is a misleadingly vague reference to the inclusion of the latter.

In view of all this I am strongly of the opinion that the sentence, "He deleted important passages and added his own sentences which diluted the impact and certainty of the work", currently appearing in the article, and cited to Hawking's On the Shoulders of Giants, should be removed. There is already an accurate and concise account of the inclusion of Osiander's preface in the following sentence, so we have no need of Hawking's misleadingly vague version. And if the omission of Camerarius's poem is worth mentioning, it is worth having an accurate account of it, rather than Hawking's garbled version.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 10:31, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree that Hawking is not an ideal source for this and his account is somewhat garbled. Nevertheless it is clear that Osiander's preface was controversial. Possibly he was more aware of clerical politics than Copernicus and his supporters were; but it does seem to have been contrary to what Copernicus wanted. I have substituted another source that seems more reliable. --Rbreen (talk) 00:12, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Use of the word "Probable"[edit]

Ian Hacking's book "The Emergence of Probability" suggests that the modern sense of the probability concept did not exist in Osiander's time. Hacking notes that the word meant "worthy of approbation" and that concepts of chance were opposed to the omnipotence of God. So how could Osiander have said something was "not probable"? Crasshopper (talk) 05:07, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

"Probable" is the word used in all English translations that I have seen. It seems pretty clear to me that the word is not there being used in its technical sense of "having a mathematical probability somewhat greater than 0.5", but in its quite normal non-technical sense of "likely to be the case"—as recorded in its entry in Oxford Dictionaries online. Since the corresponding Latin word actually used by Osiander was "verisimilis" rather than the one Hacking was talking about ("probabilis"), that translation seems to me to be perfectly unexceptionable.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 11:40, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

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