A Chinese Book of Kells?

Duns Scotus could have played for Ireland, Scotland or England.

It probably does not matter now as he lived from 1266 to 1308 and his specialty was philosophy and theology, not football. However, he was acknowledged as one of the three top Western scholars in the High Middle Ages.

But it does matter if you are trying to discover links between Ireland and China.

In the Middle Ages Ireland was known as ‘Greater Scotia’ and its inhabitants as ‘Scotti’.  When they overflowed into Scotland and north England the name followed them and Scotland eventually became ‘Scotland’. Today Ireland, Scotland and England all claim Duns as one of theirs.

The China connection is that the Chinese Catholic Bible (of which one million copies have been printed) is popularly known as the ‘Duns Scotus Bible‘ because it emerged from the Duns Scotus Bible Centre in Hong Kong. This year its 50 Anniversary is being celebrated.

Beijing put on a celebration on 18 October and took the opportunity to hail the recent ‘provisional agreement’ between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops. This agreement is regarded with misgivings by many ordinary Catholics in China and it was noted that the Hong Kong Bible Centre was not represented.

This possible indication of a combative attitude may help proved that Duns Scotus was Irish, though the Biblical Centre in Hong Kong announced it was taking a low key and not attending any celebration, in Beijing or elsewhere.

Anyhow, the name of an Irishman (or ‘Scotti’) is still on the most popular bible in China.

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