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Thursday, May 26, 2011

On the Omniscient Knowledge of Jesus

Below is a supplement of patristic quotes to my post titled Was Jesus Ignorant of the Time of His Second Coming?.

- "If anyone says that the one Jesus Christ, true Son of God and true Son of Man, was ignorant of future things, or of the day of the last judgment ... let him be anathema." — Pope Vigilius, Against Nestorians, May 14, 553

- "If anyone does not say that the Son of God is true God just as [His] Father is true God [and] He is all-powerful and omniscient and equal to the Father, he is a heretic." — Council of Rome, Tome of Pope Damasus, Canon 12 (A.D. 382)

- “These things being so, come let us now examine into 'But of that day and that hour knows no man, neither the Angels of God, nor the Son ;'[Mark 13:32] for being in great ignorance as regards these words, and being stupefied about them, they think they have in them an important argument for their heresy. But I, when the heretics allege it and prepare themselves with it, see in them the giants again fighting against God. For the Lord of heaven and earth, by whom all things were made, has to litigate before them about day and hour; and the Word who knows all things is accused by them of ignorance about a day; and the Son who knows the Father is said to be ignorant of an hour of a day; now what can be spoken more contrary to sense, or what madness can be likened to this? Through the Word all things have been made, times and seasons and night and day and the whole creation; and is the Framer of all said to be ignorant of His work? And the very context of the lection shows that the Son of God knows that hour and that day, though the Arians fall headlong in their ignorance. For after saying, 'nor the Son,' He relates to the disciples what precedes the day, saying, 'This and that shall be, and then the end.' But He who speaks of what precedes the day, knows certainly the day also, which shall be manifested subsequently to the things foretold. But if He had not known the hour, He had not signified the events before it, as not knowing when it should be. And as any one, who, by way of pointing out a house or city to those who were ignorant of it, gave an account of what comes before the house or city, and having described all, said, 'Then immediately comes the city or the house,' would know of course where the house or the city was (for had he not known, he had not described what comes before lest from ignorance he should throw his hearers far out of the way, or in speaking he should unawares go beyond the object), so the Lord saying what precedes that day and that hour, knows exactly, nor is ignorant, when the hour and the day are at hand….Now why it was that, though He knew, He did not tell His disciples plainly at that time, no one may be curious where He has been silent; for 'Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor [Romans 11:34]?' but why, though He knew, He said, 'no, not the Son knows,' this I think none of the faithful is ignorant, viz. that He made this as those other declarations as man by reason of the flesh. For this as before is not the Word's deficiency , but of that human nature whose property it is to be ignorant....” — St Athanasius, Discourse 3 Against the Arians, Chapter 28

- "Certainly when He says in the Gospel concerning Himself in His human character, 'Father, the hour is come, glorify Your Son ,'[John 17:1] it is plain that He knows also the hour of the end of all things, as the Word, though as man He is ignorant of it, for ignorance is proper to man, and especially ignorance of these things. Moreover this is proper to the Savior's love of man; for since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant , to say 'I know not,' that He may show that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to the flesh . And therefore He said not, 'no, not the Son of God knows,' lest the Godhead should seem ignorant, but simply, 'no, not the Son,'[Mark 13:32] that the ignorance might be the Son's as born from among men." - St Athanasius, Discourse 3 Against the Arians, Chapter 43

- "No man save Him who for our salvation has designed to put on flesh has full knowledge and a complete grasp of the truth." - St Jerome, Letter to Pope Damacus in reply to Genesis 27:23

- "Their tenth objection is the objection, and the statement that of the last 'day and hour knows no man, not even the Son Himself, but the Father.'[Mark 13:32] And yet how can Wisdom be ignorant of anything? ...How then can you say that all things before that hour He knows accurately, and all things that are to happen about the time of the end, but the hour itself He is ignorant? For such a thing would be like a riddle, as if one were to say that he knew accurately all that was in front of the wall, but did not know the wall itself; or that, knowing the end of the day, he did not the beginning of night--where knowledge of the one neccessarily brings in the other. Thus everyone must see He knows as God, and knows not as man,--if one may separate visible from that which discerned by thought alone." - St Gregory Nazianzen, On the Holy Spirit, Chapter 30:15

- “For He, as the Only-begotten Son of the Father, and the Word, both was and is omnipotent, and there is nothing that is not easy to Him.” — St Cyril of Jerusalem Homilies On Luke, 47

- "We can now understand why He said that He knew not the day. If we believe Him to have been really ignorant, we contradict the Apostle, who says, "In Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" [Colossians 2:3]. There is knowledge which is hidden in Him, and because it has to be hidden, it must sometimes for this purpose be professed as ignorance, for once declared, it will no longer be secret. In order, therefore, that the knowledge may remain hidden, He declares that He does not know. But if He does not know, in order that the knowledge may remain hidden, this ignorance is not due to His nature, which is omniscient, for He is ignorant solely in order that it may be hidden. Nor is it hard to see why the knowledge of the day is hidden." — St Hilary of Poiters, On the Trinity Book IX Chapter 67

- “The Son is ignorant, then, of nothing which the Father knows, nor does it follow because the Father alone knows, that the Son does not know. Father and Son abide in unity of nature, and the ignorance of the Son belongs to the divine Plan of silence, seeing that in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This the Lord Himself testified, when He answered the question of the Apostles concerning the times, “It is not yours to know times or moments, which the Father has set within His own authority” [Acts 1:7]. The knowledge is denied them, and not only that, but the anxiety to learn is forbidden, because it is not theirs to know these times. Yet now that He is risen, they ask again, though their question on the former occasion had been met with the reply, that not even the Son knew. They cannot possibly have understood literally that the Son did not know, for they ask Him again as though He did know. They perceived in the mystery of His ignorance a divine Plan of silence, and now, after His resurrection, they renew the question, thinking that the time has come to speak. And the Son no longer denies that He knows, but tells them that it is not theirs to know, because the Father has set it within His own authority. If then, the Apostles attributed it to the divine Plan, and not to weakness, that the Son did not know the day, shall we say that the Son knew not the day for the simple reason that He was not God? Remember, God the Father set the day within His authority, that it might not come to the knowledge of man, and the Son, when asked before, replied that He did not know, but now, no longer denying His knowledge, replies that it is theirs not to know, for the Father has set the times not in His own knowledge, but in His own authority. The day and the moment are included in the word 'times': can it be, then, that He, Who was to restore Israel to its kingdom, did not Himself know the day and the moment of that restoration? He instructs us to see an evidence of His birth in this exclusive prerogative of the Father, yet He does not deny that He knows: and while He proclaims that the possession of this knowledge is withheld from ourselves, He asserts that it belongs to the mystery of the Father's authority.

We must not therefore think, because He said He did not know the day and the moment, that the Son did not know. As man He wept, and slept, and sorrowed, but God is incapable of tears, or fear, or sleep. According to the weakness of His flesh He shed tears, slept, hungered, thirsted, was weary, and feared, yet without impairing the reality of His Only-begotten nature; equally so must we refer to His human nature, the words that He knew not the day or the hour [Mark 13:32].” — St Hilary of Poiters, On the Trinity, Book IX Chapter 74

- "Those, then, who say that He is a servant divide the one Christ into two, just as Nestorius did. But we declare Him to be Master and Lord of all creation, the one Christ, at once God and man, and all-knowing. 'For in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the hidden treasures'" [Col 2:3]. — St John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book III Chapter 21

- "Concerning that which has been written: That 'neither the Son, nor the angels know the day and the hour' [cf. Mark 13:32, Matt 24:36], indeed, your holiness has perceived rightly, that since it most certainly should be referred not to the same Son according to that which is the head, but according to His body which we are.... He [Augustine] also says ... that this can be understood of the same Son, because the omnipotent God sometimes speaks in a human way, as he said to Abraham: 'Now I know that thou fearest God' [Gen. 22:12], not because God then knew that He was feared, but because at that time He caused Abraham to know that he feared God. For, just as we say a day is happy not because the day itself is happy, but because it makes us happy, so the omnipotent Son says He does not know the day which He causes not to be known, not because He himself is ignorant of it, but because He does not permit it to be known at all. Thus also the Father alone is said to know, because the Son (being) consubstantial with Him, on account of His nature, by which He is above the angels, has knowledge of that, of which the angels are unaware. Thus, also, this can be the more precisely understood because the Only-begotten having been incarnate, and made perfect man for us, in His divine nature indeed did know the day and the hour of judgment, but nevertheless He did not know this from His human nature. Therefore, that which in (nature) itself He knew, He did not know from that very (nature), because God-made-man knew the day and hour of the judgment through the power of His Godhead.... Thus, the knowledge which He did not have on account of the nature of His humanity, by reason of which, like the angels, He was a creature this He denied that He, like the angels, who are creatures, had. Therefore (as) God and man He knows the day and the hour of judgment; but on this account, because God is man. But the fact is certainly manifest that whoever is not a Nestorian, can in no wise be an Agnoeta. For with what purpose can he, who confesses that the Wisdom itself of God is incarnate say that there is anything which the Wisdom of God does not know? It is written: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by Him' [John 1:1, 3]. If 'all', without doubt also the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so foolish as to presume to assert that the Word of the Father made that which He does not know? It is written also: 'Jesus knowing, that the Father gave Him all things into his hands' [John 13:3]. If all things, surely both the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so stupid as to say that the Son has received in His hands that of which He is unaware?" — St Gregory the Great, Letter to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria

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