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The MOST Theological Collection: The Consciousness of Christ

"Chapter 5. Scripture: Support for Jesus' Knowledge"


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We will limit our investigation to the Synoptics, omitting St. John's Gospel, not because it has little to offer, but because the problem of its literary genre complicates the presentation of the matter.1

1. Extraordinary or Superhuman knowledge In General

All Gospels report several occasions on which Jesus read the interior thoughts of others. Thus on the occasion of the healing of the paralytic who was let down through the roof, the scribes and Pharisees were grumbling interiorly because Jesus had claimed to forgive the man's sins. "And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, 'Why do you question thus in your hearts:'" (Mk 2:8). With less detail, substantially the same text appears in Mt 9:4 and Lk 5:22.

On another occasion, when the disciples had been discussing among themselves who was the greater, Jesus, though not present, knew it. Lk 9:47 reports, "When Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child, and put him by his side, and said to them...." Mk 9:33-37 does not explicitly say that Jesus knew, but indicates it in that He asked them what they had talked about; whereupon they were silent in shame. He then said (Mk. 9:35): "If any one would be first, he must be the last of all and servant of all." He then put a child in front of them and continued His reflections.

Before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus sent on ahead two disciples after telling them where they would find a tethered colt upon which no man had yet ridden; they were to fetch the colt and if anyone should object, Jesus added, simply inform him that "the Master needs it"; and there would be no further trouble (Mk 11:1-3). Lk 19:28-31 gives almost an identical account; Mt 21:1-3 is practically the same, the detail about no one having ridden the animal before being omitted. Obviously Jesus knew at a distance what His disciples would meet with. Brown notes that in Jn 12:14 Jesus Himself finds the animal.2 We could either recall the adage "Qui facit per altos, facit per se" (the master operates through his underlings) or we could consider this an example of Semitic approximation, of which Pius XII spoke.3

Again, according to Mk 14:12-16, just before the Passover Jesus sends on ahead two disciples after telling them how they would find a man carrying a jar; they should follow him into a house, and then ask the master of the house about the place where Jesus could observe the Passover; whereupon he would show them a room made ready. Brown notes that a parallel passage, Mt 26:17, has "no such hint of mysterious knowledge."4 Neither does the passage deny or contradict Mark's report. Matthew simply opted for a briefer account-in spite of Bultmann's claim that Matthew and Luke are more detailed than Mark.5

Only Matthew (17:24-27) favors us with the remarkable incident in which Jesus tells Peter to go fishing, to pull up the first nibble, and, lo!, he would find a coin in its mouth sufficient to pay the temple tax for himself and for Jesus. Here we seem to have not only special knowledge, but probably the exercise of miraculous power: to cause such a coin-bearing fish to strike at precisely the right time and place. Many critics are inclined to dismiss this catch as a fake, saying it resembles things done by Greek wonder-workers. But D. J. McCarthy, commenting on the claim that literary similarities might show the Sinai covenant was modeled after Hittite treaties says: "It should be an axiom of form study that similar situations call forth similar responses, and thus formal similarity hardly proves a causal nexus between similar manifestations in different cultures."6 He meant that literary similarities do not prove one work is based on another. The same principles apply here: similarities of Gospel miracles to Greek stories do not prove the literary form of the Gospel stories was patterned after that of the Greeks, still less that the Gospel incidents were just invented. Furthermore, as we see in the appendix, the similarities between Gospel miracles and alleged wonders by pagans are not nearly so great as the critics claim.7

We could list more instances of special knowledge on the part of Jesus, but these should suffice. Could we say that some of these cases, such as those in which Jesus knows the thoughts of others, are merely instances of keen human perception involving nothing necessarily divine? Yes, to some extent it could be successfully argued. Such perceptiveness, however, could not reasonably account for all the details mentioned. Does such knowledge prove divinity? Clearly not. Some Old Testament prophets, Ezechiel, for instance, had similar powers: while in Babylon he knew what was going on in Jerusalem. In fact, there are cases today of otherwise ordinary persons who claim they have extra-sensory perception. Are there at work merely natural powers which we do not yet understand? Even though these cases do not prove divine knowledge in Jesus, divine knowledge could, as a matter of fact, have been involved. The evangelists do not explicitly assert the supernatural character of such knowledge, though they seem to imply it.

2. The Evidence of the Special Titles: Son of Men, Messiah, Son of God

Before considering separate titles, we should recall the conclusion to our treatment of retrojection in the Synoptics.8 Under certain conditions retrojection is possible without falsification. The retrojection of a name or title is possible, provided that the agent in some way revealed himself to be or do what the title indicates. In general, however, the Synoptic genre is such that even this retrojection is unlikely; it could be allowed more easily in John.

Jesus spoke of Himself as the Son of Man in three respects: earthly, suffering, eschatological.9 Could the Church have retrojected this title? It is unlikely because of the genre proper to the Synoptics; it is still more unlikely in that the title is found exclusively on the lips of Jesus. There are only two exceptions, its use by the dying Stephen (Acts 7:56) and a single use by the enemies of Jesus (echoing Him, Jn 12:34). Would it not be strange for the Church to invent a title, and then drop it so absolutely? An attempted reply argues that since the title was Semitic, it did not set well with Greek Christianity. That reason is not convincing, for Mark and Luke who were writing for Greeks did use it, while Peter (Acts 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:9-12) did not use it when speaking to Semites.

Much ingenuity and learning have recently been exercised on the question of whether Son of Man was used in the Aramaic of Jesus time as a mere equivalent for I. It seems that it was.

J. Fitzmyer asserts that, in none of the phases of the Aramaic language has one been able to show that bar enas was ever used in a titular sense, for some apocalyptic Son of Man. The evidence that we have at present...supports the contention... that the apocalyptic Son of Man must exit from the stage of the NT study."10

But his argument, and the other arguments are all inconclusive: even if the phrase was often used as an equivalent for I, and even if we do not find it used for an apocalyptic figure in the Aramaic of Jesus time, it does not follow that Jesus Himself could not have used it to hint that He was the one mentioned in Dan 7:13. It could well be that the very vagueness was intended by Jesus, in line with His gradual self-revelation, to provoke thought. That vagueness could then explain why the Church later dropped the use of the title, except for faithfully reporting that Jesus often used it Himself.

Our study of Wrede and our form critical analysis of Mk 8:29-33 provide sound proof for maintaining that Jesus did know He was the Messiah.11 We see that the additions by Matthew could have been retrojected, but that this was unlikely. If the title of Messiah had been retrojected in the basic narrative of Mark, nothing would remain of the scene except the question of what people in general were saying, which would be a fringe matter, not the heart of the scene. So, to retroject the title itself would mean we would have a genre looser than midrash; for midrash requires a substantial core of factual matter, surrounded by a fringe of meditative embellishment. In Mark, since the title is the core, the whole scene, not just the fringe, would be fancy. But the genre of the Synoptics is not looser than midrash.

As to retrojection of the title in other episodes, we could admit the speculative possibility; but in practice, such a massive amount of retrojection would have been required that its consistent application would be astounding.

The title "Son of God" presents a problem of precise meaning. Hosea 11:1 speaks of all Israel as God's son. A virtuous Israelite also could be called a son of God (Sir 4:10; Ps 73:15). What did the title "Son of God" convey when used in reference to Jesus?

The demons often call Him Son of God (Mk 3:11; 5:7; Mt 8:29; 4:3,6; Lk 8:28). The disciples sometimes do so also (Mt 14:33; 16:16).

More important, Jesus applies the title to Himself, and frequently speaks of God as His Father. In itself the title Son of God is not clearly a designation of divinity, yet there is something very special about its use for and by Jesus.

The parable of the wicked tenants (Mk 12:1-12) embodies at the very least some allusion to Jesus as God's special Son. In v.6 we find the Father sending His beloved (agapeton) Son. It is well known that the Septuagint often uses this word to translate Hebrew yahid, which stands for only Son. In spite of this, Lane writes: "Without declaring his own transcendent sonship, Jesus clearly implies that the Sanhedrin has rejected God's final messenger."12 We think Lane has weakened the parable's message unduly, for in the parable, the son is a natural son.

Matthew 11:27 (Lk 10:22)-the "thunderbolt fallen from the Johannine sky"-has been interpreted to stand for strict divine sonship, because it asserts that Jesus has the same knowledge of the Father that the Father has of Him: a divine knowledge implying a divine being.13 However, this interpretation is criticized as being too metaphysical. Jeremias propoes the view that this unit is basically a Semitic proverb (with repetition, to that up for the Semitic lack of a good reciprocal pronoun) conveying the idea that only a father and a son really know each other.14 Jeremias chinks this may have been a point of departure for Johannine theology. We think John quite capable of theologizing for himself, from his own association with Jesus. But to return to the proposal of Jeremias, it would be in place to add that even if Jeremias is right, Jesus would at lease be applying the saying to Himself in such a way as to claim a special sonship beyond that which others could ever claim.

This observation is in harmony with the fact that Jesus constantly speaks of God as His father-a form of address not common in the Judaism of His time-and constantly draws a distinction between my Father and your Father, again, an indication of at least a special relationship. This special character is heightened by His use of Abba. Jeremias has argued forcefully how this imples a unique and familiar relationship.15 The word seems proper to small children, like our "Daddy." No Jew would have dared to speak so intimately with Yahweh. But Jesus did.

We grant that all the above indications do not provide conclusive proof that Jesus referred to Himself explicitly as the natural, divine Son of the Father. We think this lack of precision was intended by Jesus, as part of His gradual self-revelation, and we recall the similar or greater vagueness of the term Son of Man.16

We come to the theophanies in which at the baptism and the transfiguration of Jesus a voice speaks from the sky (Mk 1:11): "Thou art my beloved (agapetos) Son; with thee I am well pleased." Lk 3:22 has the identical wording. Mt 3:17 represents the voice as speaking to the bystanders: "This is my beloved Son." In the accounts of the transfiguration, Mk 9:7 and parallels all agree in using the third person: "This is my beloved Son. " The differences in the readings for the two events is not great enough for us to have to call the sayings into question: it is a case of Semitic "approximation" of which Pope Pius XII spoke.17 We note the agapetos in all versions and recall again that the Septuagint often used it to render Hebrew yahid, only Son.

The form critics are committed in advance, by their prejudice,18 to reject anything miraculous or supernatural; they must deny these theophanies. That is, to say the least, a most unscholarly stance, to reject a thesis without a hearing. Those who are free of such prejudice are free to accept the theophanies.

Could the theophanies be pure fancy, to dramatize the Church's later belief in the divinity of Jesus? No, for such a dramatization would be looser than midrash; it would lack the necessary historical core to keep it within the range of the Synoptic genre.

A further objection is raised: if the crowds really heard this voice, then there could have been no gradual self-revelation. The facts? At the transfiguration only three disciples were present; we have already dealt with the question of their receptivity.19 At the baptism many indeed were present. What actually registered on their minds? After days, weeks, years with Jesus and in spite of all His miracles, the disciples failed to comprehend the message and mission of their Master. Should we expect the crowd at the Jordan to have had a greater power of assimilating the revelations so contrary to their mental framework? Only after Easter, when Jesus opened their hearts to understand (cf. Lk 24:45) did they really grasp many things.

3. Other Scriptural Evidence

A number of other bits of evidence may be pieced together to show Jesus' knowledge. First, we may comment on exorcism as a sign that the kingdom has come. Jesus said (Lk 11:20; Mt 12:28): "But if it is by the finger of God [Mt has "by the Spirit of God] that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Strangely, Bultmann comments: "The latter [saying just cited] can, in my view, claim the highest degree of authenticity which we can make for any saying of Jesus: it is full of that feeling of eschatological power which must have characterized the activity of Jesus."20 We note two things. First, of course, Bultmann does not really believe Jesus cast out devils, for he denies anything miraculous or supernatural. Secondly, his subjectivity is showing again, for he depends on the "feeling of eschatological power", which he seems to sense in this saying.

Persons who are not hampered by such unscholarly prejudices have no reason for not accepting the incident and saying as genuine. The objection is made that the people then were apt to confuse illness, especially epilepsy, with possession. There is no evidence of such confusion in this incident. Surely, whatever the man suffered from, Jesus did cure him, miraculously. Further, Jesus did it to prove the Kingdom was at hand. Now the power to work a miracle, whether healing or exorcism, muse come ultimately from God Himself. But God, being Truth, cannot provide power to support a false claim. Therefore, the Kingdom really was at hand; and Jesus was aware of it, and of His power to exorcise.

Second, Jesus referred to Himself as greater than Jonah, Solomon and the Temple. On one occasion when the Pharisees had asked for a sign, Jesus refused (not, as some say, because He refused to use miracles as a support to faith, but because of the hardness of the Pharisees, who had already seen so many signs; actually, He did explicitly appeal to miracles as proof more than once, e.g., Mk 2:1-12; Lk 11:20.21). Jesus then said they would have the sign of Jonah, and added (Mt 12:41-42), "The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."

We cannot gather much from the reference to Jonah, for, as we saw,22 the fact that Jesus speaks of Jonah in this way could be mere literary allusion, which need not prove the book of Jonah to be historical. But it does show He knew He was greater than Solomon-a large claim. Nor could this text be retrojected, for it is part of a controversy with scribes and Pharisees; there were no such debates after Easter. If someone classifies the scene as entirely fictional, good only for meditation purposes, we reply that that would be looser in genre than midrash, far too loose for the genre of the Synoptics.

On the occasion of another clash with the Pharisees, when His disciples plucked grain on the sabbath, Jesus appealed to the example of David, and added (Mt 12:6) "There is something here greater than the temple."

Third, Jesus claimed authority over the Torah. On the occasion just described, Jesus proclaimed: "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Mk 12:8; Lk 6:5; Mk 2:28). These words were not at all spoken by Jesus, commentators say; they were a comment by the evangelists.23) Be that as it may, there is absolutely no doubt that Jesus claimed authority to revise the Torah, as stated in Matthew 5, verses 22, 27, 32, 34, 39, "You have heard it was said to men of old.... But I say to you...." Pannenberg comments: "Jesus set his ego against and above the authority of Moses himself, without any kind of justification. However, the authority above Moses himself, which Jesus here claims for himself, can be none other than the authority of God. Thus...Jesus makes himself the spokesman for God himself."24

As Pannenberg phrases it, Jesus claims an authority which really belongs to God. Did Jesus claim to have it because of being God, or as a delegate? If we may indulge in an argumentum ad hominem: those who wish to limit the knowledge of Jesus greatly insist that He could not rise above the mental horizon of the times.25 But that horizon did not envision any delegated authority that could change the Torah, as is evident from Mk 2:7 (a claim to forgiveness of sins apart from Torah procedures was considered a claim to divinity by the scribes and Pharisees). Hence this claim of Jesus must have expressed a conscious claim to divinity.

Further, if His human mind registered only a belief that He had delegated authority, where would it get such a notion? If it was by revelation, why would God have made a special revelation that was so incomplete? If the notion came from a vague self-perception, how substantive was it? To be a prophet, even to be a Moses, would not give rational grounds for the power of modifying the Sabbath. It was strictly unheard of. Really, there could be no earthly justification. The human intellect of Jesus would have been deluded in formalizing so unheard of a revolution with no real authorization. We conclude: His human intellect operated in harmony with His divinity.

Bultmann classifies the passage as a retrojection.26 Retrojections indeed are possible under some conditions.27 But there is no evidence; there is only the prejudice that Jesus could not have known. The following episode likewise involves the question on delegated authority; it is of such a character that no retrojection is possible.

Fourth, Jesus claimed authority to forgive sins. Seeing a paralytic let down through the roof before Him, Jesus said (Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26; Mt 9:2-8), "My son, your sins are forgiven." The scribes and Pharisees murmured in their hearts: "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Knowing their thoughts Jesus said: "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, tale up your pallet and walk." It was as if Jesus had said: "If I say, your sins are forgiven, no one can check that. But if I say: Gee up and walk, anyone can verify it." So Jesus cured the man. All three Synoptics add a line the origin of which is debated: "But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic...." Some label this line as a comment by the evangelists, and not spoken by Jesus. Even if that be proven, the connection between the forgiveness and the cure remains evident from the other words of Jesus (as Bultmann and Dibelius admit).28

The presence of this connection is of prime importance. If they were genuine miracles, the power came from God. For various reasons God might do such for a good pagan. But He could not provide miraculous power if it were used to prove a lie. The scribes consider that claim a claim to divinity. We grant that sins could be forgiven by a delegated power. But the scribes did not see that possibility (see verse 7). Hence, in that concrete situation, the miracle was used to prove a claim understood as a claim to divinity. God could not have supported such a claim by confirming it with a miracle if it were false. Jesus, therefore, did show an understanding of His own divinity on this occasion.

The supposition that Jesus' human mind thought it had only delegated power is factually impossible for the same reasons as outlined above on His power over the Torah.

Lane29 thinks the passive, "your sins are forgiven," is a "divine passive," employed to avoid the mention of Yahweh's name; what Jesus said would mean merely (as Nathan said to David): God has forgiven your sins. But that cannot be the case here; for the scribes (who should have known all about divine passives if anybody did) would not then have objected in the way recorded. Jeremias observes that the divine passive is almost completely absent from the Talmud; instead, the usual circumlocution is a third person plural.30

Fifth, we may look at a passage, also examined in the Appendix, in which Jesus reveals Himself as the eschatological judge.31 In Mt 13:36-41 Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man who sows the good seed, and also as the Son of Man who at the end-time will send His angels to remove all evils from His Kingdom. The same prophecy appears in Mt 24:5, "Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. " But v. 27 adds that His real coming will be as clear as a lightning flash across the sky. In 25:31-46 Jesus holds judgment as the Son of Man and decides the eternal fate of men. Even Todt admits32 that Matthew in these two passages presents Jesus as Son of Man and Judge. We examined Todt's evidence for denying the historical factuality of these texts, and found it wanting.33

Another passage in which Jesus refers to Himself as the final judge is Mt 7:22-23 "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast Out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you.'"

John the Baptist is also presented as knowing Jesus is the final judge.34 Mk 1:7-8 records how John regarded Jesus as immeasurably greater than himself: "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie...he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Lk 3:16-18 (Mt 3:11-12 is almost identical) adds to Mark's account: "His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Mt 11:3 (Lk 7:20) is highly revealing. John the Baptist, in prison, had sent messengers to Jesus to ask: "Are you he who is to come?" John knew well who He was, as we gather from Mk 1:7-8 and parallels. John fuse wanted to impress the fact on his disciples dramatically. Jesus' answer implied that He was the fulfillment of several Isaiah prophecies (Is 26:19; 29:18-19; 35:5-6); and then added that John was "more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'"

The implications are tremendous. Jesus quotes basically from Mal 3:1, which, in the Hebrew reading says: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before my face." Jesus makes a modification, shifting the final pronoun from first to second person, because "in the exegetical tradition of the rabbis,35 these texts had already been combined."36 Is 40:3 seems to be also in mind: "A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."' Lane also speaks of "Israel's expectation either of the eschatological coming of God himself or of his appointed representative. "37

But note that Malachi 3:1 continued: "and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold he is coming, says the Lord of hosts." Fuller observes correctly, in regard to the expectation of Elias (Jesus in Mt 11:14 identifies John with Elias), "The starting point for this expectation is Mal 4:5f (Mt 3:23f.). In this passage, an editorial note commenting on Mal 3:1, Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself...followed by the coming of Yahweh to his temple for the eschatological judgment.... "38

So we have a fascinating picture. In the midst of an expectation that Elias would come, followed by Yahweh Himself, Jesus quotes the key prophecy of Malachi 3:1 in which God clearly says He himself will come to His temple, preceded by His messenger. Now if John is the messenger, then Jesus, it is plainly implied, is Yahweh Himself!

Of course, Jesus makes clear that John is Elias only in an extended sense, "if you are willing to accept it...."' However, we note two things. First, would Jesus dare to apply to Himself words referring to Yahweh if His human intellect were not registering the fact that He was divine? No Jew would dare to do that for fear of blaspheming. Secondly, we may well be dealing here with a multiple fulfillment pattern in prophecy. 39Consequently, in both fulfillments, there will be a messenger, followed by the Lord Himself coming to His temple. The messenger is in the one case John, in the ocher, Elias literally. In both instances, Jesus is the Lord. Objectively we know such was and will be the case. Could Jesus have dared to speak in this manner if His human intellect did not register the objective fact?

Bultmann regards Mt 11:2-19 as a sort of scholastic dialogue and concludes: "Passages like Matt. 11:2-19...can on quite other grounds be seen probably or surely to be formulations of the Church,40 that is, faked in by the Church. Such a connection clashes with the honesty and genuine historical concern of the early Christian churches.

If we wanted to be as subjective as Bultmann, we could very reasonably claim for this passage what Bultmann said of Mt 12:28 (exorcism as a sign the Kingdom had come): " [this saying] can, in my view, claim the highest degree of authenticity which we can that for any saying of Jesus; it is full of that feeling of eschatological power which must have characterized the activity of Jesus. "41

But we prefer to be objective, and place our emphasis on the genre of the Synoptics. Abstracting for the moment from the infancy narratives' the Synoptics are not midrashic in character, they are far too factual. At very most, Mt 11:2-19 might synthesize sayings of Jesus given on more than one occasion. But the ideas that John is the forerunner and that Jesus is the final judge are too well attested in many other texts.

We conclude, for a twofold reason, that Jesus shows an understanding of His divinity in the sayings about Himself as eschatological judge. There is, first of all, the passage we have just studied, with the implications of the citation from Mal 3:1. Secondly, the function of the eschatological judge is so momentous that it is hardly conceivable that any mere human could exercise it. The judge must know all the secrets of all hearts of all men of all times-otherwise, the principle proclaimed by Jesus Himself would condemn the judge (Mt 7:1): "Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged."

The reason why we creatures should not judge is our lack of knowledge of the secrets of hearts, e.g., I could see a man kill another, and could say objectively: this is murder. Yet I could not judge the killer guilty of mortal sin, for I do not know what is in his heart. In addition to this knowledge, the heavenly judge needs absolute infallibility in giving the sentence based on that knowledge, for his sentence is eternal bliss or eternal misery. Nothing short of full infallibility could satisfy as qualifications for such a judge. Could God endow a mere man with all these qualities? Theoretically, perhaps. However, if, for the sale of argument, we entertain the thought that it did not register on the human mind of Jesus that He was God, yet that mind would know itself to have phenomenal qualities, it would have a brilliance such that it would be inexplicable how that same brilliance could fail to perceive the secret of His own being, namely, His own divinity.

Actually, Jesus did manifest at least some facet of what seems to be divine omniscience when He read the hearts of others and exercised judgement dependent upon such knowledge, i.e., He condemned the Pharisees fiercely even though their works outwardly seemed righteous, for He knew their hearts were corrupt.

As to the role the apostles will play in judging with Jesus, that is wholly honorary. Only the chief judge, the real judge Himself needs to have the qualities enumerated.

Finally, Jesus' institution of the Eucharist deserves comment. Not all scholars agree that Jesus willed a real, substantial presence of Himself in the Eucharist. Mere human exegetical techniques alone can neither prove nor disprove Christ's Real Presence on the altar. But if one has arrived at the intellectual conviction that He did institute a body, His Church, to continue His teaching, and promised it providential protection in that teaching, such a person not only may, but intellectually is compelled to hold Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist, for the Church, protected by His promise, so teaches.42 If we think of His divine person, there is no problem: a divine person can dare to promise such a presence as that. Did the fact of His divinity register also on His human intellect? If it did not, then that human mind could never have dared to entertain such a thought as the actual institution of the holy Eucharist. A human mind that was unaware of its forming part of a God-man would have had to be utterly mad to dream of such a presence, a presence so marvelous if it occurred even once, and yet a presence multiplied countless times over. Of course, no one charges that the human mind of Jesus was so totally bereft of reason. Therefore, the fact that His divinity registered in His human intellect is completely inescapable.

4. Conclusions from the Scriptural Evidence

1. The objections in general. We have seen in detail that a plausible solution without implying ignorance in Jesus can be offered for each text that has been proposed as an objection. It is not necessary to prove what each text must contain. And we are pleased to record that even R. Brown, who seems so predisposed to find ignorance in Jesus, admits that the biblical evidence does not prove his case.43

2. Extraordinary knowledge. The Gospels repeatedly report how Jesus exhibited special knowledge of remote or future events (such as Palm Sunday and Passover preparations) and of the inmost thoughts of men. The evangelists seem to imply that this was actually supernatural knowledge, though parallel phenomena have been found today in extra sensory perception, which some chink have a natural explanation.

3. Special titles: Son of Man, Messiah, Son of God. While it would not have been impossible, even within the genre of the Synoptics, for the Church to have placed the titles Son of Man, Son of God, and Messiah on Christ's lips, yet the reason for doing so must revert back in some substantial way to His self-revelation by words or deeds, during His earthly ministry. The title Son of Man is unclear as to content, and is probably part of His method of gradual revelation, which necessarily involves partial or temporary concealment.

There is no doubt that Jesus accepted the title Messiah. It is also certain He used the title Son of God, in a very special way, and repeatedly; He likewise distinguished His own case from that of men in general (Abba; my Father vs. your Father; the Son in the parable of the wicked husbandmen). The theophanies make it certain that His divine Sonship registered on His human mind.

4. Exorcism as a sign the kingdom had come. Exorcisms prove that Jesus knew He had power over demons, and that the kingdom was really at hand.

5. Greater than Jonah, Solomon and the Temple. Uncertainty about the precise literary genre proper to the Book of Jonah makes it difficult to determine the measure of Jesus' claim to be greater than Jonah. But it is clear that His human mind registered the fact of being greater than Solomon and the Temple. These claims happened in a setting of controversy, which could not have occurred after Easter. Therefore no retrojection is possible.

6. Authority over the Torah. Jesus claimed a power over the Law superior to that of Moses. Since the concept of such delegated power was unknown even to the greatest theologians of the time, those who want to limit His mentality to that of a man of His time leave no possible explanation for a claim so unheard of. But further we must ask: If His human mind registered only a belief in delegated authority, where would it get such a notion? Not by a special divine revelation, for why would God have made a special revelation so incomplete? Nor from thinking He was a prophet, for being a mere prophet would give no grounds for such a power. So, since there would be no justification for the belief, either He was silly and deluded (which is impossible) or He knew He had the power from His divinity.

Retrojection of this claim is not impossible, but is highly unlikely.

7. Authority to forgive sins. The scene of the cure of the paralytic (Mk 2:1-12) cannot be retrojected: no such cures occur after Easter, nor debates with scribes. In the context, objectively, Jesus made a claim understood to be one implying personal divinity (delegated power to forgive sins was unknown to Jewish thought). God could not have supported such a claim, if false, by a miracle. The concept of merely delegated power is ruled Out as above. Hence, His human mind muse have been aware of His divinity as the source of power to forgive.

8. Eschatological Judge. Several times Jesus called Himself the final judge. Of special import in His quotation of Mal 3:1 (in Mt 11:10), a text foretelling a forerunner to the visit of God Himself. Jesus identifies the forerunner as John, implying He Himself is God. Since Jesus indicates John is not primarily meant, we could either say we have another instance of a multiple fulfillment prophecy, in which case Jesus still is presented as God; or a case of an accomodative sense for John. But, it would be unthinkable boldness of Jesus to even apply to Himself a text that objectively means God if He in His human intellect did not know He was God. No Jewish intellect would be so bold.

Although it is not inconceivable that God could-make a mere man competent to be the final judge, yet that person would have to have prodigious power: to know all secrets of all hearts of all ages, and then to pass sentence infallibly. It is inconceivable that the human mind of Jesus should have been so equipped as to know all hearts, and yet not know the secret of His own heart, His divinity.

9. The Eucharist. Without knowledge of His divinity, only the mind of an utter madman could have entertained a thought of instituting such a presence. So we have a most conclusive proof that His divinity did register on His human intellect.


We have, on the negative side, answered all objections. Positively, we have proved that the human mind of Jesus registered that He was God's Messiah and Son in a special sense, even in the ontological sense if we accept the theophanies, which we do. It is clear also that that human mind registered the fact that He had not just delegated power, but power as God to change the Torah and to forgive sins. It also knew He was eschatological judge.

With such evidence, much of which is conclusive by itself, and with all of it converging on the same point, it is not possible to deny that His divinity registered on His human mind. Of overwhelming significance is the argument derived from His institution of the Eucharist; no human mind could have dared to do that without conscious awareness of divinity.


1 See pp 26-28 above.
2 JGM 48.
3 Enchiridion Biblicum 559.
4 JGM 48.
5 See Appendix, pp 218-19 below.
6 Dennis J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant, 58 in Analecta Biblica 21, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, 1963.
7 See Appendix, pp 218-19 below.
8 Cf. pp 27-28 above.
9 Cf. Appendix, pp 207-09 below.
10 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., "The Aramaic Language and the Study of the New Testament" in JBL, March, 1980, pp. 5-21, at p. 21. Cf also R. Leivestad, "Exit the Apocalyptic Son of Man" in NTS 18 (1971) 243-67; B. Lindars, "Re-enter the Apocalyptic Son of Man" in NTS 22 (1975) 52-72; M. Black, "Jesus and the Son of Man" in JSNT 1 (1978) 4-18; G. Vermes, "The Son of Man Debate", ibid. 19-32; J. Fitzmyer "Another View of the 'Son of Man' Debate" in JSNT 4 (1979) 58-68.
11 See Appendix, pp 202-209 below.
12 William L. Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, in NICNT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1974, 419.
13 Cf. P. Benoit, Exegese et Theologie, Cerf, Paris, 1961, I, 130-31; Manuel de Tuya, Evangelios, in Biblia Comentada V, BAC, Madrid, 1964, 274.
14 J. Jeremias, New Testament Theology, tr. John Bowden, Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1971, 56-61.
15 Ibid., pp. 67-68.
16 Cf. pp 76-77 above and pp 207-09 below.
17 Enchiridion Biblicum 559.
18 See Appendix, pp 175-78 below.
19 See Appendix, pp 205-06 below.
20 HST, p. 162; cf. N. Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, Harper and Row, N.Y., 1967, 65.
21 Cf. p. 33 above and 214-15 below.
22 See p. 10 above.
23 Cf. Appendix, pp 214-15; Lane, op. cit., 120.
24 W. Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man, tr. L. Wilkins and D. Priebe, Westminster, Philadelphia, 2nd ed. 1977, 56. Cf. 251.
25 Cf. pp 47-48 above.
26 HST 149.
27 See pp 27-28 above.
28 See Appendix, pp 214-15 below.
29 Lane, op. cit., 94, n. 9.
30 Jeremias, op. cit., 12. Jeremias notes that the passive is found in Paul and in the LXX, but thinks it unlikely that this explains the divine passives in the Gospels.
31 Cf. Appendix, pp 207-09 below.
32 H.E. Todt, The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition, tr. D.M. Barton, Westminster, Philadelphia, 1965, 77-78.
33 Appendix pp 207-09 below.
34 Cf. Todt op. cit., 195: "...the Christians certainly identified the Baptist as the forerunner of the judge of the last days as Matt. 3:12 and par (Q) prove, but precisely because of that he was seen as the forerunner of Jesus; for Jesus was not only acknowledged as the authorized proclaimer of God's final judgment, but he was also expected from the primitive community as the coming executor of that judgment."
35 Cf. H. L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, I, Munich, 1922, 597.
36 Lane, op. cit., 45.
37 Cf. Lane, 51.
38 R. H. Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1965, 48. Fuller uses the numbers 4:5 of Mal., following some English versions and the Vulgate. The Hebrew has the same wording at 3:23-24 (LXX is 3:22-23).
39 Cf. pp 54-56 above.
40 HST 54; cf. 164-65 and 23.
41 Cf. note 33-34 above.
42 Cf. pp 33-34 above.
43 JGM 42, 68, 99-100.

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