The MOST Theological Collection: The Consciousness of Christ
"Chapter 6. Patristic Evidence"
The Fathers of the Church faced a difficult problem when they considered the question of the knowledge of Jesus. First, Semites had very different ways of speaking. Paul often taught by sets of statements that seemed contradictory, e.g., he often said that the law could not be kept, that it brings only death and a curse (1 Cor 15:56; Gal 3:10; 2 Cor 3:6, 9). Yet he also wrote that it is good, spiritual, and a great privilege (Rom 7:12, 14; 9:4). Again, he said that we need not keep the law (Rom 3:21, 28; Gal 2:16; 5:18); yet he also said if we do not keep it we will not be saved (Rom 3:31; 2:13; 2:6, 25; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5). Jesus too used such pairs of seeming opposites. Thus Mt 6:6 tells us to pray in secret, while Mt 5:16 says men must see our good works and so glorify the Father. The Semitic mentality could calmly tale in and believe both parts of the these pairs, without asking how to reconcile them. But Greeks and Westerners are of a different disposition: they want a logical synthesis.
There is, of course, a special basis for some seemingly contradictory pairs of statements about Jesus: His two natures, divine and human. The New Testament follows up the implications of both natures with vigor, so that some texts refer to Him in the fully divine category, while others, to a surprising degree, speak of Him entirely within the human category, e.g., most of Peter's address on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36). Even Jesus Himself is reported to have said (Jn 14:28), "The Father is greater than I"-and this in John's Gospel, which shows Him speaking so clearly of His own divinity as to say (Jn 8:58); "Before Abraham was, I Am."
The most acute part of the problem comes from two synoptic tests; Lk 2:52 asserts that Jesus grew in age and wisdom and grace, while Mk 13:32 has Him say: "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
The Fathers, not being Semitic, wanted to know how to reconcile these two texts with their scripturally based belief in His divinity. But before they had time to give unbiased study to the question, the Arian and Apollinarist heresies arose. The practical need to combat these, of course, came first. It was so easy, and almost necessary, to say to the Arians that these "lowly sayings" referred to His human nature-otherwise the Arians would refer them to the Word, and so deny the divinity of the Word. Similarly, when Apollinaris denied that Jesus had a human rational soul, it was temptingly easy to assert that the "lowly sayings" proved He did have a human rational soul-for Apollinaris would not dare to refer these sayings to the divinity. So, not surprisingly, some Fathers did say that humanly Jesus could grow, and humanly did not know the day and hour of the end.
Eulogius, writing around 600 A.D., labelled assertions that attributed ignorance to His humanity as tactics in the controversies, tactics that should be discounted. His view does seem at least plausible, for the situation, as we said, was tempting, almost compelling. We have further evidence for his view in the fact that eight Fathers clearly, and two others less clearly, beginning with St. Athanasius, and running as late as the Venerable Bede, said that humanly Jesus might grow or not know the day; yet they also made other statements clearly holding for no ignorance and no growth at all-a pattern that reminds us of the seemingly contradictory pairs in the Bible.
But these seemingly opposite statements found in patristic writings were not mere tactics. The Fathers seem to have recognized that both statements were strictly true. And they are true, if the proper distinctions are made, even though it took some time before the Fathers saw how to that the needed distinctions. They succeeded rather early in their resolution of Lk 2:52 (Jesus' growth in wisdom). Already for St. Athanasius that growth was only a growth in manifestation. (Thus He would be said not to know something when He did not manifest it; while He really did know it). It was only later that they discovered the complete answer to the problem of Mk 13:32 (ignorance of the day of the parousia). That full explanation came with Eulogius and Pope St. Gregory the Great; they explained how Jesus could know the day in His humanity but not from His humanity. However, long before that, beginning explicitly in St. Basil, we find the statement, which is correct, that His avowal of ignorance was only feigned ignorance as part of His oikonomia-His adaptation to human conditions. A bit earlier, St. Athanasius, though he does not actually use the words feigning or oikonomia, seems to have the same ideas in mind.
The Fathers, then, deserve great credit for struggling hard to find ways of presenting the truth even before they found all the needed distinctions. They did far better than many modern scholars who shockingly ignore all that has been learned during centuries of patristic labor. Instead, they insist simplistically: Mk 13:32 and Lk 2:52 (along with other texts whose problems the Fathers solved readily) do say He was ignorant; so one had better believe it. Scripture says so. Such simple-mindedness reminds one of the fundamentalists, especially of some of the Jesus
people who demand that teenagers actually hate their parents because Jesus said (Lk 14:26): "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters...he cannot be my disciple."
We now proceed to the evidence.
1. Before the Golden Age of Patristic Literature
St. Justin Martyr. In explaining Psalm 22, Justin comments on the words:
Justin does not have occasion to take up the question of the knowledge of Jesus in general, nor of His knowledge in respect to the two critical texts we have mentioned. Yet Justin does show the desire to reject ignorance in Jesus, even on the human side, since he rejects the idea of ignorance right after noting that "it is clear... that He really became a man subject to suffering." Note too the first patristic occurrence of the argument that Jesus might appear not to know, yet really know, just as Yahweh could ask where Adam was.
St. Irenaeus. Similarly, St. Irenaeus does not really tale up our question. He is writing against the Gnostics who pretended possessing great knowledge; in a polemic way he could not resist saying: "Irrationally, moreover, and proudly and boldly you say you know the unspeakable mysteries of God, while even the Lord, the Son of God Himself, admitted that only the Father knows. For He says clearly, 'About that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son, but the Father only.' If then the Son was not ashamed to refer to the Father the knowledge of that day while saying what is true, neither should we be ashamed to refer to God the more difficult questions that plague us. For 'No one is above his teacher."'2 The remarks of Irenaeus are, as already pointed out, made in polemic, and in passing, without real consideration of the problem. We may note he did not say flatly that the Son did not know, but rather that "the Son was not ashamed) to refer to the Father the knowledge of that day...." A bit later Irenaeus adds: "For if anyone asks the reason why the Father, who communicates with the Son in all things, alone knows the day and the hour according to this statement by the Lord, he would not find a more fitting and becoming reply...than that we should learn through Him that the Father is above all. For, he said, 'the Father is greater than 1."'3 Notice, Irenaeus says the Father really did communicate "with the Son in all things."
Clement of Alexandria. Quite the opposite position appears in Clement's Paedegogus. written after 195 A.D., "It was proper that He learn nothing, since He was God. For no one is greater than the Word. Nor is there a teacher for the one teacher."4 Clement is influenced partly by Scripture, partly by Stoicism. He clearly alludes to the Gospel verse that there is only one teacher, and notes that Jesus is the Word, who cannot be ignorant of anything. The Stoic influence shows in a statement in his Stromata (208-11 A.D.): "He was simply free of passion, into whom no movement of passion came, nor pleasure nor grief."5 We wonder how Clement could have made such a judgment in view of the Gospel descriptions of Gethsemani, and of the many passages which portray Jesus as having human feelings. Here we clearly have a case of Stoicism deciding, a priori, what is true, so as to blank out the Gospel message.
Surely Clement could not hold for ignorance in the humanity of Jesus when he sought to exclude human emotions.
Origen. Stoicism dictated conclusions for Clement; Platonism seems to have dominated Origen. He thought that the human soul of Christ, before His birth, had existed as a spirit in the world of all other spirits.6 While there, that spirit earned, by ethical means, especially by love, to be united with the Word.7 In becoming man Jesus did empty Himself, but there was no complete darkening of consciousness as in other spirits that became souls.8 However, because of this emptying He could grow: "Human nature does not permit this, that it be filled with wisdom before the age of twelve.... For He had lowered Himself, taking the form of a slave, and had grown in the same virtue in which He had lowered Himself."9 But "...in advancing He advanced beyond all in knowledge and wisdom; however, in such a way that perfection did not come until He had fulfilled His own dispensation. "10 That is: comparing Mk 13:32 and Acts 1:7, Origen thinks Jesus after His resurrect ion knew "The Day, " but not before. Before His death he had advanced so far that there was only one thing He did not know: "He did not know this one thing out of all, that is, the day and the hour of the consummation."11
Obviously, Origen is not here a witness to the tradition of the Church. He is rather a bold Platonic speculator.
Fondness for allegory led Origen to propose an alternative view: "For as long as the Church, which is [His] body, does not know that day and hour, so long neither is the Son Himself said to know that day and hour; he is then understood to know when all His members know."12
We also find in Origen the first clear occurrence of what later writers will speak of as oikonomia, Jesus adapting Himself to the ways of men.13 For in his commentary on Matthew, Origen says: "[Jesus] did not ask because He did not know, but once having taken on man, He used all his [man's] characteristics, one of which is to ask."14 Origen continues, noting that the Father did the same when He asked where Adam was or where Abel was. In this oikonomia Jesus really did know, but acted as though He did not, in order to adapt to our condition.
2. The Golden Age: Eastern Writers
Emperor Constantine. Eusebius reports that Constantine spent much of his time composing and delivering sermons.15 Manuscripts of the Emperor's Life, by Eusebius, have an appendix to the fourth book with the title Oration to the Assembly of the Saints. Its authenticity is debated, with good authorities on both sides. In it we read: "The wisdom of God [was in Him] from [the time He was wrapped in] swaddling clothes. The Jordan, which provided the bath, received Him with reverence. Moreover, [there was] the royal anointing, joined with knowledge of all things."16
Eusebius of Caesarea. At and after the Council of Nicea, Eusebius seemed to be soft on Arianism-perhaps as a matter of peacemaking tactics, coupled with a lack of full understanding, and a fear of Sabellianism. However, in his Demonstratio evangelica, written well before Nicea (perhaps 315-20 A.D.), he shows no traces of Arianism: "But then, in that period when He lived among men, He filled all things and was with the Father and was in Him; likewise He took care of all things, those in heaven and those on earth, by no means being locked out, as we are, from the presence everywhere, nor being impeded from carrying out the divine activities as usual."17 Now Christ's humanity did not fill all things, nor as such, did it carry on divine activities. On the other hand it was perfectly obvious without any need to say so that His humanity could not lock His divinity from the divine presence. So the fact that he mentions this item may well mean that the human nature did share in that presence-perhaps by the beatific vision.
Eustathius of Antioch. Though of Antioch, he was clearly anti-Arian. Out of fear that the Arians might speak of the Word as assuming a body without a soul and so might attribute the human reactions of Jesus to the Word, Eustathius preferred a Word-man Christology. Resultant expressions have caused some to ask if he might not have been of Nestorian tendencies. Probably he was not. In a fragment of his work Against the Arians we find:
It is difficult to interpret this text. We note the strange expressions, viz., God "fitted man to the Word" and hid the day "lest perhaps man, making known the unspeakable mysteries... might also reveal the day of the second coming. " These expressions have caused some to suspect Eustathius had Nestorian tendencies. We propose as more likely that Eustathius spoke this way as a tactic against the Arians. If so, he would be doing what Eulogius asserts many Fathers did. Then we would not have to count it as a real attribution of ignorance, even to the humanity. Furthermore, on any view, we can hardly suppose Eustathius really meant to say the Father feared His Son might act contrary to His will and reveal the day if He knew it! So, more likely, this is written as an expression of oikonomia, the adaptation made by Jesus to the ways of men, so that He really knew even as man, but did not reveal the day to men.
St. Athanasius. Although Athanasius does not use the words feigning and oikonomia, it seems clear that he did have these concepts in mind. For Athanasius says quite flatly: "Though He knew, He said, 'Neither does the Son know!...because of the flesh, as man. For this is not deficiency of the Word, but of human nature, to which not knowing is proper."19 And a bit farther on: "It is clear that as the Word He knew the hour of the end of all, but as man He did not know."
On the contrary, Athanasius at least three times clearly states that Jesus did know even as man. First, Athanasius draws a parallel between Jesus and St. Paul. In 2 Cor 12:2, Paul says he had a marvelous vision, and adds that he did not know if he was in the body during it or not. Athanasius refuses to accept Paul's statement of not knowing, and says that then Paul would be like the mindless pagan prophets. He continues:
We must follow the parallel. Paul and Jesus both said they did not know. Paul really did know, for Christ in him made it known to him. The Christ in Paul was, of course, the divinity of Christ. That divine nature within Paul caused Paul's human mind to know. If the same divinity within Jesus did not cause His human mind to know, then Jesus would be inferior to Paul. Athanasius vigorously rejects this. So the parallel must mean that Jesus knew even in His humanity, else Paul would be superior and the divinity of Jesus would do more for Paul than for His own humanity.
Secondly, Athanasius observes that after the resurrection (Acts 1:7) Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority," and adds: "Then [after the resurrection] He did not say 'Neither does the Son know,' as He had said before in a human way, but, 'It is not for you to know.' For as to the rest. His flesh was risen, and had put aside mortality and was made divine, and...it was no longer fitting [ouketi eprepe] for Him to answer in a fleshy way."21 The key expression is, "it was no longer fitting." So, before the resurrection, it was fitting for Him to say he did not know. But it was a matter of fittingness, not of ability. Had Athanasius meant that after the resurrection Jesus was able to know, while before He was not able, he hardly would have reduced the distinction to a matter of fittingness. So again, Athanasius means Jesus knew even humanly before the resurrection.
Thirdly, Athanasius argues: "He explained to the disciples the things before the day saying, 'These things will be, and these, and then the end.' But He who tells the things that come before the day, fully knows also the day, which will appear after the things predicted."22 Now Jesus spoke these predictions humanly, and so, in the thought of Athanasius, humanly He knew the things before the end. But this knowledge in turn had to imply knowledge of the end, thinks Athanasius. So, according to our saint, Jesus' knowledge of the end was also human. (Really, one might have a revelation of the signs, without a knowledge of the date of the signs, and so not know the date of the end. Yet, the fact that Athanasius uses the argument proves Athanasius believed Jesus, as man, knew the day when the end will come).
The comments of Athanasius on Lk 2:52 also show the seemingly contradictory pairs. On the one hand he speaks of growing in a human way (though less forthrightly than he spoke about not knowing the day: "The words 'making progress' are said from the human vantage point, since it is for men to mane progress."23 On the other hand, a bit later he adds: "Gradually as the body grew and the Word manifested itself in it, He is acknowledged first by Peter, then by all." So it is primarily a question of gradual manifestation: "The humanity advanced in wisdom, gradually going beyond human nature and being divinized and appearing to all as its instrument, for the working and manifestation of the divinity."24
When we find Athanasius bringing the question of knowledge into relation with the physical
mystical solidarity explanation of the redemption,25 we should understand his statements to be in harmony with the clearer patterns just examined: "Being made man, He exhibits [epideiknutai-need not mean He actually possesses the item in question, rather He manifests it in oikonomia] the ignorance of men, first, in order to show He had a real human body, then, that by bearing the ignorance of man in His body, He might free and cleanse human nature from all these things. "26
Athanasius, accordingly, clearly denies any real growth: there is growth only in manifestation. And he implies that Jesus said He did not know the day only by oikonomia: He really did know.
St. Epiphanius. Again we meet the same sort of seemingly opposite pairs of statements. On the one hand: "And Jesus advanced, it says, in age and wisdom.... If he did not have a human mind, how could He advance?"27 Epiphanius is here arguing against Apollinaris, who denied a human mind in Jesus. Similarly: "'He advanced in wisdom and age.' Neither did the divinity grow in age, nor did that which is wholly wisdom lack wisdom. The humanity of the Savior advanced in wisdom."28 Yet, on the contrary: "The Father knows the day and hour in two ways, in knowledge and in action; for He knows when it is coming, and as He has already given judgment in appointing the Son to judge, He knows it in action. The Son of God knows when it is coming; and He Himself is bringing it on, and He is not ignorant. But He has not yet carried it out according to [His] knowledge, that is, in action."29 In this sense He can say He does not know. The distinction in question must refer to His humanity-in His divinity there can be no distinction from the Father in knowledge or in action. Epiphanius therefore means that Jesus even in His human nature does know, but can say He does not know because He knows it in one way, not in the other.
St. Basil. In Epistle 236 we read:
So, Basil clearly says: the Son knows. In His divinity or in His humanity? To say the Father causes something in the Son is out of place for His divinity, in which He is incapable of being acted upon, and has no void, as it were, to be filled by the action of any cause. So it refers to His humanity, and Basil is saying that even humanly Jesus knew.
Still more forceful is a statement in Epistle 8:
In other words, He did know, because He made all things, including that final day. But by adaptation to our condition (oikonomia) and by feigning He speaks as though He did not know. The critical words are feigning and oikonomia. Of course, the action of feigning, as all other actions, is attributed to the Person. yet when we ask which nature Basil refers to as acting, we must say that the divinity as such does not feign, but humanity does. Now if humanly He did not know, there would be no point in feigning. So Basil says that when Jesus said He did not know, he was feigning by reason of oikonomia It is important to note that in the very same passage Basil can also state flatly: "For your sane He does not know the day and hour. " So we have another instance of seemingly contradictory twin statements.
An objection is sometimes raised from a passage that follows somewhat later in the same Epistle 8.32 It is completely allegorical. Basil says that the disciples, after coming to the highest degree of contemplation possible in this life, desired the final beatitude, and this
Because the entire passage is allegorical and its message less than clear, it should not be accepted as contradicting the other testimonies of Basil, including that in the same Epistle.
Certainly, just as the angels in the allegory do not stand for the vision, though they have it, so too Jesus, though He did not stand for the vision, could still have it.
Didymus the Blind. Didymus is of special interest at this point for his interpretation of St. Basil:
Didymus refers to the notion that the Father causes the Son to know; in a patristic context this would mean that the Father causes the Son to know in His human nature.
A few paragraphs before the passage just cited, Didymus also wrote: "Just as He willed to take on the form of a slave for us, so also He willed to say He did not know; He used this as a medicine, because it is beneficial for humanity not to know everything about which it is curious [the day of the end]."35
St. Gregory Nazianzen. This great personal friend and associate of St. Basil agrees, as we would expect, with the thinking of Basil: "How could Wisdom, the maker of the ages, not know anything, He the maker and consummator of the ages, the end of all things created, who knows the things of God as the spirit of man knows the things of man? What is more perfect than this knowledge! How now would He know precisely the phenomena before that hour and those at the end, but not know the hour itself? This is like a riddle, as if someone said he knew in detail the items in front of a wall, but did not know the wall; or that he knew well when the day ended but not when the night began...is it not clear to all that Jesus knew as God, but said He did not know as man, if one separates what appears from what is mentally understood?"36 The last sentence became almost classic in later theology. St. Maximus and St. John Damascene interpret it to mean that only by prescinding from His divinity, i.e., by considering His humanity as it would be if it were not joined to the divinity, could the humanity be said not to know.37
More importantly, Gregory uses the same argument as that which we met in Athanasius: to know the signs preceding Judgment Day implies knowledge of that day. Since Jesus knew and revealed those signs through His human nature, then, in the thought of Athanasius and Gregory, that implied that humanly Jesus did know the day. (The argument may not prove what Athanasius and Gregory thought it proves, but it does prove that they held that Jesus knew the day humanly).
Our understanding of Gregory is confirmed by statements in his remarkable Eulogy over St. Basil: "Jesus made progress, it says, as in age, so also in wisdom and grace-not, however, in experiencing an increase in the latter (for if one is perfect from the beginning, how can he become more perfect?) but in its revelation or gradual manifestation. Similarly, I believe that the virtue of the man [Basil] then experienced, not an increase, but a greater scope, having more abundant material on which to use his power" when he became a bishop.38 So, Basil resembled Jesus in that he only seemed to mature; really he was quite perfect already. He means, of course, Basil was perfect not from the first moment of his existence' but before he became bishop.
St. Gregory of Nyssa seems to say that Jesus really did grow in wisdom: "Who is so childish as to think that the divine passes to perfection by additions? But to think in this way about human nature is, indeed, plausible, because the voice of the Gospel speaks clearly of an increase in the human dimension of the Lord. For Jesus advanced, it says, in age and wisdom and grace."39 In a like view, speaking of the day, he wrote:
It is difficult to evaluate these statements. In the first, Gregory is arguing against Eunomius the Arian, and attributes growth to the humanity in Jesus in order that Eunomius may not attribute it to the Word, and so call the Word created. Similarly, in the second text, he is laboring against Apollinaris who denies a human rational soul in Jesus. Gregory insists that without a human soul, there is no way to account for the "lowly sayings". Should we, on the one hand, say that these statements are tactics against the heretics, and conclude that just as Basil his brother could use such language and still not attribute ignorance to the humanity of Jesus, so Gregory too did not mean to do so? The fact that he says Jesus was ignorant of the time for figs-something a plain peasant would know-surely suggests the tactic approach. Or should we, on the contrary, note that Gregory was under the influence of Origen (to such an extent that he too denied the eternity of hell?), and then say Gregory is probably following Origen in attributing real ignorance to the humanity of Jesus? Both interpretations are plausible; neither can be proven.
St. Amphilochius of Iconium. It is not surprising that this intimate friend of Basil and the two Gregories presents us with seemingly opposing pairs of assertions, as Basil also did. On the one hand: "So, after assigning the passions to the flesh, assign also the lowly words to it."41 On the other hand: "He advanced in age, growing to manhood according to the nature of the body; in wisdom, through those whom He made wise...."42 So Jesus did not really grow in wisdom Himself, not even humanly; Lk 2:52 means merely that He caused others to grow.
St. Cyril of Alexandria's views have been much debated. According to E. Schulte, Cyril, before the rise of Nestorianism, admitted real human ignorance in Jesus; afterward, he maintained only an apparent ignorance.43 J. Mahe thought Cyril at no time attributed ignorance to Christ. J. Lebreton interprets Cyril as believing there was real ignorance in His humanity, and real growth: the growth in manifestation mentioned by Cyril was in a manifestation of His knowledge as God; (His human knowledge actually did grow). Lebreton explains how the ignorance in the humanity was "real, but so to speak, at the surface of the life of Christ."44 A. M. Durbale defends Lebreton's views.
We will try to examine Cyril's views with special care and with particular consideration of Lebreton's proposals. We will keep in mind whether Cyril's view changed when he began to challenge Nestorius. And we will not forget that Cyril was noted even in ancient times for statements that could be misleading; because of such he was accused of favoring Apollinarism and Monophysitism. In fact, prior to the conflict with Nestorius, Cyril even used the notion of inhabitation to designate the relation between the divine and the human in Christ-a typically Nestorian expression.45
Finally, it should not be strange if in Cyril we find instances of the seemingly contradictory pairs of assertions noted in earlier writers.
In regard to Lk 2:52, Cyril, like Athanasius, asserts that Christ's humanity advanced and that He took on all our defects:
This passage was penned before the outbreak of Nestorianism. In his commentary on Luke, probably written in 430 A.D., after the conflict began, he also wrote: "If then He advanced in wisdom, wisdom did not advance...but human nature advanced in it wisdom]."47
On the other hand, in the very same works Cyril also excludes any real growth in the humanity. In the Thesaurus: "Therefore when you hear He advanced in wisdom and grace, do not think there was any advance in wisdom for Him, for the Word of God needs nothing. But because He was wiser...to those who saw (tois horosi), He is said to advance; evidently it was the status [hexis] of those who then wondered that 'advanced', rather than that His [status] changed."48 We have translated the Greek hexis by status. It is a very broad word, meaning, "being in a certain state...a state of body...state or habit of mind."49 In other words: the change was not in Him, His hexis did not change; rather, that of the onlookers did. To make Cyril's statement fit with Lebreton's view we would have to suppose that although Cyril said flatly, without distinction, that there was no change in His hexis, Cyril really meant there was a change in His hexis, in His humanity, though not in the divinity. (Really, there was no need to mention the absence of change in the immutable divinity). Cyril gave no hint of this distinction; he just said flatly: His hexis did not change-that of the onlookers did.
We find the same statement almost word for word in Cyril's commentary on Luke:
Almost identical wording also appears in his commentary on John.51
The same thought is expressed, with some vehemence, in his Paschal Letter 17 (Cyril's opening blast against Nestorius): "Do not nonsensically dare to say: Let us apply the words 'to advance...' to the man; for this, I think, is nothing other than to rend the one Christ into two."52
All such Biblical expressions were in accord with the divine oikonomia or adaptation to human requirements: "The law of nature does not allow that a man have more understanding than the age of His body [warrants].... Since then He had to go along with our natural development.... His body gradually grew. He revealed Himself, and day by day He showed Himself wiser to those who saw and heard Him."53 And again, in his Against Nestorius: "How then was He said to advance? [It happened] when the Word of God, as I think, measured out the manifestation of the divine gifts which were in Him, according to the growth and age of His body.... He rebuked even the holy apostles lest they might reveal Him. So, a strange thing, unknown to all, would have been seen...if He, while still an infant, had showed divine wisdom."54 Cyril's use of the word oikonomia will become clearer from a text in the Thesaurus on knowing the day, treated below.
When we turn to Mk 13:32 and try to find statements that humanly He did not know, our search is difficult, for almost all statements are so qualified as to imply no ignorance. We can, however, find a text of the sort we seek by taking one out of context, and quoting only half of a sentence (as certain critics love to): "It is necessary...to marvel at His love of man, by which He was impelled to such lowliness that He endured everything human, including ignorance."55 But here Cyril is presenting the common theme of physical-mystical solidarity in explanation of the redemption: since the humanity of Christ was in solidarity with ours, and since His was in contact with the divinity, that contact as it were spread out and healed our ills. But the sense in which the above statement is to be understood is, of course, to be determined by the whole passage and, indeed, by the whole body of Cyril's thought.
We have already seen that Cyril absolutely excludes growth in wisdom in Jesus, in the common sense of that word. But we need to grasp the full implication of the whole passage from which the half-sentence came:
All the italicized words above express limitations; the net result: no ignorance even in His humanity. For Cyril observes that Jesus merely said He did not know out of oikonomia or adaptation to our condition; then he adds as proof: Jesus did indicate He knew the day by revealing all that would precede it. Jesus uttered those predictions humanly; therefore humanly He knew them. But, according to Cyril, such knowledge necessarily entailed knowledge of the day. Cyril's use of the word oikonomia becomes fully clear in his statement: "Christ acts in oikonomia you see, in saying He does not know [oikonomei...me eidenai] the hour; really, He is not ignorant."56 Here the subject of the sentence is not "the Word", but Christ-a title never used for the Divinity alone.
Confirmation of the above interpretations may be found in many places. Shortly before the passage just cited Cyril writes:
Cyril then describes how Yahweh also asked where Adam was and where Abel was. Similar explanations appear in many other places, e.g., in his works: On Zacharias; On Matthew; Against the Anthropomorphites; Apology against Theodoret of Cyrus; On the true faith to the Augustae, he wrote (respectively):57
The passages we have accumulated show clearly that Cyril means not that Jesus really failed to know even humanly, but that He pretended not to know or acted as though He did not know, because that was fitting for humanity, whose weaknesses He had assumed. It was oikonomia.
To sum up: Both on Lk 2:52 and Mk 13:32 Cyril presents pairs of statements. On Lk 2:52 there are several that clearly seem to speak of growing humanly; on Mk 13:32, close inspection reveals that Cyril almost always qualified things that at first sight might appear to hold for ignorance. On both texts, Cyril makes clear many times over that He rejects any real growth any real ignorance, even on the human side. This is especially clear on Lk 2:52 from the distinction made between the status [hexis] of the onlookers and the hexis of Jesus Himself; and for Mk 13:32, from the fact that Cyril proves Jesus knew the day because He knew the phenomena preceding it. Now Jesus knew and said these things humanly; but for Cyril knowledge of these things necessarily entailed knowledge of the day. Hence, for Cyril, Jesus' knowledge of the day was also human.
These facts rule out completely the hypothesis of Lebreton. The evidence reviewed comes from works both before and after the outbreak of Nestorianism.
St. John Chrysostom. In his Homily on the Prayers of Christ, Chrysostom explains: "Don't you see how there was no ignorance in the Savior in saying, 'Where have you laid him [Lazarus]?' Certainly there was no ignorance in the Father when saying to Adam, 'Where are you' or to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel!'"58 In regard to knowing the day and hour, we find in Homily 77, "'About that day and hour no one knows.' By saying 'not the angels' He blocks His audience from wanting to learn what they [the angels] did not know; by saying 'nor the Son' He forestalls not only learning but even the desire to learn.... He Himself knew the Father clearly, as clearly as He knew the Son. Will He not know the day?"59
The above texts defend the knowledge of Jesus, but they do not that clear if John refers to His human knowledge. However, in his De Consubstantiali contra Anomoeos we find at least a probable answer: "When then you hear Him speaking lowly things, do not think it is in accord with [any] lowness of His nature, but in accord with the weakness of His listeners' understanding."60 John seems to mean we should not think any weakness of nature in Jesus was the reason for the "lowly words"-rather, it is oikonomia.
St. Isidore of Pelusium. In his Epistle 117 we read:
St. Isidore vehemently rejects any charge of ignorance. And he seems to reject ignorance in the humanity, for he, like Cyril and others, argues that since Jesus told of the signs just before the day, He must know the day. But, Jesus told such things in His humanity, and knew them in His humanity. Hence, the argument would have to mean that in His humanity He also knew the day.
3. The Golden Ages Western Writers
St. Hilary of Poitiers. As a result of his exile in the East, we would expect to find Hilary stressing the same approach as the great Greek Fathers whom we have just studied. Our expectation is realized. In his commentary on Psalm 54:2, we find a general statement: "Jesus speaks at times in the person of man, because as man He was born and suffered and died; at times, however, all His speech is according to God, for from being God, He became man, and from being the Son of God, He became the Son of Man."62 This suggests oikonomia but is not decisive. In his commentary on Matthew 23, "He [Jesus] knew the secrets of thoughts (for God does not fail to see any of the things hidden from men)."63 Here Hilary attributes all knowledge to Jesus (though he seems to refer to the divine Person).
Of prime importance are his words about the day in De Trinitate: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in searching hearts...is God, suffers no such infirmity of nature as not to know.... But for Him who knows all, it is sometimes by way of dispensation [same as oikonomia] that He says He does not know."64 Here Hilary clearly distinguishes the divine and human aspects: as God, He searches hearts; as man, "He suffers no such infirmity of nature as not to know." So even humanly Jesus did know; He merely said He did not know, by way of oikonomia. This, of course, is the same as the interpretation given by St. Basil and others.
St. Jerome. In regard to advancing in wisdom, Jerome insists that even as an infant, Jesus possessed divine wisdom. In his commentary on Isaias, Jerome reflects on the prophecy that the Child will eat butter and honey so as to know how to reject evil and choose good. He tells us: "Not that He did this [actually discerned thus as an infant]-rejecting and chosing; but that He knew how to.... Through these words we should learn that infancy of itself does not prejudge [the question about] divine wisdom [being in Him even then]."65 We find a clearer statement in his commentary on Jeremias: "The Lord has created a new thing on earth. Without seed from man, without coition and conception, a woman will surround a man in the bosom of her womb; as time passes he will seem to make progress in wisdom and age, through crying and infancy; but he will be harbored in the woman's womb as a perfect man for the usual number of months."66 Progress, for Jerome, is only in manifestation, not in real growth.
Jerome writes more than once about knowing the day. For instance, in his Tract on Mark: "If there is one God, how is there different knowledge in the one Godhead? If He is God, how does He not know? For it is said about the Savior Lord: 'All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing.' If all things were made through Him, therefore judgment day too.... Can he not know what He has made?"67
This text does not clearly indicate whether Jerome attributed knowledge to the humanity. But in his commentary on Matthew, after proving that Jesus did know since He made all that exists and since He knows the Father and since everything belonging to the Father is given to Him, he adds:
Jerome employs the argument of many Greek Fathers, that since Jesus knew the signs, He also knew the end. As stated above, the argument is not conclusive, in itself, but it does prove Jerome thought that Jesus knew the day humanly. This is confirmed by Jerome's use of the texts from Paul and from Acts cited above.
In a letter to Pope Damasus, Jerome says Jesus as man knew all things: "You ask, why should a just man be left in the dark, and why should be act contrary to his will [referring to Isaac's deception by Jacob]. To this the precise answer is that no man, except Him who deigned to assume flesh for our salvation, enjoyed full knowledge and the certainty of all truth."69 In saying that "no man except Him...had full knowledge," Jerome refers to the human knowledge of Jesus.
St. Ambrose. Ambrose shows the tendency common among the Greek writers of using seemingly opposite pairs. In his De fide ad Gratianum he seems to affirm human ignorance: "for me not knowing the day of judgment, for us not knowing the day and the hour."70 Yet a bit farther on in the same work Ambrose speaks again of the humanity of Jesus: "Jesus is wearied from the journey so that He may refresh those who are wearied; He asks to drink, He who is going to give spiritual drink to the thirsty.... He pretends not to know [the day of the end] so that He may make those who do not know come to know."71 More directly on the day and hour, later in the same work: "The Lord, being inclined with very great love for His disciples, prefers to seem not to know what He did know, when they asked what He judged not good for them to know. And He prefers to provide for our benefit rather than to show His own power." He then observes that some attribute human ignorance to Jesus and comments: "Let others say these things. I however will return to the above.... I prefer to think that the Son who lived with men and acted as man and assumed human flesh, took on our characteristics, so that because of our ignorance, He said He did not know-not that He Himself lacked the information.... There was nothing that the Son of God did not know." Here, clearly, is an instance of feigning for the sale of oikonomia and for the benefit of His disciples, a pattern Ambrose may well have taken from Basil; whom he greatly admired.
The objection has been raised that Ambrose shifted his view from that in his De fide (dating from 378/9) when writing his De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento in 382 A.D.: "How did the Wisdom of God advance? Let the order of the words teach you. It is an advance in age, and an advance in wisdom, human wisdom. Hence the text put the word age first, so that you would understand it was said in reference to the humanity. For age pertains not to divinity but to the body. Therefore if He advanced in age as to humanity, He advanced in wisdom as to humanity."72
The objection cannot hold, first, because we have met several writers who use such seemingly opposite pairs of statements. Ambrose himself, within the De fide, authored seemingly opposite statements (see above, p. 102). Further, in his Exposition on Luke, dating from 386-388 A.D., we find a very blunt statement that almost anticipates the formula of Eulogius and Gregory the Great who, as we shall soon see, said Jesus knew in His humanity but not from His humanity:
St. Augustine. Augustine too, like so many previous writers, is fond of seemingly opposite pairs. In his In Ioannem we find: "According as He is man...'Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace...'"75 Similarly in the Contra Maximinum: "we read that Jesus advanced in age and wisdom...but according to the form of man.... "76
However, in his De peccatorum meritis et remissione, Augustine rules out ignorance, in Jesus, even as man: "In no way could I believe that ignorance could be in that infant in which the Word was made flesh to dwell among us, nor could I suspect in the little Christ, such weakness of soul as that we see in tiny babes."77
Speaking of knowing the day Augustine asserts:
Augustine's exegesis may be strained in attributing to Scriptural sayings the notion of eminent causes; nevertheless, it is clear that Augustine insists that Jesus did know the day. He does not specify if Jesus knew humanly. But in a subsequent passage, in the same work, he is much clearer:
The passage is an allegory: Lazarus stands for ordinary Christians, who are burdened with ignorance and see God only after burial in a tomb. But the humanity of Jesus, insists Augustine, was different-even humanly Jesus saw God before being in the tomb, and was ignorant of nothing. Here Augustine seems clearly to attribute the beatific vision to the human soul of Jesus.
A. M. Durbarle raises an objection because Augustine, farther on in the same work, indulges in yet another allegory. Augustine asks: How can we be inheritors of God, since God cannot diet He answers: "As far as we are concerned, the Father in a certain way dies in a dark manner, not that He dies, but that our imperfect vision of Him is taken away by the perfect vision."80 He continues: "If pious understanding permits, considering our Lord Jesus Christ not as the Word existing in the beginning with God, but simply as a boy who advanced in age and wisdom...we see,...by whose death, as it were, He possesses the inheritance. For we would not be coheirs with Him, were He not an heir. But if piety does not permit this...let the heir be understood as being His body, which is the Church, of which we are coheirs."
We comment: (1) Augustine is preoccupied here with trying to see how we can be coheirs with Christ. His method is purely allegorical, and that permits free floating speculations, and ample ambiguity; (2) Augustine is doubtful of his own speculation, for he gives alternatives, "if piety does not permit" the thought; (3) He seems not to be aware that this speculation would not fit with the passage about Lazarus. Yet, when one begins with two different starting points, it is possible to reach different conclusions, especially when the procedure is allegorical. Augustine proceeds in this manner also on the important problems of grace.81
In spite of objections, the statement which Augustine made Leporius sign (cited below) leaves no doubt that Augustine, and the Council of Carthage with him, considered it erroneous and heretical to hold that Jesus was ignorant even as man.
Leporius was a Pelagian and a Nestorian. When expelled from Gaul, he sought out Augustine, who converted him, and got him to sign the Libellus emendationis, which the Council of Carthage accepted in 418 A.D. He could then return to Gaul: "Then [before my conversion] I said...that our Lord Jesus Christ did not know the day, according to man. But now I not only do not presume to say [that], but I even anathematize such a view; it is not permissible to say that the Lord of the prophets was ignorant even according to man...."82 The Council's acceptance adds further weight to this text.
Vigilius of Thapsus was bishop of Byzacena in Africa, in the fifth century. Of his numerous works there is extant only a dialog against the Arians and a treatise against Eutyches. In the latter we read:
Two comments are in order: first, the declaration of Leporius, approved by the Council of Carthage, did not seem to deter Vigilius; (2) second, the practical necessity of combating Monophysitism would seem ample reason to him to write as he did. This consideration, coupled with the fact that so many earlier writers had ruled out ignorance in the humanity of Jesus yet spoke similarly easily explains the case. We need not then, necessarily, conclude that Vigilius actually meant to attribute ignorance to the humanity of Jesus.
4. Later Patristic Period
St. Fulgentius. It is of special importance to observe how Fulgentius uses seemingly opposed pairs of texts, because of his remarkable teaching on Jesus' self-knowledge of His divinity. Occupied with Arian charges, he wrote in his Ad Trasimundum: "If there was not true flesh in Christ, what did the Virgin conceive in the womb? And, if a soul or intellect human in nature is believed lacking in Christ, what good or evil is He said not to know as an infant?"84 Fulgentius is alluding to Is 7:14-16, which he quotes. For purposes of controversy, Fulgentius, line so many others, is willing to seem to attribute ignorance to the humanity of Jesus. Yet, he does not really mean that, for later in the same passage we read: "So the human soul, which was made capable of reason, is said not to know good and evil in the infant Christ."
However, much clearer is his celebrated statement in Epistle 14,
That is, Fulgentius says the soul of Jesus knew the divinity as fully [quantum] as the divinity knows itself, with the difference, that when God knows Himself, knower and known are both the same God; whereas the soul, as knower, is not God. Now: only a direct vision of God can let a soul know God as fully as God knows Himself. So, at least objectively, the words of Fulgentius imply the beatific vision in Jesus.
Severus of Antioch seems to have had at least some tendency to Monophysitism. According to Cayre, he reduced physis, hypostatis, and prosopon to person, so that Christ did not have a single nature: He is a single nature or person.87 Severus writes in Philalethes; "The Word itself which is the wisdom and power of the Father, was made flesh...and in all things...He had what was perfect, and through increase of bodily age gradually showed the divinity imminent in Him in a manner proportionate [to His age]."88 Hence He always had, in the one nature, all knowledge, but only gradually showed that fact.
Stephen of Hierapolis. A clear statement that Jesus humanly knew the day marking the end comes in his work Against the Agnoites: "So let no one attribute ignorance either to the divinity of Christ, like the Arians, or to His humanity, like the followers of Paul [of Samosata] or Nestorius. For since He is one and the same in person and substance, He has as clear a knowledge of the day and hour as He has of His Father and the lifegiving Spirit, with whom He blesses and makes holy and enlightens every man having come and going to come into the world."89
Pseudo-Leontius. The Greek Patrology attributes the work De sectis to Leontius of Byzantium; however it could hardly be by him (as the clash of theology indicates-which we shall see by comparing this text with one by Leontius himself). After reviewing contrary claims then in circulation, with some saying Jesus did not know the day, for He said so and He was like us in all things, while others said He spoke thus only by way of oikonomia our unknown writer adds:
This testimony, coming from an unknown author, is of no special weight. The fact that Chalcedon did not make a statement on the question merely indicates it had more pressing matters on hand. And the claim that most of the Fathers called Him ignorant hardly stands up in the light of the investigation we are making. Rather, the simplistic statement suggests superficiality and lack of research.
Leontius of Byzantium. From the real Leontius we have a work Against the Nestorians and Eutychians. In it are passages which some think teach that Jesus had the beatific vision: "How will we be imitating God, if we do not suffer with Him who suffered? Did He suffer in some way, but not as we do?.... He was not glorified at all, if He did not receive according to the flesh that which He always possessed according to the spirit."91 Jugie wants to make this mean that Jesus always had the beatific vision; "according to the spirit" means His human soul, but after His Passion, he received glory in His body also.92 Galtier objects that flesh and spirit are not to be taken the way St. Paul uses the terms in Romans, and holds that spirit refers to His divinity, and flesh to His entire humanity, body and soul.93 We consider the passage unclear.
Farther on, Leontius describes how the features of the body of Jesus are the work of the Holy Spirit, but..."as to the sinlessness, the complete holiness, and whole union and fusion with the whole [Word] that assumed; as to the fact that Jesus-is and is called one and Son...-all this was produced by the union of the Word with [our] nature; and inseparable from this union is blessedness, since the union is indissoluble."94 Here Jugie makes "blessedness" (makariotes) mean the beatific vision;95 Galtier cites texts to establish that "blessedness" stands for the blessedness of divinity itself.96 Grumel interprets "blessedness" more loosely to refer to the happy state of possessing such gifts, without specifying whether the gifts include the beatific vision or not.97 The passage remains ambiguous.
Between these two passages, however, another occurs: "Christ's humanity...shared in all the goods of the Word, especially since it had the very source of those goods, the Word; it causes to flow from itself all the things of the Word, thanks to the Word."98 We are not certain whether the beatific vision is included under the "Goods". However, knowledge of the day and exemption from ignorance should, at least, be included if that humanity "shared in all the goods of the Word."
Eulogius. We are indebted to the Bibliotheca of Photius for the thought of Eulogius:
It is abundantly clear that Eulogius denies all ignorance in the humanity of Jesus. Whether or not he means this is as the result of a beatific vision is another consideration. He does speak of that humanity coalescing "into one person with the unapproachable and substantial wisdom."
Photius also reports that Eulogius understood the Fathers as merely employing a tactic against the Arians when they said that humanly Jesus grew, or did not know the day:
Pope St. Gregory the Great. Gregory was quite pleased with the work of Eulogius and praised him in a letter:
Observe how in the first part of the passage cited, Gregory repeats the explanation first proposed by Augustine: Jesus knew, but can be said not to know because he causes others not to know; more important, we find here for the first time a new distinction: Jesus knew in His humanity, but not from His humanity, This seems to mean the same as our modern distinction, in which we ask if a given fact registered on His human consciousness, even if the source of that information was not His human knowledge,
Gregory's final comment, that one is Nestorian if he is Agnoite, remains true, in spite of the change of historical circumstances. For if someone, even apart from our modern framework, claims He did not know the day, etc., his statement necessarily implies objectively the existence of another person, a human person- because the divine Person could not fail to know all things. Really, many modern writers are guilty of a shocking lapse in scholarship. They know these distinctions, yet they act as though they do not when they persist in saying that He, Jesus, did not know.
St. Sophronius writes in his Epistola Synodica to Sergius of Constantinople:
Sophronius vehemently rejects the opinion that even humanly Jesus did not know.
St. Maximus the Confessor explains the problem very well in his Quaestiones et dubia 66,
St. Maximus insists that Jesus knew all things even in His humanity, though not from His humanity-the same explanation as given by Pope St. Gregory the Great. It is only if we imagine Christ's humanity as not united with His divinity that He could be said not to know We note too that Maximus does not explicitly appeal to a beatific vision, but to the transformation arising from the union with the Word.
St. Maximus also repeats the distinction made by St. Gregory Nazianzus and interprets it in the sense just explained: "Whence the famous God bearing teacher [Gregory Nazianzus] in his second discourse about the Son, explained these things about ignorance, distinguishing as if by a rule and pattern: 'Is it not clear to all that He knows as God, but says He does not know as man, if one separates what appears from what is mentally understood?'"104
St. Germanus of Constantinople continues the argument in his Epistle to the Armenians 17. "Even though He was sad, ignorant, and showed repugnance to the Passion, all these things happened to the body with the consent and decision of the Word living in the flesh and because of His will, for the Word, so far as it pleased Him, conceded to the body to act naturally."105 Germanus is not really discussing the knowledge of Christ directly; he is speaking of two wills in Christ, and adds that the divine will was always in control. His mention of ignorance in the body need not mean anything other than similar statements we have seen in previous writers, many of whom couple such comments with other statements and thereby make clear there was no real ignorance in Christ, only an assumed unawareness stemming from the divinely providential oikonomia.
St. John Damascene. In his De fide orthodoxa, John attributes all knowledge to Jesus: "The Lord, not being mere man but also God and knowing all things, did not need to resort to consideration or investigation or deliberation."106 He explicitly attributes knowledge of the future to Christ's humanity:
On the text that Jesus advanced in wisdom, John comments:
St. John Damascene vehemently rejects all ignorance and growth in Jesus. He does not refer to a beatific vision, but speaks of His knowledge as being the inevitable consequence of the hypostatic union and personal identity with the Word.
St. Nicephorus of Constantinople. In his Antirrheticus we read:
Obviously Nicephorus was repeating the same teaching as St. John Damascene.
Venerable Bede is not noted for originality, rather for repeating faithfully the traditional doctrine from the Fathers. So it is of special significance to find what we have come to know as "the seemingly contradictory pairs" in his writings. In his Exposition on Luke we find: "The Lord Jesus Christ, in that He was a boy, that is, in that He had put on the habit of human frailty, had to grow and become strong."110 But focusing upon "wisdom" in his Homily 12, Bede shows this really means only gradual manifestation:
5. Conclusions from the Patristic Evidence
Before the Golden Age of patristic writing there is no consistency on the matter we are treating. Two writers, under the influence of Greek philosophies, reach opposite conclusions: Clement of Alexandria excludes all ignorance, for Stoic reasons; Origen, following Plato, opts for growth, but holds that before His death Jesus was ignorant on one point only, the day and the hour, Justin, in passing, rules out a particular case of ignorance, but does not speak in general; Irenaeus in passing and in controversy, uses ignorance of the day to confound the pride of the Gnostics.
Early during the Golden Age we find Fathers saying Jesus did not know the day, or that He could grow humanly. These statements appear in order to meets errors of Arians and Apollinarists, and are made mostly within the context of opposing pairs by apologists such as Athanasius, Epiphanius, Basil, Amphilochius, Cyril of Alexandria, Ambrose, Augustine and Hilary (Hilary clearly rejects ignorance in Christ's humanity while his complementary statements are not too clear). Only Eustathius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Vigilius of Thapsus speak of human ignorance outside of the pairs. Of these, Eustathius seems to imply oikonomia while Gregory of Nyssa and Vigilius may not really mean to attribute ignorance (by having only one part of the pair). These opposing pairs only seem to be contradictory; both judgements are true, with the proper distinctions. With reference to growth in wisdom, many Fathers, beginning with Athanasius, speak of growth in manifestation instead of actual growth. Beginning with Basil, many speak of feigned ignorance of the day, in the framework of divine oikonomia.
Others, without using pairs, make clear that Jesus knew the day, and could not grow even humanly, e.g., Gregory of Nazianzas, Isidore of Pelusium, Jerome, Leporius, and the Council of Carthage. A few attribute unlimited knowledge to Him, without making clear if they mean even humanly, e.g., Constantine, Chrysostom, and Eusebius; Eusebius may have in mind the beatific vision when discussing the problem.
After the Golden Age only a few sporadic writers attribute ignorance to Jesus even humanly, e.g., the unknown author of De sectis, and perhaps Germanus. Others make fully clear there was no ignorance even humanly, e.g., Fulgentius, Severus, Stephen of Hierapolis, Leontius, Eulogius, Gregory the Great, Sophronius, Maximus, John Damascene, Nicephorus, the Venerable Bede. Fulgentius and Bede retain the use of opposing pairs.
If we set these data against the background of the gradual clarification of revelation, or, what here amounts to the same, if we follow the trajectory of genuine faith, the answer is unmistakable: in the early days there are some bits of confusion and groping, but long before the end of the patristic period the testimony is close to unanimous in favor of rejecting all ignorance in Jesus, even humanly. Patristic tradition certainly votes heavily against ignorance.
We did not say that they spoke of or consciously implied the beatific vision in Jesus. Augustine and Fulgentius do seem to have this in mind; we might perhaps add Leontius of Byzantium and Eusebius of Caesarea. However, it is not at all necessary that they think of or consciously imply that vision in order to exclude all ignorance from the human soul of Jesus. They may simply affirm the fact of knowledge, without being able to explain the how. Some seem to offer a different kind of explanation, especially John Damascene and Maximus the Confessor who attribute Christ's full knowledge to union with the Word.