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Chapter XXVIII.—Texts Explained; Eleventhly, Mark xiii. 32 and Luke ii. 52 Arian explanation of the former text is against the Regula Fidei; and against the context. Our Lord said He was ignorant of the Day, by reason of His human nature. If the Holy Spirit knows the Day, therefore the Son knows; if the Son knows the Father, therefore He knows the Day; if He has all that is the Father’s, therefore knowledge of the Day; if in the Father, He knows the Day in the Father; if He created and upholds all things, He knows when they will cease to be. He knows not as Man, argued from Matt. xxiv. 42. As He asked about Lazarus’s grave, &c., yet knew, so He knows; as S. Paul says, ‘whether in the body I know not,’ &c., yet knew, so He knows. He said He knew not for our profit, that we be not curious (as in Acts i. 7, where on the contrary He did not say He knew not). As the Almighty asks of Adam and of Cain, yet knew, so the Son knows[as God]. Again, He advanced in wisdom also as man, else He made Angels perfect before Himself. He advanced, in that the Godhead was manifested in Him more fully as time went on.

42. These things being so, come let us now examine into ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither the Angels of God, nor the Son 3097 ;’ for being in great ignorance as regards these words, and being stupefied 3098 about them, they think they have in them an important argument for their heresy. But I, when the heretics allege it and prepare themselves with it, see in them the giants 3099 again fighting against God. For the Lord of heaven and earth, by whom all things were made, has to litigate before them about day and hour; and the Word who knows all things is accused by them of ignorance about a day; and the Son who knows the Father is said to be ignorant of an hour of a day; now what can be spoken more contrary to sense, or what madness can be likened to this? Through the Word all things have been made, times and seasons and night and day and the whole creation; and is the Framer of all said to be ignorant of His work? And the very context of the lection shews that the Son of God knows that hour and that day, though the Arians fall headlong in their ignorance. For after saying, ‘nor the Son,’ He relates to the disciples what precedes the day, saying, ‘This and that shall be, and then the end.’ But He who speaks of what precedes the day, knows certainly the day also, which shall be manifested subsequently to the things foretold. But if He had not known the hour, He had not signified the events before it, as not knowing when it should be. And as any one, who, by way of pointing out a house or city to those who were ignorant of it, gave an p. 417 account of what comes before the house or city, and having described all, said, ‘Then immediately comes the city or the house,’ would know of course where the house or the city was (for had he not known, he had not described what comes before lest from ignorance he should throw his hearers far out of the way, or in speaking he should unawares go beyond the object), so the Lord saying what precedes that day and that hour, knows exactly, nor is ignorant, when the hour and the day are at hand.

43. Now why it was that, though He knew, He did not tell His disciples plainly at that time, no one may be curious 3100 where He has been silent; for ‘Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor 3101 ?’ but why, though He knew, He said, ‘no, not the Son knows,’ this I think none of the faithful is ignorant, viz. that He made this as those other declarations as man by reason of the flesh. For this as before is not the Word’s deficiency 3102 , but of that human nature 3103 whose property it is to be ignorant. And this again will be well seen by honestly examining into the occasion, when and to whom the Saviour spoke thus. Not then when the heaven was made by Him, nor when He was with the Father Himself, the Word ‘disposing all things 3104 ,’ nor before He became man did He say it, but when ‘the Word became flesh 3105 .’ On this account it is reasonable to ascribe to His manhood everything which, after He became man, He speaks humanly. For it is proper to the Word to know what was made, nor be ignorant either of the beginning or of the end of these (for the works are His), and He knows how many things He wrought, and the limit of their consistence. And knowing of each the beginning and the end, He knows surely the general and common end of all. Certainly when He says in the Gospel concerning Himself in His human character, ‘Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son 3106 ,’ it is plain that He knows also the hour of the end of all things, as the Word, though as man He is ignorant of it, for ignorance is proper to man 3107 , and especially ignorance of these things. Moreover this is proper to the Saviour’s love of man; for since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant 3108 , to say ‘I know not,’ that He may shew that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to the flesh 3109 . And therefore He said not, ‘no, not the Son of God knows,’ lest the Godhead should seem ignorant, but simply, ‘no, not the Son,’ that the ignorance might be the Son’s as born from among men.

44. On this account, He alludes to the Angels, but He did not go further and say, ‘not the Holy Ghost;’ but He was silent, with a double intimation; first that if the Spirit knew, much more must the Word know, considered as the Word, from whom the Spirit receives 3110 ; and next by His silence about the Spirit, He made it clear, that He said of His human ministry, ‘no, not the Son.’ And a proof of it is this; that, when He had spoken humanly 3111 ‘No, not the Son knows,’ p. 418 He yet shews that divinely He knew all things. For that Son whom He declares not to know the day, Him He declares to know the Father; for ‘No one,’ He says, ‘knoweth the Father save the Son 3112 .’ And all men but the Arians would join in confessing, that He who knows the Father, much more knows the whole of the creation; and in that whole, its end. And if already the day and the hour be determined by the Father, it is plain that through the Son are they determined, and He knows Himself what through Him has been determined 3113 , for there is nothing but has come to be and has been determined through the Son. Therefore He, being the Framer of the universe, knows of what nature, and of what magnitude, and with what limits, the Father has willed it to be made; and in the how much and how far is included its period. And again, if all that is the Father’s, is the Son’s (and this He Himself has 3114 said), and it is the Father’s attribute to know the day, it is plain that the Son too knows it, having this proper to Him from the Father. And again, if the Son be in the Father and the Father in the Son, and the Father knows the day and the hour, it is clear that the Son, being in the Father and knowing the things of the Father, knows Himself also the day and the hour. And if the Son is also the Father’s Very Image, and the Father knows the day and the hour, it is plain that the Son has this likeness 3115 also to the Father of knowing them. And it is not wonderful if He, through whom all things were made, and in whom the universe consists, Himself knows what has been brought to be, and when the end will be of each and of all together; rather is it wonderful that this audacity, suitable as it is to the madness of the Ario-maniacs, should have forced us to have recourse to so long a defence. For ranking the Son of God, the Eternal Word, among things originate, they are not far from venturing to maintain that the Father Himself is second to the creation; for if He who knows the Father knows not the day nor the hour, I fear lest the knowledge of the creation, or rather of the lower portion of it, be greater, as they in their madness would say, than knowledge concerning the Father.

45. But for them, when they thus blaspheme the Spirit, they must expect no remission ever of such irreligion, as the Lord has said 3116 ; but let us, who love Christ and bear Christ within us, know that the Word, not as ignorant, considered as Word, has said ‘I know not,’ for He knows, but as shewing His manhood 3117 , in that to be ignorant is proper to man, and that He had put on flesh that was ignorant 3118 , being in which, He said according to the flesh, ‘I know not.’ And for this reason, after saying, ‘No not the Son knows,’ and mentioning the ignorance of the men in Noah’s day, immediately He added, ‘Watch therefore, for ye know not in what hour your Lord doth come,’ and again, ‘In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh 3119 .’ For I too, having become as you for you, said ‘no, not the Son.’ For, had He been ignorant divinely, He must have said, ‘Watch therefore, for I know not,’ and, ‘In an hour when I think not;’ but in fact this hath He not said; but by saying ‘Ye know not’ and ‘When ye think not,’ He has signified that it belongs to man to be ignorant; for whose sake He too having a flesh like theirs and having become man, said ‘No, not the Son knows,’ for He knew not in flesh, though knowing as Word. And again the p. 419 example from Noah exposes the shamelessness of Christ’s enemies; for there too He said not, ‘I knew not,’ but ‘They knew not until the flood came 3120 .’ For men did not know, but He who brought the flood (and it was the Saviour Himself) knew the day and the hour in which He opened the cataracts of heaven and broke up the great deep, and said to Noah, ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark 3121 .’ For were He ignorant, He had not foretold to Noah, ‘Yet seven days and I will bring a flood upon the earth.’ But if in describing the day He makes use of the parallel of Noah’s time, and He did know the day of the flood, therefore He knows also the day of His own coming.

46. Moreover, after narrating the parable of the Virgins, again He shews more clearly who they are who are ignorant of the day and the hour, saying, ‘Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour 3122 .’ He who said shortly before, ‘No one knoweth, no not the Son,’ now says not ‘I know not,’ but ‘ye know not.’ In like manner then, when His disciples asked about the end, suitably said He then, ‘no, nor the Son,’ according to the flesh because of the body; that He might shew that, as man, He knows not; for ignorance is proper to man 3123 . If however He is the Word, if it is He who is to come, He to be Judge, He to be the Bridegroom, He knoweth when and in what hour He cometh, and when He is to say, ‘Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light 3124 .’ For as, on becoming man, He hungers and thirsts and suffers with men, so with men as man He knows not; though divinely, being in the Father Word and Wisdom, He knows, and there is nothing which He knows not. In like manner also about Lazarus 3125 He asks humanly, who was on His way to raise him, and knew whence He should recall Lazarus’s soul; and it was a greater thing to know where the soul was, than to know where the body lay; but He asked humanly, that He might raise divinely. So too He asks of the disciples, on coming into the parts of Cæsarea, though knowing even before Peter made answer. For if the Father revealed to Peter the answer to the Lord’s question, it is plain that through the Son 3126 was the revelation, for ‘No one knoweth the Son,’ saith He, ‘save the Father, neither the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him 3127 .’ But if through the Son is revealed the knowledge both of the Father and the Son, there is no room for doubting that the Lord who asked, having first revealed it to Peter from the Father, next asked humanly; in order to shew, that asking after the flesh, He knew divinely what Peter was about to say. The Son then knew, as knowing all things, and knowing His own Father, than which knowledge nothing can be greater or more perfect.

47. This is sufficient to confute them; but to shew still further that they are hostile to the truth and Christ’s enemies, I could wish to ask them a question. The Apostle in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians writes, ‘I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know; God knoweth 3128 .’ What now say ye? Knew the Apostle what had happened to him in the vision, though he says ‘I know not,’ or knew he not? If he knew not, see to it, lest, being familiar with error, ye err in the trespass 3129 of the Phrygians 3130 , who say that the Prophets and the other ministers of the Word know neither what they do nor concerning what they announce. But if he knew when he said ‘I know not,’ for he had Christ within him revealing to him all things, is not the heart of God’s enemies indeed perverted and ‘self-condemned?’ for when the Apostle says, ‘I know not,’ they say that he knows; but when the Lord says, ‘I know not,’ they say that He does not know. For if since Christ was within him, Paul knew that of which he says, ‘I know not,’ does not much more Christ Himself know, though He say, ‘I know not?’ The Apostle then, the Lord revealing it to him, knew what happened to him; for on this account he says, ‘I knew a man in Christ;’ and knowing the man, he knew also how the man was caught away. Thus Elisha, who beheld Elijah, knew p. 420 also how he was taken up; but though knowing, yet when the sons of the Prophets thought that Elijah was cast upon one of the mountains by the Spirit, he knowing from the first what he had seen, tried to persuade them; but when they urged it, he was silent, and suffered them to go after him. Did he then not know, because he was silent? he knew indeed, but as if not knowing, he suffered them, that they being convinced, might no more doubt about the taking up of Elijah. Therefore much more Paul, himself being the person caught away, knew also how he was caught; for Elijah knew; and had any one asked, he would have said how. And yet Paul says ‘I know not,’ for these two reasons, as I think at least; one, as he has said himself, lest because of the abundance of the revelations any one should think of him beyond what he saw; the other, because, our Saviour having said ‘I know not,’ it became him also to say ‘I know not,’ lest the servant should appear above his Lord, and the disciple above his Master.

48. Therefore He who gave to Paul to know, much rather knew Himself; for since He spoke of the antecedents of the day, He also knew, as I said before, when the Day and when the Hour, and yet though knowing, He says, ‘No, not the Son knoweth.’ Why then said He at that time ‘I know not,’ what He as Lord 3131 , knew? as we may by searching conjecture, for our profit 3132 , as I think at least, did He this; and may He grant to what we are now proposing a true meaning! On both sides did the Saviour secure our advantage; for He has made known what comes before the end, that, as He said Himself, we might not be startled nor scared, when they happen, but from them may expect the end after them. And concerning the day and the hour He was not willing to say according to His divine nature, ‘I know,’ but after the flesh, ‘I know not,’ for the sake of the flesh which was ignorant 3133 , as I have said before; lest they should ask Him further, and then either He should have to pain the disciples by not speaking, or by speaking might act to the prejudice of them and us all. For whatever He does, that altogether He does for our sakes, since also for us ‘the Word became flesh.’ For us therefore He said ‘No, not the Son knoweth;’ and neither was He untrue in thus saying (for He said humanly, as man, ‘I know not’), nor did He suffer the disciples to force Him to speak, for by saying ‘I know not’ He stopped their inquiries. And so in the Acts of the Apostles it is written, when He went upon the Angels, ascending as man, and carrying up to heaven the flesh which He bore, on the disciples seeing this, and again asking, ‘When shall the end be, and when wilt Thou be present?’ He said to them more clearly, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power 3134 .’ And He did not then say, ‘No, not the Son,’ as He said before humanly, but, ‘It is not for you to know.’ For now the flesh had risen and put off its mortality and been deified; and no longer did it become Him to answer after the flesh when He was going into the heavens; but henceforth to teach after a divine manner, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father hath put in His own power; but ye shall receive Power 3135 .’ And what is that Power of the Father but the Son? for Christ is ‘God’s Power and God’s Wisdom.’

49. The Son then did know, as being the Word; for He implied this in what He said,—‘I know but it is not for you to know;’ for it was for your sakes that sitting also on the mount I said according to the flesh, ‘No, not the Son knoweth,’ for the profit of you and all. For it is profitable to you to hear so much both of the Angels and of the Son, because of the deceivers which shall be afterwards; that though demons should be transfigured as Angels, and should attempt to speak concerning the end, you should not believe, since they are ignorant; and that, if Antichrist too, disguising himself, should say, ‘I am Christ,’ and should try in his turn to speak of that day and end, to deceive the hearers, ye, having these words from Me, ‘No, not the Son,’ may disbelieve him also. And further, not to know when the end is, or when the day of the end, is expedient for man, lest knowing, they might become negligent of the time between, awaiting the days near the end; for they will argue that then only must they attend to themselves 3136 . Therefore also has He been silent of the time when each shall die, lest men, being elated on the ground of knowledge, should forthwith neglect themselves for the greater part of their time. Both then, the end of all things and the limit of each of us hath the Word concealed from us (for in the end of all is the end of each, and in the end of each the end of all is comprehended), that, whereas it is uncertain and p. 421 always in prospect, we may advance day by day as if summoned, reaching forward to the things before us and forgetting the things behind 3137 . For who, knowing the day of the end, would not be dilatory with the interval? but, if ignorant, would not be ready day by day? It was on this account that the Saviour added, ‘Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come;’ and, ‘In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh 3138 .’ For the advantage then which comes of ignorance has He said this; for in saying it, He wishes that we should always be prepared; ‘for you,’ He says, ‘know not; but I, the Lord, know when I come, though the Arians do not wait for Me, who am the Word of the Father.’

50. The Lord then, knowing what is good for us beyond ourselves, thus secured the disciples; and they, being thus taught, set right those of Thessalonica 3139 when likely on this point to run into error. However, since Christ’s enemies do not yield even to these considerations, I wish, though knowing that they have a heart harder than Pharaoh, to ask them again concerning this. In Paradise God asks, ‘Adam, where art Thou 3140 ’ and He inquires of Cain also, ‘Where is Abel thy brother 3141 ?’ What then say you to this? for if you think Him ignorant and therefore to have asked, you are already of the party of the Manichees, for this is their bold thought; but if, fearing the open name, ye force yourselves to say, that He asks knowing, what is there extravagant or strange in the doctrine, that ye should thus fall, on finding that the Son, in whom God then inquired, that same Son who now is clad in flesh, inquires of the disciples as man? unless forsooth, having become Manichees, you are willing to blame 3142 the question then put to Adam and all that you may give full play 3143 to your perverseness. For being exposed on all sides, you still make a whispering 3144 from the words of Luke, which are rightly said, but ill understood by you. And what this is, we must state, that so also their corrupt 3145 meaning may be shewn.

51. Now Luke says, ‘And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in grace with God and man 3146 .’ This then is the passage, and since they stumble in it, we are compelled to ask them, like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, of the person concerning whom Luke speaks. And the case stands thus. Is Jesus Christ man, as all other men, or is He God bearing flesh? If then He is an ordinary 3147 man as the rest, then let Him, as a man, advance; this however is the sentiment of the Samosatene, which virtually indeed you entertain also, though in name you deny it because of men. But if He be God bearing flesh, as He truly is, and ‘the Word became flesh,’ and being God descended upon earth, what advance had He who existed equal to God? or how had the Son increase, being ever in the Father? For if He who was ever in the Father, advanced, what, I ask, is there beyond the Father from which His advance might be made? Next it is suitable here to repeat what was said upon the point of His receiving and being glorified. If He advanced 3148 when He became man, it is plain that, before He became man, He was imperfect; and rather the flesh became to Him a cause of perfection, than He to the flesh. And again, if, as being the Word, He advances, what has He more to become than Word and Wisdom and Son and God’s Power? For the Word is all these, of which if one can anyhow partake as it were one ray, such a man becomes all perfect among men, and equal to Angels. For Angels, and Archangels, and Dominions, and all the Powers, and Thrones, as partaking the Word, behold always the face of His Father. How then does He who to others supplies perfection, Himself advance later than they? For Angels even ministered to His human birth, and the passage from Luke comes later than the ministration of the Angels. How then at all can it even come into thought of man? or how did Wisdom advance in wisdom? or how did He who to others gives grace (as Paul says in every Epistle, knowing that through Him grace is given, ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all’), how did He advance in grace? for either let them say that the Apostle is untrue, and presume to say that the Son is not Wisdom, or else if He is Wisdom as Solomon said, and if Paul wrote, ‘Christ God’s Power and God’s Wisdom,’ of what advance did Wisdom admit further?

52. For men, creatures as they are, are p. 422 capable in a certain way of reaching forward and advancing in virtue 3149 . Enoch, for instance, was thus translated, and Moses increased and was perfected; and Isaac ‘by advancing became great 3150 ;’ and the Apostle said that he ‘reached forth 3151 ’ day by day to what was before him. For each had room for advancing, looking to the step before him. But the Son of God, who is One and Only, what room had He for reaching forward? for all things advance by looking at Him; and He, being One and Only, is in the Only Father, from whom again He does not reach forward, but in Him abideth ever 3152 . To men then belongs advance; but the Son of God, since He could not advance, being perfect in the Father, humbled Himself for us, that in His humbling we on the other hand might be able to increase. And our increase is no other than the renouncing things sensible, and coming to the Word Himself; since His humbling is nothing else than His taking our flesh. It was not then the Word, considered as the Word, who advanced; who is perfect from the perfect Father 3153 , who needs nothing, nay brings forward others to an advance; but humanly is He here also said to advance, since advance belongs to man 3154 . Hence the Evangelist, speaking with cautious exactness 3155 , has mentioned stature in the advance; but being Word and God He is not measured by stature, which belongs to bodies. Of the body then is the advance; for, it advancing, in it advanced also the manifestation 3156 of the Godhead to those who saw it. And, as the Godhead was more and more revealed, by so much more did His grace as man increase before all men. For as a child He was carried to the Temple; and when He became a boy, He remained there, and questioned the priests about the Law. And by degrees His body increasing, and the Word manifesting Himself 3157 in it, He is confessed henceforth by Peter first, then also by all, ‘Truly this is the Son of God 3158 ;’ however wilfully the Jews, both the ancient and these modern 3159 , shut fast their eyes, lest they see that to advance in wisdom is not the advance of Wisdom Itself, but rather the manhood’s advance in It. For ‘Jesus advanced in wisdom and grace;’ and, if we may speak what is explanatory as well as true, He advanced in Himself; for ‘Wisdom builded herself an house,’ and in herself she gave the house advancement.

53. (What moreover is this advance that is spoken of, but, as I said before, the deifying and grace imparted from Wisdom to men, sin being obliterated in them and their inward corruption, according to their likeness and relationship to the flesh of the Word?) For thus, the body increasing in stature, there developed in it the manifestation of the Godhead also, and to all was it displayed that the body was God’s Temple 3160 , and that God was in the body. And if they urge, that ‘The Word become flesh’ is called Jesus, and refer to Him the term ‘advanced,’ they must be told that neither does this impair 3161 the Father’s Light 3162 , which is the Son, but that it still shews that the Word has become man, and bore true flesh. And as we said 3163 that He suffered in the flesh, and hungered in the flesh, and was fatigued in the flesh, so also reasonably may He be said to have advanced in the flesh; for neither did the advance, such as we have described it, take place with the Word external to the flesh, for in Him was the flesh which advanced and His is it called, and that as before, that man’s advance might abide 3164 and fail not, because of the Word which is with it. Neither then was the advance the Word’s, nor was the flesh Wisdom, but the flesh became the body of Wisdom 3165 . Therefore, as we have already said, not Wisdom, as Wisdom, advanced in respect of Itself; but the manhood advanced in Wisdom, transcending by degrees human nature, and being deified, and becoming and appearing to all as the organ 3166 of Wisdom for the operation and the shining forth 3167 of the Godhead. Wherefore neither said he, ‘The Word advanced,’ but Jesus, by which Name the Lord was called when He became man; so that the advance is of the human nature in such wise as we explained above.



Mark xiii. 32. S. Basil takes the words οὐδ᾽ ὁ υἱ& 231·ς, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ, to mean, ‘nor does the Son know, except the Father knows,’ or ‘nor would the Son but for, &c.’ or ‘nor does the Son know, except as the Father knows.’ ‘The cause of the Son’s knowing is from the Father.’ Ep. 236, 2. S. Gregory alludes to the same interpretation, οὐδ᾽ ὁ υἱ& 232·ς ἢ ὡς ὅτι ὁ πατήρ. ‘Since the Father knows, therefore the Son.’ Naz. Orat. 30, 16. S. Irenæus seems to adopt the same when he says, ‘The Son was not ashamed to refer the knowledge of that day to the Father;’ Hær. ii. 28, n. 6. as Naz, supr. uses the words πὶ τὴν αἰτίαν ἀναφερέσθω. And so Photius distinctly, εἰς ἀρχὴν ἀναφέρεται. ‘Not the Son, but the Father, that is, whence knowledge comes to the Son as from a fountain.’ Epp. p. 342. ed. 1651.


σκοτοδινιῶντες, de Decr. §18 init.; Or. ii. 40, n. 5.


γίγαντας θεομαχοῦντας, ii. 32, n. 4.


Cf. §18, n. 3.


Rom. xi. 34.


Or. i. 45.


Cf. ii. 45, n. 2.


Prov. viii. 27, LXX.


John i. 14.


John 17.1.


Though our Lord, as having two natures, had a human as well as a divine knowledge, and though that human knowledge was not only limited because human, but liable to ignorance in matters in which greater knowledge was possible; yet it is the doctrine of the [later] Church, that in fact He was not ignorant even in His human nature, according to its capacity, since it was from the first taken out of its original and natural condition, and ‘deified’ by its union with the Word. As then (supr. ii. 45, note 1) His manhood was created, yet He may not be called a creature even in His manhood, and as (supr. ii. 14, note 5) His flesh was in its abstract nature a servant, yet He is not a servant in fact, even as regards the flesh; so, though He took on Him a soul which left to itself had been partially ignorant, as other human souls, yet as ever enjoying the beatific vision from its oneness with the Word, it never was ignorant really, but knew all things which human soul can know. vid. Eulog. ap. Phot. 230. p. 884. As Pope Gregory expresses it, ‘Novit in natura, non ex natura humanitatis.’ Epp. x. 39. However, this view of the sacred subject was received by the Church only after S. Athanasius’s day, and it cannot be denied that others of the most eminent Fathers seem to impute ignorance to our Lord as man, as Athan. in this passage. Of course it is not meant that our Lord’s soul has the same perfect knowledge as He has as God. This was the assertion of a General of the Hermits of S. Austin at the time of the Council of Basel, when the proposition was formally condemned, animam Christi Deum videre tam clare et intense quam clare et intense Deus videt seipsum. vid. Berti Opp. t. 3. p. 42. Yet Fulgentius had said, ‘I think that in no respect was full knowledge of the Godhead wanting to that Soul, whose Person is one with the Word: whom Wisdom so assumed that it is itself that same Wisdom.’ ad Ferrand. iii. p. 223. ed. 1639. Yet, ad Trasmund. i. 7. he speaks of ignorance attaching to our Lord’s human nature.


Cf. §48.


And so Athan. ad Serap. ii. 9. S. Basil on the question being asked him by S. Amphilochius, says that he shall give him the answer he had ‘heard from a boy from the fathers,’ but which was more fitted for pious Christians than for cavillers, and that is, that ‘our Lord says many things to men in His human aspect; as “Give me to drink,”…yet He who asked was not flesh without a soul, but Godhead using flesh which had one.’ Ep. 236, 1. He goes on to suggest another explanation which has been mentioned §42, note 1. Cf. Cyril Trin. pp. 623, 4. vid. also Thes. p. 220. ‘As he submitted as man to hunger and thirst, so.…to be ignorant.” p. 221. vid. also Greg. Naz. Orat. 30, 15. Theodoret expresses the same opinion very strongly, speaking of a gradual revelation to the manhood from the Godhead, but in an argument where it was to his point to do so; in Anath. 4. t. v. p. 23. ed. Schulze. Theodore of Mopsuestia also speaks of a revelation made by the Word. ap. Leont. c. Nest (Canis. i. p. 579.)


Or. i. 47; Serap. i. 20 fin.


Leporius, in his Retractation, which S. Augustine subscribed, writes, ‘That I may in this respect also leave nothing to be cause of suspicion to any one, I then said, nay I answered when it was put to me, that our Lord Jesus Christ was ignorant as He was man, (secundum hominem). But now not only do I not presume to say so, but I even anathematize my former opinion expressed on this point,’ ap. Sirm. t. i. p. 210. A subdivision also of the Eutychians were called by the name of Agnoetæ from their holding that our Lord was ignorant of the day of judgment. ‘They said,’ says Leontius, ‘that He was ignorant of it, as we say that He underwent toil.’ de Sect. 5. circ. fin. Felix of Urgela held the same doctrine according to Agobard’s testimony, see §46, n. 2. Montfaucon observes on the text, that the assertion of our Lord’s ignorance ‘seems to have been condemned in no one in ancient times, unless joined to other error.’ And Petavius, after drawing out the authorities for and against it, says, ‘Of these two opinions, the latter, which is now received both by custom and by the agreement of divines, is deservedly preferred to the former. For it is more agreeable to Christ’s dignity, and more befitting His character and office of Mediator and Head, that is, Fountain of all grace and wisdom, and moreover of Judge, who is concerned in knowing the time fixed for exercising that function. In consequence, the former opinion, though formerly it received the countenance of some men of high eminence, was afterwards marked as a heresy.’ Incarn. xi. 1. §15.


Mat. xi. 27.


Or. ii. 41, iii. 9, 46.


John xvi. 15.


Basil. Ep. 236, 1. Cyril. Thes. p. 220. Ambros. de fid. v. 197. Hence the force of the word ‘living’ commonly joined to such words as εἴκων, σφραγίς, βουλή, ἐνέργεια, when speaking of our Lord, e.g. Naz. Orat. 30, 20, c. Vid. §63, fin. note.


Or. i. 50, n. 7.


It is a question to be decided, whether our Lord speaks of actual ignorance in His human Mind, or of the natural ignorance of that Mind considered as human; ignorance in or ex natura; or, which comes to the same thing, whether He spoke of a real ignorance, or of an economical or professed ignorance, in a certain view of His incarnation or office, as when He asked, ‘How many loaves have ye?’ when ‘He Himself knew what He would do,’ or as He is called sin, though sinless. Thus it has been noticed, supr. ii. 55, n. 7, that Ath. seems to make His infirmities altogether only imputative, not real, as if shewing that the subject had not in his day been thoroughly worked out. In like manner S. Hilary, who, if the passage be genuine, states so clearly our Lord’s ignorance, de Trin. ix. fin. yet, as Petavius observes, seems elsewhere to deny to Him those very affections of the flesh to which he has there paralleled it. And this view of Athan.’s meaning is favoured by the turn of his expressions. He says such a defect belongs to ‘that human nature whose property it is to be ignorant;’ §43. that ‘since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant, to say, “I know not;”’ ibid. and, as here, that ‘as shewing His manhood, in that to be ignorant is proper to man, and that He had put on a flesh that was ignorant, being in which, He said according to the flesh, “I know not;”’ ‘that He might shew that as man He knows not;’ §46. that ‘as man’ (i.e. on the ground of being man, not in the capacity of man), ‘He knows not;’ ibid. and that, ‘He asks about Lazarus humanly,’ even when ‘He was on His way to raise him,’ which implied surely knowledge in His human nature. The reference to the parallel of S. Paul’s professed ignorance when he really knew, §47. leads us to the same suspicion. And so ‘for our profit as I think, did He this.’ §§48–50. The natural want of precision on such questions in the early ages was shewn or fostered by such words as οἰκονομικῶς, which, in respect of this very text, is used by S. Basil to denote both our Lord’s Incarnation, Ep. 236, 1 fin. and His gracious accommodation of Himself and His truth, Ep. 8, 6. and with the like variety of meaning, with reference to the same text, by Cyril. Trin. p. 623. and Thesaur. p. 224. (And the word dispensatio in like manner, Ben. note on Hil. x. 8.) In the latter Ep. S. Basil suggests that our Lord ‘economizes by a feigned ignorance.’ §6. And S. Cyril. Thesaur. p. 224. And even in de Trin. vi. he seems to recognise the distinction laid down just now between the natural and actual state of our Lord’s humanity; and so Hilary, Trin. ix. 62. And he gives reasons why He professed ignorance, n. 67. viz. as S. Austin words it, Christum se dixisse nescientem, in quo alios facit occultando nescientes. Ep. 180, 3. S. Austin follows him, saying, Hoc nescit quod nescienter facit. Trin. i. 23. Pope Gregory says that the text ‘is most certainly to be referred to the Son not as He is Head, but as to His body which we are.’ Ep x. 39. And S. Ambrose de fid. v. 222. And so Cæsarius, Qu. 20. and Photius Epp. p. 366. Chrysost. in Matt. Hom. 77, 3. Theodoret, however, but in controversy, is very severe on the principle of Economy. ‘If He knew the day, and wishing to conceal it, said He was ignorant, see what a blasphemy is the result. Truth tells an untruth.’ l. c, pp. 23, 4.




Matt. 24:42, 44.


Matt. xxiv. 39.


Gen. vii. 1.


Matt. xxv. 13.


The mode in which Athan. here expresses himself, is as if he did not ascribe ignorance literally, but apparent ignorance, to our Lord’s soul, vid. supr. 45. n. 2; not certainly in the broad sense in which heretics have done so. As Leontius, e.g. reports of Theodore of Mopsuestia, that he considered Christ ‘to be ignorant so far, as not to know, when He was tempted, who tempted Him;’ contr. Nest. iii. (Canis. t. i. p. 579.) and Agobard of Felix the Adoptionist that he held ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh truly to have been ignorant of the sepulchre of Lazarus, when He said to his sisters, ‘Where have ye laid him?’ and was truly ignorant of the day of judgment; and was truly ignorant what the two disciples were saying, as they walked by the way, of what had been done at Jerusalem; and was truly ignorant whether He was more loved by Peter than by the other disciples, when He said, ‘Simon Peter, Lovest thou Me more than these?’ B. P. t. 9. p. 1177. [Cf. Prolegg. ch. iv. §5.]


Eph. v. 14.




Cf. 44, n. 4.


Luke x. 22.


2 Cor. xii. 2. S. Augustine understands the passage differently, i.e. that S. Paul really did not know whether or not he was in the body. Gen. ad lit. xii. 14.


παρανομίαν, §2, n. 5.


Cf. Jerome, ‘He speaks not in ecstasy, as Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla rave;’ Præf. in Naum. In like manner Tertullian speaks of ‘amentia, as the spiritalis vis qua constat prophetia;’ de Anim. 21. Cf. Eusebius, Hist. v. 16. Epiphanius too, noticing the failure of Maximilla’s prophecies, says, ‘Whatever the prophets have said, they spoke with understanding, following the sense.’ Hær. 48. p. 403. In the de Syn. 4. Athan. speaks of the Montanists as making a fresh beginning of Christianity; i.e. they were the first heretics who professed to prophesy and to introduce a new or additional revelation.


δεσποτὴς, §56, 6.


This expression, which repeatedly occurs in this and the following sections, surely implies that there was something economical in our Lord’s profession of ignorance. He said with a purpose, not as a mere plain fact or doctrine. [But see Prolegg. ch. iv. §5.]


43, n. 9; 45, n. 3.


Acts i. 7.


Vid. Basil. Ep. 8, 6. Cyril. Thes. p. 222. Ambros. de fid. v. 212. Chrysost. and Hieron. in loc. Matt.


Vid. Hilar. in Matt. Comment. 26, 4; de Trin. ix. 67; Ambros. de Fid. v. c. 17. Isidor. Pelus. Epp. i. 117. Chrysost. in Matt. Hom. 77, 2 and 3.


Vid. Phil. iii. 13.


Matt. xxiv. 42; Luke xii. 40.


Vid. 2 Thess. 2:1, 2.


Gen. iii. 9; iv. 9. This seems taken from Origen, in Matt. t. 10. §14. vid. also Pope Gregory and Chrysost. infr.


S. Chrysostom, S. Ambrose, and Pope Gregory, in addition to the instances in the text, refer to ‘I will go down now, and see whether they have done, &c., and if not, I will know.Gen. xviii. 21. ‘The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, &c.’ Gen. xi. 5. ‘God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see, &c.’ Ps. liii. 3. ‘It may be they will reverence My Son.’ Matt. xxi. 37; Luke xx. 13. ‘Seeing a fig-tree afar off, having leaves, He came, if haply He might find, &c.’ Mark xi. 13. ‘Simon, lovest thou Me?’ John xxi. 15. vid. Ambros. de Fid. v. c. 17. Chrys. in Matt. Hom. 77, 3. Greg. Epp. x. 39. Vid. also the instances, supr. §37. Other passages may be added, such as Gen. xxii. 12. vid. Berti Opp. t. 3. p. 42. But the difficulty of the passage lies in its signifying that there is a sense in which the Father knows what the Son knows not.


Or. i. 8, n. 2.


νεανιεύησθε, vid. Decr. 18 init. de Fug. 4. b.


τονθορύζετε, vid. Decr. 16.


διεφθαρμένη, §58 fin.


Luke ii. 52.


§32, n. 7.


De Syn. 24, n. 9, vid. supr. §39; Orat. iv. 11.


It is the doctrine of the [medieval and modern] Church that Christ, as man, was perfect in knowledge from the first, as if ignorance were hardly separable from sin, and were the direct consequence or accompaniment of original sin. Cf. Aug. de Pecc. Mer. ii. 48. As to the limits of Christ’s perfect knowledge as man, Petavius observes, that we must consider ‘that the soul of Christ knew all things that are or ever will be or ever have been, but not what are only in posse, not in fact.’ Incarn. xi. 3, 6.


Vid. Gen. xxvi. 13.


Phil. iii. 13.


§4, n. 10.


Or. ii. 36, n. 4.


Vid. Serm. Maj. de Fid. 18.


Or. ii. 12, n. 4.


§31, n. 10.


It is remarkable, considering the tone of his statements in the present chapter, that here and in what follows Athan. should resolve our Lord’s advance in wisdom merely to its gradual manifestation through the flesh [but he says expressly ‘the Manhood advanced in wisdom!’] and it increases the proof that his statements are not to be taken in the letter, and as if fully brought out and settled. Naz. says the same, Ep. ad Cled. 101. p. 86. which is the more remarkable since he is chiefly writing against the Apollinarians, who considered a φανέρωσις the great end of our Lord’s coming; and Cyril. c. Nest. iii. p. 87. Theod. Hor. v. 13. On the other hand, S. Epiphanius speaks of Him as growing in wisdom as man. Hær. 77. p. 1019–24. and S. Ambrose, Incarn. 71–14. Vid. however Ambr. de fid. as quoted supr. §45, n. 2.


Matt. xvi. 16; xxvii. 54.


Or. ii. 1, n. 6.


Or. ii. 10, n. 7; iii. 58.


i. 45.


iii. 16, n. 8.




ii. 69, n. 3.


§31, n. 12.


31, n. 10.


Or. ii. 52, n. 6.

Next: Texts Explained; Twelfthly, Matthew xxvi. 39; John xii. 27, &c. Arian inferences are against the Regula Fidei, as before. He wept and the like, as man. Other texts prove Him God. God could not fear. He feared because His flesh feared.