How can a person approach omniscience

1 The problem

reading room

True man AND true God
(Do you have to think of Jesus as a split personality?)

Author:Wandinger Nikolaus
Abstract:How can one say that Jesus was and is a true man and at the same time true God? This has preoccupied the Church for several centuries. In the 20th century the question arose again: how can one imagine this without making Jesus into a split personality? In this contribution I would like to briefly present the state of official church teaching and the most important theologians of the tradition; after that I want to take a quick look at the New Testament to see if it helps solve our problem; and as a third step I would like to introduce the considerations that two great theologians of the 20th century have made about our problem.
Published in:Breitsching, Konrad / Panhofer, Johannes (ed.): Jesus. Lectures of the seventh Innsbruck Theological Summer Days 2006 (theological trends 16). Innsbruck 2007, 85-118.



Those who are socialized in a Christian way have learned: Jesus Christ is true man and true God. But if someone were to ask what exactly that means and how it is compatible with one another, then most Christians would certainly not know what to answer. And that's no shame. It took the church almost seven centuries to find authoritative language about Jesus, and ever since theologians have been busy explaining what it actually means. It becomes particularly difficult when we consider what the mental inner life of Jesus could have been like, i.e. how he thought, wanted and knew.


God is - (not only) according to Christian belief - among other things, omniscient; a person, on the other hand, has only limited knowledge. Can one imagine a child in the manger who not only knows his own death on the cross, but also the entire history of the world? Up to our time, people have imagined the Child Jesus this way [1] and there are also statements from the teaching office that can be understood in this way. [2] For a long time, therefore, the child Jesus was often depicted with the face of an old man in art: divine omniscience was expressed in this way. But can such a child rightly be called a human baby?


Today many people like another image of Jesus, one that Jesus understands as completely normal people like you and me. But can one rightly call a person with limited knowledge a true God? To err is human. But if Jesus had been wrong, could he still be God's self-revelation? Could we still rely on him to be the savior of the world?


In any case, God cannot be wrong. So if one wants to hold onto the true divinity of Jesus on the one hand, it seems that we have to ascribe to him omniscience and inability to error. But if one wants to hold onto the humanity of Jesus, it seems we have to admit that Jesus did not always know everything and could also be wrong. Both seem impossible at the same time - except in a split personality. But that doesn't solve the problem, it just got bigger. Such a Jesus would be a case for psychiatry (where some people would probably also like to put him). Christian theology must find a better solution to this problem so that the teaching of Jesus Christ as a true man and true God remains credible.


In this contribution I would like to briefly present the state of official church teaching and the most important theologians of the tradition; after that I want to take a quick look at the New Testament to see if it helps solve our problem; and as a third step I would like to introduce the considerations that two great theologians of the 20th century have made about our problem.


2.1 The dogma


As mentioned, the Church's teaching about Christ has developed over almost seven centuries in a very complicated, dramatic and sometimes violent process. We cannot give its details here. It may suffice to present the results of the process and some theological highlights. [3]


According to the teaching of the great Christological councils - which incidentally are recognized by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants alike - the second person of the Trinity, the divine Logos, assumed human nature, so that the resulting Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human. This means that a hybrid creature did not come into being - as a mule is created when a donkey and a horse crossbreed [4] - but this Christ is God without a mark and he is a person without a mark.


The Council of Chalcedony (451) expressed this unimpaired God and human being as follows:


“THE ONE AND SAME is perfect to the deity and perfect of humanity after, true God and true man, consisting of a reasonable soul and body. THE ONE AND SAME is essentially the same as the Father of the Godhead according to and of the same nature to us according to his humanity“He has become like us in everything except sin” (Heb 4:15). Before all time he was begotten from the Father according to his deity, but has been in the last few days THE SAME for us and for the sake of our salvationfrom Mary the Virgin, the Theotokos, born after humanity: We confess ONE AND THE SAME CHRIST, the Son, the Lord, the Onlyborn, who is intwo natures unmixed, unchanged, unseparated and unseparated. Never will the differenceof natures Canceled because of the agreement, it is rather the peculiarity of every nature preserved byboth IN ONE PERSON […] come together. […] “(NR [5] 178; cf. DH [6] 301-303).


Please note the following: The passages in CAPITAL LETTERS emphasize that Christ is one - so not in any way split; the bold expressions clearly state the deity of Christ or his divine nature, such as the italic depicted passages of Jesus mankind, or. human nature name. [7] This human nature is then said to include the corporeality and the rational soul - the one against all ideologies that wanted to exclude the body as something bad from the true man, the other against those who believed that the divine Logos would become to take the place of the human soul in Christ. In both cases Christ would be less human than we are by this detail, and this is precisely what the Council denies: he is of the same essence to us in his humanity. Most of these passages are quotations from earlier council texts or papal letters.


Two more details should be highlighted: The superscript The passage “for us and for the sake of our salvation” is known from the Creed. It gives the reason for the Incarnation and that reason is "we", i. H. the people for whom the believers speak as those who have recognized the saving act of Christ. God becomes man “for us and our salvation”, not to perfect himself or to have a new experience. The reason for God's incarnation in Christ is a soteriological one, relating to the salvation of the world.


The simply underlined four adjectives "unmixed, unchanged, unseparated and unseparated" and the emphasis on the difference and the peculiarities of each nature are what is really new at this council. It says that the two natures do not lose their individuality through their union, do not "mix" or change, but also that through the permanent difference there is no separation in Christ. To put it another way: The council penetrates to the insight that something differentiating is not the same as something separating. Only if this is accepted is it even possible to think that one and the same God and man could be at the same time, without imagining this as a mythological hybrid being, but as a person who is God without compromise and also without compromise human. [8 ]


The unity of Christ consists in the person, the difference in the two natures. The question now arises as to whether the spiritual life — knowing and willing — is more to be ascribed to the person or to nature. According to our modern understanding of language, we would say: the person, because it is people who think, recognize and want something. But beware! In the terminology of the Christological Councils, the terms “person” and “nature” have a different function and meaning: person denotes the point of unity at which the divinity and humanity of Christ come together; “Nature” describes precisely these two, humanity and deity. If Jesus was fully human, then he must have a human nature like us, and it is part of our human nature that we know, know and want something in a very specific way. If Jesus was completely God, then he must have the same divine nature as the Father and the Holy Spirit, and this divine nature also includes a very specific way of knowing, knowing and wanting.


In the language of Chalcedony the spiritual accomplishments thus belong to "nature", and our question should be formulated something like this: How can one imagine that the nature of human knowledge and that of divine knowledge exist in one person? People asked themselves a very similar question back then. They wondered whether the nature of human volition and that of divine volition could exist in the one (divine) person of Jesus.


A dispute broke out over this that lasted for over two centuries, although Pope Leo I (440-461) had already proposed a solution. But this was not generally recognized until the third Council of Constantinople (680/81), which - citing Pope Leo and the Council of Chalcedony - formulated:


“We also proclaim that according to the teaching of the holy fathers two natural wills andtwo natural modes of action are undivided, unchanged, undivided and unmixed in HIM [Christ]. Thesetwo natural wills are NOT OPPOSED to each other, as the nefarious false teachers said. [...] We also teach thattwo natural modes of action […] Are in our LORD JESUS ​​CHRIST […], namely the divine mode of action and the humanAs the god-enlightened Leo also confesses most clearly: ›Because it workseither of the two `` Shaping '' IN COMMUNITY WITH THE OTHER,what is theirs [...] ‹" (NR 220-221; cf. DH 556/57)


So: Because for being truly human, one human nature is necessary, and because human nature includes the ability to will, strive for, and decide in a human way, Christ has one human will. The same applies mutatis mutandis to the divinity of Jesus, so it must be in Jesus two willpower give, a human and a divine one. But since they ALWAYS WORK TOGETHER, there can be NO CONFLICTION between the two, i. H. the two wills always want the SAME, their WILL OBJECT is ONE AND THE SAME. [9] Of theboth natures, writes Leo, works each what their own is, but always in COMMUNITY WITH THE OTHER. So if Jesus eats, drinks, sleeps or even suffers, it is up to him human nature; when he reveals God, works miracles, even raises the dead, one of the divine nature; but each of the two does this in COMMUNITY WITH THE OTHER.


The Second Vatican Council took up this teaching and explained the true humanity of Christ with recourse to quotations from the Bible. It teaches:


“Who is 'the image of the invisible God' (Col 1:15), he is at the same time the perfect man [...]. Since in him the human nature was accepted without being devoured, it has already been elevated to a sublime dignity in us. For he, the Son of God, in his incarnation has, as it were, united with every human being. With He worked human hands, With human mind, with a he acted human will, with a loved human heart. Born of Mary the Virgin, he is in truth become one of us, like us in everything except sin [cf. Heb 4:15]. "(GS 22) [10]


The emphasis “without being devoured” holds in graphic language that the humanity of Jesus through its connection with his deity does not become insignificant and insignificant, like a drop of fresh water in the ocean would evaporate; in this case too, after the union of the two natures, Christ would no longer be a true man; but he remains this forever. The Second Vatican Council re-emphasizes that through his incarnation Christ “united with every human being”: the event of the incarnation has universal significance, also beyond the boundaries of the visible community of the Church or Israel.


2.2 Theological highlights


The doctrine of the two wills of Jesus was developed by a great theologian of the 7th century from an analysis of Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives. Today this analysis by Maximus Confessor (580-662) is very well suited to illustrate this teaching. The prayer is:


“Abba, father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me!
But Not, what I want, rather what you want (should happen) ”. [11]


Maximus analyzed it like this: The request to avoid suffering, or what is referred to in the last sentence as what I want, expresses a natural striving of Jesus. Every living being capable of suffering, and therefore every human being, naturally strives to avoid suffering, as was the human nature of Jesus. The way to the cross, what you want, is not only the will of the divine Father, but eo ipso also the will of the divine nature of Christ (for the divine will is always the same in all three persons of the Trinity because they have the same nature) . [12] Unlike animals, we humans can once again distance ourselves from our striving for nature and decide with our will whether we follow it or not. For example, a person has a natural impulse to escape from a burning house. But if a child is still sleeping in the house, you can decide against this impulse and - at risk of death - try to save the child. Thus, according to Maximus the Confessor, Christ also decided against the impulse to avoid the cross. So he has with his human will decided, Notthe striving for nature, rather to follow the divine will. In the prayer text this is expressed in the two words not ... but from: not the obvious, but the more difficult, because there are good reasons for it, or because it corresponds to the will of God. [13]


It is also in the logic of this teaching that Jesus had a human and a divine cognition and knowledge. Unfortunately, it does not solve our problem of how this can go together in one person.


Thomas von Aquin (approx. 1225-1274), one of the great theologians of the Middle Ages, developed a very differentiated teaching about the knowledge of Jesus, which can only be summarized here very briefly. [14] According to Thomas, Christ has three kinds of knowledge: 1) The divine knowledge that he has in his “visio beatifica”, the “blessed vision of God”. This technical term was used to describe the relationship that the finally redeemed in heaven have with God. Since Christ is God and since we, if we should once have the blessed vision, we will have it through Christ, it is imperative for Thomas that Jesus already had it during his lifetime. 2) A knowledge poured into the human soul of Jesus from the Logos. It is human knowledge, but it is perfect from the beginning, since it was poured in by God, and contains everything that a human being can understand. And 3) finally, a human, acquired knowledge.


The first two kinds of knowledge were generally accepted in scholasticism, here Thomas remained conventional. With the acceptance of an acquired knowledge, however, he brought something new, he even corrected himself explicitly on this question, because earlier he had taught that Christ had no acquired knowledge. [15] The reason for the new teaching: A human mind includes the ability to actively acquire knowledge. If Christ had never used this ability, it would have been pointless. But God can't create anything senseless. So it follows from the doctrine that Christ is a true man, also that he acquired knowledge with his human mind. Thomas understands this acquisition entirely according to the epistemology that he took over from Aristotle: Christ learns by using his active mind (intellectus agens) is abstracted from sensory perception and thus recognizes general relationships. Thomas denies that Jesus could have learned something from other people, because he is the teacher of all humanity. It would contradict that if he had learned from people for his part. So he learned only by applying his intellect to the world, not by teaching people. [16]


So Thomas reckons that Jesus acquired knowledge as a human being, but he does not help us with the problems of the compatibility of divine and human knowledge. Rather, the question is exacerbated by the fact that Thomas also accepts two kinds of human knowledge of Christ — that which is poured in and that which is acquired. How can someone, on the one hand, already know everything based on the knowledge that has been poured in, and then, on the other hand, find out some things of what they already know for themselves, and that without being a split personality? And: Can there be a human child who learns nothing from its parents? Can one suffer on the cross and still have the blessed vision of God at the same time?


Now the old theologians did not make these somewhat strange and abstract considerations out of mere pleasure in speculating, but to better understand who the Jesus of whom the New Testament speaks was. So we could turn the tables and look a little in the New Testament for an answer to our question. In doing so, we have to be aware that it is our Is the question we bring to the Bible. The biblical authors did not have our problem and therefore did not answer it directly. Furthermore, it cannot be a question of examining the text in a precise exegetical or biblical manner. Only a brief, admittedly superficial, panorama should be dared and a few eye-catching statements should be picked out. Nevertheless, we can try to find clues for a solution to our problem in what the biblical authors wrote about Jesus.


First of all we must state that there are statements in the NT that seem to presuppose an unlimited knowledge of Jesus, as well as those that state a clear limitation. It is often said that Jesus knew what his counterpart was secretly thinking, [17] he predicted things that would actually occur and claimed to interpret the law with ultimate authority in the name of God [18]. On the other hand, it is said that Jesus wondered, which assumes that he was not expecting something, and that he could not heal people who did not believe. [19] He expressly stated that certain things are known only to the father, not to the son, and that certain decisions are reserved for the father. [20] One could recognize the distinction between the divine and human knowledge of Jesus in these various statements.


Some statements in the Gospel of John present particular difficulties. It says, for example: “The Father loves the Son and has given everything into his hand.” (Jn 3:35) And: “Jesus [...] knew that the Father had given him everything and that he was from God came and returned to God ”(Jn 13: 3). The disciples confess Jesus: “Now we know that you know everything and do not need to be asked by anyone. That is why we believe that you came from God. ”(Jn 16.30) There are also passages in John that put the impression that Jesus was omniscient into perspective. For example, he says to the disciples: “I no longer call you servants; for the servant does not know what his master is doing. Rather, I have called you friends; for I have shared with you everything that I heard from my Father. ”(Jn 15:15) According to this, if Jesus was omniscient, the disciples would also have to have been omniscient, and this strange assumption is also completely alien to tradition.


The problem can be solved if one understands the "everything", not as a sum of knowledge, but as a soteriological qualification: everything that is necessary for the sake of human salvation. This has long been the description of what God has revealed: He did not tell us any interesting things to satisfy our curiosity, but he revealed himself; this is accompanied by a knowledge of the things that are required for human salvation. The councils generally stated soteriology as the reason for the Incarnation (see above, p. 3). It would therefore be entirely in their line of thought to also take soteriology as the basis and measure of the knowledge of Jesus. We have to ascribe this kind of “omniscience” to Jesus and we can ascribe it to the biblical authors in a similar way, because it is precisely they who are considered to be the ones who wrote down the revelation and thus made it accessible to us over time.


We can therefore state that the Gospel of John does not force us to accept a quantitative omniscience of Jesus, but only a qualified one. Like the dogma, the NT states that there is divine and human knowledge in Jesus, but it also does not clarify how the two can go together. However, two places could help us a step further:


The Letter to the Hebrews makes a bold claim: “Although he [Christ] was the Son, through suffering he learned obedience; when he has reached perfection, he has become the author of eternal salvation for all who obey him ”(Heb 5: 8f.). Here it is clearly stated that Jesus is something learned has, and that he is to completion got is, so in a certain sense was not already completed from the beginning.


This becomes even clearer and more important for the following considerations in the famous hymn of Christ from the letter to the Philippians:


6 He was equal to God but didn't hold on to being like God 7 but he emptied himself and became like a slave and like men. His life was that of a man; 8 he humbled himself and was obedient until death, until death on the cross. 9 That is why God exalted him above all and gave him the name greater than all names, 10 that everyone in heaven, on earth and under earth may bow their knees to the name of Jesus 11 and every mouth confesses: 'Jesus Christ is Lord' - for the glory of God the Father. "(Phil 2: 6-11)


This hymn emphasizes the divinity and humanity of Jesus, but it speaks of an act of the divine Christ that preceded his incarnation: he alienated yourself. The Greek word for it, kenovw, means something like "empty yourself", "give up" or "put aside" something you own. One could understand this in such a way that Christ set aside some of his divine properties (including his quantitative omniscience?) In the Incarnation. According to this understanding, it would not be necessary that divine and human knowledge at the same time would be present in the earthly Jesus. It would be enough to accept human knowledge in Jesus during one's earthly life. The danger of a split personality would then no longer exist.


However, the question then arose as to how all the passages in the Bible that speak of Jesus' foreknowledge are to be understood and why someone with such human knowledge is rightly called true God. Shouldn't we then say that Jesus was a great prophet, but not God? This might make it easier for us in dialogue with other religions, but wouldn't we lose our Christian identity? And that is why it was very important for two great theologians of the last century to think about how a Jesus, whose self-confidence was structured very similarly to ours, can nevertheless rightly be called true God. I would now like to briefly describe their considerations.


4.1 Karl Rahner


Karl Rahner (1904-1984) is not only famous as an important theologian of the 20th century, but also notorious for his long and complicated sentences. I want to try to make it as simple as possible. [21]


Before Rahner turns to the real problem, he makes important preliminary considerations about what it means that someone knows something. We spontaneously assume: someone knows a situation if he can give me the correct answer to a related question. Our entire examination system in schools and also here at the university is based on this: I ask an examination candidate and if she gives the correct answer, then she knows the matter. Rahner draws our attention to the fact that it is not that easy with knowledge. It can happen that someone tells us something as new knowledge, and our reaction to it is: “This is nothing new to me, I have known that for a long time - but I have to admit: I never said it and would have it probably not able to express it correctly either. Somehow I knew it, but somehow I didn't either. "Rahner writes:


“Knowledge is a multi-layered structure, so that in relation to these various dimensions of consciousness and knowledge, something can be known and not known at the same time. [...] Human consciousness is an infinitely multidimensional space: there is reflex consciousness and edge consciousness, consciousness and expressly noticed, an objective, conceptual consciousness and a transcendental and unreflective knowledge located at the subjective pole of consciousness, there is mood and substantive knowledge, There is admitted and repressed knowledge, there are mental occurrences in consciousness and their reflex interpretation, there is knowledge of a non-objective nature of the formal horizon, within which a certain grasped object comes to stand, as a non-objective conscious a priori condition of the aposteriori grasped Against-stan-des and knowing about them. "[22]


We don't need to understand every detail of this quote to follow Rahner's line of thought, but some things should be made clear. An objective, conceptual awareness is precisely that which is queried in exams: I ask for an object and the examinee has — hopefully — the right terms ready to explain it to me. On the other hand, an unreflective or athematic knowledge is quite different. This is knowledge that I have never reflected on, that I have never made the subject of my considerations or statements, so that I may not even be directly aware that I have this knowledge; but I live by it, and if you analyze my actions, you can tell that I know that. [23]


A good example of this are the basic laws of propositional logic: even children of a certain age know them and yet cannot formulate them. If you tell a child a story that contradicts this logic, it will not say: "This story violates the rule of the excluded third party in the event of an adversarial contradiction." Having studied logic and therefore also knows the laws of logic conceptually and reflexively, can determine: Unthematical and unreflective, the child knows this logical law and has applied it correctly, and therefore knows that the story cannot be true ]


Rahner's first — surprising — point is formulated in a somewhat exaggerated manner: it may be that you know something without knowing that you know it. Colloquially, we call such knowledge “intuitive”.


A second point: Part of the unreflective consciousness is "transcendentally [...] knowledge located at the subjective pole of consciousness". That means all that knowledge that is non-thematically given with my self-confidence and that makes it possible for me to perceive other things and to know objectively, but which also colors my perception and knowledge of other things - sometimes to the detriment of this. When I turn to the world, to other people and things, I always do so with my experiences, judgments and prejudices, but I am not reflexively aware of them. Even more: the human mind has certain conditions, without which it could not work at all, which shape it before every experience - these are called a priori. This includes, for example, the assumption that it makes sense to want to recognize something, that there must be an answer to questions and that some questions can only give one correct answer, etc. And, according to Rahner, this also includes knowledge of me even as someone who thinks and asks and acts.


“Among these forms of knowledge there is an a priori, non-objective knowledge of itself as a basic condition of the spiritual subject, in which it is with itself and at the same time is inherent in its transcendental reference to the whole of the possible objects of knowledge and freedom . This basic state of mind is not objective knowledge; normally one does not deal with it; reflection never adequately catches up with this basic state of mind, even when it is explicitly aimed at it; the conceptually reflexive knowledge of it, even where it is given, is not itself, but borne again by it, and for that reason alone never adequately catches up with this original state of mind. "[25]


So even where we try to make what we normally only know non-thematically about ourselves as a topic, to think about it and to put it into words, we can only do so piecemeal and never in such a way that our reflexive knowledge contains everything, what is given without reflex. Rahner speaks of the fact that we only approach this "a-symp-to-table" and that this approach depends on the external conditions and circumstances (i.e. our environment, culture, language, etc.). [26]


Now we can turn directly to Rahner's reflections on the knowledge and self-awareness of Christ.


Here Rahner first addresses the question of whether one can give the earthly Jesus a blessed show of God (visio beatifica Dei) must be ascribed to how Thomas, and with him the whole tradition, had accepted it. Rahner rejects this because it would be compatible neither with the agony of Jesus, nor with his feeling of being forsaken by God and with his suffering, unless one would actually see him as a split personality. [27] Rahner, however, firmly sticks to it - and considers this to be the actual core of the traditional statements - that Jesus is a immediate Seeing God, one visio immediata Dei, would have. He argues that this necessarily follows from the teaching of the councils that the human and divine natures of Jesus are united in the divine person of the Logos, because the divine reality in Jesus must also correspond to a divine consciousness. [28] For the incarnation “means the self-communication of the absolute being of God, as it subsists in the Logos, to the human nature of Christ as that which is hypostatically borne by him. It is the highest imaginable—ontological highest - actualization of a creature reality that is at all possible, the highest mode of being that there is outside of God at all [...]. "[29] And such a" must necessarily be aware "[30]. Since there is a human If nature is so exalted, and spiritual knowledge and self-consciousness belong to human nature (and to divine nature anyway), this exaltation must also include an exaltation of knowledge and self-consciousness, otherwise the unification would not even be of the human nature of Christ righteous, not to mention the divine. [31]


For some it might be surprising what Rahner deduces from this: If the visio immediata Deithat comes to Christ, so an exaltation of his Self-esteem is, then it is not the objective vision of a counterpart, but it is "a basic condition of the spirit of Jesus from the substantial root of this creatural spirituality" [32] or "nothing else [...] than the original, non-objective consciousness of the Son of God, which is simply already thus it is given that this Hypostatic Union is"[33]. This awareness and knowledge is therefore also "located at the subjective pole of the consciousness of Jesus" [34].


Do you remember what Rahner said before about the non-objective, non-thematic knowledge at the subjective pole of our consciousness? We know it and yet we do not know it, and yet it essentially determines what we say and do because it is our self-confidence. For Rahner, the divine consciousness of Jesus is to be thought of in a very similar way. For us, as for Jesus, the following applies:


“This basic state of mind of a person, […], his unity of knowledge and action, his freely executed self-image are not only consciously given in him when he thinks about it, when he reflects on it, forms sentences about it, considers the most diverse interpretations of this reality.Always and everywhere where he [...] is and acts, that is, where he intentionally deals with the most everyday external realities, this his looking away at the external objectivity is carried by this non-thematic, unreflective, perhaps never reflected knowledge about himself itself, from a simple self-self […] in the manner of this […] basic state of mind […] of the horizon, within which everything dealing with the things and concepts of everyday life happens. "[35]


Jesus differs from us in the fact that with him "this innermost, original, basic state of mind, which carries all other knowledge and action [...] now also [...] directness to God" [36], an intuitive, almost natural awareness of unity with God .


Rahner closes his reflections by drawing some conclusions for the knowledge of Jesus. One advantage of designing Jesus' vision of God as Rahner does is that this “is not only compatible with a genuinely human spiritual history and development of the person of Jesus [sic], but [...] it goes beyond it. naus [demands] ”[37]. Because the way in which this self-confidence is a-symp-to-tically thematized, reflected and finally conceptually expressed, is no different with Jesus than with us. It happens in a “spiritual story about oneself” [38], which “always [occurs] in the encounter with the whole breadth of one's own external history of finding oneself in an environment and of being with a fellow world. With this material comes to itself whatever was already with itself. ”[39] As Jesus discovers the world as a person, into the world around him - these are the human relationships, that is, a family, culture, language, religion - hi-no grows and dealing with it, it becomes clear to him who he is himself. So Rahner comes to the conclusion: “One can speak of a spiritual, even religious development of Jesus without prejudice. This does not deny [… the] absolute conscious immediacy to the Logos, but is borne by it and interprets it […]. ”[40] This development takes place through the concepts and thought patterns provided by culture. Jesus used this “to slowly say what, at the bottom of his existence, he always knew about himself” [41]. His development is therefore also a story of “self-interpretation for himself [...]. Because this does not mean that Jesus 'comes up with something' that he absolutely did not know before, but that he grasps more and more what he has always been and basically already knows. "[42]


For Rahner, this means "that in this unthemical global basic state of sonship and immediacy to the Logos everything is unthemically known that belongs to the mission and soteriological task of the Lord" [43]. Rahner reminds us here that being the Son of God was not a private privilege for Jesus, but a task, a mission, namely to bring salvation to the world. [44] Bringing salvation to the world would not have been possible for Christ if he had been able to err on questions that are important to salvation. Just as we often react intuitively - guided by our previous experiences and judgments - to new situations correctly, even though these experiences are not thematically aware, so Jesus was able to act correctly in his mission, guided by the salvation knowledge imparted to him on the topic.


4.2 Hans Urs von Balthasar


A second great theologian of the 20th century, Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), turned to our problem, and on this question his solution is very similar to the Rahner's, I think so similar that we can use it to better understand Rahner's answer. Balthasar has the advantage over Rahner that he does not write so philosophically and abstractly and also argues a little more with the Bible. Nevertheless, I think that his answer, which he published 10 years after Rahner, comes down to the same as the Rahner's. [45]


Balthasar takes up the emptiness with which the Philippians hymn describes the incarnation, and speaks of a “depositing” of [… Jesus] with the Father an inherently “due” and “accessible” knowledge ”[46] for the time of his earthly life Existence. Nevertheless, for Balthasar too, Christ had a very unique consciousness of himself, which made his divinity shine through in his human consciousness. Balthasar takes the central approach to this from Walter Kasper, today's cardinal. He wrote: “'Jesus Christ gives himself completely for his mission, he is completely one with it. He is the Messenger. ‹“ [47] We have just seen that Rahner also referred to the importance of the mission of Jesus. But Balthasar now makes this thought the linchpin of his reflections.


Unlike other people, Jesus is not someone who has his life on the one hand and then, in addition to or as part of this life, a task or mission that he is to fulfill. Jesus is one with his mission. She is his life, his person, himself. And this broadcast is absolutely unique: it is not to these or that people, because of this or that thing, but it is to the whole world, to all people, and because of nothing less than that Redemption of this world. Or to put it another way: this program is universal, all-encompassing.


“This means that there is a moment inherent in the individual human consciousness of Jesus that clearly and in principle always exceeds the purely human horizon of consciousness, because a more-than-human mission — to reconcile the world as a whole with God — can not accidentally overgrowing a human consciousness — as much as one has to leave room here for a growing brightness of the sense of mission […]. ”[48]


With this, Balthasar has recorded two important things: Jesus has a human consciousness and knowledge, and yet these already contain something that explodes them into something greater: a universal, unique mission, a mission with which Jesus is completely one. This awareness of being one with the universal mission accompanies Jesus from the beginning; it is - as Balthasar says - "unthinkable" [49] and yet it can be differently clear: a naturally existing basic trust for the toddler slowly feeling and discovering the world; for the boy an indistinct resonance of the infinite in the finite; For the young person and adult, a task that becomes increasingly clearer and forms the background for all of his thoughts, feelings and actions. The Evangelist Luke had Jesus express this for the first time when he was twelve years old and was left alone in the temple in Jerusalem; He replied rather blankly to the accusations made by Joseph and Maria: “Why did you look for me? Did you not know that I must be in what belongs to my father? ”(Lk 2,49) [50]


For Balthasar in particular, however, it is not as if Jesus' earthly parents did not play an important role for him. On the contrary, he assumes that the initially unclear knowledge of his mission became more and more clear for Jesus, both from “inside” and “outside”. And for the outside world, his parents are of tremendous importance. They introduce him to the tradition of his people and their Jewish faith, with them he first learns about the tradition of Israel, its history and its theological significance. That is why the special protection of Mary from every sin is very important for Balthasar: she was able to convey all of this to him without any addition of sinful misinterpretation. But Jesus not only learns from his parents about Israel and its history with God, they also awaken his own self-confidence. Balthasar polemicises against the teaching of Thomas Aquinas, according to which Jesus did not learn anything from people: “Here the scholastic a priorism collides with an elementary truth of being human: a child who did not awaken to its self-awareness through an addressing you would not be human at all Child. The Thomanian sentence violates the logic of the incarnation. "[51]


The “inside” here is the constant contact of Jesus with his heavenly Father in prayer and his being guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus' prayer is directly related to his mission, opens up and interprets it for him. “The need for the prayer component in what is sent becomes all the more evident as the whole mission is not opened before his gaze, but must be carried out step by step according to the instructions of the Father (in the Holy Spirit) [...]." [52] Inside and outside work together in such a way "that [...] the initiation of this child takes place from within, from his eternal father, in harmony with his external, human and historical initiation" [53].


In this way, Jesus' mission - and with it also his knowledge of himself - becomes more and more accessible, namely in a tension between being given and self-conception. The immemorial mission is given to him, but not like an external law, but like his own being. And yet he has to design it step by step in concreto with his freedom — in listening to his father. Balthasar compares this with the activity of an artist who, on the one hand, creates his work out of his own freedom and, on the other hand, completely subordinates himself to the autonomy of the work of art and finds his freedom in this: “The artist is never more free than when he is no longer has to hesitantly choose between the possibilities of design, but rather is “possessed” by the true idea that finally presents itself (how) and follows its commanding instruction; the work will never again bear its most personal character. "[54]


Similar to the creation of such a work of art, Jesus also has to design his immemorial mission in time, ie in such a way “that it is not ready as it is prefabricated and only has to be put together mechanically by him, but in such a way that he can do it with all his free Creating responsibility out of oneself, and even having to invent it in a true sense ”[55].


For Balthasar - as it was for Rahner - this mission, which Jesus creates in the tension between the given and the self-invented, is the “measure of the knowledge and freedom of Jesus” [56]. This means: The earthly Jesus, whose divine knowledge was “deposited” with the Father in the Incarnation, knows as much as is necessary for the fulfillment of his mission. And since this show is evolving, flexible and dramatic, so is his knowledge.


"Thus, from the fixed point of the broadcast, every variability is possible according to the requirements of the situation: prophetically precise or foreboding views of the overall conditions of the world and its relationship to God as well as individual present, past or future events - and also narrowing of attention [...] to a certain horizon like a narrow ravine through which the stream of broadcasting now has to pass. "[57]


In this way, Balthasar believes that he can interpret both biblical passages in which Jesus is attributed wondrous, superhuman knowledge, as well as those in which he speaks of his ignorance. He, too, agrees with tradition that the earthly Jesus had a direct vision of God, one visio immediata, but he doesn't conceptualize this as a visio beatifica, but similar to Rahner. Because he sees no reason, “this one visio to ascribe a different, as it were purely theoretical, content of the divine lying next to or above the mission ”[58].


The two great theologians of the 20th century mentioned tried to think of Jesus as humanly as possible, without giving up the claim of the dogma that this true man was also true God and that this was also manifested in his knowledge and consciousness; and without constructing a split personality of Jesus. We are not divided personalities either, although we know some things that we cannot express, in fact that we do not even know that we know. Only in the course of life, in the confrontation with other people, the world and - if we are religious people - with God do we come to catch up with this knowledge more and more and to bring it to the conception. So, my Rahner and Balthasar, we can also accept this from Jesus.


As a criterion for what he must have known reflexively at some point, both indicate his mission, his mission, which was the redemption of the world. Therefore, they rule out that Christ could be wrong about questions relevant to salvation, such as: Is God forgiving or relentless? Is there a life after death? Are you saved because you accomplish certain things or just because of God's love? Do I have to accept the way to the cross or can I avoid it? In questions of the image of God, of God's behavior towards people or, in short: in all soteriologically relevant questions, Jesus - according to these models - would be able to formulate the right answer at the right moment from his unthematically given self- or mission-awareness. Not on other issues. The question of when the world will end is not really soteriologically relevant, it is more a question of our sensational curiosity. Here Jesus can say: only the Father knows, I don't. And the question of whether the cosmic string theory is correct or not, Jesus could easily have passed over with an uncomprehending shrug of the shoulders without therefore ceasing to be true God. [59]


Finally, a picture by the Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682) should be noted. It hangs in the National Gallery in London and is called "The Two Trinity" (1675-82, in the original of course in color) and means on the one hand the Holy Family and on the other hand the Trinity. Christ joins these two triplets as the second person of the Trinity and as a child of the Holy Family. [60] The Son of Mary and the Son of the Heavenly Father are one and the same person, as the dogma says, for the sake of our salvation made man by the Holy Spirit and brought up by Joseph the carpenter. This picture shows him not with the face of an old man, but as a boy (perhaps too sweet for some), outwardly completely a human child, also in his thinking. But behind the picture stands the Christological dogma: in this one person, divine and human nature are united. That is the reason why God and man can never be separated again.


[1] For example Merton, Thomas: Meditations of a Hermit. About the meaning of meditation and loneliness (classic meditation). Zurich 31984, 55: “Since Christ is the eternal Word of God, before whom time is entirely present, the child born in Bethlehem 'sees' me 'here and now', i. H. ›I am‹ present to ‹His spirit› at His birth ‹.” [All quotations in this article have been adapted to the new spelling.]


[2] The encyclical Mystici Corporis (1943) by Pius XII. notes that Christ, by means of his “blessed vision, which he enjoyed immediately after he was conceived in the bosom of the Theotokos, keeps all the members of the mystical body [of the Church] permanently and ever present” (DH 3812). This again emphasizes the November 2006 notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the works of the theologian Jon Sobrino in No. 8 of its text, online:


[3] For more detailed information see: Schwager, Raymund: Dogmengeschichte der Christologie. Abridged lecture manuscript. Innsbruck 1995. Online: and more precisely: Grillmeier, Alois: Jesus the Christ in the faith of the church. Vienna et al. 5 volumes 1989-2002.


[4] This comparison, which seems strange to us today, was actually made in earlier centuries, but rejected by the Church: the God-Man is just not a mixture of two "natures", as we will see shortly.


[5] Neuner, Josef / Roos, Heinrich (ed.): The faith of the church in the documents of the doctrinal proclamation. Revised v. K. Rahner and K.-H. Weger. regensburg 111971.


[6] Denzinger, H .: Compendium of creeds and church teaching decisions. Improved, expanded, translated into German and edited by Peter Hünermann with the assistance of Helmut Hoping. Freiburg 371991.


[7] Wherever “both natures” are mentioned briefly, they are bold and italic held.


[8] See Schwager, Raymund, online: to 96.


[9] Note the distinction between the will and the will-object.The first is the ability by which a person decides; the second is the goal he chooses. So quite banal: With my willpower, I can choose between fish or meat for lunch. If I choose the fish, it is the object of my will. In the case of Christ, the council assumes that he had two faculties of will — a divine and a human — because such a faculty belongs to each of his two natures. But if both faculties strive for one and the same object - in our banal example, for example, B. Fish — then we still have only one will-object and there is no division. However, this fine distinction between will and object first had to be developed in a long learning process. And by the time it got there, opinions differed as to the will (or will) of Christ.


[10] Quoted from: Rahner, K. / Vorgrimler, H .: Small Council Compendium. All texts of Vatican II with introductions and detailed subject index (Herderbücherei vol. 270). Freiburg 261996, 468f.


[11] Mk 14.36 parr.


[12] The difficult question of why and in what sense the cross was the will of God cannot be dealt with in any more detail here. Compare with: Brother-in-law, Raymund: Jesus in the salvation drama. Draft of a biblical doctrine of salvation. (ITS 29). innsbruck 21996, 149-151, 256-263 and Wandinger, Nikolaus: How uncomfortable is God? or How is God uncomfortable? Reflections on the image of God, the cross and discipleship. In: Sandler, W. / Wandinger, N. (ed.): Der uncomfortable God. Lectures of the second Innsbruck Theological Summer Days 2001 (tt 11). Thaur 2002, 161-188. Also online:


[13] On Maximus see Schwager, Raymund: Dogmengeschichte der Christologie. Abridged lecture manuscript. Innsbruck 1995. Online: and Bausenhart, Guido: “In everything equal to us except sin”. Studies on the contribution of Maximos ’the Confessor to early church Christology. Mainz 1992, v. a. 148-165. The analysis of the Mount of Olives prayer by Maximus himself is only accessible in the original Greek or in a Latin translation and is difficult to find outside of specialist theological libraries: Maximus Confessor: Opuscula theologica et polemica, in: Patrologiae cursus completus, accurante J.-P. Migne: patrologiae gracece tomus 91, Paris 1863, reprint Turnhout 1981, 154C-183C, especially 161C-183C. Then further explanations on the two wills of Christ in: Ders .: De duabus unius Christi Dei nostri voluntatibus, in: ibid. 183D-216A.


[14] Cf. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica IIIa qu. 9-12, abbreviated STh.


[15] Cf. STh IIIa qu 9, a 4 c mentions the change compared to In Sententiarum 3, dist 14, art. 3 qu 5 ad 3 and dist. 18, art 3 ad 5.


[16] Cf. STh IIIa qu 12 a. 3.


[17] Cf. Mt 9.4; 12.25; Lk 6.8; 9.47; 11.17. Something similar is also said of Pilate (cf. Mt 27:18) and we too often say something like this in everyday life. So it does not necessarily require any kind of higher knowledge, but only a good knowledge of human nature. Other passages, noticeably all in John, are not so easy to explain: cf. Jn 2:25; 4,19.39; 6.64; 13,1.3.11; 18.4; 19.28.


[18] Cf. the emphatic “But I say to you” in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5).


[19] Mk 6.5f.


[20] Cf. Mt 20:23; 24.36; Mk 10.40; 13.32;


[21] For the following see Rahner, Karl: Dogmatic Considerations about the Knowledge and Self-Confidence of Christ. In: Writings on theology 5. Newer writings. Zurich-Einsiedeln-Cologne 31968, 222-245. It is a text that was given as a guest lecture in Trier 7 years earlier. Cf., ibid., 222, note 1. Now also in: Ders .: Complete works. Volume 12: Being human and God's incarnation. Studies on the foundation of dogmatics, christology, theological anthropology and eschatology. Edited by H. Vorgrimler. Freiburg-Basel-Vienna 2005, 335-352.


[22] Rahner (1968), 227f.


[23] Under certain circumstances, such knowledge can shape my actions quite significantly and be more important than what I know reflexively. Cf. on this: Muck, O .: Rational structures of the dialogue on questions of faith. In: Rationality and Weltanschauung. Philosophical investigations (Ed. W. Löffler). Innsbruck - Vienna 1999, 106-151, v. a. 132-140 and Wandinger, Nikolaus: On the speech of an "implicit theology". Attempt to clarify the terms. In: Drexler, Ch. / Scharer, M. (Ed.): Learning at limits. New ways in theological didactics (Communicative Theology 6). Mainz 2004, 189-212; also online:


[24] The reference to non-thematically known laws of logic can be found in Rahner, Karl: On the theological concept of concupiscence. In: Writings on theology 1. Einsiedeln-Zurich-Cologne 1954, 81967, 377-414, here 409; also in: Ders .: Complete Works. Volume 8: Man in Creation. Edited by Karl-Heinz Neufeld. Solothurn - Düsseldorf - Freiburg 1998, 12-32.


[25] Rahner 1968, 229.


[26] Cf. Rahner 1968, 229.


[27] Cf. Rahner 1968, 231.


[28] In detail, Rahner argues based on Thomistic knowledge metaphysics, according to which "being and being with one another are mutually inwardly determining moments of the one reality" (Rahner 1968, 234). See in more detail: Rahner, K .: Hearer of the word. In: Complete Works. Volume 4: Writings on the philosophy of religion and on the foundation of theology. Edited by Albert Raffelt. Solothurn - Düsseldorf - Freiburg 1997, v. a. Chap 3-5.


[29] Rahner 1968, 234.


[30] Ibid.


[31] Rahner 1968, 235: "Such a hypostatic union [cannot] be thought of [...] as a mere ontic connection between two factually conceived realities, but as the absolute perfection of the finite spirit as such [it] necessarily implies a ( correctly understood) "consciousness-chris-to-lo-gie" [...], ma In such a subjective, unique unity of the human consciousness of Jesus with the Logos of the most radical closeness, uniqueness and finality [is] the Hypostatic Union only given in its full essence [...]. " Hypostatic Union is the technical term for the unification of the two natures of Jesus in his person.


[32] Rahner 1968, 236.


[33] Rahner 1968, 237.


[34] Rahner 1968, 237.


[35] Rahner 1968, 237.


[36] Rahner 1968, 238.


[37] Rahner 1968, 239.


[38] Rahner 1968, 240.


[39] Rahner 1968, 241.


[40] Rahner 1968, 241.


[41] Ibid.


[42] Ibid.


[43] Rahner 1968, 243.


[44] Rahner also applies the — old — soteriological criterion here.


[45] Cf. on the following: Balthasar, H. U. v .: Theodramatik. Volume two: The characters of the game. Part 2: The Persons in Christ. Einsiedeln 1978, 151-185.


[46] Cf. Balthasar, 176.


[47] Balthasar, 151 cited: Kasper, Walter: Jesus der Christ. Mainz 1974, 301.


[48] ​​Balthasar, 152.


[49] Balthasar, 153.


[50] Two things stand out: 1) According to Lk, this affiliation of Jesus to his heavenly Father shows itself at an age when puberty is about to set in and growing up is about to begin, ie an age at which our modern young people also begin to become narrower To establish relationships outside of the family and to wriggle out of the previous way of parenting. Increasingly, parents are no longer the center of the youth's world — young Jesus and today's kids in a different way. 2) Luke describes Jesus' doctrinal discussion in the temple as follows: “He sat among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. ”(