OUTLINE OF CHRISTOLOGY
William G. Most

Index

1 From eternity
2 Jewish thought on pre-existence of Messiah
3 Messiah in prophecy
4 The covenants
5 Can we trust the gospels
6 Genre of Infancy gospels
7 The Annunciation
8 His entry into the world
9 Theotokos
10 Presentation in temple
11 Finding in temple at age 12
12 Hidden life
13 Cana
14 Special problem of Mark 3:20-35
15 His mode of teaching
16 More on parables
17 Jesus’ self-revelation
18 Basic teachings
19 Jesus and the law
20 Miracles of Jesus
21 How did the Redemption operate?
22 The Resurrection
23 Development of Jesus’ theology
24 Conclusions
25 Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary


I. From Eternity: Hebrews 13.8:

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." How is this true since He was born in time? Because there is only one Person in Jesus, a Divine Person. Even though His humanity did not always exist, yet His Person does—we say does, to indicate that He is outside of time.

Did the Father always plan to send His Son into this world? Yes in the sense that all the decrees of God are eternal, identified with His Person, which is eternal, timeless. So the decree for the incarnation always existed. Furthermore, it is clear that in the present arrangement of Providence, He surely did come because of sin. Thus the Nicene Creed says: "For us men and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven." And He Himself said in Matthew 20.28: "The Son of Man... came to give His life as a ransom for many."

But, we may ask further: Would He have come if Adam and Eve had not sinned?

We need to notice that this question deals with a futurible, that is, with what would happen, if something else would take place. Some scholars think God Himself does not know the futuribles. They are in error of course, for many times in Scripture He does know them. ( 1 Sam 23.10-13; Jer 38.17-23; Mt 11.21-23; Lk 10.13. And it is a universal belief: If we pray for something that would be bad if He would grant it, He would not give it.

So the debate goes on. In general, Dominicans tend to say no, He would not have come; while Franciscans tend to say yes, He would have.

Those who say He would have come independently of sin like to appeal to two Scriptural texts:

Proverbs 8.22 ff.: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways...."—But in the original setting, this line referred to the virtue of wisdom. Later Jews tended to think of it as almost a person. Then Christians could relate it to 1 Cor 1.24 where Christ is called "the wisdom of God." This is true in as much as He is the divine Logos. But since the basic meaning of the text refers to the virtue not to a person, the text is not at all conclusive.

Colossians 1.15-17: "He is the image of God, the first born of all creation. For in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things."—Christ, presumably as incarnate, is the goal, the one for whom all things were created. This could be taken to mean that logically the decree for incarnation precedes the decree for the creation of all else. To take this otherwise would require us to say that this holds only for the actual order of things, and does not refer to the hypothetical order: would He have come if there had been no sin of Adam and Eve?

But it is probably better to broaden the picture. It was, as a matter of fact, not only for the sin of Adam and Eve that He came, but for all sin. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would there have been sin in other humans? Had Adam and Eve not sinned, their children would have inherited the gift of integrity, the coordinating gift, that made it easy to keep all drives in their proper places. Lack of it does give an inclination towards evil. But Adam and Eve sinned even with this gift, and so could their descendants have sinned, at least many of them, without it.

But further, St. Paul in Galatians 2. 20 says: "He loved me and gave Himself for me." Vatican II, In Gaudium et spes #22 taught: "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me." It means that Christ offered His death was offered for each individual person, not just for humanity in a block. With this motivation or attitude, it seems clear He would have come even for the sins of one person, whoever it might be.


II. Jewish thought on the Pre-existence of the Messiah:

a) Scripture:

Micah 5.2: "And you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from the days of eternity." The Targum Jonathan on this verse reads: "whose name was spoken from days of old, from the days of eternity." Samson Levey, a major Jewish scholar (The Messiah. An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974, p. 93) comments that although there does not seem to be a Rabbinic doctrine of a pre-existent Messiah, yet the last words of the Hebrew text do tend to suggest such a pre-existence.

Malachi 3.1: "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before my face, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight." R.H. Fuller (The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY, 1965, p. 48: The starting point for this expectation is Mal 4:5 f. (Mt. 3:23f. ). In this passage, an editorial note commenting on Mal 3:1, Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself... followed by the coming of Yahweh to his temple for the eschatological judgment." Fuller uses the number Mal 4.5, following some English versions and the Vulgate. The Hebrew has it at 3:23-24. Jesus in Mt 11.13 used a modified form of the text (by influence of the familiar and similar sounding Ex 23.20, and makes clear that he is the one, the Messiah, and by implication, is Yahweh Himself.

b) Intertestamental literature:

First Enoch 48. 1-6 (Charlesworth, Pseudopigrapha I: (p. 35):"... even before the creation of the sun and moon, before the creation of the stars, he was given a name in the presence of the Lord of Spirits.... he was concealed in the presence of (the Lord of Spirits) prior to the creation of the world and for eternity.

(p. 9) Comments by editor of segment, E. Isaac: "The Messiah in 1 Enoch, called the Righteous One, and the Son of Man, is depicted as a preexistent heavenly being who is resplendent and majestic, possesses all dominion, and sits on his throne of glory passing judgment upon all mortals and spiritual beings." And also on p. 9 :"... it is clear that the work originated in Judea and was in use in "Qumran before the beginning of the Christian period."

c) Rabbinic thought:

Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 4.4.54a: "Seven things were created before the creation of the world, namely: Torah, repentance, paradise, gehenna, the throne of majesty, the temple, and the name of the Messiah."

Pesikta Rabati, Piska 33.6 (775-900 AD). From: W. Braude, Yale Judaica Studies, 18. , 1968, p. 641-43): "You find that at the very beginning of the creation of the world, the king Messiah had already come into being, for he existed in God's thought even before the world was created. But where is the proof that the king Messiah existed from the beginning of God's creation of the world? The proof is in the verse, 'And the spirit of God moved, ' words which identify the king Messiah, of whom it is said, 'And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa 11. 2)."

Comments: 1. As Levey notices, Micah 5 implies preexistence of the Messiah. Mal 3.1 as used by Jesus implies even divinity. The words of 1 Enoch do state a real preexistence. The Rabbinic texts are at least close. For in Hebrew thought the name at times approaches identification with the person. The naming of things brings them into existence: Is 40. 26. To cut off a person's name means not only death but obliteration of his existence: cf. 1 Sam 24. 22 and Ps 9. 6.

2. We notice that in 1 Enoch the Messiah is called Son of Man.


III. The Messiah in Prophecy:

E notice that all the following prophecies involve Mary inasmuch as she is the Mother of the Promised One, inseparably joined with Him even in the eternal decrees.

Genesis 3:15: The Protoevangelium: Revised Standard Version: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Targum Onkelos: And enmity I will put between you and the woman, and between your son and her son. He shall be recalling what you did to him in the beginning; and you shall be observing him in the end.

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: "And I will place enmity between you and the woman, and between the offspring of your sons and the offspring of her sons. And it will happen: when the sons of the woman will observe the precepts of the Torah, they will aim to strike you on the head; and when they will forsake the precepts of the Torah, you will aim to bite them in the heel. But for them there will be a remedy; whereas for you there will be no remedy. And they will be ready to make a crushing with the heel in the days of King Messiah."

Fragmentary Targum: And it shall be: when the sons of the woman observe the Torah and fulfill the commandments, they will aim to strike you on the head and kill you; and when the sons of the woman will forsake the precepts of the Torah and will not keep the commandments, you will aim to bite them in their heel and harm them. However there will be a remedy for the sons of the woman, but for you, O serpent, there will be no remedy. Still, behold, they will appease one another in the final end of days, in the days of the King Messiah."

Targum Neofiti: "And I will put enmities between you and the woman, and between your sons and her sons. And it will happen: when her sons keep the Law and put into practice the commandments, they will aim at you and smite you on the head and kill you; but when they forsake the commandments of the Law, you will aim at and wound him on his heel and make him ill. For her son, however, there will be a remedy, but for you, serpent, there will be no remedy. They will make peace in the future in the day of King Messiah."

Pius IX: Ineffabilis Deus, 1854: "The Fathers and ecclesiastical writers... in commenting on the words, ' I will put enmity between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed' have taught that by this utterance there was clearly and openly foretold [praemonstratum] the merciful Redeemer of the human race... and that His Most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was designated [designatam], and at the same time, that the enmity of both against the devil was remarkably expressed. Wherefore, just as Christ the Mediator of God and man, having assumed human nature, destroying the handwriting of the decree that was against us, in triumph affixed it to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, joined with him in a most close and indissoluble bond, together with Him and through Him exercising eternal enmity against the poisonous serpent, and most fully triumphing over him, crushed his head with her immaculate foot."

Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950: "We must remember especially that since the 2nd century, the Virgin Mary has been presented by the holy Fathers as the New Eve, who, although subject to the New Adam, was most closely associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal enemy which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, was to result in that most complete victory over sin and death, which are always tied together in the writings of the Apostles of the Gentiles. Wherefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son, had to be concluded with the glorification of her virginal body...."

Pius XII, Fulgens corona, 1953: "... the foundation of this doctrine [Immaculate Conception ] is seen in the very Sacred Scripture in which God... after the wretched fall of Adam, addressed the... serpent in these words, which not a few of the Holy Fathers and Doctors and most approved interpreters refer to the Virgin Mother of God: ' I will put enmity.... ' But if at any time, the Blessed Virgin Mary, defiled in her conception with the hereditary stain of sin, had been devoid of divine grace, then at least, even though for a very brief moment of time, there would not have been that eternal enmity between her and the serpent — of which early tradition makes mention up to the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception—but instead there would have been a certain subjection."

Vatican II, Lumen gentium #55: "These primeval documents, as they are read in the Church, and are understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring more clearly to light the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise, given to our first parents who had fallen into sin, of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3, 15)...."

Vatican II, Dei Verbum #3: "After their fall, by promising redemption, he lifted them into hope of salvation (cf. Gen 3, 15)...."

John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater §24: "It is significant that as he speaks to his mother from the Cross, he calls her 'woman'.... Moreover he had addressed her by the same term at Cana too.... this expression goes to the very heart of the mystery of Mary and indicates the unique place which she occupies in the whole economy of salvation.... How can one doubt that... she who was... brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God, through the Church remains in that mystery as 'the woman' spoken of by the book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation." And in Mulieris dignitatem, 1988: §11: "At the same time it [Genesis 3:15] contains the first foretelling of victory over evil, over sin.... It is significant that the foretelling of the Redeemer contained in these words refers to 'the woman'.... From this vantage point the two female figures Eve and Mary are joined under the name of woman...." [We note the multiple fulfillment].

Comments: 1. Three out of four of the Targums (ancient Aramaic versions, plus interpretations, of the OT) show us that Genesis 3.15 is in some way messianic, even though their interpretation is clouded by allegory. Yet they do speak of a victory, even though the same Hebrew verb shuf is used twice, for striking at head, and at heel.

Some reject the evidence of Targums, saying we do not know the date of their composition. We reply (as to date of the messianic prophecy comments): 1)These interpretations were written by ancient Jews without hindsight, i.e. , without seeing them fulfilled in Christ, for they hated Him. 2) Jacob Neusner, a great Jewish scholar, of today, from Brown University, in Messiah in Context reviewed every Jewish document from after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Talmud inclusive (completed 500-600 AD). Up to, but not including that Talmud, he found no interest in the Messiah. In the Talmud, interest returns, but the only major point they mention is that he was to be from the line of David. Now it is hardly conceivable that the Targum interpretations, so numerous, on so many points, could have been written in a period when there was no interest in the Messiah. (On the Targums, see also: Samson Levey, The Messiah. An Aramaic Interpretation. ) Some scholars, e. g, R. Le Deaut (in: The Message of the New Testament and the Aramaic Bible (Targum), Rome, Biblical Institute Press, 1982, pp. 4-5, put the beginning of the Targums in the occasion when Ezra read from the book, and translated, giving the sense: Nehemiah 8. 8.

2. Pius IX for the most part does not speak in his own name, he merely cites approved authors. But Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus speaks without reservation about the struggle being foretold in the Protoevangelium, and he even uses the fact that this "struggle" was in "common" to Jesus and Mary as a part of the theological reasoning by which he finds the Assumption in the sources of revelation. Further, in Fulgens corona he says Genesis 3:15 is the foundation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: therefore, it must be contained in that text in some way. Vatican II uses cf. before Gen. 3.15, at the request of about a dozen Bishops. Cf. Charles M. Miller, "As it is Written". The use of Old Testament References in the Documents of Vatican Council II, (Marianist Center, St. Louis, 1973, pp. 49-60). But even so, that reserve seems to apply only to the understanding of the human author—we do not know how much he foresaw. But it does say that the Church now, with the help of later and full revelation, does see the figure of the woman gradually coming to light. Here Vatican II seems to use the notion that the chief Author, the Holy Spirit, could intend more than the human author saw. It is really obvious that He could do so. (This is true even though in Dei verbum #12 where the Council had an opening to say explicitly that there could be such a fuller sense, yet it did not say so. On this cf. H. Vorgrimler, Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder, 1969, III, p. 220). Still further, John Paul II, without any reservation speaks of the Protoevangelium many times as referring to Mary—sample quotes given above. We note that in Mulieris dignitatem he speaks of the text as referring to both Eve and Mary. This is quite plausible, a case of multiple fulfillment of prophecy. On this latter pattern, cf. W. Most, Free From All Error, chapter 5.

The conclusion from all these sources is that it is quite clear that at least as understood in the light of later revelation, Gen 3. 15 is Marian/Messianic.

Genesis 49.10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and his shall be the obedience of the peoples."

Targum Neofiti: "Kings shall not be lacking from the house of Judah... until the time at which King Messiah will come." Targum Onkelos (which sees messianism only here and in Numbers 24, 17-24, (Balaam) agrees, as do Pseudo-Jonathan and the Fragmentary Targum.

Samson Levey, in The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974, p. 8: "Other rabbinic sources, both Midrashic and Talmudic , also take this passage as Messianic."

Genesis Rabbah 98. 8: "Until Shiloh comes: he to whom kingship belongs."

Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b: "What is His [Messiah's] name? The school of R. Shila said, 'Shiloh,' as it is written, until Shiloh comes."

Lamentations Rabbah 1.16.51: "The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah's name is 'Shiloh' as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen xxlix. 10), where the word is spelt Shlh." Levey adds in note 23 (p. 149) "A play on the similarity of the name, thus rendering honor to their teacher. The Talmud continues that the school of R. Jannai claimed the messiah's name was Jinnon, and the school of R. Hananiah said it was Hananiah, each quoting an appropriate proof-text." (A similar claim is in Moore, Judaism, II. pp. 348-49).

Comment: The school of Shila does have a solid base in the Hebrew text itself, and in the Targumic and Rabbinic view. Cf. Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, Targum Onkelos on Genesis 49, (Scholars Press, Missoula, l976, p. 14).

Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, (Fortress, Phila. l984): "It is difficult to imagine how Gen 49:10 could have been read as other than a messianic prediction."

Comments: 1)There may be echoes of Gen 49.10 in Ez 21.17: "It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightly belongs. To him I will give it." and also Jer 33. 14: "Behold the days are coming—Oracle of Yahweh—and I will perform the good word which I spoke to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."

2)Modern scholars object that the Hebrew text is corrupt because Shiloh is feminine, while the verb is Masculine.

Reply: Shiloh stands for a man, so there is agreement by sense. Further, there are some parallels in the OT: Jer 49. 16 where a feminine noun, tiplaset (your horror) has a masculine verb. Also: Ez 1. 5-10 where the noun hayoth is feminine, yet the suffixes in the next verses referring to the living creatures shift between masculine and feminine. Cf. also Anchor Bible, Daniel, p. 269. This sort of shift was common in Mishnaic Hebrew.

3)History: The Jews did have some sort of ruler from the tribe of Judah until Rome imposed Herod on them as Tetrarch in 41 B. C. Soon, in 37 B. C. he became King. Herod was Jewish by religion—the Jews had forced their religion on Idumea, but lived up to it poorly, and, most importantly, by birth he was not of the tribe of Judah. He was half Idumean, half Arab. The fulfillment would have been more glorious had they not been so unfaithful so often. Neusner reports (p. 12): "No one who knows the Gospels will be surprised to learn of the intense, vivid, prevailing expectation that the Messiah was coming soon."

Numbers 24.15-17: "The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is open, the oracle of him who hears the words of God... who sees the vision of the Almighty.... I see him, but not now; I behold him , but not nearby. A star shall come out from Jacob, and a scepter will come up out of Israel. It will crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth."

Targum Onkelos: "A king shall come from Jacob, and will be anointed the Messiah out of Israel."

Comments: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is very similar. The Fragmentary Targum says: "A king shall arise from the house of Jacob, and a redeemer and ruler from the house of Israel." Targum Onkelos is very sparing in messianic interpretations—only this passage plus Gen 3. 15. This is not strange, for Targum Onkelos was the only Targum officially approved by the later rabbis, those of the Talmudic period, before c. 650 AD. By that time the opposition of the Jews to the Christian uses of the Targums to favor Christ had hardened. Hence the approval of only the Targum that saw little messianic interpretations. In fact, that Targum seems to have been extensively reworked in the Jewish schools of Babylonia around the 5th century AD. This fits well with the results of Neusner's survey, mentioned above, which found no interest in the Messiah in Jewish writings from the fall of Jerusalem up to about 500 A. D. Then interest reappears, but the only one of the classic prophecies it dealt with was the prediction that he would be of the line of David.

The Fragmentary Targum says that a king will arise, but does not use the word Messiah. However in context it seems to be the Messiah.

Isaiah 9.6: RSV: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty-God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,"

Targum Jonathan: "A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and his name has been called from of old Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, Messiah in whose day peace shall increase for us."

Comment: 1. The sense of the Targum is disputed. We have rendered it substantially as does J. F. Stenning (The Targum of Isaiah, Oxford, 1949. ) However Samson Levey (The Messiah. An Aramaic Interpretation, (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974) turns the sentence structure around so as to read: "his name has been called Messiah.... by the Mighty God." The difference hinges on the Aramaic words min qedem which can mean either "by" or "from of old". As to the words "Mighty God" which the New American Bible renders God-hero —that version is not defensible, for the Hebrew El gibbor in the Old Testament always means only Mighty God, never God-hero. Levey makes a similar change in sentence structure for the Hebrew: "the Mighty God... has called his name 'Prince of Peace'." That translation raises the question of which terms belong to whom.

2. Naturally, the ancient Jews, with their emphasis on monotheism, would have difficulty calling the Messiah God. Yet there are some other OT passages that could indicate divinity of the Messiah.

Psalm 80.15-18: God is asked to visit this vine "and the stock which your right hand has planted.... Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, upon the son of man whom you have strengthened for yourself." Levey here comments: "It would appear that the Targum takes the Messiah to be the son of God, which is much too anthropomorphic and Christological to be acceptable in Jewish exegesis." He notes that neither the earlier nor the later rabbis took up this interpretation by the Targum. Rather, he says that some of the later rabbis "carefully steer clear of any messianic interpretation " by the Targum here. (In passing: we note that here the Messiah is called Son of Man!)

Psalm 45.7-8: "Your throne, O God, is ever and ever.... God your God has anointed you with the oil of rejoicing." Even though some think the Psalm was occasioned by a royal marriage, the Targum saw it as messianic. Levey even remarks that the Hebrew word for king melech in verses 2, 6, 12, 15, and 16 is understood as God.

Ezekiel 34.11: God Himself said: "For thus says the Lord God: Behold I, I will search out my sheep and seek them out." We notice the repeated "I", which seems to stress the thought that God Himself would come. But in verse 23 of the same chapter: "I will set one shepherd over them, my servant David." The Targum Jonathan does treat the psalm as messianic. Of course this is far from clear, but there could be an implication that the Messiah, called here "my servant David" would be God Himself.

Jeremiah 23.3: God said: " and I myself shall gather the remnant of the my sheep from all the lands to which I have driven them." But in verse 5:"I will raise up for David a righteous branch." That word "branch" is often taken by the Targums to indicate the Messiah. Hence Targum Jonathan on verse 5 does use "a righteous Messiah" instead of "branch". Then, surprisingly, in verse 6: "And this is the name which He shall call him: the Lord is our righteousness." In the later Midrash, Lamentations Rabbah 1.51 we read :"What is the name of the King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: 'His name is 'the Lord'". In the Hebrew text of that passage, the word for Lord is Yahweh! It is astounding to find a later rabbi doing such a thing. (cf. Levey, op. cit, p. 70).

Jeremiah 30.11: "For I am with you—oracle of Yahweh—to save you." The Targum clearly calls this passage messianic. Levey notices this, and comments: "in v. 11 the apparent anthropomorphism of God being with Israel, in the physical sense is softened by the use of the word Memra"—a puzzling word in the Targums, which seems in general to refer to the complex interplay between God's constancy and the fickleness of His people—but a times, it seems to mean God Himself. (On Memra cf. Bruce Chilton, The Isaiah Targum, Glazier, 1987, p. lvi).

Isaiah 7. 14: "Behold, the young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

The Targum does not identify this passage as messianic. However, Jacob Neusner, (Messiah in Context p. 173( quotes the great Hillel, one of the chief teachers at the time of Christ, as saying that Hezekiah, son of Achaz (to whom Isaiah spoke) had been the Messiah. So he considered the text messianic. But then Neusner adds (p. 190): "Since Christian critics of Judaism claimed that the prophetic promises... had all been kept in the times of ancient Israel, so that Israel now awaited nothing at all, it was important to reject the claim that Hezekiah had been the Messiah)". Thus the Talmud, cited by Neusner, p. 173, quotes Rabbi Joseph as denying that Hezekiah had been the Messiah. St. Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho 77 has Trypho the Jew say the Jews believe Hezekiah was the Messiah.

Further, both Is 7.14 and 9.5-6 are part of the section on Immanuel, which runs from 6.1 to 12.6. Hence it is generally accepted that the child in 7.14 is the same as the child in 9. 5-6. This means, of course, that since 9.5-6 is messianic, so is 7.14. It was only the actions of the Jews against Christians that caused them to stop saying 7. 14 was messianic.

Who, then, is the child of 7.14? Some of the characteristics of 9.5-6 are too grand for Hezekiah. Further the use of the definite article before almah in 7. 14 seems to point to someone special, not just to the wife of Achaz. On the other hand, a sign to come seven centuries later would hardly be a sign for Achaz. We conclude: this is a case of multiple fulfillment of prophecy: it refers to both Hezekiah and Christ.

Still further, the Septuagint uses parthenos to render Hebrew almah (which means a young woman, of the right age for marriage, who at least should be a virgin. Betulah is the more precise word for virgin). R. Laurentin (The Truth of Christmas Beyond the Myths, Petersham, 1986, p. 412, claims the Septuagint sometimes uses parthenos loosely. But this is not true. Actually, there are only two places in the OT where the Septuagint translates almah by parthenos. One is in Genesis 24.43, where the context shows the girl is a virgin. The other is Is. 7.14. There are several other places where almah is at least likely to be a virgin. But the Septuagint is so careful that it uses instead of parthenos, a more general word, neanis in those cases. Laurentin in the English version appeals also to Genesis 34. 3 (in the French he had appealed to 34.4, which does not have the word parthenos at all). But the case is at least unclear, since 34.3 is likely to be an instance of concentric ring narration, common in Hebrew. And as we have just said, in all clear instances the Septuagint is very precise in its use of parthenos, at times more precise than the Hebrew (as shown by the context).

Isaiah 11.1-3 RSV: "There will come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord."

Targum Jonathan: A king will come from the sons of Jesse, and the Messiah will be anointed from his children's children."

Comments: Some scholars, disinclined to see a real prophecy, want to make this refer to the great reduction in size of the Kingdom of Judah at the time of

Isaiah and Achaz—the king then controlled absolutely only Jerusalem (Cf. John H. Hayes and Stuart A. Irvine, Isaiah, the Eight Century Prophet, Abingdon, Nashville, 1987, pp. 212-13. They point out that the word which RSV renders "stump" is Hebrew geza, a rare word, found only three times in the OT, in this passage and in Job 14, 7 and Isaiah 40. 24. In the latter it means a newly planted tree; in Job it means a felled tree. The Targum renders it by "sons", as we saw. But the Targum also definitely makes it refer to the Messiah, and historically, the line of David had lacked power for about 600 years by that time (from 586 BC to the time of Christ). So, following the Targum interpretation, we see this passage as a real prophecy that the line of David would be reduced to a stump, even a fallen stump, but then in spite of that, a branch would come out from it. This is most dramatic, since Isaiah was speaking during the reign of Ahaz: 732-16.

Several times the Gospels speak of Jesus as being moved or led by the Spirit, e.g. , in Mt 4:1 He was led into the desert by the Spirit. In Lk 10. 21, He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. In Lk 4. 18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," (referring to Is 61. 1-2. Similarly, in Mt 12. 18 the Evangelist says that His cures were to fulfill Is 42. 1-4). In view of His divinity, how is it that He would need or want the action of the Holy Spirit? The answer is that He had a complete and perfect humanity, and although His divinity could supply for anything, yet the Father, in His love of good order, willed that His humanity be full and fully provided for as such. This is in accord with the principle of St. Thomas, Summa I. 19. 5. c in which it is said that God wills that one thing be in place to serve as a title for the second thing, even though that title does not really move Him.

Isaiah. First Three Servant Songs:

First: 42. 1-7 RSV: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says the Lord... I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness."

Second: 49. 1-7: "Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb.... . He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, and in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, 'You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified'. But I said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God:" And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him... he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Thus says the Lord... to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: 'Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Third: 50. 4-11: "The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear, to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame."

Comments On First Three Servant Songs: The Targum Jonathan identifies the first of these as Messianic: "Behold my servant, the Messiah." The Targum also identified the fourth as Messianic— as we shall see below. It does not mark the second and third as messianic.

The New Testament does not identify the second and third as messianic either. But it does so for the first: In Mt 12. 17-21, after Jesus has worked many cures, and ordered them not to make it known, the Gospel comments: "This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, 'Behold my servant.... '" The NT also indicates that the fourth song was messianic: Mt 8. 17; Lk 22. 37; Acts 8. 32-33; Romans 15. 21.

There are also other NT passages in which the Servant may be in mind, especially the Servant of chapter 53: e.g. , the words of institution of the Eucharist; and Phil. 2. 6-11 "He took the form of a slave")

There is no agreement among scholars on the identify of the Servant, in spite of the help of the Targums. Some think the Servant is Israel—but, especially in 49. 1-7, the Servant has a mission to Israel (cf. the boldface to words above in that text). Some would identify the Servant with various individual figures, e.g., Zerubbabel or Jehoiachin, representing the dynasty of David, or Moses, or Jeremiah. It could even be that the identity is not the same in all four songs. We add that it is generally accepted that in the OT an individual may stand for, and practically be identified with a group: hence the possible alternation on the individual and Israel in 49. The identity of the Servant and Israel could be paralleled by the relation of Jesus and the Church.

Fourth: Isaiah 52. 13—53. 12: The Hebrew OT here predicts a meek, suffering Servant. The Targum changes it to an arrogant conqueror. Here are some comparisons:

Hebrew v. 3: "He was despised and rejected by men."

Targum: "Then the glory of all kingdoms will be despised and cease."

Hebrew v. 5: "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities."

Targum: "He will [re]build the sanctuary, polluted because of our sins, [and] handed over because of our iniquities."

Hebrew v. 7: He was "like a lamb being led to the slaughter". Targum: "He will hand over the mighty ones of the peoples, like a lamb to the slaughter."

Comment: Good Jewish scholars today admit that the Targum distorts the Hebrew. (Cf. H. J. Schoeps, Paul, Westminster, 1961, p. 129, and Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, p. 190, and Samson Levey, op. cit. p. 152, note 10) One reason was that a suffering and dying Messiah was unacceptable. The belief was widespread that the Messiah would live forever. Hence at times they even spoke of two Messiahs. In the Talmud, Sukkah 52a we read of a suffering and slain Messiah son of Joseph (in comment on Zechariah 12. 10). He was to be the precursor of Messiah son of David, the herald of the true Messianic Age. In addition, the Targum picture seems to reflect hopes for Bar Kokhba, leader of the final Jewish revolt against Rome, who was thought to be Messiah. (Cf. Levey, pp. 66-67.

Zechariah 12.10: "They shall look upon me, whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son."

Comment: Most commentators are so disturbed by the shift from "me" to "him" that they emend the text. Thus RSV changes "me" to "him" St. John's Gospel in 19.37 explicitly takes it to refer to Jesus: "And another Scripture says: They will look on him whom their have pierced." Similarly, Apocalypse 1.7 understands the line to refer to Christ: "Behold he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, everyone who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him." In Mt. 26.31 Jesus quotes Zech. 12. 7 to refer to himself: "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed." On the cross, Jesus quoted Psalm 22, "My God, why have you forsaken me" not to express a belief the Father had left him (though the Father did will His death), but to show that that Psalm spoke of Him. In verse 17: "They have pierced my hands and my feet".

The problem is that "me" seems to be spoken by God Himself, while the "him" seems another person. David Baron, The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, Kriegel, Grand Rapids, 1971, pp. 438-48 contends that the "me" does express Christ, as divine while the "him" indicates the difference of persons within God.

So these added texts from Zechariah, Apocalypse, and Psalm 22 do help to clarify the prophecy of the suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

Zechariah 6. 12-13 RSV: "Thus says the Lord of Hosts: 'Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord, and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon his throne."

Comments: The Targum says "Behold the man whose name is the Messiah." Numbers Rabbah 18.12 says that from the tribe of Judah came Solomon who built the first temple, and then Zerubbabel who built the second temple. But "king Messiah will rebuild the Temple."

Haggai 2. 9: "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former."

Comments: The Targum does not mark this test as messianic. But yet the historical fact was that the glory of the second temple was much inferior to that of Solomon's temple. So St. Augustine is right in saying (City of God 18. 45) that the glory of the later temple was greater because of the presence of the divine Messiah in it. We might compare Malachi 3. 1: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before my face, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight." R. H. Fuller (in The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N. Y. 1965, p. 48) comments: "In this passage... Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself." Of course, Jesus Himself was and is God. He came to His temple, and thus the glory was greater than that of the first temple. (Jesus Himself quoted this text—with the modification usual since the rabbis had combined it with Ex 23. 20—to refer to Himself, with John the Baptist, whom in multiple fulfillment, He also called Elijah, as His forerunner. On this multiple fulfillment, cf. Wm. Most, Free From All Error, Libertyville, IL 1985, 1990, chapter 5, and on Jesus' use of the text cf. idem, The Consciousness of Christ, Front Royal, 1980, p 85).

Isaiah 61. 1-2 RSV: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn."

Comments: The Targum does not mark this text as Messianic. But in Lk 4. 17-21 Jesus Himself read the text in the synagogue at Nazareth and added: "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Micah 5. 1. : "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from the days of eternity."

Targum Jonathan: "whose name was spoken from days of old, from the days of eternity."

Comments: As we saw earlier, Samson Levey comments that the last part of verse 1 as in the Hebrew text "would tend to support the doctrine of a pre-existent Messiah." See also further data on rabbinic positions in section II above.

Psalm 72: This entire Psalm is taken messianically in the Targum. Especially in verse 1 the Targum prays: "Give the King Messiah the laws of your justice." And verse 17 says "his name was prepared even before the sun came to be." The dominant rabbinic opinion, in addition to the Targum, is that this Psalm is messianic.

St. Augustine makes a keen observation (City of God 17. 8). He notes that 2 Samuel 7. 8—16 which is related in thought, reports Nathan's prophecy to David. In particular he observes in 7. 12: "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom." But, notes Augustine, this verse speaks of a king to arise after the death of David—but Solomon began to reign before his death. So it must refer to another, to the Messiah, Christ.

Hosea 3. 4-5 RSV: "For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days."

Comments: Since the text speaks of the latter days, and tells of a period when

Israel will have no sacrifices, this must refer to the end time. The Targum makes it messianic saying that the children of Israel will repent, and "they will obey the Messiah, the son of David their king and he will cause them to worship the Lord."

Hosea 14. 4-8 RSV: "I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily.... they shall return and dwell beneath his shadow, they shall flourish as a garden, they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon."

Comments: The Targum identifies this text as messianic, saying in verse 7: "They will be gathered in from their Scattering, they shall live in the shade of their Messiah, and the dead shall live."

We notice the shifting back and forth from they to he. It is probable that the he is the Messiah. RSV in puzzlement says in v. 7 "They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow," while admitting in a note that the Hebrew has his.

In all, this text surely refers to the end times—cf. the end of the Scattering, and the resurrection of the dead—and is related to the conversion of the Jews to Christ, foretold by St. Paul in Romans 11. 25—26. It is interesting to compare with Romans 11. 25-16 also the words of Jesus in Luke 21:24: "Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. "the italicized words may well means the same as the words of Romans 11:25-26: "... a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in."

The thought seems much the same in Daniel 12:7 (NRSV). Daniel had asked when all these things would happen. The angel said: "When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished."

1 Cor. 15. 4: "He was buried, and according to the Scriptures, rose on the third day."

A direct text predicting His resurrection on third day might be Hosea 6. 2: "After two days he will revive us; and on the third day he will raise us up". In the original setting, the prophet is urging the people to return to God, and He will save them. The liturgy applies this to the resurrection of Jesus. Is it mere accommodation or multiple fulfillment of prophecy? Probably the latter.

However, in Isaiah 53:10-11 we do have a prediction of His resurrection, without mention of the third day. That day we can supply from the excellent work of Fr. De Margerie.

An outstanding article by Bertrand de Margerie, S. J. "Le troisième jour, selon les Ecritures, Il est ressucité" in Recherches des Sciences Religieuses (Strasbourg, 66, 1986, pp. 158-88) shows that the third day was widely used in Scripture for the day of rescue. It was the day of the rescue of Isaac from being sacrificed (Gen 22. 4ff) and of the deliverance given by Joseph to his brothers (Gen 42. 17ff). The Hebrews were to go three days into the desert to sacrifice (Ex 5. 3-4). It was the day of the revelation of the law at Sinai (Ex 19. 16). It was the day the spies saved by Rahab were delivered (Jos 2. 22). David had sinned by ordering a census, but chose a punishment of pestilence to end on the third day (2 Sam 24.13ff). It was the day on which Hezekiah would go up to the temple again, after being delivered from death (Is 38.1-5). It was the day on which Esther found favor with the king and saved her people (Esther 5.1). It was the day of return from the exile at the time of Ezra (Esdr. 8.32) It was the day of deliverance of Jonah from the whale (Jon 2.1). Jesus Himself predicted His resurrection on the third day (Mt. 16.21; 20.19; 27.63). Interestingly, in Babylonia, in the Descent of Ishtar, the third day was the day of the reawakening of the fertility gods: ANET 55. (Cf. Is 53:10; Ps 16:10).

Conclusion from the prophecies: The Targums, as we see, found a host of prophecies about the Messiah. Our Lady is involved directly in many of these, and indirectly in others, inasmuch as she is always sharing the lot of Jesus. She would have understood these things readily, for when the Archangel told her that her Son would reign over the house of Jacob forever, that clearly meant the Messiah. For a very common belief at the time held that the Messiah would do that, and no one else. Seeing that He would be the Messiah would at once open up the prophecies to her. The Targums, written without seeing them fulfilled in Christ, and written before the period when interest in the Messiah disappeared (the period from after the fall of Jerusalem, until the completion of the Babylonian Talmud: cf. Jacob Neusner's study Messiah in Context, and p. 5 above for data on the Targums in general. Now if the Jews, whom the OT so often calls stiff-necked could understand this much, she who was full of grace must have all the more easily seen the truth, even if she never heard a Targum. But she must have heard them in the synagogues. It is likely that there was a period of oral transmission before they were written down, but in either way she would have heard them. As to the question of taking Hebrew almah to mean virgin, as the Septuagint did—she would have no problem, for she was seeing it fulfilled in herself.


IV. The Covenants:

Covenants are a very basic pattern in the OT. And our redemption is, under one aspect, a new covenant. Therefore we need to examine covenants. We need to go back to the great covenant of Sinai. There God spoke to the people through Moses (Ex. 19. 5): "If you really hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be my special possession, dearer to me than all other peoples."

Since the work of G. Mendenhall (Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East, Pittsburgh, 1955. Cf. Biblical Archaeologist 17, 1954, 49-76) many think the Sinai covenant followed the pattern of ancient suzerainty treaties, best known through those of the Hittites from the second millennium B. C. . In this pattern there are the following elements: (1) Preamble, which identifies the overlord and his genealogy and titles; (2) Historical prologue, giving chiefly the benefits given by the overlord; (3) Stipulations imposed on the vassal; (4) Provision for deposit of the treaty in the temple and for public reading at intervals; (5) The gods who are witnesses; (6) Curses and blessings for fulfillment/non-fulfillment; (7) Vassal's oath of obedience; (8) Solemn ceremony of the oath; (9) Procedure against a rebellious vassal.

Not all think the Sinai covenant really followed this form—the elements mentioned are found only scattered in Exodus 19-24, not all in one place. Only in the later renewal mediated by Joshua (Josh 24) do we find many elements together. Cf. for a somewhat different view from that of the majority, D. J. McCarthy Treaty and Covenant (Analecta Biblica 21A, Rome, 1978).

Most scholars seem to prefer to call the Sinai covenant unilateral, i.e., God as overlord imposes obligations, has no obligation to carry out his own promises. But this is impossible. God cannot say: If you do this, I will do that, as He did in Ex 19. 5 and then ignore what He said. He is faithful and cannot go back on His word. Even though technically He cannot owe anything to any creature, yet, since He cannot violate His own word, the effect is the same. For a study with evidence that Sinai was bilateral, cf. Wm. Most, "A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenant Framework," in Cath. Biblical Quarterly, Jan. 1967, pp. 1-19.

We notice two major features here: 1) It brings into being a People of God, 2) they get favor on condition of obedience. The OT reports sadly how often they failed, going after idols. God warned them, and at last He would send in a foreign power to oppress them to bring them to their senses. When they would repent, He would rescue them.

The chief foreign powers to oppress them were the people of Amalek, the Philistines, the Assyrians, and the New Babylonians. Tiglath-Pileser III (745-27) invaded the territory of Naphtali, took its fortified cities, and sent the Hebrew population into Assyria (cf. 2Kgs. 15.29)> He also deported the Transjordanian tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh ( 1 Chr. 5. 6 & 26. Cf. Is 9. 1). Shalmaneser V of Assyria (727-22) captured Samaria in 722 (2 Kgs. 17. 3-6), and either he or his successor Sargon II ( 722-05) deported most of the remaining Israelites (2 Kgs. 17. 6 cf. 2 Chr. 30. 1 & 10-11). The purpose of these deportations was to break their national spirit. It worked, these northern tribes never returned even when Persia gave permission to return.

But finally came the great crash, when Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon came down in two waves, 597 and 587 (some prefer 596 and 586). He ruined the Temple and city, and took most of the people into captivity to break their national spirit. There was a third deportation in 581 after the murder of Gedeliah whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed governor over Judah. When Cyrus of Persia, after conquering Babylonia, in 539 allowed the Jews to return, only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin did return. The rest were absorbed into Babylonia and never came back.

It was during this period that God spoke again through Jeremiah 31. 31ff: "I will make a new covenant. It will not be like the covenant I made with your fathers, for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master. But this is the covenant: I will write my law on their hearts; I will be their God and they will be my people."

We notice there will be a difference, for the old was broken, the new will not be broken. But the two essentials we saw at Sinai are still there: a People of God, to get favor on condition of obedience. As we shall see later, the essential obedience would be that of Jesus (cf. Rom 5. 19 and LG 3). Did Jeremiah see that would be the case? We do not know. But the chief author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, can intend more than the human author sees. Still less likely is it that Jeremiah saw that the obedience of our Lady would play a role here: cf. LG 56 & 61.

Before moving ahead, we should notice that if we ask why God gave good things under the covenant, the reply would come on two levels: 1) On the most basic level, no creature could by its own power generate a claim on God. Hence His giving is pure unmerited, unmeritable generosity. 2) On the secondary level, i.e. , given that fact that He had freely entered into and bound Himself by covenant, we could speak of Him as repaying the people. In this sense St. Paul in Rom 2. 6 could say that God will repay each one according to his works—in spite of his insistence that justification is gratuitous. This same distinction, as we shall see later, will apply in the new covenant.

Jeremiah as we saw, spoke of a new covenant, and of the old as broken. St. Paul in Romans 11 makes a comparison of two olive trees: the tame olive tree is the original People of God. Many branches were broken off, by their infidelity. Into their place were engrafted branches from the wild olive tree, the gentiles. Thus the gentiles become part of the original People of God. Further, Paul says (11. 29) that the call of God to Israel to be His people is without repentance, is not withdrawn, and that at the end a remnant will be converted to Christ.

There is no conflict between the two concepts, of a new, or of an old extended covenant. The Kingdom of the Messiah had been foretold centuries ago, and was the fulfillment of the promises made before. Yet it was a new covenant in this respect, that there was a new obedience, and a new head, Christ.


V. Can We Trust the Gospels?

Perrin's Objection: Norman Perrin, famous Professor at the University of Chicago, (in Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, Harper and Row, N. Y. 1967, p. 26) claimed: "No ancient texts reflect the attitudes characteristic of the modern western world." and also (p. 16): "Over and over again, pericopes which have been hitherto accepted as historical reminiscences have been shown [by Form Criticism] to be something quite different.... the gospel materials themselves have forced us to change our mind.... We have been particularly influenced by a consideration of Mark 9:1 and its parallels." We can see from Perrin, and many others like him, that we have a problem to solve. Let us begin by dealing with the evidence that forced Perrin to give up on the Gospels. Then we will ask if it is true that no ancient texts show the attitudes like those of the modern world.

Mark 9. 1 has this: "There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power." Mt 16. 28 is the same except that they will see "the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." In Lk 9. 27 they will merely see "the Kingdom of God."

Perrin thinks that Matthew and Mark expect the end of the world soon, while Luke has settled down "to face ... the long haul of history."

We begin by noticing that all three Synoptics put this saying just before the Transfiguration—a remarkable thing, for they do not nearly always agree on chronological order. So it could refer to that, and Perrin is not really "forced" to give up on the Gospels.

But there is something much better. The words "Kingdom of God" vary in meaning in different texts. Often enough however they mean the Church in this world and/or the next. For example, after the parable of the wicked tenants, which the Gospel notes that the enemies of Jesus understood, Jesus adds (Mt 21. 43):"The kingdom... will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will yield a rich harvest." It cannot mean God's "reign" will be taken away—He reigns everywhere, all are subject. It means the favored status of the People of God. Yes, God's call still will hold for them—to return to being His people. But they are going to be on the outside, as St. Paul laments in Romans 9-11. Again, in the parable of the net (Mt 13. 47-50) the kingdom means the present Church. It adds that at the end, the wicked will be thrown out of the Church or Kingdom. If it meant reign—there would be no wicked persons included, for they reject the reign of God. The picture is similar with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Mt 25. 1-13, and in the parable of the weeds in the wheat in Mt 13. 24-30, and in the parable of the mustard seed in Mt 13. 31. In the first edition of Jerome Biblical Commentary, (II, p. 783) David Stanley thinks Mk 9. 1 refers to the coming of the kingdom, the Church, with power, that is, with miracles, after Pentecost. (For the Greek word for power is dynamis, which in the plural means displays of power, i.e. , miracles. ) John L. McKenzie (p. 16) writes: "The reign of God in Mt is clearly identified with the community of the disciples."

So there is no problem, Perrin is not forced: the text in Mk can readily mean they will not die until they see the Church being established after Pentecost with power, with miracles. Matthew mentions that the Son of Man will visit His Church. This is the concept of the Hebrew paqad, caring for it, and need not mean at the end: He is providing for His Church in all times. And of course Luke's version, that they will see the Kingdom, is no problem at all.

Form Criticism: Because of the objection from Perrin on the basis of Form Criticism, we should review it briefly. Form criticism starts with the premise that the Gospels evolved in three stages: (1) The actions and words of Jesus, of course, adapted to His audience; (2) The way the Apostles and the first generation preached these things, again, with adaptation of wording to the current audience (so that they might not use the same words as Jesus, but would carefully keep the sense); (3) Some individuals within the Church, under inspiration, wrote down some part of that original preaching: this became the Gospels. Therefore: The Gospels are simply part of the basic ongoing teaching of the Church, written down under inspiration. In that sense, the Church has something more basic than even the Gospels.

These claims are obviously true. Next, Form Criticism would like to try to determine at which of the three stages our present text took its present form, in the hope this will shed some light. The general idea is good. And from it we see that a given passage may be made up of several once independent units, for the original tradition may have had, separately, accounts of individual things Jesus did or said. But the problem is: How to determine where the boundaries of the units lie?

The critics turn to two means: First, what is the literary genre or pattern of each unit. That will help to mark off the borders. Second, what is the Sitz-im-Leben, or original life situation of each passage. For different situations may call for different patterns of writing.

Here is a concrete example of Form Critical work. Reginald H. Fuller (In: The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY, 1965, p. 109) thinks there are four units in Mk 8. 29-33, in which Jesus, at Caesarea Philippi, after asking what people in general were saying about Him, then asked the Apostles: (1) Who do you say that I am? Peter replies that He is the Messiah, the son of God; (2) Jesus tells them to keep quiet about it; (3) He then predicts His own death and resurrection (to correct their false notions about the Messiah), and Peter objects to His death; (4) "Get behind me , Satan". Fuller thought that units 2 and 3 were invented by the Church: Jesus had not really taught that He was the Messiah, but the Church later, being embarrassed, invented scenes in which the question came up, but He told people to keep quiet about it. As to the predictions of His death and resurrection, the Church invented those too, for when He really died and rose, the Apostles acted as if they had never heard any such thing.

If in this way the critics could eliminate units 2 and 3 (they cannot), then they say we could read the truth minus the fakery: Jesus asks the Apostles who they say He is. "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus angrily rejects it: "Get behind me, Satan."

We can easily refute the attempts to eliminate units 2 and 3: for details, see Wm. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, (Front Royal, Va. 1980, pp. 202-06). We add that the same Fuller today has given up on Form Criticism, and says it is "bankrupt" (in "St. Luke's Journal of Theology, 23, 1980, p. 96). Even R. Brown admits ( in: R. Brown and J. Meir, Antioch and Rome, Paulist, 1983, pp. 199-200) that we do not really know for certain Mark's purpose in writing, nor can we be sure in distinguishing what comes from Mark's editing, and what comes from earlier tradition. (Redaction Criticism studies the editorial work of each Evangelist, while Form Criticism studies the first two of the three stages mentioned above).

Besides the troubles just mentioned, the critics inject massive subjectivity by claiming that the primitive community—they are apt to pass by the Apostles without much if any mention—was "creative." That is, it just faked things. Thus R. Bultmann, who first applied Form Criticism to the New Testament, said (History of the Synoptic Tradition, tr. John Marsh, Harper & Row, NY, 1963, p. 40. n. 2: "The Controversy Dialogues as we have them are... creations of the Church." Briefly, it would be something like this: Group A is arguing with Group B. Group A has no text from Jesus to support their claim, so they make one up. Group B does the same. Again, the same Bultmann said (ibid. p. 47), "Naturally enough, our judgment will not be made in terms of objective criteria, but will depend on taste and discrimination." No wonder many Form Critics now declare the method bankrupt. Really, it can be useful, but at first so many did not see its limitations, and acted as if they had "assured results of science" as they called them. They built one insecure thing on top of another, like a house of cards. Now some, not all, are waking up, and throwing out the baby with the bath.

John P. Meier, in A Marginal Jew (Doubleday, 1991) repeatedly charges creativity, yet never gives a shred of evidence that such things happened, though he is most meticulous in demanding evidence for so many other things. He seemingly thinks the Christians were not interested in the truth even though that was vital for their own eternal fate.

They also used much the criterion of "Double dissimilarity or irreductibilty." That is, if an idea is dissimilar to the emphases of both ancient Judaism and early Christianity, we may think it comes from Jesus Himself."

Form Critical Claims of Joseph Fitzmyer: In his Christological Catechism (Paulist, 1982, p. 128, italics his) we read: "... the Biblical Commission calmly and frankly admitted that what is contained in the Gospels as we have them today is not the record of the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of the tradition, nor even the form in which they were preached in the second stage, but only the form compiled and edited by the evangelists.... neither the Church... nor theologians... have ever taught that the necessary formal effect of inspiration is historicity. The consequence of inspiration is inerrancy in affirmation, i.e. , immunity from error in what is affirmed or taught in the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation (see Dei verbum #11)".

Comments: 1. The part in italics is not strictly wrong, but very misleading. It can give the impression that we are not really sure what Jesus did or taught. What the Biblical Commission actually said is this (my translation from the Latin as found in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 25, July 1964, pp. 299-304. Their English translation is on pp. 305-12): "For the fact that the Evangelists report the words or deeds of the Lord in different order does not affect at all the truth of the narrative, for they keep the sense while reporting His statements, not to the letter, but in different ways." We had said the same in describing the three stages above.

2. The rest of the quotation form Fitzmyer seems to reflect an error rather common today, of claiming that Vatican II (DV #11) allows us to think there are errors in Scripture in science, history and even religion—only things needed for salvation are inerrant. This is not at all true, as we can see, for example, from the fact that the Council itself added a footnote on this very passage, referring us to several earlier Magisterium texts which insist there is no error of any kind in Scripture. For further data on this, and on the Instruction of 1964 in general, cf. Wm. G. Most, Free From All Error, Libertyville, IL, 1985, 1990, chapters 7, 20, 21, and 22. The 1964 Instruction, while admitting that Form Criticism is legitimate and at times helpful, warns: "Certain followers of this method, led astray by the prejudices of rationalism, reject the existence of a supernatural order and the intervention of a personal God in the world as taught by revelation properly so called, and the possibility and actual existence of miracles and prophecies. Others start with a false notion of faith, as if faith does not care about historical truth or is even incompatible with it. Others deny, as it were in advance, the historical value and character of the documents of revelation. Others, finally, think little of the authority of the Apostles as witnesses of Christ, and of their role and influence on the primitive community, while they extol the creative power of this community. All these things are not only opposed to Catholic doctrine but also lack a scientific foundation, and are foreign to the right principles of historical method."

NB. What we have been saying about Form Criticism is only preliminary. The really basic way to establish the historicity of the Gospels is to come next.

Literary Genre in general: Genre means a pattern of writing. For example, if we today read a modern historical novel about the Civil war, we expect a mixture of history and fiction. The main line of the story will be history, and the background descriptions will fit. But there will be fill-ins, such as word for word discussions between important characters of the period. We do not, because of the fictional elements, charge the writer with ignorance or deception. No, that is the way such a novel is supposed to be written, and understood. There are as it were rules by which we read it. The key word is assert or claim. The writer claims and asserts that the main line is historical, but he does not assert that the fill-ins are historical.

There are many other genres in English, mostly inherited from Greece and Rome with rather little change. So long as we read things in that great culture stream, our natural adjustments, made since we are natives of this culture, do well for us. But if we move into a very different culture, such as ancient Semitic, then we may not take things for granted. Pope Pius XII, in his Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, of 1943, told us we must study to find what genres were in use in the ancient Near East, and use this knowledge to help understand Scripture.

We are beginning our search with the Gospels, but at the start, we will not look on them as sacred or inspired—that is to be established only later on. We will look at them as ancient documents, and then put them through the kinds of checking we use on other ancient documents. First of all we need to know the genre of the Gospels.

There is much help from studying what the ancient Greeks and Romans thought they were doing or aimed to do when they wrote history. As we shall see, N. Perrin shows no knowledge of the statements of the ancient historians—only that way could he claim that no ancient texts show an attitude like modern things.

Ancient Historians on History:

Herodotus, Preface 1: "These are the researches (historiai) of Herodotus of Halicarnassus... in the hope of... preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done." 7. 152: "... my duty is to report all that is said, but I am not obliged to believe it all alike—a remark which may be understood to apply to my whole History."

Thucydides 1. 22: ". . I have not ventured to speak from any chance information... I have described nothing but what I either saw myself, or learned from others from whom I made the most careful and specific inquiry." 5. 26:" I took great pains to make out the exact truth."

Polybius 3. 59: [the historian is obliged] "... to give his own first allegiance to the truth... and to report to us the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As a result, accurate historical research into the subjects just mentioned was not so much difficult as it was impossible in times past.... But in modern times, the empire of Alexander in Asia and the supremacy of Rome in other places have opened up almost the entire world to sea or land travel...." 1. 1: "The knowledge of past events is the supreme corrective of human nature."

Diodorus: 1. 1-5: "I have devoted 30 years to the task, during which I have incurred considerable hardships and danger in making extensive travels.... I have been able to obtain accurate information of all the events of the Roman dominion from the national records which have been preserved from an early date.... I have not tried to get a definite chronology of events before the Trojan War, since no trustworthy table of dates for this time has come to my hands." 1. 1: "It is a blessing to be given a chance to improve ourselves by taking a warning from the mistakes of others."

Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1. 1-8: "Part of my information has been obtained orally from the chief Roman educated men with whom I have come into personal contact, and part from studying the historical works which have the highest reputation among the Romans themselves...."

Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 1. 1-16: "In describing the performances of both sides I will keep a strict objectivity. Reply to Apion 1. 1-59: "My own record of the war as a whole and of the incidental details is correct, for I was a firsthand witness of all the events."

Livy 7. 6. 6: [On the problem of how the Lacus Curtius got its name}."I would make every effort to find out the truth if there were a path that would lead me to it; as things are, one must hold to tradition when antiquity makes certainty impossible." Preface 6: "Events before the city was founded... are more in the nature of fables than of reliable historical evidence. It is not my intention to bother either to approve or to refute them."

Tacitus, Annals 1. 1 "I intend to hand down a few of the last events about Augustus, and then the principate of Tiberius and other things, without anger or partisanship. I am far from having reason for those."

Comments: 1. We can see the purpose in mind: these writers want to record what really happened, the truth. They also, as is clear from the comments cited, especially those from Polybius and Diodorus, that they also want to teach lessons. Modern writers favor both, with less stress on explicitly teaching lessons. In other words, both ancient and modern writers of history want facts plus interpretations.

2. Ancient writers also liked to include speeches at suitable points. Thucydides in 1. 22 said of this:" As to the speeches which were made either before or during the {Peloponnesian] war, it was hard for me, and for others who reported them to me, to recollect the exact words. I have therefore put into the mouth of each speaker the sentiments proper to the occasion, expressed as I thought he would be likely to express them, while at the same time I tried, as nearly as I could, to give the general sense of what was actually said." In other words, Thucydides would be careful to get the sense, but not the words, when he could get the reports on the sense. If he could not get even the sense, he would write comments he thought suitable for the occasion.

3. Such were the ideals, the notion of the genre, held by ancient Greek and Roman historians. How well then were able to live up to the ideal is a different matter. They did not always have the means to get at the facts, as we see some of them admitting. Modern historians however would give a high rating for factuality to several of these, chiefly Thucydides, Polybius and Tacitus. (As to the comment of Tacitus that he wanted to write without anger or partisanship, some accuse him of bias against some figures, e.g. , Tiberius. But even so, the same commentators admit his accuracy in the facts he reports—the problem is in comments on the facts.

Genre of the Gospels: 1. We have seen what ideals the writers of the ancient world pursued in writing history: facts plus interpretations. We would expect the Gospel writers in general to try also for facts, plus interpretations for the sake of faith. For two reasons, they would try harder: 1) They believed their eternal fate depended on the facts about Jesus. 2) Jewish writers held the same ideals as the Greeks and Romans, as we see from the remarks of Josephus cited above. But in addition, The Jews had a better conception of history than did the Greeks and Romans, in that these latter commonly held that everything moves in great cycles. Thus in an important study, Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, (tr. W. R. Trask, Princeton, 1954, pp. 104, 143) we read: "The Hebrews were the first to discover the meaning of history as the epiphany [manifestation] of God, and this concept, as we should expect, was taken up and amplified by Christianity.... For Christianity, time is real because it has a meaning—the Redemption.... The development of history is thus governed and oriented by a unique fact, a fact which stands entirely alone."

2. Luke's Gospel in particular shows great care. In the opening lines he says he consulted written accounts and eyewitnesses. My study, "Did St. Luke Imitate the Septuagint?" in Journal for Study of the New Testament, July, 1982, pp. 30-41 studied Luke's use of a special Semitism, the apodotic kai and found that he certainly did not imitate the Septuagint, as is often said, but instead he translated slavishly from sources in two kinds of Hebrew. (A summary of the article is found in Catholic Apologetics Today, Chapter 9).

The Problem of Historicism: Before going further, we must face the challenge of Historicism. Unfortunately, not all use this word in the same sense today. We mean it in the sense a history professor would have in mind, that is, the belief that every person and every event is so close to unique that we have little in common with the past, and so cannot be sure of understanding it. This of course undermines all historical writing, and, obviously, undermines the possibility of getting facts from the Gospels.

Historicism developed as a reaction to the excesses of such writers as Bossuet, who in his Discours sur l'histoire universelle (1681) said that everything in history is a contrivance of the higher wisdom of God. Some men of the so—called "Enlightenment", while rejecting the influence of God, still thought that history should be a science parallel to the experimental sciences, that is, it should include hypotheses and laws. By knowing these, people could practically control their own fate. Some prominent proponents were Etienne Condillac (1715-80), John S. Mill (1806-73) and Auguste Comte (1798-1857).

G. Vico in his Scienza Nuova (3d ed. 1744) prepared the way for Historicism. He said that to really know something, one must have made it. Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) in his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit held similar views, and said each society has its own unique lifestyle, which subtly but inescapably determines the mentalities of those born in it.

Not strangely, some saw the application of these ideas even to the past documents of the Church. Thus John W. O'Malley, S. J. , in "Reform, Historical Consciousness and Vatican II's Aggiornamento" in Theological Studies 32 , 1971, pp. 596-98 wrote (emphasis added): "The historian... becomes deeply aware of the discontinuity in the past, and he is forced to remove from his consideration any over-arching divine plan. Indeed, historicism was born out of disillusionment with attempts to discover and expose such plans whether in their sacral or secularized forms.... every person, event and document of the past is the product of very specific and unrepeatable contingencies.... By refusing to consider them as products of providence or as inevitable links in a preordained chain of historical progress, decline, or development, we deprive them of all absolute character. We relativize them. ... contemporary philosophy of history relativizes the past and thus neutralizes it... . we are freed from the past... . we can with truth speak of a 'changing' or even a 'new' past... . if the past imposes no pattern upon us, we are free to try to create the future."

The same attitude at least seems to appear in the words of Avery Dulles, S. J. (The Survival of Dogma, NY 1971, p. 164): "It is far from obvious that the dogmas of the Church, having been 'revealed by God himself, ' cannot be revised by the Church.... Our findings suggest that the Catholic dogmas as presently formulated and understood may be significantly changed...."

The Answer to Historicism: 1. It is not strictly true that every single person and every single event is close to unique. Many sciences can make very broad generalizations, which do have some exceptions, but yet they hold widely, e. g, medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology. Yes, there is a measure of uniqueness in fingerprints, and in the DNA patterns, but it is still true that there are the large and broadly reaching patterns.

2. We must distinguish between simple and complex facts, and between facts and interpretations.

Complex facts are those that are entwined with an ancient culture, so that we would need to as it were reconstitute that culture to fully understand. Even then, needed facts can be recovered at least in some cases, cf. for example my article, "A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenant Framework" in CBQ 1967, pp. 1-19, in which the concept of hesed (not entirely unknown otherwise) is carefully recovered and worked out. But not all acts are so entwined, e. g, although the notion of prophet is complex within Hebrew culture, the notion of a messenger is understandable in all cultures.

The charge is made that "there is no such thing as an uninterpreted account." It means that bias is apt to get into account. There is some truth in this, but it is not true in all types of cases. For example, if someone sees a leper stand before Jesus asking to be cured, and Jesus says: "I do will it: be cured: and the man is cured—there is no opening for bias. One's eyes and ears report simply what has happened.

Again even in more complicated instances in history we can tell the difference between facts and interpretations. For example, the fine Roman historian, Tacitus, says in his Annals 1. 2 that Augustus "seduced the army with bonuses, and his cheap food policy was a successful bait for civilians."—We can see that he is interpreting the motives of Augustus. We can even see that the language is loaded with the words "seduced" and "bait" which prejudge the case. But Tacitus also reports (Annals 1. 7-8) that: "At the senate's first meeting [after the death of Augustus] he [Tiberius] allowed no business to be discussed except the funeral of Augustus."—This is a clearly a simple factual report. Anyone there could see and hear that that was the one piece of business. But Tacitus also speculates on the motives of Tiberius, "he only showed signs of hesitation when he addressed the senate. This was chiefly because of Germanicus, who was extremely popular.... Tiberius was afraid Germanicus [who commanded a large army] might prefer the throne to the prospect of it."—Here is a clear case of interpretation.

So if we take the time to sort things out, we can at least in many cases make the needed distinctions, and for certain, as we shall see later, we can locate a few simple, uncomplex facts about Jesus, that are such that there is no room for bias in the report, and yet they amply suffice for building the bases we need.

A Note on Ricoeur and Gadamer: Ideas very similar to those we saw in Historicism have been proposed by Paul Ricoeur, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth, TX U. 1976) and H. G. Gadamer, Truth and Method (Seabury, 1975). They both hold that when a manuscript leaves the author's hand it takes on a new life of its own. We neither know nor care much what the author meant: we look at the new meanings, which are many.

Reply: By the use of the method just outlined, plus normal exegetical methods, we can find out what the author meant. The proposal of Riceour is total subjectivism.

A very similar development is found in "Deconstruction", favored by some professors of literature. They would argue that all writing can be reduced to an arbitrary sequence of linguistic signs or words, whose meanings have no relationship to the author's intention or to the world that lies beyond the text. Thus for example, Hamlet would be an impersonal skein of linguistic codes and conventions, the interpretation of which is open to anyone who cares to 'deconstruct' the text and 'complete' it by creating something totally different." The reply is the same. We notice the word "arbitrary". No, usage determines the meaning of the signs and sounds, and people in general can and do recognize them.

The most prominent Deconstructionist is Jacques Derrida. His theory rests on the bases just mentioned and also on the nihilistic philosophy of Nietzsche which denies the possibility of discovering truth.

Could the Gospel Writers get the needed facts?: Yes, there were several means open to them. (We recall that the usual estimates for dates of Matthew and Luke are 80—90 A. D. , while it is thought Mark wrote a bit before 70. The dates 80—90 rest on slim conjectures, as we shall see. But even if we allow the estimates to stand, we can still find ample means for the Evangelists to get information).

1) Pope Clement I, who probably became Pope about 92 AD, says in his letter to Corinth (5. 1), written probably in 95 AD, that Peter and Paul were of his own generation. Now unless we think Clement became Pope as a teenager, he should have been alive and around in Rome when Peter and Paul were there and preaching. For these two Saints died around 65 or 66 A. D. Hence the letter to Corinth was only 30 years later. And of course there would be many others alive in the period 80—90 besides Clement who had heard Peter and Paul.

2) St. Polycarp, burned in 156 AD at age 86, was Bishop at Smyrna, and according to a letter to Florinus from St. Irenaeus (preserved in Eusebius, Church History, 5. 20-5-7) used to tell in his homilies what he had heard from St. John. St. Irenaeus later recalled what was said. Smyrna was not far from Ephesus, where, according to a strong tradition, St. John spent his last years. We also have a letter of Polycarp to Philippi, which gives much information on Christianity.

3) St Ignatius of Antioch, eaten by the beasts at Rome probably in 107, was one of the first, probably the second bishop of Antioch, the very city where St. Peter had once worked, and where Christians first were given the name Christian (Acts 11. 26). We have seven letters of his, written on the way to Rome, which contain much information on Christian doctrine.

4) Quadratus, earliest of the Greek apologists, wrote an apology about 123 AD, in which he reports that some persons were still alive in his day who had been cured by Christ or raised from the dead by Him. They would be excellent sources of data. Even if they were not still alive in 123, yet they surely would have been around in the period 80-90 where most scholars place the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (they put Mark a bit before 70). The text of Quadratus we have is found in Eusebius, Church History 4. 3. 1-2.

5) Jesus died around 30 or 33 AD, a man in his teenage then would have to be about 65 by 80. A. D. , the start of the period 80-90 where most scholars date Matthew and Luke (Mark as we said is dated before 70).

The Dates and Authors of the Gospels:

We have just seen that even according to the latest estimates, Mark was written a bit before 70, Matthew and Luke between 80 and 90 — a period when, as we have just shown, information on Jesus would have been easy to get. Therefore we do not strictly need to know the names of the writers, though we do have fine evidence, as we shall soon see.

About the dates: The reason for putting Mark early is the fact that Mark 13.14 is not too clear. Therefore, some say, if it had been written after the fall of Jerusalem, Mark would have clarified it. The reasons for the later dates of Matthew and Luke are: 1) They both depended on Mark.—But this is not at all proved, and not a few good scholars today disagree, e.g. , W. R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem (Dillsboro, N. C. 1976); Bernard Orchard, Matthew, Luke and Mark (Manchester, 1977); E. P. Sanders, The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition (Cambridge, 1969); John M. Rist, On the Independence of Matthew and Mark (Cambridge, 1978); Hans-Herbert Stoldt, History and Criticism of the Marcan Hypothesis (Edinburgh, 1980); C. S. Mann, Mark (Anchor Bible, Doubleday, 1986, p. 75). Still further, Luke often adds Semitisms which Mark does not have, and sometimes omits Semitisms which Mark does have. Luke very often uses an Aramaic type paraphrase with a form of the verb to be plus a participle instead of an imperfect indicative: of all the instances of this structure in the New Testament, Luke has 50%, of which there are 30 examples in his Gospel and 24 in Acts. Yet, where this structure occurs in Mark, Luke usually avoids it—though he does use it in places that he has parallel to Mark, but in which Mark does not use it (data from M. Zerwick, Graecitas Biblica, ed. 4, Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, Romae #361. O. L. Cope, in Matthew, a Scribe Trained for the Kingdom of Heaven (CBQ Monograph Series 5, 1976, p. 12) writes: "Matthew's use of Mark is hypothetical, ."

A second reason proposed for late dating of Matthew and Luke is the relative clarity of the predictions of the fall of Jerusalem. Luke even mentions an army surrounding the city.—But this reason is very poor. In all ancient sieges an army would surround a city.

A further proposed reason is this: Matthew shows no knowledge of the debate in which St. Paul became so involved over the law. So, the claim goes, the debate must have been settled by the time Matthew wrote. Paul insisted we are free from the law; but Matthew says (5. 17) Jesus said the law would never pass away: He had come not to destroy but to fulfill.—Again, the argument does not hold. Matthew had a different purpose in writing, to give a basic account of the life and teachings of Jesus. Further, St. Paul did not really undermine the law. He meant that keeping the law does not earn salvation. He insists many times over that if we violate the law, we will not reach heaven: 1 Cor 6. 9-10; Gal 5. 19-21; Eph 5. 5 ;Rom 3. 31. He sums up his idea in Romans 6. 23: "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is everlasting life." So everlasting life is a free gift, but hell is earned. Similarly Jesus said we must be like little children, who do not think they earn the love and care of their parents, but know well then can earn punishment.

On the other hand, it is really inexplicable how the Evangelists could have omitted all mention of the fact that the fall of Jerusalem had happened, if they wrote after it — it was so traumatic an event, and especially Matthew so loves to point out fulfillment of prophecies.

Ancient Testimonies on Authorship: Even though we do not need to know the names of the authors—for it is enough to know the Gospels were written when facts about Jesus could readily be had, and that the writers believed their eternity depended on the truth about Jesus and so would be very careful—yet we will give some of the ancient testimonies about the authors.

Papias: He was Bishop of Hierapolis, who, around 130 A. D. wrote Exegesis of the Lord's Sayings. Papias says he inquired from those who had heard the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, especially a presbyter John, who is clearly not the Apostle John, but seems to have lived about the same time as the Apostle. We depend on quotations given by Eusebius, Church History 3.39 for the words of Papias: "Mark, the interpreter of Peter, diligently wrote down whatever he had entrusted to memory, not however, in order. For he had not heard the Lord nor followed Him but later he was, as I said, a hearer of Peter, who according to need gave teachings, but had no intention of giving a connected account of the sayings of the Lord. Mark, then, made no mistake, but wrote down things as he remembered. He aimed at one thing, that he would omit none of the things he had heard.... Matthew wrote the sayings of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them according as he was able."

Comments: 1. Eusebius criticizes Papias as "a man of small intelligence" But the remark is unjustified, for we notice Eusebius said this because Papias held the millennium theory — some other very intelligent Fathers held it, e.g. , St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus. It is a mistake to hold that the theory, but one that is understandable, given the obscurity the meaning of Apocalypse 20.

2. At a colloquium on the relationships among the Gospels at Trinity University at San Antonio in 1977, George A. Kennedy, Paddison Professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina, in replying to a question about his use of Papias as a credible source, said, "He had studied carefully the second-century evidence for the tradition that Mark's Gospels reflects directly reminiscences of Peter, and had concluded that he would be thoroughly delighted to find such solid evidence for some other ancient historical tradition." (Cited from: Patrick Henry, New Directions in New Testament Study, Westminster, Phila. 1979, pp. 33-34.

3. Martin Hengel, highly respected Professor of the New Testament at the University of Tubingen, ( from which so many leftish positions on Scripture have come) in Studies in the Gospel of Mark (tr. John Bowden, Fortress, Philadelphia, 1985, pp. 47—50, insistently defends the tradition that St. Mark followed St. Peter and wrote from his preaching.

Anti-Marcionite Prologues: "Mark, who was called stump-fingered, was the interpreter of Peter. After the departure of Peter, he wrote a Gospel in Italy.... Luke of Antioch in Syria, a physician, having become a disciple of the apostles, and later having followed Paul until his martyrdom... after the Gospels had been written—by Matthew in Judea, by Mark in Italy—moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote this Gospel in Achaia... with great care, for gentile believers."

Comments: 1. Probable date, at least for that on Mark, is between 160 and 180 AD. The detail that Mark was "stump-fingered' is remarkable. A later forger would be unlikely to know such a detail, and is unlikely to have invented so odd and uncomplimentary a point.

2. Some manuscripts add after the lines on Mark: "When Peter heard it, he approved, and gave it to the Church to be read by his authority." This does not agree with St. Irenaeus 3. 1. 1, which we shall see below, which says that Mark wrote after the exodon of Peter — which means departure, probably after his death. Since St. Irenaeus had two likely contacts in addition to the work of Papias—he had been to Rome, and he had listened to St. Polycarp tell his reminiscences of St. John—it is more likely that Irenaeus is right on the point. However, both St. Irenaeus and the Prologues definitely agree that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter, regardless of the timing. Origen, to be cited below, also agrees that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter.

Muratorian Fragment: "The third book of the Gospels is according to Luke. Luke that physician, after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had taken him along as a companion on the journeys, wrote in his own name. He however had not seen the Lord in the flesh, and so, he began to speak, starting with the birth of John, according as he was able."

Comments: This is a fragmentary list, in Latin, of the books of the New Testament, discovered in Milan in 1740 by L. A. Muratori. It dates probably from between 155 and 200 AD. The first part is missing, and so the fragment begins with an incomplete sentence: "... at which he was present and so he wrote." This most likely refers to Mark being present at the preaching of Peter and writing from it.

St. Irenaeus: In his Against Heresies 3. 1. 1, he gives us a valuable testimony: "Matthew among the Hebrews brought forth in their own language, a written Gospel, while Peter and Paul at Rome were preaching and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down in writing the things preached by Peter. And Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by him. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who had reclined on His breast, gave forth the Gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia."

Tertullian, writing about 207 A. D. says (Against Marcion 4. 2. 2): "Of the Apostles, John and Matthew instill the faith in us; of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it."

Comments: Some have tried to say these witness are not worth much, that Papias was unrealiable, and all others copied from him. We have already answered the charge against Papias. As to the claim all copied from one, there is no proof. On the contrary, the Anti-Marcionite Prologue has facts on Luke, while Papias, in what has come down to us, has nothing. Also the Anti-Marcionite Prologue has an odd detail on Mark, that he was stump-fingered, which Papias seems to lack. St. Irenaeus too has facts not found in Papias. For example, that Matthew wrote while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome. Also, as we said above , St. Irenaeus had listened to St. Polycarp who knew St. John personally, and Irenaeus had visited Rome at least once, where he could easily have gathered information, especially on Mark recording Peter's preaching there.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 1.: "... having learned by tradition about the four Gospels, that alone are beyond question in the Church of God under heaven, that the one according to Matthew, the former tax collector was written first, and given to believers from Judaism, composed in the Hebrew letters; second, that according to Mark, as Peter instructed, whom Peter acknowledged as his son in the catholic Epistle saying , 'the [Church] that is in Babylon, elect, and Mark my son, ' and the third, that according to Luke who made the Gospel for the gentiles, praised by Paul."

Comments: In 2 Cor 8. 18 we read: "We have sent also with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches; not only that, but he was appointed by the churches as a companion of our travels for this grace." Commentators are not agreed on who is meant, but it could well be Luke. Origen seems to mean Luke. The RSV unfortunately says his praise is in "preaching" the Gospel. There is no word for preaching in the Greek, and it would be different from writing a Gospel. We have this text of Origen thanks to Eusebius 6. 25. 3-6. It was probably written about 244 AD.

To sum up: We have a unanimous tradition, reaching back to around 100 A. D. that Mark wrote a Gospel based on Peter's preaching with whom he had worked, that Luke was a physician from Antioch, who traveled often with St. Paul, and based his Gospel on the preaching of St. Paul. St. Paul in turn insists strongly in the first chapter of Galatians that he got his basic knowledge of Christ directly from Christ in the Damascus road vision, and that he also compared notes with the other Apostles. And that Matthew wrote a Gospel, or at last the words of the Lord, in Hebrew. We do not have data on the Greek text we now have.

Objection: To say that Christians were sincere since they even faced death for their faith does not prove anything: the Muslims and others do that too. Reply: To die for a faith proves only sincerity, it does not prove they have the facts. We have shown the Gospel writers did have the facts. There is no such evidence for Mohammed, who claimed visions in a cave—there was never any checking. Some of the writings he left contain contradictions.

Absolutely no other religious group or sect can present such a carefully worked out line of evidence as what we are now presenting—with the final part to come immediately below.

Six facts from the Gospels: We have seen that the Gospels intended to present facts, that we can tell them apart from interpretations, that they had access to the facts, that they believed their eternity depended on the facts. Now, to reach a conclusion, we look for and find six simple, uncomplicated facts, such that there is no room for bias to create them.

1) There was a man named Jesus: We have already shown that the facts were available, the fact that He lived is the most obvious of all of them. Even pagan history reports on Him. Tacitus, a Roman historian considered by modern historians to be about as good on facts as modern writers wrote (Annals, 15. 44): " The author of the name, Christ, was executed in the reign of Tiberius, by the procurator Pontius Pilate."

2) He claimed to be a messenger sent by God: Again, it is quite obvious that He claimed this. He claimed authority over the law given by Moses (Mt. 5. 21-44). He said He was greater than Jonah and Solomon (Mt. 12. 41-43). He said He was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 35. 5—6 (Mt. 11. 3-5; Luke 7, 20-22). He claimed He could forgive sins (Mark 2. 1-12 and parallels).

3) He did enough to prove He was such, by means of miracles worked in special contexts, with a tie established between the miracle and the claim. The case just cited from Mark 2. 1-12 is an example: He cured the paralytic to prove He had forgiven the man's sins. He many times over made such a connection, e. g, Mk. 5:21-43; Mt 8. 5-13; Mt 9. 27-29 and more). The NJBC on p. 1371 asserts: "Consistently, Jesus is presented as refusing to work miracles to show off his power (Mt 4:5-7; Luke 23:6-12; Mark 8:11-13; Mt 12:38-42; Mark 15;31-32." Reply: In Mt 4:5-7 He refuses to do as the devil asks in the temptations; In Lk 23:6-12 He refuses to gratify the curiosity of Herod; in Mk 8:11-13 the Pharisees asked a sign to tempt Him: "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign:—they had already seen so many. Mt. 12:38-42 is same as Mk 8:11-13. In Mk 15:31-32 the high priests ask Him to come down from the cross. Are these claims stupid or deliberately fraudulent?

Many sects today claim frequent miracles . But none of these are checked. The Catholic Church is very demanding. The shrine of Lourdes has had thousands of seeming cures since the visions of 1858. But only a bit over 60 of them have been accepted. Before the acceptance, there must have been a medical certificate of the disease and the statement that it is beyond science. As soon as it happens, a staff of Doctors examines, and the examination is repeated later. For details, cf. Ruth Cranston The Miracle of Lourdes, (updated edition, 1988, Doubleday, Image Books). If someone says there can be no miracles, we merely show those that are checked to the hilt by modern science. Another, The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, by B. Sammaciccia, A. E. Burakowski, F. J. Kuba (Stella Maris Books, Ft. Worth TX), tells of a host and clots of blood kept since about 800 AD, which have been checked by a team of Doctors and biologists, who found it to be part of a human heart, with no preservatives; the blood is Type AB, the same as the blood that came from the chalice, also still to be seen.

Even the hardly conservative New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990) admits, on pp. 1320-21: "Extraordinary deeds of Jesus not easily explained by human means, esp. exorcisms and cures, were never denied in antiquity, even by his enemies , who referred his miracles to the power of the devil... and, in later polemics, to magic."

Some try to say His miracles are much like those of Rabbis and Greeks. On the later, cf. J. McGinley, "Hellenic Analogies and the Typical Healing Narrative," in Theological Studies 4 (1943) pp. 385-419. Or they say that Apollonius of Tyana is much like Christ, as seen in his life by Philostratus. But that life was written much after the events. We see Apollonius is just a Pythagorean philosopher, not one who claimed he was sent by God to bring eternal salvation by His own suffering. Apollonius holds many merely philosophical discussions. All of Greece assembles at Olympia to hear him (8:15-19) for forty days. In India he finds dragons 60 feet long (3:7) whose eyes contain mystic gems. If they were hollowed out they would hold enough drink for four men. He also sees robot tripods that serve meals. His "miracles" are poor. He finds a satyr annoying women, and quiets him with wine (6:27). He meets a woman who has a son possessed by a demon, which turns out to be the ghost of a man who fell in battle, but had been attached to his wife. When she married three days after his death he became disgusted with women, and so, after death, became homosexual over the 16 year old boy. Apollonius gives the woman a letter with threats to the ghost (3:38). And there is more of the same.

4 & 5) As we would expect, He had a smaller circle within the crowds that followed, to whom He spoke more, and He told them to continue His work, His teaching. We cannot imagine a messenger sent from God for just one generation in one small out of the way country. So in Luke 6. 12-16 He picks Twelve Apostles. He sent them out to preach (Mark 3. 13-14, cf. Mt. 10. 5; Luke 9. 2). At the end he told them (Mt 28. 18—20): "All power is given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world."

6) He promised God would protect their teaching. Really we would expect a messenger sent by God with a great mission to provide for this. Hence He told them (Lk 10. 16): "He who hears you hears me; and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me."

Some Protestants try to say that this text merely means that Jesus identifies with them, as He does with the poor. But they forget under what respect does He identify Himself with them—as poor—or as those sent to teach in His name. It is clearly the latter, as those who teach in His name.

Again, in Matthew 18. 17-18: "If he will not hear them [others sent along to help correct someone in error or sin ] tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to you as the heathen and the publican. Amen, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven." The words "binding and loosing" were well known in the teaching of the rabbis of the time. Their regular meaning was to impose or remove an obligation by an authoritative decision or teaching. These words in the passage cited were spoken to all the Apostles. They were specially spoken to Peter in Mt 16. 19. W. F. Albright, a noted Protestant Scripture scholar often called in his last years," the dean of American Scripture scholars", wrote in his commentary on Matthew (Anchor Bible, Doubleday , 1971, p. 198): "Peter's authority to 'bind' or 'release' will be a carrying out of decisions made in Heaven. His teaching and disciplinary activities will be similarly guided by the Spirit to carry out Heaven's will."

Conclusion from The Gospels: We now see before us a group (actually, a church) commissioned to teach, by a messenger sent from God, and promised God's protection on their teaching. Now it is not only intellectually permissible, but mandatory, if we have followed the reasoning, to believe their teaching,

and this is quite independent of the quality of the men having that promise today. Then this group or church can tell us which books are inspired—there is no other way (cf. Free From All Error, chapter 2), and can tell us that the Messenger is actually divine. They can also tell us that there is a Pope, and what authority he has.

So now at last, we know we can go ahead and use the Gospels as sources of data about Christ.


VI. The Genre of the Infancy Gospels.

Special attention is needed here because of the many attacks on their historicity. But we have special evidence for their historicity:

(1) Vatican II LG #57: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is evident from the time of the virginal conception of Christ even to His death. In the first place, it is evident when Mary, arising in haste to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her faith... . [it is evident] at His birth, when the Mother of God joyfully showed her firstborn Son—who did not diminish, but consecrated her virginal integrity—to the shepherds and the Magi." A bit earlier, in #55, the same document had shown great meticulousness in inserting cf. before references to Gen 3. 15 and Is 7. 14, to avoid saying flatly that the human author of these verses had seen what the Church now sees in them. But no such reservations were made in the lines just cited from #57, even as to the shepherds and the Magi. We notice too that LG speaks of her "virginal integrity", which surely refers to physical virginity. So her virginity is not just something spiritual as some are claiming.

(2)Paul VI, Allocution of Dec 28, 1966 (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI), He complained that some "try to diminish the historical value of the Gospels themselves, especially those that refer to the birth of Jesus and His infancy. We mention this devaluation briefly so that you may know how to defend with study and faith the consoling certainty that these pages are not inventions of people's fancy, but that they speak the truth... . The authority of the Council has not pronounced differently on this:' The Sacred Authors wrote... always in such a way that they reported on Jesus with sincerity and truth' (Constitution on Divine Revelation n. 19)."

(3)John Paul II, General Audience of January 28, 1988: "To identify the source of the infancy narrative one must go back to St. Luke's remark: 'Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart'... Mary 'who kept these things in her heart'... could bear witness, after Christ's death and resurrection, in regard to what concerned herself and her role as Mother, precisely in the apostolic period when the New Testament texts were being written, and when the early Christian tradition had its origin."

(4)John L. McKenzie on charges by R. Brown's The Birth of the Messiah (Doubleday, 1977). Brown claimed St. Luke built up a few scant bits of information in parallel to OT incidents. John L. McKenzie, hardly a conservative, wrote a review of Brown's book in National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 2, 1977: "... one wonders how a Gentile convert (or a Gentile proselyte) could have acquired so quickly the mastery of the Greek Old Testament shown in the use of the Old Testament in Luke's infancy narratives. If Luke the physician had been able to study medicine with such success, he would have discovered a cure for cancer... . Luke must have had a source for his Old Testament texts and allusions; and it is hard to think of such a collection of texts without a narrative for them to illustrate, a pre-Lucan infancy narrative is suggested, I beg to submit."

(5)Journal for Study of the New Testament, vol. 15 (July 1982) pp. 30-41, article "Did St. Luke Imitate the Septuagint?" by Wm. G. Most. As we saw earlier, a study of Luke's use of apodotic kai shows Luke was meticulous in his translation of Hebrew documents at certain points. Luke had said in his opening lines that he used documents. This is a confirmation. Right after showing such care for precision, could we imagine Luke indulging in fancies?

(6)Answers to objections against the infancy Gospels:

a) In Matthew, Mary and Joseph live in a house; in Luke, they are in a stable.—Reply: St. Joseph would find better lodgings as soon as possible. Matthew reports a later time, when the Magi came. The fact that Herod killed all babies up to 2 years of age shows there was quite a bit of time, even if we allow for the probability Herod played it safe. .

b) A journey to Egypt will not fit with Luke's account of an orderly return to Nazareth.—Reply: Luke merely gives a compendium of events. Since the Magi came some time after the birth of Jesus, there was time for the presentation in the temple, and for the Magi's visit after that, then the flight into Egypt. Really there would be time to move back to Nazareth and then back to Bethlehem. Herod ordered boys killed up to 2 years, showing there was some time, even if he gave a margin.

c) There is no record of such a census, or of Quirinius being governor at the time. — Reply: A recent study, E. L. Martin, The Star that Astonished the World (ASK Publications, Portland, Or. 25000, 1991) shows that Jesus was born in 3 B. C. . probably in the fall. The time hinges on one thing, the fact that Josephus puts the death of Herod just after a lunar eclipse. Martin shows we must pick the eclipse of Jan. 10, 1 B. C. because all the events that Josephus says took place between Herod's death and the next Passover would take about 12 weeks. The only other eclipse that gave enough time would be that of Sept 15, 5 BC. But since Herod then was very sick, and in Jericho at the time of the eclipse, he would not have stayed in Jericho—extremely hot at that season, while Jerusalem would have been comfortable. But Jan 10 would be comfortable in Jericho. Further, there are secular sources that show there was an enrollment in 3 B. C. to take an oath of allegiance to Augustus (cf. Lewis & Reinhold, Roman Civilization, Source Books II, pp. 34-35 , since in 2 B. C. he was to receive the great title of Father of His Country.

The real governor of Palestine would have gone to Rome for the great celebration. He needed someone to take care of the country in his absence. Since Augustus got the honor on Feb. 5, 2 BC, the governor would have to leave before Nov 1 of 3 BC—Mediterranean was dangerous for sailing after Nov 1. But Quirinius had just completed a successful war to the north, in Cilicia, against the Homonadenses. So he could be an ideal man to put in charge. Luke does not use the noun governor, but a verbal form, governing. Still further, there has been an obscure decade 6 B. C. to 4 A. D. whose events were hard to fit in if we took the birth of Christ to have been in the range 4 to 6 B. C. But with the new dating all these fall into place easily. E. g. Augustus in 1 AD received his 15th acclamation for a victory in 1 AD. If we picked 4 BC for birth of Christ, we cannot find such a victory, but if birth of Christ is 3 BC, then the war would b e running at about the right time and finished in 1 AD.

Martin's work has received fine reviews from astronomers ( his work is based on astronomy, and over 600 planetariums have modified their Christmas star show to fit with his findings) and from Classicists, who were concerned about the obscure decade.

Objection: a) Josephus says Herod had a reign of 37 years after being proclaimed king by Romans, and had 34 yrs. after death of Antigonus, which came soon after Herod took Jerusalem. b) Further, his 3 successors, Archelaus, Antipas and Philip started to reign in 4 BC. So Herod died in 4 BC.

Reply: a) That calculation would make the death of Herod fall actually in 3 BC—scholars have had to stretch the date, since there was no eclipse of moon in 3 BC.—But, Herod took Jerusalem late in 36 BC (on Yom Kippur in a sabbatical year, so it was well remembered—and Josephus says Pompey had taken Jerusalem in 63 which was 27 yrs. to the day of Herod's capture of Jerusalem). Using the common accession year dating, we see Herod started his 34 years on Nisan 1 in 35 BC, and those years would end on Nisan 1, 1 BC. So 34 years after 35 BC yields 1 BC for death of Herod after eclipse of Jan 10.  b) As to the 3 successors, Herod lost favor of Augustus in 4 BC, on a false report, was no longer "Friend of Caesar", but "Subject". Antedating of reigns was common—reason here was to make the three seem to connect with the two "royal" sons, of Hasmonean descent, Alexander and Aristobulus, whom Herod executed on false reports from Antipater (do not confuse with Antipas).


VII: The Annunciation:

a) The words: full of grace"

We can validate the translation "full of grace". First, Pius XII, in Fulgens corona gloriae (Sept 8, 1953. AAS 45. 579) taught: "And furthermore, since this Most Holy Virgin is greeted as full of grace and blessed among women, from these words, as Catholic tradition has always understood them, it is clearly indicated by this singular and solemn salutation, never otherwise heard, that the Mother of God was the seat of all divine graces... ." Vatican II, in LG 56 uses that translation. Pope John Paul II has used it many times, e.g., in Mulieris dignitatem. If we turn to philology: the Greek word in the Gospel is kecharitomene. It is a perfect passive participle of the verb charitoo. A perfect passive participle is very strong. In addition, charitoo belongs to a group of verbs ending in omicron omega. They have in common that they mean to put a person or thing into the state indicated by the root. Thus leukos means white. So leukoo means to make white. Then charitoo should mean to put into charis. That word can mean either favor or grace. But if we translate by favor, we must keep in mind that favor must not mean merely that God, as it were, sits there and smiles at someone, without giving anything. That would be Pelagian: salvation possible without grace. So for certain, God does give something, and that something is grace. So charitoo means to put into grace. But then too, kecharitomene is used in place of the name Mary. This is like our English usage in which we say, for example, someone is Mr. Tennis. That means he is the ultimate in tennis. So then kecharitomene should mean "Miss Grace", the ultimate in grace.—Hence we could reason that fullness of grace implies an Immaculate Conception

b) The Text of St. Luke:

The angel says her Son will be "son of the most High". This would not tell her much, for any devout Jew could be called a son of God. In Hosea 11. 1 "Out of Egypt I have called my son," the son is the whole people of Israel. —But then in 1. 32: "The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his reign will be without end." — Most Jews at the time believed the Messiah, and no one else, would reign forever. So she would easily see that her Son was to be the Messiah. This then would open up for her all the Old Testament prophecies on the Messiah, with or without the help of the Targums we have already seen. She probably saw these things almost at once, or at least, when she pondered all these things in her heart. — Luke 1. 35: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy One to be born of you shall be called the Son of God." That word overshadow would be very telling. It was the term used for the Divine Presence filling the tabernacle in the desert (Exodus 40. 34-35—compare also the cloud filling the newly consecrated temple in Jerusalem in 1 Kings 8. 10). So, precisely because the Divine Presence would fill her, therefore, for that reason, He would be called Son of God. But that would be a unique reason. So it at least pointed to His divinity. Along with this would go all the older texts we have already seen pointing to the divinity of the Messiah. — Pope St. Leo the Great, in the middle of the 5th century, in a homily on the nativity said: "The royal virgin of the line of David is chosen who, since she was to be made pregnant with the Sacred Offspring, first conceived the divine and human Child in her mind, before doing so in her body. And so that she would not be struck with unusual emotions, in ignorance of the heavenly plan, she learned what was to be done in her by the Holy Spirit from the conversation with the angel." Pope Leo XIII (Parta humano generi, Sept 8, 1901) wrote: "O how sweet, how pleasing did the greeting of the angel come to the Blessed Virgin, who then, when Gabriel greeted her, sensed that she had conceived the Word of God by the Holy Spirit."

c) Vatican II, LG #56:

"The Father of mercies willed that the acceptance by the planned-for Mother should come before the Incarnation, so that thus, just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life... . And so Mary, the daughter of Adam, by consenting to the divine word, became the Mother of Jesus, and embracing the salvific will of God with full heart, held back by no sin, totally dedicated herself as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, by the grace of Almighty God, serving the mystery of the Redemption with Him and under Him. Rightly then do the Holy Fathers judge that Mary was not merely passively employed by God, but was cooperating in free faith and obedience in human salvation. For she, as St. Irenaeus said, 'by obeying became a cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race. ' Hence not a few ancient Fathers gladly agree with him [S. Irenaeus] in their preaching: 'the knot of the disobedience of Eve was loosed by the obedience of Mary. '"

Comments: 1) We note the New Eve theme, especially in the quote from St. Irenaeus. Remarkably, the comparison of the knot objectively refers to Calvary, to cooperation there, for the knot was not untied until then. Yet St. Irenaeus, if we read his context, seems to have had in mind the day of the annunciation. However, he, a Father of the Church , was an instrument in the hands of Providence and so could write more than he himself understood—we think of the comments of Vatican II on Gen 3. 15 and Is 7. 14, where although it is not certain that the original human writers saw all the import, yet the council said the Church later did see it. Similarly, Jeremiah in 31. 31 ff., the prophecy of the new covenant, as we remarked earlier, may not have seen the full import of his own words, that the essential obedience of the new covenant would be that of Christ.

2) We note the stress on obedience. Obedience was the covenant condition at Sinai, and it was to be the covenant condition in the new covenant as well. Cf. LG 3:"... by His obedience He brought about redemption. :" We recall and compare too Romans 5. 19. The Council will return to the theme of obedience in LG 61: "she cooperated in the work of the Savior ... by obedience... ." That is, she cooperated in the very covenant condition, which gave the redemption its value—had His death been a merely physical thing, it would not have redeemed anyone.

3) Since she totally dedicated herself to the person and work of her Son, she could not have been ignorant of what was going on. We saw evidence of her knowledge earlier in connection with the Targums.

4)We see how unfortunate was the comment of R. Laurentin in Les Evangiles de l'Enfance du Christ, (Tournay, 1982, p. 34 that at the annunciation, she "opposed her human will to the divine will." (The same book several times calls Jesus disobedient, and denies that "full of grace" is the correct translation. )

5) LG 56 cited above said that the Father willed that her consent be given before the incarnation. Leo XIII, Fidentem piumque, Sept 20, 1896. ASS 29. 206: "To humans, who were rushing to eternal ruin, by her admirable consent 'in the name of the whole human race' she brought the Savior already when she received the message of the peace-bringing sacrament which was brought to earth by the angel." The internal quote is from St. Thomas, Summa III. 30. 1. Similarly, Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35. 247, citing ST 3. 30. 1: "... and she consented 'in the name of the whole human race, ' so that 'a sort of spiritual marriage exists between the Son of God and human nature. '"


VIII. His Entry into the World.

As soon as the Virgin Mary spoke her fiat, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He entered into this world. Hebrews 10. 5-7: "When Christ came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me... you took no pleasure in burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said: Behold I come to do your will, O God. '"

The genre of Hebrews is mostly homiletic. Therefore, can we be sure this happened in the sense that seems obvious? Yes, for although His human senses were not yet formed at the moment of conception,—an ordinary child therefore has no channel of information at all—but He did have a channel, the vision of God, which His human soul saw from the first instant of conception. Pius XII taught, in Mystici Corporis (DS 3812): "The most loving knowledge of this kind, with which the Divine Redeemer pursued us from the first moment of the incarnation, surpasses the diligent grasp of any human mind; for by that blessed vision, which He enjoyed when just received in the womb of the Mother of God, He has all the members of the Mystical Body continuously and perpetually present to Himself, and embraces them with saving love. In the manger, on the cross, in the eternal glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church before Him, and joined to Him far more clearly and far more lovingly than a mother has a son on her lap, or than each one knows and loves himself." Karl Rahner tried to discard statements such as this as "marginal and incidental" (In: "Dogmatic Reflections on the Knowledge and Self-Consciousness of Christ" in Theological Investigations tr. K. H. Kruger, Helicon, December 22, 1994 Baltimore, 1966, V. 213-14. The German there has "randhaften beilaufigen."). But it is not just incidental. In a document on the Mystical Body to say that Jesus knew those whom He loved is an essential connection. Further, Pius XII, in Humani generis in 1950 (DS 3885) wrote: "Nor should one think that the things proposed in Encyclical Letters do not of themselves call for assent, on the plea that in them the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Magisterium. For these things are taught by the Ordinary Magisterium, to which this also applies: "He who hears you hears me"... . But if the Popes in their acta deliberately pass judgment on a matter controverted up to then, it is clear to all that according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, the question can no longer be considered open to free discussion among theologians." Now the modern discussion of the human knowledge of Christ became specially strong with the Publication by P. Galtier of L'unité du Christ—Etre, Personne, Conscience—(Beauchesne, Paris) in 1939. So Pius XII in 1943 in Mystici Corporis was speaking precisely it the context of the debate, and was giving judgment on it. This is far from incidental. It meets the conditions specified in Humani generis Still further, there are follow up documents teaching the same thing: Pius XII, Sempiternus Rex, 1951 (DS 3905) and Pius XII, Haurietis aquas (DS 3924) and even further, the Doctrinal Congregation, on July 24, 1966 (ASS 58. 660) complained: "There creeps about a certain humanism in Christology because of which Christ is reduced to the condition of a mere man, who gradually acquired the consciousness of His divine Sonship." So it is evident that the Pope did intend to settle the debate.

And also we must remember that all theologians admit that if a doctrine is taught repeatedly on the Ordinary Magisterium level, it is infallible. That is the case with our doctrine.

R. E. Brown many times over has been campaigning for ignorance in Jesus. In St. Anthony's Messenger, May, 1971, pp. 47-48, he dared to say Jesus had some superstitions: "The New Testament gives us no reason to think that Jesus and Paul were not deadly serious about the demonic world... . I do not believe the demons inhabit desert places or the upper air as Jesus and Paul thought... . I see no way to get around the difficulty except by saying that Jesus and Paul were wrong on this point. They accepted the beliefs of their times about demons, but those beliefs were superstitious." Brown refers to Mt. 12. 43-45 where Jesus tells a sort of parable: When the evil spirit is cast out of a man, he wanders through desert places seeking rest, goes back to the man he once possessed, finds him clean, gets reinforcements, 7 devils worse than himself. "And the last state of that man is worse than the first. So also it will be with this wicked generation." We can see it is a sort of parable from the final line, which makes the comparison: Jesus came to break the power of Satan over the Jews. They reject Him, and fall back worse than before. Brown ignored the genre of the passage. On doers not press all details in a parable. And also, the desert places could easily mean that the devil finds no place to rest once he has been expelled.

The other passage Brown has in mind is Ephesians 2. 1-2 where Paul says that they once walked following "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." In Colossians and Ephesians Paul is working against some opponents—either Jewish Apocalyptic speculators or Gnostics — who spoke of spirit powers whom they said we need to worship in addition to Christ. Paul is hitting them within their own framework. So again, Brown missed the context.

In Jesus God and Man Brown accumulated numerous Gospel texts to show ignorance in Jesus. (All are answered in detail in The Consciousness of Christ, Christendom Press, Front Royal, 1980). In fact, in the same book on pp. 42—43, Brown admits:"... the biblical evidence does not decide the theological problem or conclusively support one theory over another." Why then, since he admits his attempts from Scripture prove nothing, does he not just accept the teachings of the Church? But Brown thinks his claims of ignorance in Jesus are essential. In Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church, (Paulist, 1975, p. 35, n. 27) he says: "All modern Christology is based on the theory that the human knowledge of Jesus was limited." Then he can say that Jesus did nut know enough to directly found a Church or the priesthood: both evolved in the second century. In his Priest and Bishop, (Paulist, 1970, p. 19-20) he says that by picking followers to proclaim the Kingdom, "Jesus formed the nucleus of what would develop into a community and ultimately into the Church." Cf. also his Critical Meaning of the Bible (Paulist, 1981) p. 92. In fact, in his Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (Paulist, 1973, p. 46) he seems to imply that to hold the virginal conception would make a problem: then Mary and Joseph would have told Him, and He would not have been so ignorant.

Even without the help of the Magisterium, by pure theological reasoning, we can see that Jesus not merely happened to have the vision of God, but could not have lacked it. For there are two requirements for any soul to have that vision: (1)The power of the soul to know must be elevated by grace—of course He had that; (2) the divinity needs to join itself directly to the human mind, without even an image in between. (When we see someone, we take in an image—images are finite, and so could not let us know God who is Infinite (cf. DS 1000). Now ordinarily when we put together a human body and a human soul, this becomes a human person. In Jesus it did not—His whole humanity was assumed by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence, not just His human mind, but His whole humanity was joined to the divinity, with no image in between. So the vision in His human soul was inevitable. (Cf. again The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 165-73).

The fact that He had this vision had enormous consequences. Jesus began to suffer from the first moment of His conception. When we fear something dreadful is to come, we can take refuge in the thought that perhaps it may not happen, or it may not be so bad. But He had no such refuge. The vision showed Him with merciless certainty every horrid detail of what was to come. He had that from conception until it really happened. A constant irritation will wear the skin thin. In much the same way, it must have been eating on Him. On two occasions He decided to let us see something of what was inside Him. In Luke 12. 50 He said: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." That is: I have to be plunged into deep suffering. I cannot be comfortable until I get it over with. A few days before His death He was speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem, and He allowed His feelings to show—of course He could have kept them in. He said in John 12. 27: "Now my heart is troubled. What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour!" Then finally, in the Garden of Gethsemani, the nightmare caught up with Him. He could not scream as we do in a dream and wake up and find it is only a dream. No, it was there, it had caught Him. His interior tension was so severe that He suffered what is medically called hematidrosis: the blood vessels near the sweat glands break from extreme tension, and pour out real blood through those openings.

It is true that some manuscripts omit the line about the sweat of blood—the MSS are about evenly divided. But in the context of what went before, which we just outlined, we believe the line is genuine. And He suffered actual fear as Mark 14. 34 tells us. How is it possible? Because He had decided, as we gather from Philippians 2. 7 that He would never use His divine power to protect Himself. So His humanity had to face a horrible death. Some have said since He knew He would rise He should not have feared. But that would not make the nails painless!.

It was not just the physical suffering that caused this stress: it was the thought of rejection by our sins. He knew, because of that vision, all sins of all times, past, present, future. He saw that rejection. The pain of a rejection is in proportion to two factors: what form the rejection takes, and the love for the one who rejects. The form it took: it was not just a shove in a crowd, no, sin wanted to kill Him, kill in the most painful way.

That pain was multiplied by His love—which as that of God is infinite. It is strictly beyond our comprehension.

John Paul II, in a General Audience of Nov 30, 1988, spoke beautifully about the "abandonment" of Jesus on the Cross [emphasis added]: "In fact, if Jesus feels abandoned by the Father, He knows, however that that is not really so. He Himself said: 'I and the Father are one. ' (Jn 10:30), and speaking of His future Passion He said: 'I am not alone, for the Father is with me' (Jn 16:32). Dominant in His mind Jesus has the clear vision of God and the certainty of His union with the Father. But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions, and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and He no longer feels the presence of the Father."

If we think of a mountain 25, 000 feet high, the peak may stand out through black clouds on some days, while all the lower slopes are engulfed in storm and darkness. Similarly, in a human being, there are many levels of operation. All the lower levels may be in great distress, while peace still remains on the highest point. Cf. The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 151-53.

So Hans Urs Von Balthasar is very wrong when in First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr he thinks on the Saturday after His death, Jesus wandered through the realm of the dead, without any light, and could not at all find the Father!

Note: What other consequences were there of this vision in His human soul? It would not exempt Him from working to learn His native language and carpentry. For the vision did supply all the information, but it did not supply the dexterity of His muscles and coordination. He could have supplied this miraculously, but He had emptied Himself (Phil. 2. 7) and so would not do this. So He might have had baby talk, as He struggled to adjust His speaking apparatus to Hebrew and/or Aramaic sounds. The same would be true of learning to walk. Cf. Wm. G. Most "Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever" in HPR June 1983, and "Did Jesus Ever Worry? in HPR, Nov. 1985.

The suffering of His Mother at the cross is likewise beyond comprehension. Spiritual perfection in any soul consists in complete alignment of the will with the will of God. But in that dark hour, the Father willed that His Son die, die then, die so horribly. The Son willed the same. Therefore she was called on—it was the continuation of her fiat to positively will that He die, die then, die so horribly. And that went most directly counter to her love for Him, her God. Pius IX told us, in the document defining the Immaculate Conception, that her holiness—which in practice is the same as love of God—was so great at the start of her life, that "none greater under God can be thought of, and no one but God can comprehend it." Not even the highest cherubim and seraphim can understand it. Only God Himself can understand her love, even at the start—and it had grown at a rate comparable to geometric progression all her life. So the sight of what He suffered caused a pain multiplied by a love that is, quite literally, incomprehensible to anyone but God Himself. So we must say her suffering was incomprehensible to us. She willed to undertake that because the Father willed it, her Son willed it, for our salvation. Of it Vatican II taught (Lumen gentium 61): "... in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result, she is our Mother in the order of grace."


IX. Theotokos.

Mrs. Smith cooperates merely in the production of the body of her baby John Smith, not at all in producing his soul, which God alone creates. Yet we call her the mother of John Smith, not the mother of the body of John Smith. Similarly, the child of Mary is God. So she is Theotokos, Mother of God. ( The history of the controversies in the Patristic age on this and other Christological doctrines will be taken up later. )


X. The Presentation in the Temple.

After the circumcision on the eighth day—the first shedding of the blood of the Redeemer, He was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. The offering He made when entering into the world was made again, obviously, or rather, the attitude of will, of obedience to the Father, continued, and was interiorly expressed again at His presentation in the Temple. Her fiat, which also continued, was expressed again. We could rightly call this event the offertory of the great sacrifice. Other parents bought their sons back from the service of God. She was turning Him over instead. And in this sense it is the offertory of the great sacrifice.

In Leviticus 12. 2-8 we read that a woman who conceives a male child was legally unclean for seven days. She was to continue for 33 more days, and should not touch any holy thing or come into the sanctuary until the end of the period. In verse 6: "When the days of her purification are finished... she shall bring to the priest at the door of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering... . if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons."

Our Lady was of course not unclean from giving birth to the Divine Child. But she took the same attitude as He took when He asked John the Baptist to baptize Him (Mt. 3. 15):" It is right for us to fulfill all righteousness." He said this even though no one was really obliged to accept John's Baptism. But it was humility, and showed the desire to have everything in proper order. We think of St. Thomas, Summa I. 19. 5. c which say that God wants one thing to be there to serve as a title for the second thing, even though that title does not move Him. (We made a paraphrase instead of a translation, for a translation would be obscure—Thomas uses the word hoc 4 times, keeps shifting the meaning).

So Joseph Fitzmyer is very far out of line when in his Anchor Bible Luke (I. p. 421) he wrote: "Despite some later Mariological speculation, Luke thinks that Mary had to be purified after the birth of Jesus." No more than Jesus had to be bought back from the service of God.

Luke in 2. 22 says they went to the Temple "when the days of their purification" were finished. Fitzmyer (I. p. 424) comments: Luke, not being a Palestinian Jewish Christian, is not accurately informed about this custom of a woman after childbirth. It is also an indication that his information is not derived from Mary's recollections or memoirs—which might be presumed to have got the matter correct." Very sad. Fitzmyer worries about the plural "their". Luke is merely bunching things. If we wanted to speak in the same vein, we would also say that Josephus, the famous Jewish historian who in Antiquities (7. 4, 12 #312) says Jerusalem is 20 stadia from Bethlehem had never seen Jerusalem. For the actual distance is about twice that, namely, about five and a half instead of two and a half miles. Really, Pope John Paul II was merely expressing the obvious when he said (General Audience, Jan. 28, 1988: "To identify the source of the infancy narrative one must go back to St. Luke's remark: 'Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. ' ... . Mary who 'kept these things in her heart' (Lk 2:19) could bear witness, after Christ's death and resurrection, in regard to what concerned herself and her role as Mother, precisely in the apostolic period when the New Testament texts were being written, and when the early Christian tradition had its origin."

In Exodus 13. 1-2 and 2. 7 God said to Moses: "Consecrate to me every first born." The first born was redeemed by a payment of five sanctuary shekels to a member of a priestly family when the child was a month old. So Jesus would not have had to be brought to the Temple, but it was good to do so, and could readily be combined with the "purification" of His Mother.

Simeon foretold that a sword would pierce her heart. She knew this already, as we have seen from the prophecies about the Messiah. Yet this would be an added hurt to hear.


XI. The Finding in the Temple at Age 12.

Only males of age 13 and up were required to make the trip. Nazareth is about 60 air miles from Jerusalem, but with the hilly country it would be about 85 miles. On these pilgrimages men and women usually went in separate groups. Children might be with either group. Hence they could travel a day without noticing He was missing.

Teachers usually taught in the courtyard of the Temple. Listeners would sit at their feet, and at times ask questions and give answers. Jesus did that. But His questions and answers showed something very special. We cannot help wondering what He brought out for them. Perhaps He led them to see more in the Messianic prophecies— although the Targums show they already knew much. The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy has Him explaining medicine—with the deficient ideas of the day—and explaining astronomy, again with the mistaken notions about the spheres.

Jesus replied to His Mother that He needed to be in tois tou patros. The Latin Fathers and many recent commentators take it to mean "about my Father's business." The Greek Fathers and many moderns take it to mean in the house of my Father. The latter seems more likely, for the Greek for being about His Father's business more likely would have been peri tou patros. Fitzmyer (p. 437) thinks these words may have been retrojected—as if Jesus did not know who He was so early.

The fact that Mary and Joseph did not understand need not mean that they did not know who He was—we have seen that she did know for certain, and it is likely Joseph did too, for he could understand the prophecies and the Targums too, even if she had not told him (we recall her silence about the conception of Jesus). He could not miss Isaiah 7. 14 about the virginal conception, which of course he knew. And Hillel in that day taught that that text was Messianic (even though he thought the Messiah was Hezekiah. —Cf. Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, p. 174). And Joseph could not miss the prophecy of Micah about the birth in Bethlehem. So he must have known Jesus was Messiah, and then so many other prophecies would come into view.

But what Mary and Joseph would not understand was the strange change in His pattern of behavior—normally He had been so docile and compliant. Now He was puzzling.

Why did He act this way to them? Scripture shows us that often God puts people into situations in which they must hold on in faith in the dark, when they cannot see at all. Thus Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac when so young, even though Abraham also had to believe that he would be the Father of a great nation by Isaac. Many think all the Jews had to hold on to a belief that God rewarded and punished justly, even though they may not have known—a debated point—very early that there was retribution in the future life. His Mother had to hold on in the dark at the annunciation, as we have seen, to believe her Son was God in spite of Hebrew insistence on monotheism. His reply to her at Cana is likely another example. His refusal to explain the promise of the Eucharist in John 6, 53, even though the crowds were leaving. There are many other examples, cf. Wm. Most, Our Father's Plan (Trinity Communications, 1988, pp. 129-33). If a person's will must hold fast even when it seems impossible—then faith grows greatly. Even though she was full of grace at the start, yet her capacity, as it were, could grow. To put her in situations that would bring great growth was a sign of great love.

At the end of this episode, Luke reports that Jesus went back to Nazareth and was obedient to them, and that He advanced in wisdom and age before God and men. St. Athanasius was the first to explain that there is a difference between actual growth in wisdom, and growth manifestation of what was always there. (Cf. The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 101-02.


XII. The Hidden Life.

After the finding in the Temple, He went to Nazareth and was obedient. This was really the upside down family. The greatest, God Himself, obeyed His own creatures. The least of the three, St. Joseph—though wonderfully great too—gave orders to the other two, to Jesus and to his wife Mary, the greatest mere human person who ever lived or ever will—for Jesus is not a mere human person.

Why did He choose to spend all these years, up to age 30, in an obscure village, working as a carpenter, when He had come to teach and save the world? He wanted to show the value of doing God's will in ordinary things.

Can we really "serve" God? He gains nothing from our "service." Imagine a monastic community of 100, serving God in their way for a century, and also an active community, serving Him in their way too for a century. At the end of the century we come with a ledger to record what God has gained. Nothing at all. Yet He wants us to obey, for two reasons: (1) His Holiness loves all that is objectively good; objective goodness wills that creatures obey their Creator, children their Father. (2) He wants to lavish His benefits on us. St. Irenaeus put it well (Against Heresies 4. 14. 1): "In the beginning, God formed Adam, not because He stood in need of man, but that He might have someone to receive His benefits." He being Generosity itself, loves to give. But that is in vain if we are not open to receive His gifts. His commandments are really instructions on how to be open to receive. Further, the opposite would be bad for us: there are penalties in the very nature of things, e.g. , a hangover after a drunk, or, very likely, a failed or loveless marriage after quite a bit of premarital sex (for it is not love, but just chemistry that develops in that situation). St. Augustine put it well (Confessions 1. 12): "Every disordered soul is its own punishment." The love of our Father wants to steer us away from these things that are bad for us.

Since He wants so much to give to us, why did He not just create us in Heaven, without any trial period? Because that is not in accord with good order, would not fulfill the objective order of goodness, of what is right in itself. Again we quote St. Thomas ( paraphrase of I. 19. 5. c): "God wills one things to be in place to serve as a title for another, even though the title does not move Him."

A life lived merely in an ordinary way, in accord with His commands, serves that purpose very well. So Jesus Himself willed to spend abut 30 out of 33 years in that kin of life.

Further, the family is a wonderfully designed institution to lead us to grow spiritually, and thus be capable of greater happiness forever, being able to take in more fully the vision of God in Heaven. Paul VI wrote to the 13th National Congress of the Italian Feminine Center (Feb. 12, 1966, The Pope Speaks 11, 1966, p. 10): "Christian marriage and the Christian family demand a moral commitment. They are not an easy way of Christian life, even though the most common, the one which the majority of the children of God are called to travel. Rather it is a long path toward sanctification."

To understand this, we need to take note that a great development is needed to make a person mature. We begin life as babies, completely enclosed in a shell of self. How do we get from there to the point of being sincerely interested in the welfare of another for the other's sake (that is what love really is)? It is a long path. Very soon, baby begins to play with other little ones, and soon makes a sad discovery: "That little fellow thinks he has some rights!. I am the only one who does!." In other words, they fight over a toy. Many such incidents begin to make a dent in the shell of self. Some years pass, to around age 9. At that point little boys have no use for little girls—and vice versa. So they run from each other. This is a providential move to help each to develop their own characteristics to prepare for the next stage, which arrives when hormones begin to bubble. Suddenly little boy sees some little girl—which one is not predictable. He sees she is "wonderful". For the hormones in him put a rosy light around her. Much the same happens to little girls. Now psychologically, love develops in three steps: (1) We see something fine in another. (2) That leads one to wish that that fine other may be well off. (3) If the reaction is strong, the person is not content to wish, rather, he or she wants to act to bring abut the happiness of the other.—But, suppose the other seems not just fine, but "wonderful." This powerfully tends to develop love, which we said is a desire for the well-being of another for the other's sake. But we notice love lies essentially in the spiritual will. Feelings merely tend to go along with love in the human condition. There is also a second factor that tends to bring real love. It is called somatic resonance. Here is what that term means: Since we are made of matter and spirit, body and soul, and the two are put together so closely that they form just one person—because of this, if I have a condition on either side, then for normal running there ought to be a parallel condition on the other side. When that parallel falls on the bodily side, we call it somatic: somatic resonance. Love, then, is in the spiritual will, but normally in the human condition a feeling goes along with it, as the somatic resonance. However, that resonance, since it consists in biochemistry producing feeling, develops automatically at a certain age. If only the person plays the game the way our Father has designed it, these two processes will develop real love.

However, it is quite possible to foil this wonderful process, in two ways. If a person uses sex for private entertainment, masturbation, that puts him or her back into the shell of self, and gives a poor forecast for success in marriage. Secondly, if two use each other for sensory pleasure, that is hardly likely to develop real love. For in real love each is concerned for the well-being of the other for the other's sake. But in premarital sex it is practically the opposite. Each one uses the other. And worse, they put each other into such a state that if death should surprise one of them, that one would never be happy again forever, would be everlastingly wretched! That is closer to hate than to love.

So real love will hardly develop in that condition. But, it will feel the same as real love, for the chemistry is just the same whether love is or is not present in the spiritual will. The sad result of premarital sex is, then, very likely a failed or loveless marriage.

But if the two play the game the way our Father has designed it, it will develop real love. It will get them far out of the shell of self—instead, they are deeply interested in the well-being of the other for the other's sake. This is not easy. For male and female psychology are so different that as a Doctor once told me, they are as different as they can be and still belong to the same species. Hence even with an ideal pair, each one can say honestly: I need to give in much over half the time to make this work. To do it is to grow spiritually, to mature, to become capable of real happiness here in this life, and in the life to come.

And babies: the mother may have discomfort and pain in bringing them to light. But if she sees that too is part of Our Father's plan for holiness, it will all take on a different light. The babies themselves: they are very cute and enjoyable part of the time, quite the opposite at other times. A monk in his monastery may get up in the small hours to make a holy hour. A parent with a young child may have to make a different kind of a holy hour—we call it holy, for it is part of God's plan. The monk knows that when the clock as turned 60 minutes, he can go back to bed. The parent does not know when.

Again, beautiful unselfishness develops. One insurance commercial said: When you have children, their goals become your goals! Not to mention the financial sacrifice involved—again, part of Our Father's plan.

So the family is indeed a marvelous plan of our Father. Jesus showed His high esteem by spending so many years in a family that seemed ordinary, doing very ordinary carpenter's work. But that work was aimed at making possible the continuation of the marvelous structure that Our Father designed in a family. Hence that work was holy.

These things do Him no good—but they are a powerful engine of good for us, they make us capable of receiving the good things He generously wants to give. So He is very pleased to be able to give to us. And at the same time, what objective Holiness calls for is fulfilled.


XIII: Cana.

Jesus and His disciples attend the wedding. During it His Mother gives a hint: "They have no wine."

Three things need explanation. First, He uses the word "woman" instead of Mother. That term would be respectful in the language of the time. But we still wonder why He used it. He did the same at the Cross. After saying "Son behold your Mother", the normal complement would be: "Mother behold your son." But instead the Gospel reports: "Woman behold your son." Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Mater #24 [italics in original] gives a solution favored by many exegetes: "It is significant that, as he speaks to his mother from the Cross, he calls her 'woman' and says to her. 'Woman, behold your son!' Moreover, he had addressed her by the same term at Cana too (cf. Jn 2:4). How can one doubt that especially now, on Golgotha, this expression goes to the very heart of the mystery of Mary, and indicates the unique place which she occupies in the whole economy of salvation?... . The words uttered by Jesus from the Cross signify that the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a 'new' continuation in the Church and through the Church symbolized and represented by John... . through the Church [she] remains in that mystery as 'the woman' spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation... . Mary's 'motherhood' of the Church is the reflection and extension of her motherhood of the Son of God."

We know that the Evangelists might change the wording, while keeping the sense (cf. Biblical Commission Instruction of 1964). Hence the sacred authors may have used that word woman precisely to indicate the connection of which the Pope spoke.

We notice too the problem raised by His words: 'What is it to you and to me?" (We have given a literal translation; published translations often try to soften the words). There are two types of use of this expression in the Old Testament. First, if one is bothering another, the latter may say this, in the sense of: "What did I do to bring this on?" Examples of this are found in Judges 11. 12; 2 Chron. 35. 21; 1 Kings 17. 18. The expression is also used when someone is asked to get into something he feels is not his affair. It then means: "That is your affair, not mine". Examples are: 1 Kings 3. 13; Hosea 14. 8. Here it seems best to treat it as a seeming rejection, in line with the OT examples, but one intended to call on her to work, to hold on in the dark—we explained this above. She did hold on, she held onto confidence and hence told the waiters to do whatever He would say.

A question is also raised about the fact that He said His hour had not yet come. Some take this to mean the time of His death, and then are apt to add that then her association with Him, her hour and His, will really begin. Then they would say that at Cana He was still in the hour of His Father, the hour of doing what the Father willed. But it seems more natural to say that the words "my hour" need not have the same sense everywhere in John's Gospel—so many words and expressions do shifting sense. So the hour would be the time He had fixed for His first miracle.

In either case, her power of intercession shows for the first time.

Just incidentally it was quite a quantity of wine He made. It would be 15 to 25 gallons (that is, two or three measures each). The jars were made of stone for reasons of Levitical purity, If an earthenware jar became ritually unclean it would have to be broken, but a stone jar would not be broken. (Cf. Lev 11. 29-38 ).

The Council of Trent defined that Jesus instituted marriage as a sacrament (DS 1801), but did not say on what occasion He did that. Some think it was done at Cana. Others think it was when He in Mt 19.3-10 restored the unity and indissolubility of marriage. The answer is unclear.


XIV. The Special Problem of Mark 3. 20-35.

At first sight, one might think Jesus was rejecting His Mother, when He told the crowd that whoever does the will of His Father is brother , sister and mother to Him. Wilfrid Harrington (in: Mark, Glazier, Wilmington, 1979, p. 47) sadly errs when he says she did not believe in Him.

To grasp this, we need to notice that the passage has three parts: first, a group Mark calls the hoi par' autou (more on this presently) think He is beside Himself for preaching so intently, not taking time to eat. They go out to get Him, apparently by force. Secondly, His enemies charge He casts out devils by the devil, and He says that is the unforgivable sin. Third, His Mother and brothers come to a crowd where He is teaching. It is announced that she is there. He replies: Who is my mother... . .

We do not know for certain who are in the hoi par' autou. It could mean those about Him, or His relatives etc. Harrington feels certain that that group is the same as the group in verses 31-35. He says: "For Mark [3:31-35] is a continuation of vv. 20-21... his own did not receive him." He even says that the passage "may be seen to distinguish those who stood outside the sphere of salvation, and those who are within it." That seems to mean she was "outside the sphere of salvation"! This is horrendous!

Harrington is in gross error for several reasons. First, even if she was in the group of the hoi par' autou it would not follow that she did not believe in Him. Even an ordinary Mother is apt to stand up for her son when others turn on him. So she could have gone along to try to restrain the others. Secondly, Form and Redaction Criticism has shown us that a passage may be made up of several once independent units. That easily could be the case here, especially in view of the ill-fitting second unit. Third, and most important, St. Luke clearly pictures her as the first believer. We may not make one Evangelist contradict another!. And Vatican II taught, in LG 56 that at the annunciation she "totally dedicated herself to the work and person of her Son."

What really happened in the verses 31-35 is this. Jesus was teaching dramatically, and comparing two things, the dignity of being physically the Mother of God, and the privilege of hearing the word of God and keeping it. She was, of course, at the peak in both categories. Hence Vatican II said in LG 58: " In the course of His preaching, she received the words in which her Son, extolling the Kingdom beyond the reasons and bonds of flesh and blood, proclaimed blessed those who heard and kept the word of God, as she was faithfully doing. The situation is the same in the incident of Mt. 12. 48-50. In fact, it is probably the same occasion as that reported in Mark.

About the "brothers" of Jesus. Hebrew used the word ah for all sorts of relatives, since it had few words for precise names of relationships. Yes, Greek did have them, but in so many places in the NT we must look to the underlying Hebrew to understand. E.g., in Rom 9. 13 Paul cites Mal 1:2-3:"I have loved Jacob and hated Esau." Hebrew and Aramaic lack degrees of comparison. So we would have said: love one more, and the other less. In 1 Cor 1:17 Paul says: "Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach." Yet Paul had just said he did baptize some. Again, the lack of degrees of comparison explains. In Rom 5:19 we meet the word "many" as receiving original sin. But all did. There is a Hebrew rabbim, which means: "the all who are many". Paul always uses Greek polloi (when used as a noun) to mean what rabbim expresses. Again, the word yada usually translated as know actually means both know and love.

Further, If Jesus had 4 brothers and at least two sisters (cf Mt 13. 55 and Mk. 6. 3) it would be much out of place to ask John, at the time of his death, to take care of her. James the "brother of the Lord" was alive in 49 AD (Gal 1:19). He should have cared for her. Also in Mk 3:20-21, younger brothers in that culture would not have dared to go after an older brother—He was firstborn. And in the Temple at age 12, if there were younger brothers, Mary would have stayed home—women not obliged to come. But only Jesus is mentioned.

Also a Rabbinic tradition, starting with Philo, held that Moses, after his first encounter with God, never again had sex with his wife. (Cf. J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (Doubleday, 1991, pp. 240-41) who admits this even though he works so strenuously to prove that Jesus had 4 true brothers and at least two sisters, never seeing the implication for Our Lady!). What of Our Lady, who had borne the God-man in her womb for 9 months! As for Joseph, knowing that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, would he dare to intrude?

As to the word until and first born in Mt 1:25: The word until often indicates no change after the point mentioned, e.g. , Mt 22:42-46; Dt 34:6; 2 Samuel 6:23. As to first born it designates a special status in the Hebrew family, need not mean any other sons after that. A Greek tomb inscription at Tel el Yaoudieh (cf. Biblica 11, 1930, 369-90 for a woman who died in childbirth: "In the pain of delivering my firstborn child, destiny brought me to the end of life."

So at least, no one can prove the "brothers" were blood brothers.


XV. The mode of His teaching:

If we follow the chronology of St. Mark—we are not sure, for the synoptics do not always follow chronological order, and they do not always agree on the sequence of things—we find that already in chapter 1. 21 f. f He is teaching quite clearly. At Capernaum they were astonished since He taught with authority, in contrast to the way the scribes taught. We know the way the scribes and rabbis taught. They would constantly lean on previous teachers, and often Rabbi C would say in the name of Rabbi B, who might be repeating Rabbi A. But Jesus instead taught clearly and with authority, as if to say: This is it!. The people were not used to such forthright teaching and they were astonished.

Right after that He cast out a demon who said He was "the Holy One of God." That would not have to mean divinity, but would mean someone specially consecrated to God. He refused to let the demon speak. Soon He cured a leper and at once charged the leper to keep silent. This was the Messianic secret, about which we will speak later on.

Next, at the start of chapter 2, He cures the paralytic let down through the roof, and does not enjoin silence on him. Conflicts with the scribes and Pharisees begin at once. They did not know there could be delegated power to forgive sins. No ancient prophet had claimed to forgive sins. But He did enough to prove He had forgiven, by asking: Which is easier, to say sins are forgiven, or take your bed and go. He meant He was doing the one to prove the other. (The words: "That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins," may be by the editor rather than by Jesus. We are not certain).

Next He calls Levi/Matthew, and eats with the publicans. His enemies are shocked. He says He came not to call the righteous but sinners. Next: Why do not your disciples fast, while the Pharisees fast, and the disciples of John fast. He explains He is the bridegroom. When He is gone they will fast.

When His disciples are criticized for plucking grain on the sabbath, He clearly says He is the Lord of the Sabbath!

At the start of chapter 3 He cures a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees want to destroy Him. He heals many, then chooses the twelve.

Right after this He is so intent on teaching that those about Him [the hoi par' autou we saw earlier in XIV] think Him mad.

But now comes the critical point. His enemies charge He casts out Satan by Satan. He says this is the unpardonable sin—for there is such hardness involved that it is unlikely they would ever repent. But at once he shifts His teaching mode, and turns to parables.

Mark reports it thus. To the Apostles He says: "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to those outside, all things are in parables, so that seeing they may see, but not perceive; and hearing they may hear, but not understand, so that at no time should they be converted and their sins would be forgiven." This makes it sound as if the purpose of the parables was to blind His hearers. Luke's language is similar to that of Mark, it seems that such is the purpose of parables. But Matthew has a softer version: "Therefore do I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."

All three are based on Isaiah 6. 9-10. God has just appointed Isaiah a prophet, and He told Him in the form of a command: "Go and say to this people. Really hear, but do not understand, and really see, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people thick, and make their ears heavy and shut their eyes, so that they may not see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn and be healed."

The first thing to remember is the Hebrew pattern in which God is said to directly do things He only permits. For example in 1 Sam. 4. 3, after a defeat by the Philistines, the Jews said: "Why did God strike us today before the face of the Philistines?" [literal Hebrew. NAB masks it. ] Again, in the account of the plagues before the Exodus, a few times Pharaoh was on the point of letting them go, but then changed. Exodus sometimes says the king hardened his own heart (e.g. , Ex. 8. 15), at other times, God hardened his heart (e. g, Ex 7. , 3: "I will harden Pharaoh's heart."). Similarly in Amos 3. 6: "If evil happens to a city, has not the Lord caused it?" And Is 63. 17:" Why do you make us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts?"

Not surprisingly, scholars differ in their interpretations of the Gospel lines citing Isaiah. But there is a better way to understand. In God, there are no real distinctions, He is absolutely one. It is only our thoughts that add lines within Him. Hence 1 John 4. 8 does not say that God has love, but that He is love. To say He has love would be to suppose a duality: He and His love. Of course, the same way of speaking applies to all divine attributes. So He is justice, He is mercy, etc. Then we would conclude that in Him, mercy and justice are identified. Yet to us they seem opposites. How can this be?

Let us imagine a man who has never been drunk before, but tonight he becomes very drunk. The next day he will have guilt feelings—for it is the first

time. It is a sort of clash of two voices within him: the voice of his beliefs says to get drunk is seriously wrong; the voice of his actions says it is all right. Our nature abhors such a clash, and works to get rid of it. In time, something will give: either he will align his actions with his beliefs, or he will continue to get drunk, and his beliefs will be pulled to match his actions. So if we tried to tell a confirmed drunkard that it is wrong, he would not agree. Further, since other moral truths are tied together with this belief, he may lose his insight into other religious things, even into doctrinal things. We might compare this picture to a spiral, which becomes larger as it goes out, and feeds on itself. So he becomes less and less perceptive, more and more blind.

There is a spiral in the good direction. If a person lives vigorously according to faith, which tells us this world is of little account compared to the future life (cf. Philippians 3. 8 where St. Paul says that in comparison to having Christ, all else is rubbish, or dung), then his spiritual insight grows greater and greater.

We return to the bad spiral. The person is growing more and more blind. That is justice, he has earned that. Yet it is also mercy, for the more one understands of the things of God, the greater his guilt if he sins. So in one and the same action we see both mercy and justice.

In the good spiral, the person's spiritual vision is growing. In a sense we can call that justice, something merited. Yet in the most basic sense, no one by his own powers can establish a claim on God: all is generosity, or mercy. So again in one and the same action we see both mercy and justice.

Within God Himself these are identified. We can see somewhat how they are identified in God's actions.

Now the parables admirably serve this two-sided mode of action. Those hearers of Jesus who were well disposed, would get increasing truth; those who were ill-disposed would be blinded still more. To the Apostles He revealed the full meaning, so that they, at the opportune time, could make use of it in their teaching.

We might add the comment of Pius XII (Divino afflante Spiritu EB 563: "The Fathers, and especially Augustine, pointed out that God deliberately sprinkled the books which He inspired with difficulties, so that we would be driven to read and study them more attentively, and by experiencing in a wholesome way the limits of our minds, might be trained in due humility of mind."

Also, it may be that at a later time of His public life, Jesus used parables easier to understand. For then the malice of His enemies had hardened, and there was no chance of their conversion. A good example would be the parable of the wicked tenants, especially as told in Matthew 21. 33-45. At the end, the Pharisees saw that He was speaking of them. He had said the tenants killed servants and even the only son. And at the end: "The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation that will bear a rich return." It was the tragic announcement that the kingdom—obviously the status of being the People of God, the Church—would be taken from them, and given to those who would bear fruit. So kingdom in this text clearly means the Church on earth. To say the "reign of God " would be taken from them would make no sense at all.

Several other parables also let us see that often—not always, for ancient words commonly had a broad range of meanings—kingdom of God means the Church in this or in the next world. Thus the parable of the net in Mt 13. 47-50 speaks of the present Church which contains both good and bad. They will be sorted out at the end. Similarly, the parable of the weeds in the wheat in Mt 13. 24-30 refers to the Church in this world, with the harvest meaning the final judgment. Again, Mt 13. 31 on the mustard seed pictures the rapid growth of the Church in the present.


XVI. More on Parables:

The Hebrew word for parable was mashal (Aramaic matlah It covered many things: proverbs, riddles, taunt-songs, oracles, metaphors, allegories, didactic historical recitals in addition to stories.

Two volumes by A. Jülicher, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu (1888, 1889) long had a great influence. He started with the concept of parable in Greek rhetoric—a mistake—this is a Semitic world—and insisted there was only one point to a parable, else it would be an allegory.

But a study of rabbinic parables led to abandoning this idea even though the rabbinic parables are quite different from those of Jesus. A good collection of actual rabbinic parables is found in Harvey K. McArthur & Robert M. Johnston, They Also Taught in Parables, (Zondervan, 1990) It includes 115 actual rabbinic parables, plus related items, and studies of the similarities and differences in comparison to those of Jesus.

J. Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, (2nd English ed. , Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY. 1972) was very influential in shedding light on the details of everyday life used in the parables of Jesus.

Probably a majority of scholars today hold the unfortunate view that the explanations of parables given in the Gospels are not by Jesus, but are invented by the later Church. This would be dishonesty, to place on the lips of Jesus things He had not said at all. (For example, cf. NJBC. 81:57—88, esp. 88).

What of the fact that we can admit that some enigmatic sayings or proverbs can take different meanings in different settings given by different evangelists? This seems to have happened e.g. , in the case of Mt. 10. 27 compared to Lk 12. 2-3. On this cf. Wm. Most, Catholic Apologetics today, pp. 184-86 and the pages on retrojection ibid. pp. 186-91. But the critical difference is this: in changing merely the setting of a proverb, the Evangelist is not attributing to Jesus something Jesus never said. He is just making a different application of a proverb or other saying which Jesus actually had used, but which by nature was flexible. But to put on the lips of Jesus an explanation of a parable which Jesus never gave would be falsification.


XVII. Jesus' Self-Revelation:

It seems clear that He as we would expect, wanted to reveal Himself gradually. As a result, the evidence for His divinity from the Gospels was heavily debated even after the definition of His divinity by the Council of Nicea in 425. And today many doubt the historicity of many of the strong statements in John's Gospel, where He says "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10. 30) and "The Father is in me and I in him" (Jn 10. 38 & 14. 10 & 11) and still more: "Before Abraham was, I AM." (Jn 8. 58). No one could miss the claim to be Yahweh Himself in this last text. But there really is no problem if we suppose that John was recording statements made near the end of His public life. At first, He let His identity appear gradually. At the end, when the malice of His enemies was fully hardened, there was no longer any reason to hold back. So He spoke very plainly.

We can explore best by taking up one at a time the special titles of Jesus in the Gospels:

a) Son of Man: Much ingenuity has been expended on this title. The Aramaic would be bar ('e) nasha. Some have tried to show that this meant merely "I" or "a man in my situation." But there is no hard proof that this was so at the time of Jesus (Cf. J. Fitzmyer in NJBC, p. 1325).

Some have tried to say Jesus was not referring to Himself but to some other figure. But this cannot be sustained. We need to examine the earthly, the suffering, and the eschatological Son of Man.

Jesus clearly makes Himself the earthly Son of Man in Mk 2. 28: "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Also in Mt 13. 37: "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man." Most clearly in Mt. 16. 13: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Also: Lk 9. 58: "Foxes have their holes and the birds of the sky their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to recline his head."

Jesus is clearly the suffering Son of Man: In Mk 8. 31: "He began to teach them that it was necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the high priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise." In Mt 16. 21 we have the same prediction, but the word he instead of Son of Man. The same picture is found also in Mk 9. 9; 9. 31; 10. 33 and parallels in other synoptics. He did as a matter of fact fulfill these predictions, so He spoke of Himself.

Jesus is the eschatological Son of Man: After telling the parable of the weeds in Mt 13. 26-41 Jesus explains the parable: "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seed the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. The enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The harvesters are the angels... . . The Son of Man will send His angels... ." In Lk 17. 24-26: "Just as lightning flashing out of the things under the sky gleams to the sky, so will be the Son of Man on his day. But first it is necessary that he suffer many things and be rejected by the generation." Here we see an equation of the suffering and the eschatological Son of Man. We have already seen that the suffering Son of Man is Jesus. We compare also Mt 24. 5: "Many will come in my name saying: I am the Christ, and will deceive many." In Mt 24. 24: "False christs will rise up and false prophets and will give great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." And in 24. 30: "Then there will appear the sign of the Son of Man in the sky... and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

Especially this last verse, Mt 24. 38, ties the Son of Man to the Son of Man in Daniel 7. 13-14: "Behold with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man. He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented to him. He was given dominion and glory and kingdom so that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is everlasting and it shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed." After that Daniel is puzzled, and learns that the four beasts already mentioned stand for four kings. In 7. 18: "But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom." Anchor Bible Daniel esp. 94. ff. says the Son of Man is equivalent to the holy ones of the Most High. But this does not fit. The holy Ones of the Most High, whether we take them to be the ancient Jews or the Christians later, never did get an everlasting kingdom. And further in Psalm 80. 17 the Son of Man is used to meant the Messiah, the Son of God. (Cf. Samson Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974, pp. 119-20). Nor did the Jews ever think of the Messianic Kingdom as headless—the head was the Messiah.

We may wonder if Daniel saw all this. But it is not necessary that he would, for the chief author, the Holy Spirit, could see it. We have cases of this in Genesis 3. 15 and Isaiah 7. 14 as interpreted by Vatican II in LG 55, and in the prophecy of the new covenant by Jeremiah 31. 31 ff.—where the essential obedience is that of Jesus. But did Jeremiah see that? There is another case in St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3. 22. 4. Irenaeus speaks of the knot of all sin being untied with the cooperation of Mary. In context, St. Irenaeus has in mind the annunciation. But the knot was not untied until Calvary. So Irenaeus wrote more than he understood. It is likely that Vatican II also wrote more than it saw in LG chapter 8 (Cf. Wm. G. Most, "Mary's Cooperation in the Redemption" in Faith & Reason, XIII, 1987, pp. 28—61, esp. pp. 54-55. Further, the final kingdom that will never be destroyed in Daniel 2 is the Church of the Son of Man.

Without using the title Son of Man, Jesus in Mt 7. 22-23 indicates He is the eschatological judge: "Many will say to me on that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will say to them: I never knew you."

We add: The very unclarity of the title Son of Man, whether or not it would bring to the minds of His hearers Daniel 7, makes this title serve very well for gradual self-revelation.

b) Messiah: Trouble about this title goes back chiefly to the publication in German in 1901 of a book by Wilhelm Wrede, The Messianic Secret (tr. J. C. C. Greig, James Clarke Co. , Cambridge & London, 1971, from 3d ed.). Wrede asserted that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. Rather, the Church later found it embarrassing that He never said so, and then invented incidents in which He really admitted He was Messiah, but insisted on keeping it secret. Wrede gave two chief arguments: (1) He said that several incidents of the Messianic secret were faked by the Church. He says the strongest incident is the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5. 43). He said that anyone could see the girl was alive. (2) After the Transfiguration, Jesus told them to keep it secret until He would rise from the dead. Wrede argues that thus the Transfiguration was considered a sort of preview of the resurrection. The true meaning would be visible only after the resurrection. But then he adds that if the meaning was to be seen only later, it would be rather harmless if people heard of it earlier.

To reply to Wrede we note: (1) Jesus brought back the daughter of Jairus with only the parents, plus Peter, James and John present. The crowds were outside. How long did it need to be quiet? Just long enough for Him to slip out and get on the way to the next place. If the crowds had found it while He was there, they would have seized Him and proclaimed Him King Messiah, with unfortunate notions of the Messiah.—The other incidents Wrede cites are explained similarly. (2) He misses the point of the Transfiguration. It was not just to foretell the resurrection. It was to reveal in part the true nature of Jesus, and to do so in a way that could be understood at once. Even dull Peter got it for the moment (Mk 9. 5).

Sadly, on top of these empty arguments there has been built an analysis to show Jesus did not think He was Messiah. R. H. Fuller, in The Foundations of New Testament Christology (Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY. 1965, p. 109) thought he could break the incident at Caesarea Philippi (Mk 8. 29-33) into four units. After Jesus had asked the disciples who people said He was, and heard their replies, He turned to them and asked (unit 1): "Who do you say that I am?" Peter replied: You are the Messiah. (unit 2): Jesus tells them to keep it secret. (3) Jesus predicts His death and resurrection, and Peter objects strongly. (unit 4):Get behind me Satan!

Now, they say, units 1 and 4 seem all right. But units 2 and 3 are faked by the Church. On unit 2, they lean on Wrede's work, which we have seen is totally vain. On unit 3, they say this: If Jesus had really predicted His death and resurrection then when it really happened, the Apostles would not have been surprised. But they were even slow to believe. So the Church faked the predictions.

The answer is easy. If a person gets a mental framework of ideas, and some idea that does not fit tries to enter, it will not come in. There are many such examples. Teilhard de Chardin thought there would be a wonderful period just before the return of Christ, when most people would be joined in a close unity by love. Hence he failed to grasp at all the many Scriptural predictions about that time. In Lk 18. 8 Jesus asks: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" St. Paul in 2 Thes 2. 3 also predicts a great apostasy. 2 Tim 3. 1-5 says: "In the last days, there will be times of stress. People will be... ." And he gives a dreadful picture of what people will be like. Chardin had a set of ideas with which these texts did not fit. So he missed them entirely. Galen, the second century Greek physician and authority on anatomy so dominated the ideas of later investigators that some disregarded discoveries made by dissection which did not fit with Galen's ideas. Fabricius, the anatomy professor of William Harvey (who discovered the circulation of the blood) missed the import of some of his own findings since they did not agree with Galen. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1817-65) of Hungary, one of the great discoverers of germs (along with Pasteur and Lister) was put into an insane asylum by the other medical Doctors, who saw his findings did not fit with their own previous notions. And there are more cases. No wonder the dull Galilean fishermen Apostles, with a false set of notions about the Messiah, could not digest what Jesus predicted.

But then, Fuller, thinking he had proved units 2 and 3 were faked, read the real account, as he thought, without the fakery: Jesus asks the Apostles who they say He is . Peter says He is the Messiah. Jesus angrily rejects the notion: Get behind me Satan. He does not believe He is Messiah. Unfortunately, this is one of the major roots of the claims of ignorance in Jesus.

We must add: Today Fuller has given up on the Form Criticism that led him to this conclusion. He said more recently (St. Luke's Journal of Theology, 23, 1980, p. 96) that Form Criticism is bankrupt. So he was wrong twice, first in abusing Form Criticism, then by failing to see its very real values if used properly.

We add too that Wrede admitted a chief root of his troubles. He wrote (p. 50): "Historical research... does not recognize miracles in the strict sense." Of course, this is a common blindness of rationalists.

So Jesus did know He was Messiah. Really, we have already shown that His human soul from the beginning had the vision of God, in which all knowledge is available.

St. Matthew's version of the same incident In chapter 16) adds two points: the fact that Peter called Jesus the Son of God, and Jesus said that was revealed to Him by the Father, and the promise of the primacy. So we must ask: could the whole incident, or at least these two points, have been retrojected (written as happening before Easter, when they really came after Easter)? As to the whole incident, it could not have been retrojected, for after Easter Jesus would not ask what people were saying about Him. Nor is there any reason to suppose He went to Caesarea Philippi after Easter. About the two added points: they could have been retrojected, provided that the words were actually said at least after Easter. But there is no positive proof to support such a retrojection theory.

c) Son of God: In general, as we have said, any devout Jew could be called a son of God. But the way Jesus used the term is special. He often—22 times in the Synoptics, speaks of your Father. He speaks of my Father 20 times in the Synoptics. But He never speaks of Our Father, putting Himself and others together, except in the opening of the Our Father. So He does make a distinction between their Father and His Father.

In the parable of the wicked tenants, which we just saw, He speaks of Himself as the beloved Son of the Father. In Mk 12. 6 and Luke 20. 13 the son who is finally sent is called the beloved son, agapeton. Interestingly, the Septuagint uses agapeton to translate Hebrew yahid which means only son.

Matthew 11. 27 and Lk 10. 22 are sometimes spoken of as a "thunderbolt from the Johannine sky". That is, in John He speaks clearly of His own divinity. But in the Synoptics not clearly. Here He says that no one knows the Father but the Son, and no one knows the Son but the Father. J. Jeremias (New Testament Theology, tr. J. Bowden, Charles Scribner's Sons, N. Y. 1971, pp. 56-61) suggests that this statement is a Semitic proverb, using repetition to make up for the Semitic lack of a good reciprocal pronoun (such as each other). Then the sense would be that only a father and a son really know each other. But not all fathers and sons know each other better than others do. For certain we will say that if it would be such a proverb, Jesus would be applying it to Himself to claim a special sonship beyond that which others could ever claim.

His use of Aramaic Abba seems to suggest a special unique and familiar relationship. Jews would call God their Father, but not with so familiar a word, comparable to English Daddy. It is true, it is not frequent (Mk 4. 36 is the only example in the Gospels). But it seems likely , in view of the uses St. Paul makes of it (Rom 8. 15 and Gal. 4. 6), that Jesus used it more often.

With all these texts, we must admit that He did not in them reveal clearly that He was the only Son of the Father. But this lack of precision was intended, as a part of His gradual self-revelation.

d) Other statements by Jesus:
(1) He said he was greater than Jonah ( Mt 12. 41-42; Lk 11. 32), Solomon (Mt 12. 42; Lk 11. 31 and the Temple (Mt 12. 6).

(2) He also claimed authority over the Torah. He said: "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 12. 8; Lk 6. 5; Mk 2. 28). Several times in Matthew 5 he said: "You have heard it was said to them of old... . But I say to you." No great prophet ever spoke that way. Even W. Pannenburg (Jesus—God and Man, tr. L. Wilkins and D. Priebe, Westminster, Phila, 2d ed. 1977, p. 56) confesses: "Jesus makes himself the spokesman for God himself."

(3) He claimed power to forgive sins. This is especially clear in the case of the paralytic let down through the roof. Jesus said: "My son, your sins are forgiven." Scribes and Pharisees present were murmuring: "This is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone." Yet Jesus went on to prove He had done it by working the cure precisely as a proof that He had forgiven sins. His opponents, lacking the notion of delegated power to forgive, did take this as a claim to divinity. Wm. L. Lane (Commentary of the Gospel of Mark in NICNT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1974, p. 84, n. 9) thinks His words "your sins are forgiven" are merely the divine passive, a usage intended to avoid the mention of the name Yahweh. But Lane cannot be right. For the scribes, who knew all about the divine passive, still took this as a claim to divinity.

(4) He implied He was Yahweh Himself. When John the Baptist sent messengers to ask Jesus if He was the one to come, Jesus said that John was "more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. '" Now Jesus was quoting basically from Mal 3. 1 which in the original Hebrew says: "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before my face." (Jesus used a text with the modification usual at that time, in which the shift from first to second person came because of the exegetical tradition of the rabbis in which these texts, Mal 3. 1 and Ex. 23. 20 had been combined. (Lane, op. cit. p. 51). But as R. H. Fuller observes (Foundations of New Testament Christology, p. 48),"The starting point for this expectation is Mal 4. 5f (Mt. 3. 23f). In this passage, an editorial note commenting on Mal 3:1, Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself." (Fuller uses the number 4. 5, following some English versions and the Vulgate. The Hebrew and Septuagint use the numbers 3. 23-24). This is astounding. Jesus speaks of a sort of multiple fulfillment of prophecy. Elijah is to come at the end, as the forerunner of Yahweh Himself. Similarly John the Baptist, whom Jesus calls Elijah, is His forerunner. This is hardly a mere accommodation of a text. No Jew would dare to apply to himself words that in the original referred to Yahweh!

(5) Jesus, as we saw, claims to be the eschatological Judge. That is a shocking claim. God could give a mere human a mind and ability to know the thoughts of all hearts of all ages, and enable him to give infallible judgment. Even if we thought Jesus claimed merely to be human it would be a staggering claim. More easily it means an implication of divinity.

These texts just cited do not amount to a revelation of divinity, but they are very great claims.

(6)Prophet: Jesus did imply He was a prophet. In Mt 13. 57 He said no prophet is without honor except in his own house. But He would not mean He was one of the frenetic prophets or of the schools called "sons of the prophets". He would be in the line of the great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. Moses foretold in Dt 18. 18 that God would rise up for them a prophet like himself. This was understood in a Messianic sense by Jews. In Jn 6. 14, after multiplication of the loaves the people said Jesus must be that prophet. And St. Peter identifies Jesus as the great prophet in Acts 3. 22-23. In Acts 7. 37 St. Stephen does the same.


XVIII. Basic Teachings.

Besides the teaching on Himself just mentioned, Jesus also taught very basic things, especially that He was sent to establish the kingdom of God. (We explained above, in XVI, the meaning of that phrase, and saw that often, not always, it means the Church in this world and/or the next). He surely did promise to found a Church, giving the keys to Peter in Mt 16. 18-19. Two fine Protestant scholars, W. F. Albright (spoken of in his own day as the "Dean of American Scripture scholars") and C. S. Mann, in their commentary on the passage in Anchor Bible take the same view of it as we have done. In our summary of apologetics in our section V above, we saw how to establish

that fact firmly. In addition, He very explicitly established Baptism as the means of entrance into the Church and forgiveness of sins (Mt. 28. 18-20. He promised the Eucharist in John 6, and gave the it at the Last Supper. And by telling the Apostles: "Do this in memory of me He made them priests (DS 1752). He established the Sacrament of Penance in John 20. 22 (defined in DS 1703). We know that He also established the other Sacraments too: DS 1601. He gave the Apostles the commission to teach in His name, as we saw in section V, and promise God's protection for that teaching esp. in Lk 10. 16. He likewise gave them the power to give commands in His name, to bind and to loose.

He also taught that He came to give His life as a ransom for many (the "many" reflects Hebrew rabbim and so means all), to redeem the world, e. g, Mt. 20. 28; Mk 10. 45. As we saw in section VIII He was aware of His future suffering and mission from the first instant of His conception. As Pius XII taught in the Encyclical on the Mystical Body (DS 3812) He knew and loved each member of His Mystical Body from the first instant of His conception, thanks the vision of God which His human soul had from the beginning.

He offered the sacrifice of His life at the Last Supper. The outward sign then was the seeming separation of His body and blood, followed on the next day by the actual separation of Body and Blood. This outward sign expressed the interior disposition of obedience to the Father: cf. Rom 5. 19 and LG 3. He was the priest of this sacrifice. He Himself did not use that word of Himself, but the Church later, guided by the Holy Spirit, saw it, and expressed it at length in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

He declared His absolute power as King of the Universe in Mt 28. 18-19: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth." Thus Romans 1. 4 says He was constituted "Son-of-God-in-power" at His resurrection. As God He always had all power; as man, He had emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave: Phil 2. 7.

His resurrection and ascension were the glorification of which St. Paul speaks in Phil 2. 9-11: "For this reason God also exalted Him and gave to Him the name that is above very name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, for the glory of God the Father."

His resurrection and ascension were not the same event, as some today like to claim. If so, all the appearances to the Apostles and others before the ascension would be false.

"Dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life." By His resurrection He taught both the fact and the mode of our resurrection, as St. Paul insists in 1 Cor 15. 13-23, since He is the first-fruits, and He is the Head of the Mystical Body of which we are members.

By His appearances after the resurrection, He taught what our resurrection is to be like. We are saved and made holy if and to the extent we are members of Christ and like Him. The more we are like Him in suffering and death, the more like Him in glory. He took pains to teach us two facts about the risen body. On the one hand, it was real flesh: He allowed them to touch Him, and He even ate with them, though He needed no food (Rom 8. 21 explains that at the end we will be freed from slavery to corruption). He also taught that the risen body is completely dominated by the spirit, the soul, so that He could come in to the Apostles in spite of the locked door. He did not even open it by a miracle, just ignored it. So St. Paul speaks of the risen bodies as "spiritual (1 Cor 15. 44) not meaning they are not flesh, but flesh totally subject of the spirit, as His was and is.


XIX. Jesus and the Law:

a) His conflict with Jewish authorities: Jesus said (Mt 5. 17): "Do not think I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them. Amen I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is fulfilled."

Yet He was infrequent conflict with Scribes and Pharisees on the charge He was breaking the law. Mark 7. 9-11 provides the key. The Pharisees had just rebuked His followers for eating with unwashed hands. The Gospel reports that the Pharisees and all Jews frequently washed hands, and observed baptisms of various utensils. Jesus answered them with the words of Isaiah 29. 13: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and precepts of men. ' You leave behind the command of God and hold to the tradition of men... You make void the precept of God to keep your own tradition. For Moses said: Honor your Father and your Mother... but you say: If a man says to his Father or Mother Corban, what you would have obtained from me is Corban (that is, given to God) then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother." A major Jewish scholar of today, Jacob Neusner (Torah, Fortress, 1985 ) reports that the Mishnah, which was considered a codification of oral traditions said that part of the law given to Moses was written, part was transmitted orally (p. 75). There were 613 precepts in the written law, many more in the oral law. He cites (p. 75) the Talmud saying that the oral part is greater than the written part, and "the ones which are handed on orally are the more precious." The tradition was considered as "a fence for the Torah". It would keep people at a distance from violating it. (p. 44). Neusner also says (Invitation to the Talmud Harper & Row, NY, 2d ed. , 1989, p. 23 that the Pharisees extended the Levitical purity rules even to their own homes, beyond the Temple. And after 70, they extended these rules to all Jews.

In the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11. 3, we read: "It is a worse thing to go against the words of the Scribes than the words of the [written] law]."

There was no unanimity among the Jewish teachers on many things, especially since they had no central teaching authority. But there was a powerful tendency to self-righteousness based on merits. Extensive testimonies are gathered in A, Marmorstein, The Doctrine of Merits in Old Rabbinical Literature (KTAV, NY 1968). On p. 24 Marmorstein tells us there were two schools: one said God does everything for His Name's sake; the other said that merits are needed for everything. On p. 43 (cf. p. 172-73), is cited the view that the world exists for the merits of the righteous. Joseph Bonsirven in Palestinian Judaism in the Time of Christ, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1965, tr. William Wolf) on p. 45 we find that God found no nation capable of receiving the Law. He gave the covenant in view of the future merits of Israel. Also, just as the world was created for the sake of Israel, so it continues to exist because of the merits of Israel (Marmorstein, pp. 128-29. A. Buchler, in Studies in Sin and Atonement, (KTAV, NY, 1967, p. 187. n. ) cites an arrogant statement by Simeon B. Yohai saying that he could free the whole world from punishment from the day of his birth until then, and with the help of his son Eleazar he could cover all times from creation to his day, and with the help of Yotham son of Uzziyyah their merits would suffice from creation to eternity. Marmorstein notes he knows of no other case of such pride.

Their esteem of the law was so great, and so distorted, that they thought God Himself spends three hours per day in studying the Law: Palestinian Targum on Dt 32. 4, and Babylonian Talmud, Aboda Zara, 3. b.

The things the Jewish teachers disputed were often pitiful. Studying law meant largely solving cases. Thus the Babylonian Talmud (Beza 1. 1) reports that the schools of Shammai and Hillel, at the time of Jesus, debated whether it was permissible to eat an egg laid by a hen on a feast day coming after the Sabbath. The hen had been working illegally! The school of Shammai said it was permissible; Hillel said no. (The reverse of the usual tendencies of these schools).

The Babylonian Talmud in Sabbath VI. 65-66 reports that Rabbi Meir permitted a cripple with a wooden leg to walk on the Sabbath, but Rabbi Jose forbade it!

Yigal Yadin, the chief researcher of the Temple Scroll (In Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.—Oct. 1984, on p. 45 reports that since Dt 23. 12-14 ordered the latrine to be put outside the camp in the period of wandering, the Essenes took this to apply literally to all of Jerusalem. So they made a latrine outside the city at a distance of 3000 cubits—which was too far for anyone to be permitted to walk there on the Sabbath!.

Numerous additional examples could be given, but these are enough to show why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees. At the same time, we can admit that there were some fine highly moral ideals also to be found, along with these foolish things. Cf. Bonsirven, pp. 21-32.

Some today say that the conflicts of Jesus with the Pharisees did not take place in His time. Later the Christians came into conflict, and then retrojected these things to the time of Jesus. But such a view implies falsification in Scripture. It would be permitted to retroject a saying of Jesus after Easter to before Easter, provided He really said it, but not to just make things up, as this view proposes.

L. H. Schiffman, in "New Light on the Pharisees—Insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls" in Bible Review, June 1992, pp. 30-33, 54, says that new finds from the Dead Sea scrolls show that "the reports of the religious laws... attributed to the Pharisees in the later talmudic texts are basically accurate."

b) Jesus on fulfillment compared to St. Paul on the law: Since the Holy Spirit is the Chief Author of all of Scripture, we know there can be no conflict between Jesus and Paul,

Actually, Paul was in a running fight with the Judaizers who said: Christ is not enough. We must have the law too. Naturally Paul worded his response to say: We are free from the law. What did he mean? He meant: (1)Jesus is enough; (2)Keeping the law does not merit salvation: Paul, like Jesus, taught that God is our Father, and that we get our salvation as His children, we inherit. (Cf. Galatians 3. 15-18; 4. 5-7; Rom 8. 16-17; 6. 23. It is true that Greek kleronomein can mean merely get, and need not mean inherit. But the contexts just cited show Paul does mean inherit. (3)Paul did say that just as children can earn to lose their inheritance, so we can earn to lose ours, and earn punishment instead: 1 Cor 6. 9-10; Eph 5. 5; Gal 5. 16-25.

c) Jesus goes beyond the law: Since He had come to fulfill, He perfected the law, calling for love for neighbors and even enemies. Leviticus 19, . 18 had called for love of neighbor, but the Jews took it narrowly, and it did not include outsiders. Jesus extended it.

Jesus clearly distinguished what is required for salvation from what is needed for perfection. Thus in Mt 19. 21: "If you would be perfect, go sell all you have... ." He proposed celibacy/virginity for those who could take it: Mt 19. 12. He also presented added ideals in the Sermon on the Mount in Mt 5-7. But St. Thomas explained (II. II. 40. 1 ad 2): " These precepts are always to be observed in attitude of mind, namely, that a man should always be prepared not to resist... . But at times one must act otherwise because of the common good [referring chiefly to public authority]... . Hence Augustine says... nothing is more unhappy than the happiness of sinners, in that impunity is nourished and an evil will is strengthened." (Cf. St. Augustine, De sermone in monte 1. 19; Epist. 138. 2. 1 4). Jesus Himself, when slapped on the face by a guard at his trial, did not turn the other cheek, but rebuked them: John 18. 23.

Incidentally, only 4 of the Fathers of the Church were absolute pacifists: Marcion, Tatian, Tertullian, and Lactantius. But each passage involves heresy, and so the testimony is voided.

Especially, Jesus goes far beyond the law in saying (Mt. 5. 48): "Be you perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." And He adds (Mt 18. 3): "Unless you change and become like little children you will not get into the kingdom of God." Children know that they do not earn the love and care of their parents: they get it because the parents are good, not because they, the children are good. Hence St. Paul speaks many times of "inheriting" the kingdom (cf. Rom 8. 14-17; Gal 4. 6-7). This does not mean we are free to violate the law: he who does so will not inherit: 1 Cor 6. 9-10; Eph 5. 5; Gal 5. 16-24. (Justification by faith cannot excuse disobedience, as Luther thought: obedience is part of faith: Cf. Rom 1:5) This teaching implies the true answer on predestination. The positive, predestination is not earned, though the negative, rejection can be earned. Cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, Chapter 12.


XX. The Miracles of Jesus:

Rationalists attack the very possibility of miracles. Some, with a scientific bent, say the universe is a closed system, that is, everything is covered by natural laws, and there is no exception to them.

R. Bultmann makes foolish statements about miracles. First, nothing is certain: "Conclusive knowledge is impossible in any science or philosophy", (in Kerygma & Myth, tr. Reginald Fuller, ed. H. W. Bartsch. Harper & Row Torchbooks, NY. 1961, 2nd ed. I. p. 195). Yet he is certain about many things, e.g., "It is impossible to use electric light and wireless... and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles" (ibid. p. 5). He goes on to say that if natural science can explain something, it could be called a miracle. But if it cannot explain, then it would be superstition to call it a miracle. (ibid. pp. 197, 199).

R. E. Brown ("The Myth of the Gospels without Myth" in St. Anthony's Messenger, May 1971, pp. 45-46) said that no respectable scholar, Catholic or Protestant, would accept all the Gospel miracles: that would be fundamentalism, and would make New Testament times like a fairyland. He adds that the more conservative accept some miracles, such as the virginal conception and resurrection, but they do not believe in possession by the devil.

Some modern homilists, wishing to appear up to date, give utterly unsupported ways of explaining away miracles. Thus they will say that the "miracle" of the loaves really came about because Jesus induced people who selfishly had been hiding loaves under their cloaks to get them out and share them!

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (pp. 1320-21) takes a better stance: "Extraordinary deeds of Jesus not easily explained by human means, esp. exorcisms and cures, were never denied in antiquity, even by his enemies, who referred his miracles to the power of the devil, (Mark 3: 20-30 par) and in later polemics to magic." But they did not deny the fact that He did such things. Really, when we consider that His first followers—and we too—believed their eternity depended on the truth about Him, they would not falsify such things. Many today who would not deny the cures would object to accepting the nature miracles, such as calming the storm. But there is no more reason to reject them than the cures.

R. Bultmann ("The Study of the Synoptic Gospels: in Form Criticism, tr. F. C. Grant, New York, Harper & Row Torchbooks, 1962, pp. 37-39, since he has ruled out in advance the very possibility for miracles, tries to use Form Criticism to discredit the cures done by Jesus. He says the narratives of Jesus' cures are like those of cures worked in pagan healing stories. He says he finds the following items: a) the grave condition of the patient—perhaps mentions of failures by doctors—the healer imposes hands and utters the healing word—the bystanders cry out in wonder as the one healed shows he is healed—b) the healing word is often in an unknown tongue, with no one present.

The first group, a) is very inane. What else would one expect in any cure than that the condition of the patient is described, and the healer imposes hands etc. As to the second group, b) the healing word may be in a strange tongue in pagan stories, but not in the Gospels. A few times Aramaic words are cited by the Gospel—but that was not an unknown tongue there, it was the most common language of Palestine at that time. As to the absence of witnesses, usually there are many in the Gospel stories. Furthermore, Bultmann fails to mention significant points of difference: In the pagan Greek stories there are curious and sometimes indecent details, the wonder-workers are usually skilled in medicine or magic, are amorous or vengeful, they are highly motivated by money. Also, in the pagan Greek reports there is no spiritual significance. Further, in the pagan stories, miracles normally happen when the patient is asleep in a temple (incubation), but never so in the Gospels. In the Greek stories there is much gibberish and incantation—nothing of the kind in the Gospels. And even if things were more similar, that would not prove both had the same source. (A more detailed comparison and contrast is found in Laurence J. McGinley, "Hellenic Analogies and the Typical Healing Narrative" in Theological Studies 4, 1942, pp. 385-419.

Claims are also made that the story of Jesus is like that of the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus. It is strange anyone would seriously suggest such a comparison. The Gospels were written less than 40 years after the death of Jesus. Philostratus wrote long after the events. Apollonius is really just a Pythagorean philosopher, not one who claimed to be sent by God to bring eternal salvation by His own suffering. Philostratus and Apollonius believed in many pagan gods. When the mother of Apollonius is pregnant, the Egyptian god Proteus appears to her—it seems Apollonius is to be a reincarnation of Proteus. Philostratus has some long philosophical discussions. At Olympia (Book 8. 15-19) all of Greece came before Apollonius, who held 40 days of philosophical discussions and debates. In India, Apollonius sees dragons about 60 feet long (3:7). Their eyes held mystic gems, so large that if hollowed out they would hold enough drink for four men (3:27). In one place he sees robot tripods that serve meals (3:27). Apollonius finds the source of the Nile where there are giant geysers, and fears deafness from their roar (6:26). He fears also the demons who used it for a gathering place. As to cures: Apollonius finds a satyr annoying women, and quiets the satyr with wine (6:27). He meets a woman whose son is possessed by a demon, which is actually the ghost of a man who fell in battle. The man had been fond of his wife. But she married three days after his death, and so he became homosexual over a 16 year old boy. Apollonius gives a threatening letter for the ghost (3:38). And there is more similar nonsense.

Many today try to say miracles were not intended to prove anything, t hey were just signs. So we ask: Did Jesus use miracles to prove His claims? The New Jerome Biblical Commentary on p. 1371 says that "Consistently, Jesus is presented as refusing to work miracles to show off his power." Five texts are cited in support of this assertion. But they do not support it. In Mt 4. 5-7 Jesus refuses the temptation of Satan. In Lk 23. 6-12 He refuses to amuse Herod. In Mk 8. 11-13 and Mt 12. 38-42 (cf. also Mt 16. 1-4) there is an insincere request for a miracle by those who have already seen many of them: hence Jesus refuses. In Mk 15. He refuses to come down from the cross. So these texts do not support the claim of NJBC. Really the claim of NJBC is worded unfortunately. Jesus did not use miracles "to show off his power." No, it was for a better purpose, to prove His mission. He very explicitly cured a paralytic (Mk 1. 1-2 and parallels) to prove He had the power to forgive sins. He commonly demanded faith in Him to work a cure, e. g, in Lk 8. 41-56 before raising the daughter of Jairus: "Fear not, just believe and she will be well." Mt. 9. 27-29 and parallels tells of blind men asking for sight. Jesus asks: "Do you believe that I am able to do this?... . Be it done to you according to your faith." In John 5. 36 and 14. 10-11 He says if they do not believe Him, believe His works.

We suspect this tendency to downgrade miracles as proofs comes from a dislike of apologetics. But from the beginning of the Church miracles have played a great role in apologetics (cf. our summary of apologetics at the beginning of this study). This use of miracles is found already in the very first apologist, Quadratus who wrote an Apology to Hadrian about 123. In it he says that in his day some were still alive who have been cured by Jesus or raised from the dead by Him. This of course need not be in 123 AD, but it would surely cover the period 80-90 in which many now place the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Thus many would be on hand who could give firsthand testimony about Jesus. (There are more, cf. again the summary of apologetics early in this study).


XXI. How did the Redemption operate?

Of course, Jesus redeemed us by His death. But we must go deeper, and ask in what way His death accomplished that.

Mt 20. 28: "The Son of Man... came to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mk. 10. 45 is the same).

Gal. 3. 13: "Christ has bought us back from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us." (Cf. also Gal 4. 5).

1 Cor. 6. 20 (cf. 7. 23):"You were bought at a price."

Comment: The question had to arise: to whom was the price or ransom paid? It would seem at first sight that it was paid to the one who held our race in captivity, to Satan. St. Ambrose, in Epistle 72 went so far as to accept that. Most Fathers and later writers recoiled from that. Yet the idea that sin was a debt was very ancient. It is found for example in the Our Father: "Forgive us our debts"

St. Athanasius probably was not original on the point, but he does tell us of four possible answers:

(1) Substitution: "He takes to Himself a body capable of death that it, by partaking of the Lord who is above all, might be worthy to die instead of all... . All being considered to have died in Him. [Cf. 2 Cor 5. 14]." (On the Incarnation 9).

(2) Blunting or absorbing the impact of a force. He died so that "the law involving the ruin of men might be undone, inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body." (On the Incarnation 8).

(3) Physical-mystical solidarity: "Such a union was made so He might join what was by nature divine with what was by nature human, so (human) salvation and divinization might be secure." (Second Oration Against the Arians 70). The notion is that all humanity forms a unit, a solidarity. But the humanity of Christ is part of that solidarity. Further, in Him that nature is joined in one Person to the divinity. So a power spreads out from the divinity through His humanity to all humanity to heal it. And in his Oration 2. 70; "Such a union was made [in the incarnation] for this reason [namely] so that He might join together that which was by nature divine with that which was by nature human, so that his [man's] salvation and divinization might be firm." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, in Catechetical Oration 32: Just as in the case of our bodies, the activity of one of our senses works throughout the whole system which is united to that part, so too, as if our whole nature [all humanity] were one living things, the resurrection of the part passes through to the whole, being given to the whole according to the continuity and unity of [our] nature." And again: ibid. 25:" "Now therefore the One who keeps nature in existence has been mingled with us; then [at the incarnation] He was mingled with our nature so that it [our nature] by mixture with the divine, might become divine."

(4) Payment of a debt: "The Word of God... by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all, satisfied the debt by His death." (On the Incarnation 9).

St. Anselm (1033—1109) in Cur Deus homo? following up on the debt idea, said that man was created for obedience, service, devotion to God. By sin he evaded it. So God had to demand satisfaction in justice. Hence the Incarnation, the means of satisfying the debt. Many have been displeased with the Anselmian theory. First, God does not have to do anything. Second, people could say: If someone offends me, I often just let it go. Why cannot God be so kind?

However, the notion of sin as a debt to be paid is found in the OT, in intertestamental literature (where Hebrew and Aramaic hobah is often used to mean sin, while its basic sense is debt. It is found in the NT. It is found widely in rabbinic literature. Pope Paul VI, in Indulgentiarum doctrina, Jan 9, 1967. AAS 59. 7, wrote: "Every sin brings with it a disturbance of the universal order, which God arranged in His inexpressible wisdom and infinite love... So it is necessary for the full remission and reparation of sins... not only that friendship with God be restored by a sincere conversion of heart, and that the offence against His wisdom and goodness be expiated, but also that all the goods, both individual and social, and those that belong to the universal order, lessened or destroyed by sin, be fully reestablished, either through voluntary reparation... or through the suffering of penalties."

The same thought is brought out well in the image of a two-pan scales by Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar, in Tosefta, Kiddushin 1. 14. He wrote c 170 AD, and says he is quoting Rabbi Meir, a disciple of the great Rabbi Akiba: "Someone has carried out one commandment. Blessings [on him]. He has tipped the scales to the side of merit for himself and for the world. Someone has committed a transgression. Woe [to him]. He has tipped the scales to the side of debt for himself and for the world."

A modern synthesis: There are three aspects to the redemption: payment of a debt (rebalancing the objective order), sacrifice, and new covenant:

a) Debt: A sinner takes from one pan of the scale what he has no right to. The scale is out of balance. The holiness of God wants everything morally right, and so wants it rebalanced. If the sinner stole property, he begins to rebalance by giving it back. If he stole a pleasure, he begins to rebalance by giving up some other pleasure he could have lawfully had. But in either case, he only begins—for the imbalance from even one mortal sin is infinite. Hence if the Father wanted full reparation—he was not obliged—the only way to accomplish it would be to send a Divine Person to become man.

So there is a price of redemption, not paid of course to Satan, nor to the Father (He was not the captor) but to the objective order, to rebalance it, as willed by the holiness of God.

b) Sacrifice: This price is the sacrificial death of Christ, done in obedience: cf. Romans 5. 19 and LG 3. Had He died as a merely physical event, not in obedience, it would have redeemed nothing. In a sacrifice there are two elements, as we can gather from Isaiah 29:13: "This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me." The outward sign on Holy Thursday was the seeming separation of body and blood, by the two species; the sign on Friday was the physical separation; the sign in the Mass is the same as on Holy Thursday. But the essential in all is the interior disposition of obedience of Christ, without which His death would have been just a tragedy, not a sacrifice.

c) New Covenant: Another aspect is that of covenant, as foretold by Jeremiah 31. 31ff . The obedience of the death of Christ was the covenant condition. Again, without obedience it would have been a tragedy, not a redemption.

A sinner, as we said, takes from one pan what he has no right to take. Jesus in His painful death gave back more than all sinners have taken. And the infinity of His Person would have made even a slight thing from Him infinitely valuable. His Mother too, completely sinless, joined in that rebalance as we shall see.

Since the price of the redemption was infinite, the Father bound Himself by infinite objective title to offer forgiveness and grace without limit to our race. Further, there is an infinite objective title in favor of each individual person. So St. Paul says in Gal 2:20: "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Vatican II, Church in Modern World §22, said: "Each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me."

Now Jesus did not die for just part of our race, but for all. Hence this infinite title applies also to those before His coming. It is true, the external means of grace—Mass and Sacraments were not to be seen then. But God can and does make grace available interiorly even without them. And it seems that some have more need of His special helps than others: Cf. 1 Cor 1:27-30; Ezek. 3:5-7 and 5:6; Jonah 3; Lk 10:30-37; Mt 11:21; Lk 17:11-19. As to texts that seem to speak of God as measuring out graces, like Eph 4:7-13 and Rom 12:3-8 — they speak of the charismatic graces, not of sanctifying graces. Sanctifying graces since needed for salvation, which God wills for all (1 Tim 2:4) and coming under the infinite covenant are given without measure. Charismatic graces are otherwise: 1 Cor 12:11.

The infinity of His offering does not dispense us, His members, from doing what we can. St. Paul makes clear that we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are not only members of Christ, but also like Him. That likeness of course must include this sharing in rebalancing. St. Paul says we are members of Christ: 1 Cor 12. 12-27. We must do all with Him: Rom 6. 3-8; 8. 18; Col 3. 1-4. We must be like Him: Rom 8. 9, 13 & 17. What we can call merit is really our getting on the claim generated by Christ, by being His members and being like Him. This is the Syn Christo theme.

The Mass: It is precisely in the Mass, when we obey His command: "Do this in memory of me," that we join our obedience to His. He dies no more (Romans 6:9), but the exterior sign of seeming separation expresses death (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). The interior is His attitude of obedience, which is continued form that of His Heart when He died, for death makes permanent the attitude of heart with which one leaves this world.

Really, Calvary paid the price of all forgiveness and grace, yet the Father willed the Mass: 1) so we might join our obedience of will to that of Christ, so we would be capable of receiving what He wills to give. This is the syn Christo theme, of which we spoke of above; 2)In Summa I. 19. 5. c. St. Thomas explains that God in His love of good order, likes to have a title in place, a reason for giving what He gives. So the Mass by presenting the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and Members, provides that title.

Patristic teaching on Our Lady's cooperation: Our Lady's cooperation in the redemption appears in the earliest Fathers, in the New Eve theme. It begins with St. Justin the Martyr, around 150 AD. It is then taken up widely in the other Fathers. St. Paul had spoken of Christ as the New or Second Adam. The Fathers teach there was also a New or Second Eve. The thought is this: Just as the first Eve really contributed to bringing down the damage of original sin on our race, so the New Eve, Mary , really contributed to reversing that damage.

(1) St. Justin Martyr, ( c. 100-165) Dialogue with Trypho 100: "... we have understood that He came forth from the Father before all things... and was made man of the Virgin, so that the disobedience brought on by the serpent might be canceled out in the same manner in which It had begun. For Eve, being untouched and a virgin, conceiving the word from the serpent, bought forth disobedience and death. But Mary the Virgin, having received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced to her that the spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, so that the Holy One born of her would be the Son of God, answered: 'Be it done to me according to your word. '"

(2) St. Irenaeus (c. 120-202) Against Heresies III. 22. 4: "Just as she... being disobedient, because a cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary... being obedient, became a cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race... . for in no other way can that which is tied be untied unless the very windings of the knot are gone through in reverse: so that the first joints are loosed through the second, and the second in turn free the first... . Thus, then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the obedience of Mary." V, 19. 1: "Although the one had disobeyed God, the other was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And just as the human race was bound over to death through a virgin, so was it saved through a virgin; the scale was balanced—a virgin's disobedience by a virgin's obedience."

Comment: We notice the words about balancing the scales—of the objective order. We note too that Vatican II, LG 56 cited most of the first of the above texts of St. Irenaeus, and put stress on obedience in 56 and 61. Also, the knot was not really untied until Calvary was completed — so the words of St. Irenaeus objectively imply more than he is likely to have seen. As a Father of the Church, Divine Providence could use him to express more than Irenaeus himself saw. He saw her cooperation in the objective redemption (the once-for-all gaining of a title to forgiveness and grace). But he had in mind the annunciation. That would be a remote cooperation. The immediate cooperation would be a cooperation on Calvary. As we said, it was only then that the knot was really untied.

(3) Tertullian (c 150—c 240). On the Flesh of Christ 17: "Therefore, since we are told that the first Adam was from the earth, God fittingly also made the next, the new Adam, into a life-giving spirit out of the earth—that is, of a flesh not yet used for generation. And yet, so I may not miss the opening provided by the name of Adam—why did the Apostle call Him Adam if Christ as man was not of earthly origin? But here reason also helps to show that God, by a rival [parallel but in reverse] method, restored His image and likeness which had been captured by the devil. For into Eve when she was yet a virgin had crept the word that established death; likewise, into a virgin was to be brought the Word of God that produced life: so that what had gone to ruin by the one sex might be restored to salvation by the same sex. Eve had believed the serpent, Mary believed Gabriel. What wrong the one did by her unbelief, the other destroyed by her belief."

(4) St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) Catecheses 12. 15: "Through the virgin Eve came death. It was necessary that life appear through a virgin, or rather, of a virgin, so that just as the serpent deceived the one, so Gabriel brought the good tidings to the other."

(5) St. Jerome ( c. 347-419), Epistle 22. 21 [internal quotes: Is 9. 6): "But after the Virgin conceived in her womb and brought forth for us a child for whom 'the government is upon his shoulder... God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, ' the curse was dissolved. Death through Eve; life through Mary".

(6) St. Ambrose (c 333—397) Epistle 63. 33): "Through a man and a woman flesh was cast out of paradise; through a virgin it was joined to God." On the Gospel of Luke 4. 7: "From the virgin earth [came] Adam, Christ [came] from a virgin; the former was made to the image of God, the latter [was] the image of God; the former was exalted above all irrational animals, the latter above all living things. Through a woman [came] folly, through a virgin [came] wisdom. Death [came] through the tree, life through the cross."

(7) St. Augustine ( 354—430):Sermon on Psalm 149. 2: "For He received flesh from us and offered it. But whence did He receive it? From the womb of the Virgin Mary, so that He might offer clean flesh for the unclean." On the Christian Combat 22. 24: "Here also is a great mystery: since death had come upon us through a woman, life was born for us through a woman, so that the conquered devil was tormented by both sexes, that is, male and female, since he had rejoiced in the ruin of both. His punishment would have been too small if both had been freed and had not been freed through both." On Holy Virginity 6. 6: "... but certainly she is the Mother of His members, which we are; for she cooperated in love that the faithful might be born in the Church." Sermon 289. 2: "Since our original fall took place when a woman conceived in her heart the poison of the serpent, it is not surprising that our salvation came when a woman conceived in her womb the flesh of the Almighty. Both sexes had fallen; both had to be restored. Through a woman we were sent to ruin; through a woman salvation was restored to us."

Comment: A more extensive collection of Patristic New Eve texts in English is found in: T. Livius, The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Six Centuries (London, 1893). Other Fathers quoted in Livius are: St. Theophilus of Antioch, Origen, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Amphilocius, St. Ephrem, St. Epiphanius, St. Maximus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Peter Chrysologus, St. Proclus, St. Eleutherius Tornacensis, and the Epistle to Diognetus. Still more texts in Latin are to be found in Gabriel M. Roschini, Mariologia (2nd ed. Rome, 1947. II, 300-01, 304-09.

Vatican II, picked up and further developed this Patristic New Eve theme, clearly extending her cooperation to Calvary itself. Constitution on the Church, §58: "So also the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully bore with her union with her Son even to the cross, where, in accord with the divine plan, she stood, vehemently grieved with her Only-Begotten, and joined herself to His Sacrifice with a motherly heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her."

§61: "In conceiving Christ, in giving birth to Him, in feeding Him, in presenting Him to the Father in the Temple, in suffering with her Son as He died on the cross she cooperated in the work of the Savior in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls."

Comment: Her cooperation was by way of obedience, which was the covenant condition, the very thing that gave the sacrifice its value, for without obedience, it would have been only a tragedy, not a redemption. Hence in §3 of the same constitution: "By His obedience, He brought about redemption. :" Cf. also Romans 5. 19. Further, we notice that she cooperated officially, "in accord with the divine plan" as the New Eve. She was made interiorly apt for this by the Immaculate Conception. Such a cooperation is clearly active, in generating the title for redemption.

John Paul II. Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987. AAS 79. 382. 83. Vatican Press Translation. "How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God's 'unsearchable judgments'! How completely she 'abandons herself to God without reserve, ' offering the full assent of the intellect and the will' to Him whose 'ways are inscrutable... . Through this faith, Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying... . At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest 'kenosis' of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in His redeeming death... . as a sharing in the sacrifice of Christ—the new Adam—it becomes in a certain sense the counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first parents. Thus teach the Fathers of the Church and especially St. Irenaeus, quoted by the Constitution Lumen gentium: 'The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed by her faith.'"

Note: There are 15 other documents from Popes, every Pope from Leo XIII to John Paul II, all teaching her immediate cooperation in the objective redemption on Calvary: Leo XIII, Encyclicals, Iucunda semper, and Adiutricem populi, in ASS 27. 178 and 28. 130-31; S. Pius X, Encyclical Ad diem illum, ASS 36. 453-55; Benedict XV, Epistula, Admodum probatur, AAS 10. 182; Pius XI, Apostolic Letter, Explorata res est AAS 15, 104; Pius XI, Encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor and Radio message to Lourdes, AAS 20, 178 and Osservatore Romano, April 29, 1935; Pius XII, Encylical Mystici Corporis, AAS 35. 247 and Radio message to Fatima, AAS 38. 266 and Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, AAS 42. 768 and Encyclical, Fulgens Corona, AAS 45. 583 and Encyclical, Ad caeli Reginam, AAS 46. 634-35; John XXIII, Radio message to Eucharistic Congress of Catana, AAS 51, 714 and Homily AAS 65. 10.

It is a basic principle that if something is taught repeatedly on the Ordinary Magisterium level, it is infallible. Surely 17 repetitions suffice to make infallible the teaching that she cooperated immediately , on Calvary, in the objective redemption.

Comments: 1. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, the same Pope said that in Redemptoris Mater, he intended to deepen the teaching of Vatican II on Mary's faith. Now since faith involves total adherence of a person to God, requiring intellectual assent, confidence in promises, and the "obedience of faith" [Rom 1. 5], and since all spiritual perfection lies in the alignment of one's will with the will of God, it is clear that on Calvary her conformity to the will of the Father required that she positively will the terrible death of her Son. To do that was indeed the deepest kenosis of faith in all history, for she had to will His death in spite of her love, which was so great that Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus, in 1854, taught that at the very start of her life, her holiness (= love of God) was so great that "none greater under God can be thought of, and only God can comprehend it."—The very value of His death depended on His obedience to the will of the Father (cfr. Lumen gentium #3 and Rom 5. 19) for that obedience was the condition of the New Covenant. But then, her cooperation consisted in the obedience of faith, and so was a share in the covenant condition, in His obedience; hence her obedience became "the counterpoise to the disobedience and disbelief embodied in the sin of our first parents."—She did this as the one appointed by the Father to cooperate, as the New Eve, who was there, as Lumen gentium ## 58 &61 said, "by plan of divine Providence."

It was surely possible for the Father to accept her obedience as part of the covenant condition: He called for it at immense cost to her, as we have seen. He made her intrinsically apt. He appointed her to cooperate. Could we then suppose He would not accept that which He Himself had arranged? Not at all.

So, factually, He did accept her cooperation as part of the covenant condition, which generated a claim to all forgiveness and grace. This is far beyond what the German Mariologists supposed, with their theory of mere active receptivity. Their comparison says it is as if she put out her hand, an active move, and then passively picked up what she had no share in generating. This which sounds so much like the position of Luther saying our role is mere appropriation.

This does not mean she was on the same level as Jesus. Her very ability to do anything came from Him. Further, even His offering was on the secondary level of the covenant. WE mean this: If we ask why does the Father give good things under the covenant, there are two answers, on two levels. On the basic level, no creature can generate a claim on God: everything given is mere generosity, unmerited, unmeritable. But on the secondary level, i.e. , given the fact that He freely decided to enter a covenant, saying in effect: "If you do this, I will do that" then, if humans carry out their condition, He owes it to Himself to give what He has pledged. So it is not that the Father began to love us because Jesus came and died—no, He always loved us—rather, Jesus came and died because the Father loved us, so the Father did not cease being angry because Jesus came and died: rather, it was because the Father always loved us that He came.

2. Answer to an objection: Vatican II, in LG 54 said it did not intend to settle debates among theologians, chiefly, between the German Mariologists and those who hold she actively contributed to generating a title to all forgiveness and grace. Yet, In LG 55 the Council made clear that even if the human writers of Gen 3. 15 and Is 7. 14 may not have seen the full import of their words, the Church now does see them, in the light of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah the prophet in 31. 31 ff. wrote more than he knew. St. Irenaeus wrote more than he understood, with his knot comparison. Why could not the Council, an instrument of Divine Providence, also write more than it realized? We have seen, by careful analysis, that its words do objectively mean more than it realized. Still further, Msgr. G. Philips of Louvain, one of the chief drafters of LG, shows in his commentary that he himself did not fully understand all that he wrote. In his commentary on ## 61 and 62 of LG (L'Eglise et son mystère aux Deuxieme concil du Vatican. Histoire, text et commentaire de la Constitution Lumen Gentium, Desclée, Paris, 1968. It was reprinted in Ephemerides Mariologicae XXIV, 1974, pp. 87-97. We cite from this reprint) he thinks that only (p. 92) "a mental distinction... between the acquisition and the distribution of grace is possible." That is, between objective and subjective redemption. But on p. 90 of his commentary, he says that her cooperation was "concretized in her unconditional obedience." While on p. 92 he said her present role (subjective redemption) is one of intercession. Intercession and obedience are not at all the same thing. In obedience, she does the will of the Father, in intercession she asks the Father to do her will, to grant graces to her children.

3. When the Pope spoke of the deepest self-emptying on the part of Jesus and His Mother, he did not mean that Jesus thought He was abandoned by the Father. Rather, He recited the opening part of Psalm 21 to show He was then fulfilling the things prophesied in that Psalm.

John Paul II in a General Audience of Nov 30, 1988 said: "If Jesus feels abandoned by the Father, He knows, however, that that is not really so. He Himself said: 'I and the Father are one. ' ... . dominant in His mind Jesus has the clear vision of God and the certainty of His union with the Father. But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and He no longer feels the 'presence' of the Father... . However, Jesus knew that by this ultimate phase of His sacrifice, reaching the intimate core of His being, He completed the work of reparation which was the purpose of His sacrifice for the expiation of sins."

St. Francis de Sales (Treatise on the Love of God 9. 3) speaks of the fine point of the soul. Or, we could think of a tall mountain, 25, 000 feet in altitude. On some days, the peak will stick out above the dark clouds and be in sunshine, while all the lower slopes are in storm and distress. We mean this: in a human being there are many levels of operation, in body and in soul. It is possible to have peace on only the highest level, while all below is in distress. So it was in the humanity of Jesus when He recited the start of Psalm 21.

4) The alternatives of redemption: If we imagine the Father looking over the scene after the sin of our first parents, of course He willed to restore our race. But there were several alternatives open to Him: (1) He could forgive with no reparation at all. This would not satisfy His generosity to us, nor would it at all rebalance the objective order, as His Holiness wanted. (2) He could have appointed any mere human and ordered that one to perform any religious act. That would be of finite value, but He could have accepted, even could have bound Himself by promise to accept it as the whole of redemption. (3) He could have sent His Son to be born in a palace, fitted with every possible luxury. The Son would not need to die at all. The mere fact of becoming Incarnate was a come-down for a Divine Person, and so would be infinitely satisfactory and meritorious. He could have added a short prayer, perhaps, "Father, forgive them" and then could have ascended in a blaze of glory without ever dying. This would have been an infinite redemption. (4)He went beyond the palace to the stable, beyond a deathless prayer to the Cross. Without any rhetoric we can say: this is beyond infinity. In the lowly terrain of mathematics, infinity plus a finite quantity does not increase. But this is the realm of divine generosity, which wills to make everything as rich as possible. (5) Further, recalling He could have used a mere human for the whole of redemption: why not use the Virgin Mary as the associate of the Divine Redeemer? Our magisterium texts and analysis have shown He did precisely that.

Of course, He did not need to give her such a role—she was in a sense needed since some Mother was needed for the incarnation. But He freely chose to put her everywhere in His approach to us—as Vatican II showed in LG § 55-59, 61-62, in going through her role in every one of the mysteries of His life and death, from the eternal decrees, to eternity after the end of time, and at all points in between. Yet He willed to use her role thus, in His love of good order (cf. Summa I. 19. 5. c), and to make all things as rich as possible for us. Similarly, on the same principles, He willed to bring in the intercession of the ordinary Saints in the subjective redemption.—And in one way He did not really need to have the Mass, since all graces were earned before it. Yet: 1) in love of good order He willed it; 2) He wills that we be like Christ and join our obedience to His. Hence: "Do this in memory of me", so we have a place at which to join our obedience with His, to form the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and members.

5) Parallel to the Mass: The Mass, says Vatican II (On Liturgy § 10) is the renewal of the New Covenant. But, as we just said. in that renewal we, the members of Christ, are called on to join our obedience to His, to form the one great offering of the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and members. Therefore, if the renewal is faithful to the original, there must have been in the original a parallel, i. e, the infinite value of the obedience of Christ, to which was joined the obedience of His Mother, who is also our spiritual Mother. For Vatican II, in LG § 61, right after the portion already quoted, added: "As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace." An ordinary Mother must do two things: (1) Share in bringing a new life into being—Our Spiritual Mother did share in that, in immense pain, by the Cross. (2) She must take care of that life so long as she is needed, willing, and able. In time children naturally outgrow the need of great help from their earthly mother. Not so Mary: we will need her help, since all graces come through her, until we finally reach the mansions of the Father. Ordinary mothers may be unwilling or unable to help. Not so Mary, who is never unwilling, always most able.

6) Mediatrix of All Graces: From the fact that Our Lady shared, as we saw, in earning all graces, it is a natural consequence that she should share in distributing all graces. There are Magisterium documents from the following Popes saying that she is Mediatrix of graces. The names underlined make explicit in various ways that she is Mediatrix of all: Leo XIII:(8 documents, 5 saying all graces); St. :Pius X (2 documents, both saying all graces); Benedict XV (2 documents, both saying all graces); Pius XI, (4 documents, each saying all graces); Pius XII, (2 documents, one clear on all graces); John XXIII (one document, all graces).

Protestants object from 1 Tim 2:5: "There is one Mediator." We reply: 1)Jesus is unique on three counts: He is the only necessary Mediator—the only one who can work by His own power —the only one by nature in between God and man, having both natures. 2)In His love of good order, God is pleased to frequently have one thing in place to serve as a title for the second, even though it does not move Him, and is not necessary. Thus He bound self by promise to hear prayers; "Ask and you shall receive". Similarly He bound self by covenant to offer all graces. This is in line with St. Thomas I. 19. 5. c. which says that God in His love of good order does like to have one thing there to serve as a title for the second. Similarly, in this vein, He wanted Jesus to have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit—cf. Isaiah 11:1-3— even though as divine, there was no need. But the Father wanted all things to be filled in fully. Similarly, He did not need Our Lady except that He needed a human Mother for His Son. Yet He gave her an immense role — LG chapter 8 shows in detail her role in every phase of the mysteries of His life and death. In OT He used appeals to other mediators, e.g., Job 42:8, He promised to accept Job's prayer for the sins of his "friends". Moses often begging God appealed to His relation to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This meant His promise to them, but also likely meant their intercession.

Against this background it is not surprising, rather, it is to be expected that He would be pleased to use secondary mediators, Our Lady, in both objective and subjective redemption, and the lesser Saints in subjective redemption. He also uses the Mass to provide a title for giving out the graces already paid for in the objective redemption by the price of redemption.


XXII. The Resurrection:

1. Radical reinterpretation: The disciples became convinced of the value of the message and example of Jesus. Then the miracle of belief happened, and when they spoke of His resurrection they meant just the rise of their own faith. Cf. Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope NY 1967, p. 190: "The event of the raising of Christ from the dead is an event which is understood only in the modus of promise. It has its time still ahead of it, is grasped as an 'historical phenomenon' only in its relation to its future and mediates to those who know it a future toward which they have to move in history." COMMENT: This is purely arbitrary, without any basis. The disciples had words to say this if they meant it that way. Paul in 1 Cor 15 insists on the reality of His resurrection against Corinthians who, in a Platonic notion, did not like the physical resurrection. Paul says if He did not really rise, their faith is vain.

2. Less Radical Reinterpretation: For example, Gerald O'Collins, What Are They Saying about the Resurrection? (Paulist 1978, pp. 46-55) refuses to accept details: p. 46: "Such over-belief also entails holding that he quite literally took and ate a piece of broiled fish (Lk 24. 42f) and that more of less gaping holes remained in the hands and side of his risen body... ." He adds that such a view is weak and almost comic . He asks if a risen man took something to eat, what kind of digestive system did his body have. And what kind of risen body was it if it still had a gaping hole in its side. So instead he wants to say that the resurrection took Jesus into a new, final, glorious state of existence in which His body is spiritual and not physical. For St. Paul says in 1 Cor 15. 44 & 50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. The details are only to stress a continuity between the earthly and the risen Jesus. O'Collins also says that the decisions to undertake a universal mission are told in a way that shows no knowledge of the command to teach all nations. R. Brown, (Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Paulist, 1973 , p. 108) says many now doubt if Jesus spoke words after Easter. He thinks instead Jesus used interior locutions. Thus Brown thinks he can account for the fact that at first the Apostles seemed not to understand the command to teach all nations.

Comments: 1. Brown does not understand interior locutions. St. Teresa of Avila, who had many of them, tells us (Life 25) that when God speaks in this way, "the soul has no remedy, even though it displeases me, I have to listen, and to pay such full attention to understand that which God wishes to understand." In her Interior Castle 6. 3. she adds: "When time has passed since heard, and the workings and the certainty it had that it was God has passed, doubt can come." Therefore: The Apostles would have had to understand at once if Jesus had used interior locution, it would be later when unclarity or doubt could come. But the real explanation why the Apostles acted the way they did is evident: The Apostles were so slow to understand, as the Gospels show many times. They were hindered by fixed ideas that He was going to restore power to Israel. Even just before the ascension they asked (Acts 1. 6) whether He was going to restore rule to Israel then.

2. Behind these radical views seems to be some reluctance to accept anything supernatural. The Rationalists had that attitude clearly. Others seems to have some of it.

There is also a tendency to suppose Scripture is full of errors. The NJBC on p. 1169 insists there are even religious errors in Scripture. Thomas Hoffmann, S. J. in an article in CBQ, July 1982 says Scripture is so full of errors that to try to answer all charges would be like putting patches on a sinking ship.

3. Sequence of Events after Resurrection: We need to recall what all admit that the Gospels do not always follow chronological order. However, there is more than one way to arrange the events in a satisfactory manner:

a) Magdalen and other women come to the tomb about dawn, and see it empty.

b) In their excitement, she or they run to the Apostles (Mt here, between 20. 8 & 9 omits the visit of Peter and John, our next item, #c).

c) Peter and John refuse to believe, but do run to the tomb, and find it empty. They are amazed, but do not see Jesus.

d) Peter and John leave, Magdalen at first takes Him for the gardener. He soon makes self known. Magdalen and others make a second visit to the Apostles to say they have seen Him.

e) Jesus appears to Peter.

f) Jesus appears to two men on road to Emmaus.

g) They go back to the Apostles and hear Peter had already seen Jesus.

h) Jesus appears to the Eleven.

i) Thomas was absent before, so Jesus comes again when Thomas is there.

j) Further appearances at Lake of Galilee.

Notes: 1. As often, the Gospels do not keep chronological order, and there is even telescoping by Luke-we compare his account of the return to Nazareth after the presentation. Now Luke tells that Jesus said stay until the Holy Spirit comes. Then he tells of the Ascension, with no mention of an interval.

2. M. De Tuya, O. P. in Biblia Comentada Va, p. 468 notes that Matthew can use the "plural of category' i.e. , speaking of a group when it was really an individual. E. g. , 28. 1-10 compared to John 20. 11-18 (Only Magdalen in Jn).

3. Matthew and Mark, for their own scope, preferred to stress the Galilean appearances—more frequent, and they completed the instruction of the Apostles. But both do add some in Jerusalem: Mt 28. 9-10 has appearances to the women; Mk 16. 9-11 has an appearance to Mary Magdalen.

4. The Assumption: Pius XII, in The Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Assumption, brings out the parallel of His and her glorification: "We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been presented by the Holy Fathers as the New Eve, who, although subject to the New Adam, was most closely associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal enemy which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, was to result in that most complete victory over sin and death, which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Wherefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son had to be closed by the 'glorification' of her virginal body... ."

Comments: 1) The Pope focuses on the New Eve theme of the Fathers, which began with St. Justin Martyr, was taken up by most of the great Fathers.

2) He speaks very strongly of her cooperation in the redemption, calling it, with subordination of course, a work in "common". So we see that he takes her cooperation not in some loose way, but very strictly, strongly enough to form the chief support of a solemn definition.

3)In the same document (AAS 42. 768 s "always sharing His lot". The Assumption is part of this sharing. Vatican II, in Chapter 8 of LG went through every phase of the mysteries of His life and death and showed her sharing at all points, and also says she was eternally joined with Him in the decree for the Incarnation, and will ever be joined in eternity after the end of time. For a fill-in on that passage cf. Wm. Most, Our Father's Plan, pp. 221—24.


XXIII. Development of the Theology of Jesus.

Because of the promise of Jesus at the Last Supper to send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth (Jn. 16. 13. Cf. 14. 26) we must expect a development in the Patristic age. And indeed the long and bitter controversies about the nature and structure of Jesus show this was true.

a) Scripture on the divinity of Jesus: There are three kinds of texts in the NT. One kind does seem to state His divinity; the other seems to deny it. Still others are unclear. 1)Affirmation of divinity: In John 1. 1-2 the Logos is called God. In John 8. 58 Jesus says "before Abraham came to be, I AM." Any Jew would see that He was using the words of Yahweh at the burning bush. In John 10. 30 He said "I and the Father are one." Titus 2. 13 says we are "waiting for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." Romans 9. 5 according to one translation would read: "... from who is Christ according to the flesh, the one who is over all God, blessed forever. Amen." But a different translation is equally possible: . . from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is above all. May God be blessed forever. Amen." In 1 Thes. 3. 11 St. Paul uses a singular verb with the two subjects The Father and Jesus. Right after his conversion Paul in Damascus, according to Acts 9. 20 began to preach that Jesus was "the Son of God." Now if Paul had used that phrase in the loose sense, in which it could be applied to any Jew, there would have been no reason for surprise. 2)Seeming denial of divinity: In John 14. 28 Jesus Himself says: "The Father is greater than I." In 1 Cor 15. 28 St. Paul says that at the end Christ will be subject to the Father. In St. Peter's speech on the first Pentecost in Acts 2. 14ff. Peter speaks of Him as "a man whom God sent. He adds that God worked miracles through Him. God raised Him up. Peter's speech in Acts 3. 11-26 is similar, as is also Paul's first synagogue address in Acts 13. 16-41. Paul's speech at Athens, in Acts 17, 2-31 speaks of Jesus as "a man He has appointed." 3)Uncertain texts Paul habitually speaks of Jesus as Lord, Kyrios in Greek. Now the Septuagint used Kyrios to translate Yahweh, and so that makes it seem Paul has that in mind. Yet Kyrios in Greek, much like Adon in Hebrew, could mean not only a divine Lord, but also a human master. In Phil 2. 6-7 Paul says that Christ did not think equality to God something to cling to or grasp after. But that leaves us uncertain if Paul meant He already had equality to God or was trying to get it—unless we take "form of God" just before it to mean divine nature. If it does not mean divine nature, it would mean the external glory of God, which would come to the same thing. In Colossians 1. 15-16 Christ is "the image of the invisible God." But that need not mean divinity. In fact, to be visible when God himself cannot be seen could imply inferiority. In Col 2. 9 "the fullness of divinity dwells in Him." But again, this might be something like our share in the divine nature (cf 2 Peter 1. 4).

b) Theological Method in the Fathers: We comment: 1)Sound theological method tells us that at times, in divine matters, we may meet with two texts or conclusions which seem to clash. We then recheck our work, but if after that we still find the seeming clash, we must not force either truth. The Fathers were very faithful to this procedure. Thus in speaking of the human knowledge of Jesus, most of them made two sets of statements, one affirming ignorance, the other denying it (Cf. Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, chapter 6. Again, in speaking of the teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church, many Fathers (and the Magisterium too) also make two kinds of statements: Cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, pp. 241-69. So it is not strange if both Scripture and the Fathers make two kinds of statements on His divinity. 2) It is quite proper to make statements that fully fit either His divine nature or His human nature. Hence Peter and Paul could speak of Him in the purely human vein in speeches. Hence Paul could speak of Him as going to be subject to the Father, and Jesus Himself could say "The Father is greater than I."

c) Denials of Humanity of Jesus: Before taking up Patristic texts on His divinity, we digress a moment to notice that many denied His humanity altogether:

The Docetists: They said the spiritual Christ entered the human Jesus at His baptism, and left before the crucifixion. They appealed to St. Paul's words about a "spiritual" body in 1 Cor 15. 42-50. Of course, then the suffering would not be attributed to a divine person, and the redemption would be finite. The incarnation also would be an illusion.

Our first clear mention of this view is in the Letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch (died prob. 107 AD) in his Letter to Tralles 10: "But if, as some atheists, that is unbelievers, claim, His suffering was only a make-believe, when really they themselves are make-believes: why am I in chains? Why do I even want to fight with the beasts? Then I die in vain. My testimony is only a lie about the Lord." He has in mind St. Paul's framework: we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are members of Christ and like Him. Ignatius wants to be more like Him in His sufferings. In his Letter to Smyrna 7: "They avoid the Eucharist and prayer because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, that suffered for our sins... . It is right, then, to avoid associating with such people, and not to speak about them either privately or publicly."

St. Irenaeus (died c. 200) in his Against Heresies repeatedly uses the theme of recapitulation to counter the denial by Gnostics of the reality of the flesh of Christ. (Recapitulation means that there is now a new head. Adam had been the first head, Christ the new Adam reverses the evil from Adam. He applies this also to the New Eve, to the Antichrist who is the new head of the forces of evil, and to the restoration of all things to their original state at the end (cf. St. Paul, Romans 8. 19-25). In 3. 18. 7: "For just as by the disobedience of the one man who originally came from the virginal soil, the many became sinners and forfeited life; so it was right that by the obedience of the one man, who was originally born from a virgin, the many should be justified... if without being made flesh He appeared as if He had flesh, His work would not be a true one. But He was what He appeared." In 3. 22. 1: "They are greatly in error who say He took nothing from the Virgin. To throw away the inheritance of the flesh, they also reject the parallel [between Christ and Adam].

Evidence for Docetic ideas among the Gnostics also appears in the Nag Hammadi documents, e.g. , 1st Apocalypse of James 5. 31. 15-26 and Letter of Peter to Philip 8. 139. 15-19.

d) Some reduction of the humanity of Jesus appears in Clement of Alexandria, probably under influence of Stoic ideas. Clement said (Paidagogos 1. 2. 4) Jesus was apathes , without bodily passion. More clearly in Stromata 6. 9. 71. 2: "The one who has deeper wisdom is such that he is subject only to the affections that are for the maintenance of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and similar things. As to the Savior, it would be ridiculous to suppose that the body demanded as a body the things needed for maintenance. For He ate, but not for the sake of the body, which had its sustenance from a holy power, but He did it so that those with Him might not think he appeared like a phantasm. He was in general dispassionate and had no movement of feeling." A somewhat similar notion is found in St. Hilary, On the Trinity 10. 23. He seems to mean that organic physical pain could be found in Christ, but said He had no interior reaction or feeling of pain: unworthy of the God-man.

e) Cases of Subordinationism before Arius? St. Justin the Martyr is sometimes accused of subordinationism. On the one hand he speaks of the Father as invisible and living above the sky, and never visiting the world (Dialogue 60): "He who has even the smallest intelligence will not venture to say that the Creator and Father of all things left matters above the heavens, and was visible on a little space on the earth." Justin has in mind the belief that all the appearances of God before the incarnation were by the Second Person—an idea often found in the Fathers. Similarly in Dialogue 127: "He does not move, cannot be contained by place or by the whole world... . How then could he talk to anyone, or be seen by anyone?"

On the other hand, we can see the Logos while the Father is incomprehensible. In First Apology 13: "He is the Son of the True God, He holds a second place, and the Spirit of Prophecy third place." Again, in Dialogue 56. 4:" Another is here called God and Lord, who is below (hypo) the Maker of the universe, and who is called angel or messenger because He is the one who announces to men whatever the Creator of all things wills to announce."

Yet Justin is the first we know to use the comparison of fire. He says that when one fire is enkindled from another, it loses nothing, yet the second fire is the same (Dialogue 61).

St. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 2. 22: After saying that God is not contained in a place, he answers the problem of how God could come to paradise and walk with Adam: "His Word, through whom He made all things, being His power and His wisdom, taking on the person [prosopon] of the Father and Lord of all, came into paradise in the person of God and associated with Adam... the Word was God."

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3. 16. 6: "Recapitulating man in Himself, the invisible is made visible, the incomprehensible is made comprehensible, and that which is not subject to suffering is made subject to suffering." in 2. 28. 8:" Irrationally, moreover, and proudly and boldly you say you know the unspeakable mysteries of God, while even the Lord, the Son of God Himself, admitted that only the Father knows [the day of the end]."

Comment: Irenaeus is attacking the pride of the Gnostics who claimed such great knowledge. So it is in polemic—where things may be strained—that he says this. Actually the Fathers of the Church still had to wait and labor for some centuries before the true answer came to the problem of Mark 13. 32. It came from Eulogius and Gregory the Great (DS 475): "The incarnate only-begotten, made perfect man for us, knew the day and the hour of judgment in the nature of humanity, but yet not from the nature of humanity." Really, those today who charge ignorance in Jesus really mean that a certain item did not register on His human mind. They do not mean that the divine Person was ignorant. There is only one Person in Jesus.

Tertullian is also sometimes accused of subordinationism. In his Against Hermogenes 3 he said that, "God could not be Father before the Son was." This could be taken to mean the Son had a beginning in time. On the other hand, in his Against Praxeas 27 he says: "We plainly see the double state, which is not mixed but joined in one person—Jesus, God and man... and so the special property of each nature is so fully preserved that the spirit on the one hand did all things proper to it in Jesus, such as miracles... and the flesh showed the affections that belong to it. It was hungry... thirsty... wept... was troubled even to death and at last actually died."

St. Hippolytus of Rome in Philosophoumena 10. 33 said: "At the same time as He came forth from Him by whom He was begotten, His firstborn, being His voice, He has in Himself the ideas conceived beforehand by the Father." Yet a few lines below in the same passage: "Wherefore He [the Logos] is God, being the substance of God."

Origen: In his Discussion with Heraclides he arrived at the conclusion "two Gods and one power" to express the relation of the Father to the Son. Yet in His On John 13. 25 he wrote: The Savior and the Holy Spirit are beyond comparison, and are very much superior to all things that are made, but also, the Father is even more above them than they are above creatures, even the highest." In his Peri archon (on First Principles) 1. 2. 6 he said: "The Son is without beginning." In Fragment 24, 359 of his On Hebrews he wrote: "So Wisdom too, since it proceeds from God, is generated out of the divine substance itself... it is called 'a sort of clean and pure outflow of all powerful glory' (Wisdom 7. 25). Both these comparisons clearly show the community of substance between Son and Father, for an outflow seems to be homoousios [of the same substance] with the body of which it is the outflow." Thus He coined the word homoousios which the Council of Nicea was later to pick as the clearest expression of the divinity of Christ. On the other hand, Origen said that the Father is incomprehensible but becomes comprehensible through the Logos: First Principles 1. 2. 8.

Novatian, On the Trinity 31: "For it is necessary that He who does not have an origin must precede Him who has an origin." A few lines below: "He came forth from Him, by whose will all things were made, God indeed proceeding from God."

Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical theology 2. 14:" "... the only begotten Son of the Father, not Himself being unbegotten nor without beginning, but born of Him, and attributing His beginning to the one who begot Him." "the only begotten Son, as the image of the Father, born of Him, and in everything most like the one who begot Him."

There are more texts alleged as being subordinationist. Cf. Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition (tr. John Bowden, John Knox, Atlanta, I. 1975, in index s. v. "subordinationism".

It seems that most if not all the above texts could be explained by supposing the Fathers were following the theological method explained above, of holding to both truths without knowing how to fit them together. We must add that precise terminology took a long time to develop, and that much trouble arose from the attempts of the Fathers to express and further clarify tradition by philosophical means. This was especially the case with Arius, who depended heavily on philosophical ways rather than on Scripture and Tradition. Still further, no one sees and intends all the implications of his own words. Hence we should stick largely to the explicit sense of the things that are said, and at least, cannot be sure a writer intended an implication.

f) Arianism: Sometime after 313, an elderly priest, Arius, began to attract great crowds by his preaching in the church of St. Baucalis in Alexandria. He was then about 60. He had been born probably in 256—260. He had come from Libya when quite young. He probably had listened in Antioch to Lucian, a famed scholar to whose teaching Arius appealed. It was at least colored with subordinationism. Arius at the time was still handsome, had a lean face as if from much fasting, and a serene look, vibrant speech.

He stressed the absolute unity of God, who did not have to have a Logos. Hence "There was when He was not". Perhaps meant the Logos was created before time began.

Pagans then found it hard to believe God could become man—we recall the words of Plato and Aristotle on this. But they could easily believe a man became God. There were many such Greek gods.

Arius seems to have reasoned that the divinity should not only be uncreated but unbegotten, agennetos. So, whatever is begotten, cannot be really God, though he may be the highest of creatures. Such is the Logos. He, like other creatures was brought out of nothingness: ek ouk onton, not from the divine substance. Hence, again, there was a point when he was not.

Similarly, he held God must be incommunicable, and so the Logos must not be God.

We notice in passing the bad theological method. Arius decided not from Scripture but from reason that God could not be begotten. But the first chapter of John's Gospel says both that the Logos was God, and that He was the only-begotten of the Father.

There was only a hint that Jesus was adopted as God for His virtue. Later opponents of Nicea seem to have excluded this idea of adoption.

He seems to have held that Jesus had no human soul—the Logos filled that function. (Of course for Arius, the Logos was not divine. so this is different from the heresy of Apollinaris, which we shall see). This was the ultimate in the Logos-sarx (i.e. , Logos plus flesh is all there was in Jesus) Christology—the opposite of the Logos-anthropos (Logos plus a man) Christology, which was to culminate in Nestorianism.

Bishop Alexander of Alexandria first pleaded with Arius, but in vain. Then he called a synod of about 100 bishops from Egypt and Libya, in about 318. Arius was deposed. He tried to get support especially from former fellow students at Antioch, including Eusebius of Nicomedia, then the eastern capital of the empire. Eusebius welcomed him warmly. Eusebius of Caesarea, the historian, was friendly, but not too clear in his stand. Arius first went to Palestine, then to Nicomedia. He composed his chief work, the Thalia in prose and verse.

In 324 Constantine after defeating Licinius controlled both East and West. When he entered Nicomedia, he was disturbed over the division in Christianity, and did not understand Arius. Daniel Rops' Church history (I. 2. pp. 203-04) gives us the text of the letter Constantine wrote to Bishop Alexander and Arius: "In considering the origin of your division, I find that its cause is trivial and certainly does not merit throwing souls into confusion in this way... . On certain questions it is a futile to ask as to reply. How many people are there who are capable of understanding and possessing an opinion on such difficult matters as these?... Basically you think alike; you can easily return to the same communion. Remain united. Return to your mutual charity for, in short, the matter between you does not concern an essential point of faith."

Constantine sent the letter through a Spanish Bishop, Ossius of Cordova, one of his advisors, then near 70. He was vigorous, lived to be over 100. Ossius sided with Bishop Alexander. The Arians rose in revolt, even broke some statues of the Emperor. Ossius returned to Nicomedia, followed soon by Alexander, then by Arius. Constantine sent officials to restore order and to double the capitation tax.

He proposed to personally judge the theological debate. But Ossius suggested calling a council of all Catholic Bishops, at which Constantine could preside. He liked the idea, paid expenses of the Bishops. It was first planned for Ancyra, then changed to Nicea, a better location. Eusebius says 250 Bishops came, plus numerous priests, deacons and others. Athanasius says 318 came.

It opened on May 20, 325 in joyful atmosphere. But it soon was clear that there was a grave division. About 15 Bishops openly sided with Arius, especially Eusebius of Nicomedia. Some wanted to define using only Scriptural phrases. That would be unclear, and both sides might accept in different senses. Prominent in the debates was Deacon Athanasius of Alexandria.

When part of the Thalia was read, the errors were so obvious that the council was indignant. At first 5 Bishops refused to sign the final definition. Constantine threatened force, and 3 of the 5 signed, the other two went into exile with Arius (Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais).

The Council finally did define the divinity of Christ, using the word homoousios, meaning that the Logos is "of the same substance" as the Father": DS 125.

We said Athanasius, a Deacon of Alexandria was prominent at Nicea. He was born c 295 at Alexandria, and had a good classical and theological education. He went to Nicea as secretary of Bishop Alexander. In 328 he became Bishop of Alexandria—when he was not yet 30 yrs. old. He died May 2, 373 after 45 years in office.

Constantine ordered him to readmit Arius. Athanasius refused. False charges were made that he had murdered Bishop Arsenius, and cut off his dead hand for magic uses, and had relations with an immoral woman. But the harlot his enemies hired did not even recognize Athanasius at the trial—pointed at the wrong man. He was deposed at the Synod of Tyre in 335. Constantine exiled him to Treves. Constantine died in 337, baptized near his end by Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia. Arius had died the year before, suddenly, before he was to be readmitted. One account says he was found huddled in a corner, his entrails hanging out from a punctured hernia. Another account says it was a stroke.

With the support of Constantine's son, Constantine II, who was at Treves, Athanasius returned to his diocese. He was acquitted by a provincial council at Alexandria. But the Eusebians attacked again, and he was deposed at a Synod of Antioch in 339. The Synod claimed his return was invalid, since he had been deposed at Tyre. The Synod elected Pistus, an excommunicated priest as Bishop of Alexandria, but later forced him out, and installed Gregory of Cappadocia by force.

Eusebius of Nicomedia died as Bishop of Constantinople, Constantine's new city, in 339.

Athanasius fled to Rome to Pope Julius I who called a local Synod recognizing Athanasius at the lawful Bishop of Alexandria. That decision was ratified by a broader Synod at Sardica (now Sofia) in 343, called by Constans, another son of Constantine. In 346 with the help of much pressure by Constans, Athanasius got back to his see. But the eastern Bishops at a Council in Antioch (for dedication of a new basilica, called first in 341) did not disapprove of Arius, and was noncommittal about the nature of the unity of the Son with the Father.

Constans was murdered by a usurper in 350, and Constantius became sole Emperor. He wanted unity, and decided to go along with what he considered a majority of Eastern Bishops who were hostile to Athanasius. So there was a campaign of synods and individual signatures in both east and west against Athanasius. Constantius called a synod at Arles in 353 to condemn Athanasius. Legates of Pope Liberius agreed to the condemnation. But the Pope did not agree, and called for a broader council. It met at Milan in 355. When bishops protested against condemning Athanasius, the Emperor lost patience and threatened the Bishops. He said: "My will is canon law in this matter". Most Bishops yielded. Pope Liberius protested and was exiled. Constantius put in an anti-Pope, Felix, but the people refused to recognize him. So Constantius then wanted to restore Liberius, but first to get him to condemn Athanasius. The Emperor used threats and flattery. Finally Liberius did excommunicate St. Athanasius and signed an ambiguous profession of faith.

St. Athanasius himself later defended Liberius (Epistle to the Monks and History of the Arians 41. PG 25. 741): "Things done through torments contrary to the original judgment, these are not acts of will on the part of those who have been put to fear, but of those who inflict the torture." Liberius is not admirable, but his action has no doctrinal value at all, because done under duress. It is possible too that Liberius had been sold the idea that the word homoousios was being used to spread Sabellianism—quite possible—the heresy that held that the Son had no separate existence—He was just a mode of the Father.

5000 soldiers were sent to arrest Athanasius in Alexandria, but he slipped into the desert in February 356, stayed in hiding until November 361, with the aid of monks of the desert.

Constantius by force and threats imposed a still more ambiguous creed on the western Bishops at Rimini and then on the Eastern Bishops, probably at Seleucia in 359, clearly in Constantinople in 360. The formula was that the Son is "like" the Father: homoios. The word homoiousios had the root ousia, for substance in it, it would mean like in substance. The homoios was thus more vague. (Some Bishops had tried to add kata panta, "in all things" but could not win acceptance for the addition).

It was at this point that St. Jerome's rhetoric went too far (Dialogue against the Luciferians 19): "Then the word for substance was abolished; then the condemnation of the faith of Nicea was shouted out. The whole world groaned and was surprised to find itself Arian." But: this was not a general council, but two regional councils. And since the decisions were under duress they had no doctrinal value. And the formula, as we said, was not strictly Arian, but deliberately ambiguous.

Constantius died in 36l and Athanasius returned to his see even before the next Emperor, Julian the Apostate, called back all Bishops from exile, hoping to promote dissension. But then Julian, seeing peace was likely, again expelled Athanasius as "a disturber of the peace and enemy of the gods." Julian died in 363, and Athanasius returned. But he was exiled again in 365 under the Eastern Emperor Valens, for 4 months. But the people of Alexandria threatened to revolt, and Valens recalled him. He returned Feb. 1, 366, died May 2, 373.

He had been exiled 5 times, a total of about 17 years. Some of his chief writings are: Three Orations Against the Arians (his chief dogmatic work), Apology Against the Arians (many important documents), History of the Arians (written at request of the monks who took him in).

St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus contributed much to the final settlement by their writings against Eunomius who held the Son was anomoios, unlike the Father, and taught that agennetos, "unbegotten", fully expressed the nature of God. An interesting facet of the work of St. Basil was his winning rather wide acceptance in a short period of time for restricting, in theological writings, the meaning of ousia to "substance" (in general usage it could also mean "being") and of hypostasis to "person" (in general usage it could also mean "substance." Cf. Basil's Against Eunomius and his Epistle 214, and Gregory's Orations 27-31).

In the West, the work of St. Hilary of Poitiers was very valuable, so that he is sometimes called "the Athanasius of the West".

g) Apollinarism: His is a sad story. He had fought well with St. Athanasius against Arianism and was even excommunicated by the Arian Bishop of His city in 342. He became Bishop of Laodicea c. 361. He probably died c 390.

He denied that Christ had a human rational soul—said He had a body and an irrational soul (Platonic idea, practically, the emotional sphere). The Logos, who was divine in His thought (unlike that of Arius) did the work of the human rational soul. This was the culmination of the Logos-sarx Christology, of which we spoke above.

Two trains of thought lead him to his error: 1) A metaphysical reasoning: If two beings are already complete, such as God and man, they cannot form a unity, but only a conglomerate. So there must be something lacking in Christ—Apollinaris thought it was the human soul, 2) A psychological reasoning: The rational soul is the seat and center of the power of self-determination for good or evil: so if He had a rational soul, Christ would be capable of sin.

As to the metaphysical argument: It is true that something had to be lacking. But what was lacking was human personhood and separate existence. Ordinarily if we put together a body and soul it is a human person. Not so in Christ, for the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took over the whole complex so it never became a human person. (Incidentally, this shows us Jesus had to have the vision of God in His human soul—for not just His human mind, but His whole humanity was joined to the divinity in one Person. An ordinary soul gets the vision if its mind is joined, with no image in between. The union in Jesus was much closer, in one Person).

As to the psychological argument: Jesus did have a human will, but all actions of His were channeled into, attributed to the one Person, the divine Person, which cannot sin. His view was first censured in 377 at a Synod of Rome under Pope Damasus, then again by a Synod of Antioch in 379, and finally by the Second General Council, of Constantinople, in 381.

St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a large refutation, Antirrheticus. St. Gregory of Nazianzus in his Epistle 101 also argues against him. This Gregory reasoned that what He has not assumed, He has not healed (this within the framework of Physical-Mystical Solidarity which we saw above in Section XXI).

St Gregory of Nazianzus also showed that the doctrine of the Theotokos is the touchstone of orthodoxy. If we said He had two persons, divine and human, she would have relation only to the human person. If we said He had but one nature, divine, again she would not be Theotokos. If He had one nature, human, she could not be called Mother of God. Therefore, for her to be called Mother of God, He must have one Person, a divine Person, but two natures, divine and human. St Cyril of Alexandria also spoke similarly.

h) Nestorianism: St. Cyril of Alexandria, the chief opponent of Nestorius, said that Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia were Nestorians before Nestorius. There is debate today. We have only fragments of Diodore and Theodore, and not a lot of Nestorius either. Some even assert without qualification that Nestorius was not a Nestorian, that he was opposed to it. But there is scant evidence for such a position. After all, St. Cyril was able to talk to Nestorius in person. It would be strange indeed if he and the Council did not know what he taught.

Diodore of Tarsus defended Nicea against the heretics. Among his pupils were St. John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Diodore worked vigorously against Julian the Apostate Emperor. Diodore was considered orthodox in his lifetime. He seems to have been led into error by working hard to find two subjects for the human and divine characteristics in Christ. Julian used the human notes to deny divinity. Diodore probably died before 394.

Theodore of Mopsuestia studied with Diodore of Tarsus. He too like Diodore had a great reputation for orthodoxy while alive. Charges came after his death, especially in the heavily politicized matter of the "Three Chapters" —i.e. , Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret and Ibas whose condemnation Emperor Justinian sought hoping to reconcile the Monophysites. Pope Vigilius wavered—no doctrinal error. Theodore of Mopsuestia was guilty of doctrinal error and did not retract. The other two were once guilty, t hen retracted. Their previous error could be condemned, or their later retraction could be approved. Hence there was room for real politics. Died about 428.

The second general Council, at Constantinople in 381, condemned "impious Theodore of Mopsuestia who said that the Logos of God is one, Christ was another, suffering molestations from passions of soul and desires of the flesh, and gradually leaving the worse things, becoming better with advance in [good] works and becoming immaculate by living, was baptized as a mere man in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and by Baptism received the grace of the Holy Spirit and merited to become a son." (DS 434). We notice: 1) The clear implication of two persons, one who was morally inferior, gradually became better, was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—implying that the Son [the Logos] was one person, and Christ was another person, as the opening line had said. He had been a "mere man" [psilon anthropon] and merited to become a son. 2) He said Jesus was subject to disorderly passions—like the infamous movie, "The Last Temptation."

Nestorius was born after 381 of Persian parents in Syria. He studied at the school of Antioch, probably under Theodore of Mopsuestia. He entered the monastery of St. Euprepius near Antioch, and won fame as a preacher. That led Emperor Theodosius II to make him Bishop of Constantinople in 428 in spite of claims of local candidates. He set out to reform, took strong measures against heretics, schismatics, Jews, Arians, Macedonians, Novatians. Oddly, he spared the Pelagians.

One of the priests he brought with him, Anastasius, forbade the title Theotokos. Nestorius defended Anastasius in a series of sermons. He is supposed to have taught there were two persons in Christ. Hence the Blessed Virgin would be the Mother only of the human person, and not the Mother of God. He wanted the terms Anthropotokos or Christotokos, instead of Theotokos. When the teaching of Nestorius appeared in 428, St. Cyril of Alexandria already in the spring of 429, in his Paschal Letter, answered Nestorius. He soon did the same in a long encyclical to the monks of Egypt. There had been latent hostility for two generations between Alexandria and Antioch , both patriarchates. It now came out in the open. There was a fruitless exchange of letters between Nestorius and Cyril. Both then appealed to Pope Celestine. A Synod at Rome in August 430 condemned Nestorius, and approved Cyril. The Pope entrusted Cyril with the work of communicating the decision to Nestorius. Cyril drew up 12 anathemas, which he added to the Pope's letter (these can now be seen as the end of Epistle 17 of Cyril). Cyril threatened Nestorius with deposition and excommunication if he did not retract within ten days. Nestorius asked Emperor Theodosius II to call a Council. It met at Ephesus on June 22, 431. Cyril presided at the first session. Cyril's twelve anathemas were confirmed, the doctrine of Nestorius was condemned, the title Theotokos was solemnly recognized. Cf. DS 250-64.

About four days later John of Antioch arrived with his own Bishops, held a synod which deposed and excommunicated Cyril. Then Emperor Theodosius II heard of it, he deposed both Cyril and Nestorius, sent both to jail. Later Cyril was allowed to return to Alexandria, where he was welcomed as a second Athanasius. Nestorius retired to a monastery near Antioch.

In 433 John of Antioch accepted the condemnation of Nestorius. Cyril thought peace had returned, but he had to defend his Christology again and again. He had to defend his twelve anathemas in three apologies. He died June 27, 444.

Some of the major works of Cyril, besides the twelve anathemas included Thesaurus de sancta et consubstantiali Trinitate. It dates from 428, is against Arians. After that he wrote chiefly against Nestorius. His Epistle 4 to Nestorius was unanimously approved by the Council of Ephesus. His Epistle 17 was sent in the name of an Alexandrian synod in 430. His Epistle 39 to John of Antioch, in 433, is also called the Creed of Ephesus. His terminology was not always careful. Before 428 when Nestorius appeared, he wrote some lines that sounded Nestorian. He even used the word "inhabitation" to describe the relation of God and man in Christ. He was accused of Apollinarism and Monophysitism. In his Epistle 46. 2 he uses the expression, "the one nature of the Word of God made flesh"—which he thought came from St. Athanasius, but really came from Apollinaris. He sometimes used the words physis and hypostasis without distinction to mean nature as well as person. Hence confusion.

Today is he accused on saying Jesus was ignorant. For the answer, cf. Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 109-12.

His Sermon 4 is the most famous ancient Marian sermon, given at the Church of S. Mary at Ephesus between June 23 and 24 in 43l. Sermon 11 is the same, retouched.

From Nestorius we have the Bazaar of Heraclides of Damascus. It was written in his later years, the only treatise of his completely extant . It was discovered in 1895 in a Syriac translation. It is a dialogue with an Egyptian Sophronius, in which Nestorius defends his teachings, gives a history of his life. He attacks the decisions of Ephesus and the teachings of Cyril. He claims his belief is the same as that of Pope Leo I. Heraclides is only a pen name. It closes with a plea for forgiveness and charity. Fifteen of his Epistles seem to have survived, including two to Cyril, one to Theodosius II, four to Pope Celestine I, and one to Theodoret of Cyrus (one of the "Three Chapters").

i) Monophysitism: Eutyches was born about 378. At about age 30 he became Archimandrite of a large monastery of 300 monks at Constantinople. After the Council of Ephesus he was an ardent opponent of Nestorians. In 441 his godson, the eunuch Chrysaphius became powerful at the imperial court. Eutyches used this influence against all suspected of Nestorianism. He was not bright, a poor mind, poor training. He held to what he thought were formulas of St. Cyril without understanding. Cyril had used some misleading expressions, especially "the one nature of the word of God made flesh" which really came from Apollinaris, Cyril thought it was from Athanasius. It easily led to Monophysitism. Eutyches was denounced to the Emperor by the Patriarch of Antioch, but with no result. Later the same year Eusebius, Bishop of Dorylaeum, charged him before Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople and a council of Bishops permanently residing there. Eutyches came only on the third summons. He on questioning said that before the incarnation there were two natures, after it, only one nature. He was deposed, excommunicated, and interdicted. He did not submit.

Dioscorus, successor of St. Cyril as Bishop of Alexandria, took Eutyches under his protection. Eutyches induced Theodosius II to call a council at Ephesus. Dioscorus presided, in 449. With imperial troops and fanatical monks with clubs, he terrified the 135 Bishops, and paid no heed to the Pope's letter. He rehabilitated Eutyches, deposed several Bishops . The papal legates fled. Pope Leo I called it "The robber council of Ephesus". Theodosius backed its decisions until his death in 450. The next Emperor wanted a new Council. It was held at Chalcedon in October 451. Papal legates presided.

The Council of Chalcedon in 451 condemned Eutyches, accepted the Tome (Epistle of Pope Leo I: DS 290-95). When the letter of Pope Leo was read, the Bishops replied: "This is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. We all believe thus... . Anathema to him who does not so believe. Peter has spoken through Leo."

Chalcedon defined: "one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only Son, in two natures, without confusion, without transformation, without division, without separation. Cf DS 300-02.

j) Monothelitism: The teaching that there was but one will in Christ, so that His humanity would lack a will. It developed in the 7th century in the Byzantine Empire in a move to try to reconcile the Monophysites. It arose in the circle of Sergius Patriarch of Constantinople. Actually, because of the political character, not all Monothelites explained their ideas in the same way.

It was really excluded in advance by the Tome of Leo I which said ( DS 294): "Each form [human and divine] does what is proper to it." The third Council of Constantinople (DS 556) in 681 defined there was also a human will in Christ, self-moving, but always obeying the divine will, since the human will was "owned" by the divine will.

Sergius liked to speak of "one energy" or "one mode of operation" in Christ. This was really ambiguous for it could mean either that there was never a conflict of human and divine wills in Jesus, or, that there was no human will at all in Jesus.

Pope Honorius seemed not to fully grasp the maneuverings of Sergius. As a result, in 634 he wrote two letters (DS 487-88) to Sergius that were not heretical, but ambiguous. Pope John IV in 641 wrote to Emperor Constantius II defending Honorius from a charge of heresy (DS 496-98). He said Honorius just meant there were not two contrary wills in Christ.

But in spite of the words of John IV, the Council of Constantinople in 681 (DS 550-59) wanted to call Pope Honorius a heretic. Pope Agatho was on the verge of approving that false teaching. But God took care: Pope Agatho died before the conclusion of the Council. The next Pope, Leo II sharply criticized Pope Honorius but did not charge him with heresy. He wrote (DS 561-63): "Pope Honorius... failed to add luster to this Apostolic Church by teaching the Apostolic tradition, but on the contrary, permitted the spotless [faith] to be defiled."


XXIV. Conclusions.

1. The result of all the Christological controversies is this: Jesus in one Person, a Divine Person, but has two natures, divine and human, which remain unmixed, distinct. His humanity includes a human soul and mind. That human mind as we saw in section VIII had the vision of God from the first instant of conception. He also had a human will, self-moving, yet never contradicting the divine will, for that human will was possessed or owned by a Divine Person, and hence sin was impossible.

2. Our neat classification and explanation does not mean there is no mystery to the incarnation. There is an immense one. Plato had said in his Symposium 203 that no god associates with humans, Aristotle said in his Nichomachean Ethics 8. 7 that friendship between a god and man is impossible—the distance is too great. The gods Plato and Aristotle had in mind included some beings unworthy of the name of a god. What would they say if they heard that the infinite, the utterly transcendent God not only associates with us, but even became a man, one of us, and immeasurably further, permitted Himself to be killed in so painful and disgraceful a way! Deuteronomy 21. 23 said: "Cursed by anyone who hangs on the wood!"

3. Also, our speculative reasoning breaks down when we go very far into this mystery. We know God cannot be passive, cannot receive anything, cannot change. Yet the Second Person of the Holy Trinity did "assume" a human nature. We seem to be driven by reason to say He did not even have a relation to that humanity. Yet it was part of the one Person. We can work out on paper the relation between the knowledge of the vision and various other reactions in Him—but we cannot really understand or picture how these are in actuality.

This dilemma strongly resembles the dilemma we face when we think of how God knows things. It cannot be in a passive way, taking on information; nor can it be merely active—that would make Him as limited as a blind man who knows a chair is moving only because He is pushing it. St. Thomas knew better than to press farther. He explained God can know free future decisions because eternity makes them present to Him. Clearly true. But the next question: HOW does He know them once they are present? Thomas remained silent, wisely. Some foolishly say He knows them only because He causes them. But then there is no reason to go to the work of explaining that eternity makes these present to Him. Instead we could simply say He plans to cause the future free decision. Thomas never says that. So we are driven to simply say: He is transcendent: beyond and above all our categories and classifications. Plato was right when He said that the Good is "beyond being" (Republic 6, 509B; cf. Plotinus, Enneads, 6. 8. 9)


XXV. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pius XII, in his Haurietis aquas Encyclical May 25, 1956 carefully explained that this devotion is not a peripheral thing, like devotions to various Saints. It is part of the main line of our faith, since it is really honor paid to the love of God for us as embodied in and manifested in the Heart of Jesus.

Pius XII explained that in the Heart of Jesus there is a triple love: "It is a symbol of that divine love, which He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit but which He, the Word made flesh, alone manifests through a weak and perishable body... . It is besides, the symbol of the burning love which, infused into His soul, enriches the human will of Christ and enlightens and governs its acts by the most perfect knowledge derived both from the beatific vision and that which is directly infused. And finally—and this in a more natural and direct way—it is the symbol also of sensible love since the body of Jesus Christ, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, possesses full powers of feelings and perception, in fact more so than any other human body." (Vatican Press Version, as revised by Francis Larkin, SS. CC. , 1974, § 55-57).

Since to love is to will good to another for the other's sake, then His love consists in willing the good of eternal happiness to us, and being willing to go so far as the dreadful death of the cross to make that possible for us. Thus He "proved His love" (Rom 5. 8). The love of feeling of which Pius XII speaks is the natural counterpart in the body of the love in the spiritual will. (Cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, Chapter 16).

This devotion is not entirely new, nor is it fundamentally based on private revelations, not even on those given to St. Margaret Mary. (§90ff. ) It is an outgrowth of devotion to Christ's Sacred Humanity. Yet, the revelations given to St. Margaret Mary gave a great impetus to it. And the Church has shown special favor to the Great Promise of the Nine First Fridays, even making special liturgical provision for the use of the Mass of the Sacred Heart on most First Fridays throughout the year.

That Nine First Friday Promise, although it is found in a private revelation, has yet received, as we said, so many marks of favor of the Church. The best interpretation of it is this: If someone once in a lifetime made the Nine First Fridays sincerely, and did not at the start or later intend to use it in presumption to safely enter on a life of sin—yet if someone out of weakness, not out of presumption, were later to fall into sin, the promise seems to assure us that such a one "will not die out of my grace."

The essence of the devotion was well explained by Pius XI in his Miserentissimus Redemptor, of May 8, 1928. He explains that there are two essential things: consecration and reparation for sin: "If the first and chief thing in consecration is the repayment of the love of the creature to the love of the Creator, the second thing at once follows from it, that, if that Uncreated Love has been neglected by forgetfulness or violated by offense, compensation should be made in some way for the injustice that has been inflicted: in common language we call this debt one of reparation." Pius XI adds ( AAS 20. 174): "Now if the soul of Christ [in Gethsemani] was made sorrowful even to death on account of our sins, which were yet to come, but which were foreseen, there is no doubt that He received some consolation from our reparation, likewise foreseen." The means of that foresight of course was the beatific vision in His human soul.

Pope Leo XIII, when he consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart (Annum sacrum, May 25, 1889. ASS 31. 649) explained well: "For we, in dedicating ourselves, not only recognize and accept His rule explicitly and freely, but we actually testify that if that which we give were ours, we would most willingly give it, and we ask Him to graciously accept from us that very thing, even though it is already His."

We already have a consecration to God through Baptism, but it pledges less, being primarily concerned with the commandments. With the Sacred Heart consecration we pledge to do much more and better.

The various externals of piety, such as statues, hymns, while to be promoted, are not the same as this essence, which lies in consecration and reparation. It is in this perspective that Pius XII called this devotion part of the main line of our faith.

The Haurietis aquas adds the following (§ 124): "Let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God be closely joined. For, by God's Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption, the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and the sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united." In other words, she was as Pius XII said (Munificentissimus Deus, AAS 42. 768) "always sharing His lot" en even in cooperation in the Redemption, which Pius XII in the same document spoke of a work "common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son." Vatican II splendidly filled in this picture showing that from eternity before time began to eternity after the end of time, and in every one of the mysteries of His life and death, she was "always sharing His lot. (For a fill-in cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, pp. 221-24. The same chapter 24 also shows that devotion to her is parallel, in both consecration and reparation, to that to the Sacred Heart). What the Father in His approach to us has joined, we should not put asunder.


(c)Copyright 1990 by William G. Most

 


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