Abstract

Since the fourth century, Mark 13:32/Matt 24:36 have regularly been taken in hand as evidence of Jesus’s ignorance and used to advance subordinationist, kenotic, or Ebionite christological agendas. Meanwhile, modern biblical scholars regularly use patristic commentary on this passage as evidence that the classical Christian tradition advanced ahistorical, docetic eisegesis. In this essay, I consider patristic commentary on this pericope to show that these criticisms are unwarranted. The church fathers did not consider Jesus’s humanity to be an abstract, philosophical conundrum. Rather, their approach was driven by intertextual concerns set within a theistic metaphysical framework. They did not resolve a competition between Jesus’s humanity and divinity in favor of his divinity but upheld the confession that he was fully God and fully man in the face of a variety of approaches that threatened to corrupt or relinquish his humanity. I suggest that certain philosophical developments in the thought of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) allow us to make distinctions that both uphold the patristic exegetical tradition and extend it in ways that do greater justice to the passage.

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