Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Consciousness of Christ

After reading Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana I thought a lot about the consciousness of Christ and wanted to read up on the subject. I had remembered in my various readings several references to a recommended book on the subject called "The Consciousness of Christ" by Fr. William George Most. I was disappointed to find that the book was mostly not available until I was delighted to find all of Fr. Most's works are available at Catholic Culture in the Most Theological Collection.

For those who don't know Fr. Most was a theologian and scripture scholar who died in 1999. As I was coming into the Church I read many of his articles and posts since at the the time he was answering scriptural questions on EWTN's forums. I think it is too bad that there are so many other theologians and scripture scholars who are much more well known than Fr. Most was. You would have never seen Fr. Most on the History Channel, Discovery, or TLC in just another one of the dumb shows talking about scripture and biblical history. Fr. Most was a faithful priest and that doesn't make your scholarship too popular.

His book "The Consciousness of Christ" was exactly what I was looking for to answer the questions I had and to more fully understand what the Church teaches on this subject. The introduction to the book Can we Trust the Gospels? is an excellent essay on the subject in and of itself. Since their has been so much biblical criticism that seeks to deny so much of scripture this essay takes up the topic nicely. The end of the book even includes three appendixes which server as a in depth critique of form criticism and the way it has been used.

In the last century there has been much talk on the so-called ignorance of Jesus and the ideas proposed by Fr. Raymond Brown and others that Jesus did not know he was God. This idea has come to be accepted by many people and is routinely taught. Several scriptures form the Gospel appear at first to make this case such as when Jesus says he "does not know the day or the hour." Fr. Most goes through the scriptures as to related to Jesus' apparent ignorance, lack of foreknowledge, the knowledge concerning the Parousia. He details all of the scriptures often used to back up these assertions made by Rudolf Bultman, Fr. Raymond Brown and others. The then examines these scriptures in details and then examines them in their context. Later he looks a the Patristic evidence regarding these scriptural passages and how the Church came to interpret them. There is a definite development of doctrine that really starts quite early when it comes to these issues. The heresies that tried to rip the Church apart in the fourth century and beyond often came down to the view of Christ's consciousness and the false divide trying to split the humanity and divinity of Jesus apart. After this he goes into what the Magisterium has officially taught about Jesus' consciousness. It is quite clear from the Magisterial statements made that the human soul of Jesus enjoyed the beatific vision even from the first moment of His conception. Something many people who were taught novelties in their Catholic education might be surprised to hear.

I really found this book to be a great read and certainly not just dry theology. The concept of "accommodation" in the sense of what the Greek Fathers called oikonoma in what Pope Gregory the Great and others taught in regards to Jesus saying he did not know the day and the hour is quite illuminating. Many passages you wonder about are answered quite well in this book and taught in such a manner that even layman such as myself can easily digest it. Throughout the book he directly answers arguments primarily made by Fr. Raymond Brown and then others in a thorough manner. Though he does it in a scholarly and not polemic manner. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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