QUESTION 10: OF THE BEATIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S SOUL
Now we must consider each of the aforesaid knowledges. Since, however,
we have treated of the Divine knowledge in the FP, Question , it now remains
to speak of the three others: (1) of the beatific knowledge; (2) of the
infused knowledge; (3) of the acquired knowledge.
But again, because much has been said in the FP, Question , of the beatific
knowledge, which consists in the vision of God, we shall speak here only
of such things as belong properly to the soul of Christ. Under this head
there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the soul of Christ comprehended the Word or the Divine
(2) Whether it knew all things in the Word?
(3) Whether the soul of Christ knew the infinite in the Word?
(4) Whether it saw the Word or the Divine Essence clearer than did any
Article 1: Whether the soul of Christ comprehended the Word or the Divine Essence?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ comprehended and
comprehends the Word or Divine Essence. For Isidore says (De Summo Bono
i, 3) that "the Trinity is known only to Itself and to the Man assumed."
Therefore the Man assumed communicates with the Holy Trinity in that
knowledge of Itself which is proper to the Trinity. Now this is the
knowledge of comprehension. Therefore the soul of Christ comprehends the
Objection 2: Further, to be united to God in personal being is greater than to
be united by vision. But as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 6), "the
whole Godhead in one Person is united to the human nature in Christ."
Therefore much more is the whole Divine Nature seen by the soul of
Christ; and hence it would seem that the soul of Christ comprehended the
Objection 3: Further, what belongs by nature to the Son of God belongs by
grace to the Son of Man, as Augustine says (De Trin. i, 13). But to
comprehend the Divine Essence belongs by nature to the Son of God.
Therefore it belongs by grace to the Son of Man; and thus it seems that
the soul of Christ comprehended the Divine Essence by grace.
On the contrary, Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 14): "Whatsoever
comprehends itself is finite to itself." But the Divine Essence is not
finite with respect to the soul of Christ, since It infinitely exceeds
it. Therefore the soul of Christ does not comprehend the Word.
I answer that, As is plain from Question , Articles ,6, the union of the two
natures in the Person of Christ took place in such a way that the
properties of both natures remained unconfused, i.e. "the uncreated
remained uncreated, and the created remained within the limits of the
creature," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 3,4). Now it is
impossible for any creature to comprehend the Divine Essence, as was
shown in the FP, Question , Articles ,4,7, seeing that the infinite is not
comprehended by the finite. And hence it must be said that the soul of
Christ nowise comprehends the Divine Essence.
Reply to Objection 1: The Man assumed is reckoned with the Divine Trinity in the
knowledge of Itself, not indeed as regards comprehension, but by reason
of a certain most excellent knowledge above the rest of creatures.
Reply to Objection 2: Not even in the union by personal being does the human
nature comprehend the Word of God or the Divine Nature, for although it
was wholly united to the human nature in the one Person of the Son, yet
the whole power of the Godhead was not circumscribed by the human nature.
Hence Augustine says (Ep. ad Volusian. cxxxvii): "I would have you know
that it is not the Christian doctrine that God was united to flesh in
such a manner as to quit or lose the care of the world's government,
neither did Ne narrow or reduce it when He transferred it to that little
body." So likewise the soul of Christ sees the whole Essence of God, yet
does not comprehend It; since it does not see It totally, i.e. not as
perfectly as It is knowable, as was said in the FP, Question , Article .
Reply to Objection 3: This saying of Augustine is to be understood of the grace
of union, by reason of which all that is said of the Son of God in His
Divine Nature is also said of the Son of Man on account of the identity
of suppositum. And in this way it may be said that the Son of Man is a
comprehensor of the Divine Essence, not indeed by His soul, but in His
Divine Nature; even as we may also say that the Son of Man is the Creator.
Article 2: Whether the Son of God knew all things in the Word?
Objection 2: It would seem that the soul of Christ does not know all things in
the Word. For it is written (Mk. 13:32): "But of that day or hour no man
knoweth, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father."
Therefore He does not know all things in the Word.
Objection 2: Further, the more perfectly anyone knows a principle the more he
knows in the principle. But God sees His Essence more perfectly than the
soul of Christ does. Therefore He knows more than the soul of Christ
knows in the Word. Therefore the soul of Christ does not know all things
in the Word.
Objection 3: Further, the extent depends on the number of things known. If,
therefore, the soul of Christ knew in the Word all that the Word knows,
it would follow that the knowledge of the soul of Christ would equal the
Divine knowledge, i.e. the created would equal the uncreated, which is
On the contrary, on Apoc. 5:12, "The Lamb that was slain is worthy to
receive . . . divinity and wisdom," a gloss says, i.e. "the knowledge of
I answer that, When it is inquired whether Christ knows all things in
the Word, "all things" may be taken in two ways: First, properly, to
stand for all that in any way whatsoever is, will be, or was done, said,
or thought, by whomsoever and at any time. And in this way it must be
said that the soul of Christ knows all things in the Word. For every
created intellect knows in the Word, not all simply, but so many more
things the more perfectly it sees the Word. Yet no beatified intellect
fails to know in the Word whatever pertains to itself. Now to Christ and
to His dignity all things to some extent belong, inasmuch as all things
are subject to Him. Moreover, He has been appointed Judge of all by God,
"because He is the Son of Man," as is said Jn. 5:27; and therefore the
soul of Christ knows in the Word all things existing in whatever time,
and the thoughts of men, of which He is the Judge, so that what is said
of Him (Jn. 2:25), "For He knew what was in man," can be understood not
merely of the Divine knowledge, but also of His soul's knowledge, which
it had in the Word. Secondly, "all things" may be taken widely, as
extending not merely to such things as are in act at some time, but even
to such things as are in potentiality, and never have been nor ever will
be reduced to act. Now some of these are in the Divine power alone, and
not all of these does the soul of Christ know in the Word. For this would
be to comprehend all that God could do, which would be to comprehend the
Divine power, and, consequently, the Divine Essence. For every power is
known from the knowledge of all it can do. Some, however, are not only in
the power of God, but also in the power of the creature; and all of these
the soul of Christ knows in the Word; for it comprehends in the Word the
essence of every creature, and, consequently, its power and virtue, and
all things that are in the power of the creature.
Reply to Objection 1: Arius and Eunomius understood this saying, not of the
knowledge of the soul, which they did not hold to be in Christ, as was
said above (Question , Article ), but of the Divine knowledge of the Son, Whom
they held to be less than the Father as regards knowledge. But this will
not stand, since all things were made by the Word of God, as is said Jn.
1:3, and, amongst other things, all times were made by Him. Now He is not
ignorant of anything that was made by Him.
He is said, therefore, not to know the day and the hour of the Judgment,
for that He does not make it known, since, on being asked by the apostles
(Acts 1:7), He was unwilling to reveal it; and, on the contrary, we read
(Gn. 22:12): "Now I know that thou fearest God," i.e. "Now I have made
thee know." But the Father is said to know, because He imparted this
knowledge to the Son. Hence, by saying but the Father, we are given to
understand that the Son knows, not merely in the Divine Nature, but also
in the human, because, as Chrysostom argues (Hom. lxxviii in Matth.), if
it is given to Christ as man to know how to judge---which is
greater---much more is it given to Him to know the less, viz. the time of
Judgment. Origen, however (in Matth. Tract. xxx), expounds it of His
body, which is the Church, which is ignorant of this time. Lastly, some
say this is to be understood of the adoptive, and not of the natural Son
Reply to Objection 2: God knows His Essence so much the more perfectly than the
soul of Christ, as He comprehends it. And hence He knows all things, not
merely whatever are in act at any time, which things He is said to know
by knowledge of vision, but also what ever He Himself can do, which He is
said to know by simple intelligence, as was shown in the FP, Question , Article .
Therefore the soul of Christ knows all things that God knows in Himself
by the knowledge of vision, but not all that God knows in Himself by
knowledge of simple intelligence; and thus in Himself God knows many more
things than the soul of Christ.
Reply to Objection 3: The extent of knowledge depends not merely on the number of
knowable things, but also on the clearness of the knowledge. Therefore,
although the knowledge of the soul of Christ which He has in the Word is
equal to the knowledge of vision as regards the number of things known,
nevertheless the knowledge of God infinitely exceeds the knowledge of the
soul of Christ in clearness of cognition, since the uncreated light of
the Divine intellect infinitely exceeds any created light received by the
soul of Christ; although, absolutely speaking, the Divine knowledge
exceeds the knowledge of the soul of Christ, not only as regards the mode
of knowing, but also as regards the number of things known, as was stated
Article 3: Whether the soul of Christ can know the infinite in the Word?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ cannot know the infinite in
the Word. For that the infinite should be known is repugnant to the
definition of the infinite which (Phys. iii, 63) is said to be that "from
which, however much we may take, there always remains something to be
taken." But it is impossible for the definition to be separated from the
thing defined, since this would mean that contradictories exist together.
Therefore it is impossible that the soul of Christ knows the infinite.
Objection 2: Further, the knowledge of the infinite is infinite. But the
knowledge of the soul of Christ cannot be infinite, because its capacity
is finite, since it is created. Therefore the soul of Christ cannot know
Objection 3: Further, there can be nothing greater than the infinite. But more
is contained in the Divine knowledge, absolutely speaking, than in the
knowledge of Christ's soul, as stated above (Article ). Therefore the soul of
Christ does not know the infinite.
On the contrary, The soul of Christ knows all its power and all it can
do. Now it can cleanse infinite sins, according to 1 Jn. 2:2: "He is the
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of
the whole world." Therefore the soul of Christ knows the infinite.
I answer that, Knowledge regards only being, since being and truth are
convertible. Now a thing is said to be a being in two ways: First,
simply, i.e. whatever is a being in act; secondly, relatively, i.e.
whatever is a being in potentiality. And because, as is said Metaph. ix,
20, everything is known as it is in act, and not as it is in
potentiality, knowledge primarily and essentially regards being in act,
and secondarily regards being in potentiality, which is not knowable of
itself, but inasmuch as that in whose power it exists is known. Hence,
with regard to the first mode of knowledge, the soul of Christ does not
know the infinite. Because there is not an infinite number in act, even
though we were to reckon all that are in act at any time whatsoever,
since the state of generation and corruption will not last for ever:
consequently there is a certain number not only of things lacking
generation and corruption, but also of things capable of generation and
corruption. But with regard to the other mode of knowing, the soul of
Christ knows infinite things in the Word, for it knows, as stated above
(Article ), all that is in the power of the creature. Hence, since in the
power of the creature there is an infinite number of things, it knows the
infinite, as it were, by a certain knowledge of simple intelligence, and
not by a knowledge of vision.
Reply to Objection 1: As we said in the FP, Question , Article , the infinite is taken in
two ways. First, on the part of a form, and thus we have the negatively
infinite, i.e. a form or act not limited by being received into matter or
a subject; and this infinite of itself is most knowable on account of the
perfection of the act, although it is not comprehensible by the finite
power of the creature; for thus God is said to be infinite. And this
infinite the soul of Christ knows, yet does not comprehend. Secondly,
there is the infinite as regards matter, which is taken privatively, i.e.
inasmuch as it has not the form it ought naturally to have, and in this
way we have infinite in quantity. Now such an infinite of itself, is
unknown: inasmuch as it is, as it were, matter with privation of form as
is said Phys. iii, 65. But all knowledge is by form or act. Therefore if
this infinite is to be known according to its mode of being, it cannot be
known. For its mode is that part be taken after part, as is said Phys.
iii, 62,63. And in this way it is true that, if we take something from
it, i.e. taking part after part, there always remains something to be
taken. But as material things can be received by the intellect
immaterially, and many things unitedly, so can infinite things be
received by the intellect, not after the manner of infinite, but
finitely; and thus what are in themselves infinite are, in the intellect
of the knower, finite. And in this way the soul of Christ knows an
infinite number of things, inasmuch as it knows them not by discoursing
from one to another, but in a certain unity, i.e. in any creature in
whose potentiality infinite things exist, and principally in the Word
Reply to Objection 2: There is nothing to hinder a thing from being infinite in one way and finite in another, as when in quantities we imagine a surface infinite in length and finite in breadth. Hence, if there were an infinite number of men, they would have a relative infinity, i.e. in multitude; but, as regards the essence, they would be finite, since the essence of all would be limited to one specific nature. But what is simply infinite in its essence is God, as was said in the FP, Question , Article . Now the proper object of the intellect is "what a thing is," as is said De Anima iii, 26, to which pertains the notion of the species. And thus the soul of Christ, since it has a finite capacity, attains to, but does not comprehend, what is simply infinite in essence, as stated above (Article ). But the infinite in potentiality which is in creatures can be comprehended by the soul of Christ, since it is compared to that soul according to its essence, in which respect it is not infinite. For even our intellect understands a universal---for example, the nature of a genus or species, which in a manner has infinity, inasmuch as it can be predicated of an infinite number.
Reply to Objection 3: That which is infinite in every way can be but one. Hence
the Philosopher says (De Coel. i, 2,3,) that, since bodies have
dimensions in every part, there cannot be several infinite bodies. Yet if
anything were infinite in one way only, nothing would hinder the
existence of several such infinite things; as if we were to suppose
several lines of infinite length drawn on a surface of finite breadth.
Hence, because infinitude is not a substance, but is accidental to things
that are said to be infinite, as the Philosopher says (Phys. iii, 37,38);
as the infinite is multiplied by different subjects, so, too, a property
of the infinite must be multiplied, in such a way that it belongs to each
of them according to that particular subject. Now it is a property of the
infinite that nothing is greater than it. Hence, if we take one infinite
line, there is nothing greater in it than the infinite; so, too, if we
take any one of other infinite lines, it is plain that each has infinite
parts. Therefore of necessity in this particular line there is nothing
greater than all these infinite parts; yet in another or a third line
there will be more infinite parts besides these. We observe this in
numbers also, for the species of even numbers are infinite, and likewise
the species of odd numbers are infinite; yet there are more even and odd
numbers than even. And thus it must be said that nothing is greater than
the simply and in every way infinite; but than the infinite which is
limited in some respect, nothing is greater in that order; yet we may
suppose something greater outside that order. In this way, therefore,
there are infinite things in the potentiality of the creature, and yet
there are more in the power of God than in the potentiality of the
creature. So, too, the soul of Christ knows infinite things by the
knowledge of simple intelligence; yet God knows more by this manner of
knowledge or understanding.
Article 4: Whether the soul of Christ sees the Word or the Divine Essence more clearly than does any other creature?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ does not see the Word more
perfectly than does any other creature. For the perfection of knowledge
depends upon the medium of knowing; as the knowledge we have by means of
a demonstrative syllogism is more perfect than that which we have by
means of a probable syllogism. But all the blessed see the Word
immediately in the Divine Essence Itself, as was said in the FP, Question ,
Article . Therefore the soul of Christ does not see the Word more perfectly
than any other creature.
Objection 2: Further, the perfection of vision does not exceed the power of
seeing. But the rational power of a soul such as is the soul of Christ is
below the intellective power of an angel, as is plain from Dionysius
(Coel. Hier. iv). Therefore the soul of Christ did not see the Word more
perfectly than the angels.
Objection 3: Further, God sees His Word infinitely more perfectly than does
the soul of Christ. Hence there are infinite possible mediate degrees
between the manner in which God sees His Word, and the manner in which
the soul of Christ sees the Word. Therefore we cannot assert that the
soul of Christ sees the Word or the Divine Essence more perfectly than
does every other creature.
On the contrary, The Apostle says (Eph. 1:20,21) that God set Christ "on
His right hand in the heavenly places, above all principality and power
and virtue and dominion and every name that is named not only in this
world, but also in that which is to come." But in that heavenly glory the
higher anyone is the more perfectly does he know God. Therefore the soul
of Christ sees God more perfectly than does any other creature.
I answer that, The vision of the Divine Essence is granted to all the
blessed by a partaking of the Divine light which is shed upon them from
the fountain of the Word of God, according to Ecclus. 1:5: "The Word of
God on high is the fountain of Wisdom." Now the soul of Christ, since it
is united to the Word in person, is more closely joined to the Word of
God than any other creature. Hence it more fully receives the light in
which God is seen by the Word Himself than any other creature. And
therefore more perfectly than the rest of creatures it sees the First
Truth itself, which is the Essence of God; hence it is written (Jn. 1:14): "And we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only-begotten
of the Father," "full" not only of "grace" but also of "truth."
Reply to Objection 1: Perfection of knowledge, on the part of the thing known,
depends on the medium; but as regards the knower, it depends on the power
or habit. And hence it is that even amongst men one sees a conclusion in
a medium more perfectly than another does. And in this way the soul of
Christ, which is filled with a more abundant light, knows the Divine
Essence more perfectly than do the other blessed, although all see the
Divine Essence in itself.
Reply to Objection 2: The vision of the Divine Essence exceeds the natural power
of any creature, as was said in the FP, Question , Article . And hence the
degrees thereof depend rather on the order of grace in which Christ is
supreme, than on the order of nature, in which the angelic nature is
placed before the human.
Reply to Objection 3: As stated above (Question , Article ), there cannot be a greater
grace than the grace of Christ with respect to the union with the Word;
and the same is to be said of the perfection of the Divine vision;
although, absolutely speaking, there could be a higher and more sublime
degree by the infinity of the Divine power.