Here is the third of PW’s big seven reasons for saying Mark did not teach the deity of Christ.
3) Jesus confesses his ignorance about the date of the End of the world (Mark 13:32)
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’
Later Christian teaching would assert that Jesus is equal [sic] God in knowledge. (Emphasis original)
PW has been arguing that Matthew and Luke illicitly enhance the picture of Jesus presented in Mark and that this process of enhancement culminates in John’s Gospel where Jesus is explicitly identified as God. However, when PW comes to this, his third argument, he has a falling out with himself and does not resort to his usual (false) claim that Matthew redacted Mark in order to make Jesus look better. The reason is obvious: Matthew says the same thing here (24:36) that Mark does (13:32). But on PW’s assumptions this has to mean that Matthew saw no problem with the words Mark records from Jesus, otherwise Matthew would have “changed” them. It stands to reason, therefore, that if Matthew, who held a high(er) view of Jesus according to PW, did not see any problem with this teaching, then there is no reason to think Mark understood this to entail a low(er) Christology either. If the former can be credited by PW with a high(er) Christology even though he records that Jesus, the Son, did not know the day or the hour, then, mutatis mutandis, so can the latter when he records the same thing.
The fact is, all the Gospel writers taught the deity of Christ. Jesus’ saying that He does not know the day or the hour was not perceived by them to mean that the Lord Jesus could not be God. This is because, as PW has already been taught in previous responses, the Gospel writers not only believed that Jesus is God (e.g. Mark 6:50; Matthew 14:27; John 6:20; see here and here), they also believed and taught that He became a “very human figure.” This is something that PW conveniently but inexcusably forgets at virtually every turn, and that in spite of the fact that he makes much of his apostasy, a boast that doesn’t mean anything if PW constantly belies an ignorance of basic Christian doctrine or if he has to resort to tearing down straw men rather than the real thing. Why does PW pretend that he left Christianity knowing full well what Christians believe if he can’t demonstrate any competence or proficiency in the same when discussing Christian theology? Or, why does he pretend that he had good grounds for leaving if he can’t refute the real thing?
Since Jesus was both God and man, there were things that He knew in His divine nature that He, in assuming the form of a servant and fulfilling the will of the Father, did not have access to in His human nature. It is because Jesus was a real human being that He could say He did not know the day or the hour. So James Brooks:
Most find it inconceivable that the early church would have invented a saying that ascribed ignorance to Jesus, and we would certainly place ourselves among those….There is little question that Jesus actually spoke the words. One need not be embarrassed about them. Ignorance of certain things was simply a part of Jesus’ humanity, a part of his becoming a real human being. (James A. Brooks, Mark, The New American Commentary, Volume 23 (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1991), pp. 217-218.) (Emphasis mine)
Even Gundry, who is far from being a fundamentalist, in his treatment of this saying in the Matthean parallel, concurs with this:
…we may say that just as Jesus did not exercise his omnipotence except to further the kingdom (cf. his refusal to make stones into bread), so he did not exercise his omniscience except to further the kingdom. To have known and made known the exact time of his coming would have damaged the work of the kingdom by encouraging carelessness during the interim. What Jesus could have done because HE WAS DIVINE did not predetermine what he did do as ALSO A MAN. The incarnation did not destroy divine potencies, but it did limit actualities. (Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), p. 492.) (Emphasis mine)
(For more on this solution, as well as a survey of other answers that orthodox Christians have given, see the following article by Timothy Miller: Mark 13:32 Problem or Paradigm?)
At the same time, since Jesus is also God, the same Gospel writers attributed divine knowledge to Jesus. For example, both Matthew and Luke record the absolute (“all things”), mutual (“Father” and “Son”), and exclusive (“no one…except”) knowledge that the Father and the Son have of one another, and the all-comprehensive sovereignty of the Son in making the Father known to whom He wills (“anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him”), a fact that entails, as paradoxical and unacceptable as this will be to all revelation-hating rationalists, the omniscience or divine knowledge of the Son:
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11)
21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 22 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Luke 10)
This saying in Matthew and Luke is so shocking to advocates for low-Christology the world over that it has been called a “Johannine thunderbolt” and “a meteorite fallen from the Johannine sky.” As such, it is one of the many hooks that aid in unraveling arguments against the reliability of John’s portrait of Jesus. As Leopold Kopler said:
If this passage is authentic, it makes a breach in the Chinese wall, which some have wanted to build between the Synoptics and John and still do. If the utterance of Christ be historical, then the most important reason why the Fourth Gospel could not be used to reconstruct the historical life of Jesus – the Johannine christology being incompatible with the Synoptic picture of Jesus! – receives a deadly stab, and the sentence of Feine is right: ‘Even the Johannine christology has its firm historical basis in that Synoptic saying.’ (L. Kopler, Die “johanneische” Stelle, pp. 50-51, as cited in Adelbert Denaux, Studies in the Gospel of Luke: Structure, Language and Theology, Tilburg Theological Studies (LIT Verlag Munster, 2010), pp. 115-116.)
In fact, on PW’s presuppositions, since this verse is part of the Synoptic double-tradition, i.e. material common to Matthew and Luke not found in Mark, then it is part of the mythical “Q” source. Never mind for the moment that there is no manuscript evidence for Q, nor even a murmur about its existence from anyone in antiquity, and never mind as well that it is quite unnecessary to postulate such a source even if one assumes Markan priority, for Lukan familiarity with Matthew would easily account for the common material (so Farrer, Mascall, Ropes, Enslin, Drury, Sanders, Davies, et. al), which makes it simpler and more elegant than PW’s theory, particularly since it doesn’t require multiplying entities (Occam’s Razor). On PW’s view the “Q” source, which he unreflectively claims teaches a view of Jesus that comports with Islam, even to the point of quoting fringe scholars like James Tabor to bolster this claim, actually ends up confirming teaching about Jesus that PW erringly thought was distinctive to John’s Gospel, a gospel he admits teaches the deity of Christ. (For more on how the putative “Q” source teaches the deity of Christ, see the following article: The Hypothetical Gospel “Q” and it’s Effect on NT Christology. And since PW has also claimed that the epistle of James and the Didache are part of this same strain of proto-Islamic teaching on Jesus, see also the following articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
In fact, all throughout the Synoptic Gospels, in Mark no less than in Matthew and Luke, divine knowledge is ascribed to the Son. For another example of this, we read in Matthew:
2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4 And Jesus KNOWING THEIR THOUGHTS said, “Why are you thinking evil IN YOUR HEARTS? 5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9)
Luke tells the same story:
17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But Jesus, AWARE OF THEIR REASONINGS, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning IN YOUR HEARTS? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” 25 Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. 26 They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5)
And, worst of all for PW's thesis, so does Mark:
1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And they *came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, AWARE IN HIS SPIRIT that they were reasoning that way WITHIN THEMSELVES, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things IN YOUR HEARTS? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2)
The words of the great Biblical scholar and renowned linguist, J. A. Alexander, are on point:
These cavils and repinings, though not audible, were visible to him who had occasioned them. Immediately, here too (see above, on v. 2) is not an expletive, but indicates the instantaneous detection of their thoughts by his omniscience, without waiting till they were betrayed by word or action. Perceived, literally, knowing, a verb meaning sometimes to recognize or know again (see below, 6, 33. 54), and sometimes to ascertain or discover (see below, 5, 30), but more commonly to know certainly or thoroughly (see Luke 1,1), which is probably the meaning here, the intensive compound having reference to our Lord’s immediate and infallible intuition of their very thoughts. (Alexander, The Gospel of Mark (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, , 1984), p. 37.) (Italics original)
Furthermore, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, which Mark as a Palestinian Jew knew all too well, only Yahweh knows the hearts of men:
39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for YOU ALONE KNOW THE HEARTS of all the sons of men,… (1 Kings 8)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but THE LORD LOOKS AT THE HEART.” (1 Samuel 16)
Here Mark (as well as Matthew and Luke) clearly puts Jesus on the Creator side of the Creator-creature divide, attributing to Jesus something in the Hebrew Scriptures that is part of God’s own unique identity.
The problems don’t end here for PW. While many other passages on the divine knowledge of the Son in the Synoptic Gospels are ready to hand (*), the above is sufficient for the time being. What I want to point out in conclusion is the fact that the very passage that ascribes the words “nor the Son” to Jesus, the very words to which PW makes his appeal, also exalt Jesus above all men and angels and identify Him as the divine Son of God. None have expressed this better than the late Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield:
By the side of the passages in which the precise title ‘Son of God’ is employed, there stands another series in which Jesus speaks of Himself, or is represented as spoken of by God, simply as ‘the Son’ (1332, cf. 126; 111, 97), used obviously in a very pregnant sense: and these naturally suggest their correlatives in which He speaks of God as His ‘Father’ in the same pregnant manner (838, cf. 1332, 1436). The uniqueness of the relation intended to be intimated by this mode of speech is sharply thrust forward in the parable recorded in Mark 12. There were many slaves who were sent one after the other to the rebellious husbandmen; but only one son—who is called “the beloved one,” a term which is not so much designatory of affection as of that on which special affection is grounded, and is therefore practically equivalent to “only begotten,” or “unique.” It is possible that it is by this epithet that God designates this His Son on both of the occasions when He spoke from heaven in order to point Him out and mark Him as His own (1:11, 9:7)—“This is my beloved Son.” The meaning is that the Son stands out among all others who may be called sons as in a unique and unapproached sense the Son of God….there is intimated in this usage a closeness as well as a uniqueness of relation existing between Jesus and God, which raises Jesus far beyond comparison with any other son of man. And that remarkable passage, 1332, in which Jesus declares His ignorance, though He be the Son, of the day of His advent, exalts Him apparently above not men only, but angels as well, next to the Father Himself, with whom rather than with the angels He seems to be classed. (Warfield, The Lord of Glory: A Study of the Designations of our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (Birmingham, Alabama: Solid Ground Books, 2003), pp. 21-23.)
Here, in the very act of admitting limitations to His knowledge, in themselves astonishing, He yet asserts for Himself not merely a superhuman but even a superangelic rank in the scale of being.
In any possible interpretation of the passage, He separates Himself from the “angels in heaven” (note the enhancing definition of locality, carrying with it the sense of the exaltation of these angels above all that is earthly) as belonging to a different class from them, and that a superior class. To Jesus as He is reported, and presumably to Mark reporting Him, we see, Jesus “the Son” stands as definitely and as incomparably above the category of angels, the highest of God’s creatures, as to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose argument may be taken as a commentary upon this passage (Heb 14, 28). Nor is this passage singular in Mark in exalting Jesus in dignity and authority above the angels. Already in the account of the temptation at the opening of His ministry we find the angels signalized as ministering to Him (113), and elsewhere they appear as His subordinates swelling His train (838) or His servants obeying His behests (1327, “He shall send the angels”). Clearly, therefore, to Mark Jesus is not merely a superhuman but a superangelic personality: and the question at once obtrudes itself whether a superangelic person is not by that very fact removed from the category of creatures. (ibid., pp. 36-37)
We have already had occasion to point out the uniqueness and closeness of the relation to God which is indicated by the designation ‘Son of God’ as ascribed to Jesus. IN the parable of Mark 12 not only it is emphasized that God has but one such son (verse 6), but He is as such expressly contrasted with all God’s “servants” (verses 2 and 4) and expressly signalized as God’s “heir” (verse 7). As we read this parable the mind inevitably reverts again to the representation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which in its doctrine of the Son (cf. Heb 14, 36, etc.), might almost appear a thetical exposition of it. And in the immediate recognition of Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ by the evil spirits—“as soon as ever they caught sight of Him”—we can scarcely fail to see a testimony from the spiritual world to a sonship in Jesus surpassing that of mere appointment to an earthly office and function rooted in what lies beyond this temporal sphere. It is noteworthy also that when responding to the adjuration of the high priest to declare whether He were ‘the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,’ Jesus points apparently to His exaltation at the right hand of power and His coming with the clouds of heaven, which they were to see, as the warranty for His acceptance of the designation: as much as to say that to be ‘the Christ, the Son of the blessed,’ involves session at the right hand of God and the eternal dominion promised in Daniel (Mk 1462). And it is noticeable farther that immediately upon our Lord’s acceptance of the ascription the high priest accused Him of blasphemy (1463), which appears to be an open indication that to claim to be ‘the Son of the Blessed’ was all one with claiming to be a divine person. Even the heathen centurion’s enforced conviction, as he witnessed the circumstances of Jesus’ death, that this man certainly was ‘a Son of God,’ appears to be recorded for no other reason (1539) than to make plain that the supernaturalness of Jesus’ person was such as necessarily to impress any observer. No doubt a heathen centurion is but a poor witness to Jesus’ essential nature; and no doubt his designation of Him as “a son of God” must needs be taken in a sense consonant with his standpoint as a heathen. But it manifests how from his own standpoint Jesus’ death impressed him—as the death, to wit, of one of superhuman dignity. And its record seems to round out the total impression which Mark appears to wish to make in his use of the phrase, viz., that the superhuman dignity of Jesus was perforce recognized and testified to by all classes and by every variety of witness. The spiritual denizens of another world (124, 134, 311, 57), the appointed guarians of the spiritual life of Israel (1461), Jesus Himself (126, 1332, 1462), God in Heaven (111, 97), and even the heathen man when he gazed upon Him as He hung on the cross, alike certify to His elevation, as the Son of God, in the supernatural dignity of His person, above all that is earthly, all “servants” and “ministers” of God whatever, including the very angels. Certainly this designation, ‘Son of God,’ is colored so deeply with supernatural implications that even apart from such a passage as 1332 where the superangelic nature of the Son is openly expressed, we cannot avoid concluding (cf. especially 126, 1462, 1539) that a supernatural personality as well as a supernatural office is intended to be understood by it. And if so, in view of the nature of the term itself, it is difficult to doubt that this supernaturalness of personality is intended to be taken at the height of the Divine. What can the Son, the unique and “beloved” Son of God, who is also the Father’s heir, in contradistinction from all His servants, even the angels, be—but God Himself? (ibid., pp. 42-45)