Friday, August 7, 2009

10 questions on the hypostatic union

For basic information on this doctrine see the Catholic Encyclopedia article. So I was over at Bridget's blog and she had an article asking about Jesus's chromosomes and how many came from Mary. Which brings up the big topic, of the hypostatic union in general. So I figured I'd open some discussion questions. I'd love it if you post your answers, pick the closest.

All questions prior to the resurrection if you believe his body changed when it was risen:

1) As a point of information (oversimplifying) humans get drunk because our insulin system cannot divert alcohols, in particular ethanol, away from our nerve cells (see blood sugar regulation if you want details). That is to say we have an imperfect endrocrine system. Jesus starts drinking wine. Can he start feeling the effects of intoxication?
a) No, he has no imperfections his endocrine system is perfect. Ethanol has no more effect on him than any other sugar.
b) Yes, he is human. He shares all human imperfections including not regulating that sugar properly.

2) An allegoric reaction is "hypersensitivity" a situation where the body over reacts to a toxin. Can Jesus have one?
a) No, he has an inerrant body it never makes a mistake.
b) Yes, he is human and shares all human imperfections. But his body was effectively perfect during his life so he never did have one.
c) Yes he can have one and like all humans had them during the course of his life.

3) Jesus eats bad eggs with lots of salmonella, everyone around him gets sick for a week and some people die from diarrhetic dehydration. He absorbed a level of toxins which would make him sick even without the diarreia weakening him further. What happens to Jesus?
a) He is fine he cannot be affected by toxins at all unless he wills it.
b) He is gets mildly ill but has a perfect immune system which handles the toxins from the bacteria perfectly, never over or under reacting.
c) He gets very sick: fever, vomiting and even diarrhea but his body makes no big mistakes so he is no danger of the diarrhea being lethal.
d) He is fully human and his body can over react to toxins like anyone else's and it could kill him.

4) Jesus is doing some carpentry. He has to figure out how much wood to use and has to multiply in his head. Can he get the problem wrong?
a) No, he is inerrant.
b) Yes, he could err in theory but not in practice since he is perfectly careful.
c) Yes, he could err both in theory and in practice but he never does during the course of his life.
d) He has missed some problems before and arrived at errant multiplications. That is not a matter of essentials and is part of being human.

5) While he is doing the carpentry it is a hot day and normal carpenter would be getting tired. His buddy working next to him is getting sloppy from exhaustion and heat. What's happening to Jesus?
a) He is a unaffected by heat or exhaustion.
b) He feels tired but he does perfect work.
c) He is fully human and gets tired too, creating some off center boards.

6) A piece of skin falls off his hand and hits the ground. In terms of DNA
a) 0 of the chromosomes are Mary's, he is fully human but not biologically descended from her.
b) 23 of the chromosomes are Mary's she is fully his mother. The other 23 don't correspond to any existing human.
c) All 46 are from Mary. God did not have sex with Mary and thus couldn't provide genetic material, she provided all of it.

7) Human DNA has thousands of replications errors. Jesus'
a) Is perfect, no bad strings all.
b) Has 23 perfect chromosomes and is a perfect copy of Mary's for the other 23 she has no genetic defects and thus he doesn't.
c) Has 23 perfect chromosomes and is at best a perfect copy of Mary's for the other 23; she has genetic defects and thus he does too.
d) Jesus is fully human and has genetic defects on all 46.

8) Jesus sits down to a game of Latrunculi (sort of like chess 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire). He is playing the best Latrunculi player in the Galilee. What happens?
a) Jesus instantly see the perfect move and makes it. He doesn't even think in error. (A perfect move would be the move that a supercomputer cluster might arrive at after several weeks of computation).
b) Jesus has to think to arrive at the perfect moves, though he makes no imperfect moves.
c) Jesus plays within human boundaries, but within those boundaries perfectly. So he plays as well as the best player ever and wins after a hard struggle.
d) Jesus plays OK, and OK is not nearly good enough against this guy and he loses badly.

9) Jesus sees a really hot girl. Can he experience lust?
a) No, the sexiest human is no more tempting than the sexiest termite.
b) No, his mind is perfectly holy. By training, grace and discipline his body has the same level of reaction as a dead body would.
c) Yes, but it only lasts for a fraction of a second. He can be tempted but he doesn't give into the temptation and instantly moves his mind on to another thought.
d) Yes, he had to fully experience temptation. He experiences his mind going back over and over again but he never gives in.

10) Short answer question. Would any of these answers be different before the baptism by John and if so which ones?

See also:


CD-Host said...

My modalist answers, the ones I would have given 15 years ago:

1) a 2) a 3) a 4) a 5) a 6) b 7) c 8) a 9) a 10) no

CD-Host said...

Ah what the heck here are my answers 20 years ago. A perfect person but still very much a person (i.e. denying the logos):
1) b 2) c 3) d 4) d 5) c 6) b 7) c 8) d 9) d 10) no

you can see the shift.

Jack Meyers said...

Okay, CD-Host, I will take a shot at answering.

1) b, but I would suggest that Jesus could theoretically purify His endocrine system and not feel the effects if He wanted to, though I doubt He would. I imagine drinking a ton and amazing everyone by not getting drunk was never one of His miracles.
2) b
3) a
4) b
5) b
6) b
7) b
8) c
9) b
10) no

Does my understanding of the hypostatic union suck? If so, I blame my Mormon education. Maybe they'll unbork me at Trinity.

CD-Host said...

Hi Bridget --

I get your #1 naturally effected but able to alter by miracle. Given that all the rest of your answers made sense to me except: #3 why did you pick (a) for that one? And your answers didn't suck they were very middle of the road!

As for Mormon's I don't actually understand their beliefs on Jesus as a spirit in detail. If you want to answer the question like you would as a Mormon, go for it, that would be great.

Anonymous said...

Quick thought on question six. If all of the genetic material came from Mary, Jesus would be a girl.

The reason for this is left to the student.

Qohelet said...

Question 4 is a trick question. Jesus the carpenter need not know the length of wood to cut since he can magically stretch any size of wood to the desired length:

"And His father was a carpenter, and at that time made ploughs and yokes. And a certain rich man ordered him to make him a couch. And one of what is called the cross pieces being too short, they did not know what to do. The child Jesus said to His father Joseph: Put down the two pieces of wood, and make them even in the middle. And Joseph did as the child said to him. And Jesus stood at the other end, and took hold of the shorter piece of wood, and stretched it, and made it equal to the other. And His father Joseph saw it, and wondered, and embraced the child, and blessed Him, saying: Blessed am I, because God has given me this child." (Infancy Gospel of Thomas)

CD-Host said...

Qohelet --

That was funny!

Anonymous --
Interesting point. I guess if you want to answer 45 chromosomes from Mary and 1 of divine origin that would be an answer. Given that Jesus didn't have to be able to reproduce sexually only look male he might have been able to use some of that ancient genetic material of Mary's which would have caused male traits like a penis. Essentially treat her DNA as a collection of genes he could use to achieve the sort of body he wanted.

Miryam said...

If Jesus doesn't suffer or be tempted he can't be our savior.

1, b
2. c
3. d
4. d
5. c
6. ?? b or c
7. ?? c or d
8. d
9. c
10. before the baptism 9 would have been d

Bill K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill K said...

I think the most important text on the hypostatic union is in Philippians 2. This passage describes how Jesus voluntarily set aside the free use of his godly attributes.

Many of these questions, I think we can't know until we get to ask Jesus - there isn't enough info to make a sure choice. And my caveat for every question is that by an act of will Jesus/God could negate the effects in any particular case - but it would be at the willingness and purpose of the Father.

Where do people get scriptural support for Jesus being perfect in every detail (even gentically) vs. being sinless? Isn't the point of him being the unblemished lamb that he has never rebelled against the father? After all, we know that he wasn't attractive - Isaiah 53:2,3

Here I go:

1. b - although I think this question is written in a way that makes it more "controversial" that in needs to be. Humans are made to ingest certain things and not others. And for each thing we do ingest, there is a certain amount that is acceptable but another that is too much (like water).

2. b or c is closest - but I would say, could have one - don't know if he did.

3. Could be any of the answers. I say d, but that God would keep him alive to fulfill his purpose to suffer and die for the sins of man.

4. could be any. c or d

5. c. b could work too.

6. b perhaps - although God did not have sex with Mary. It was a miraculous birth in that aspect. God gave him genetic material I think.

7. c or d. Additional note is that many of the "defects" and "unused" portions of chromosomes are more and more being found to be useful.

8. d, with a hint of b. If it was God's will he could play perfectly, but not for no reason.

9. c or d.

10. no

CD-Host said...

Bill --

I don't know whether you are still getting email updates but I was rereading this post and then your answers. Your answers are quite interesting. Essentially you have a fully human Jesus who is being blessed by the Father.

How do you see your answers as consistent with a divine nature, rather than a fully human Jesus regular access to the father?