All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.Matthew 11:27 (cf. Luke 10:22)
What is ultimate reality? For thousands of years, philosophers have proposed various answers. Brahman, the Dao (Tao), emptiness, God, and the One all met the mind’s quest for the ultimate in Eastern and Western conceptions. Apart from Christ’s revelation, no one ever proposed a tri-personal ultimate.
No word even existed for “person” in the first centuries of the Church. As the early Fathers groped for an appropriate word to speak about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they seized the pale analog, prosopon (“mask”), from Greek theater. Prosopon, or persona in Latin, entered the Western vocabulary as “person,” with definitions that continue to be debated to the present day.
We do not know what a person is, but only that it is. Unique “whos” cannot be categorized and reduced to a general concept. We know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live because the Son, God, has revealed them to us. But we cannot systematize incommunicables who defy generalization. Outside of finite minds, the category of “person” has no existence per se. But John, Peter, and Mary exist as unique incommunicables. For the sake of discussion, theology requires concepts; at its pinnacle, it falls silent.
God Reveals Himself
No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.John 1:18 (NABRE)
The best and earliest manuscripts record “only God” (monogenēs theos) in John 1:18, while the majority of later manuscripts have “the Son, the only one” or “the only Son.” The English Standard Version preserves the original manuscript reading.
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.John 1:18 (ESV)
The New American Bible (Revised Edition) fuses both readings, offering an explanatory footnote for its translation.
Mystery of Mysteries
Apart from God’s revelation, no one knows the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. May the Father draw us into the mystery of mysteries.
Who knows the Father and the Son?
Unless God reveals himself, none!