Neuroscience of the Incarnation

So I was reading the Thoughts on the evolution of the human mind thread and @Robert_Byers said, amongst other things:

I’m curious what other people might think, or what kind of theological work has been done in this area. This seems like a pretty straight forward type of question that you might get in a Sunday school class (kids or adult). Things like, “did Jesus ever make a mistake?” and “did Jesus know who he was as a child”, etc.

To @Robert_Byers’s point, Luke 2:52 (NRSV) says:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

The same verse in the NIV says:

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

It seems that Jesus grew both biologically (years/stature) and mentally (wisdom). I wonder how that happened exactly as we think about minds and brains? If we think about the hypostatic union (Jesus is both full human and fully divine in one existence), what do we do with the brain and the mind? Was his brain human and his mind divine?

Another area would be kenosis (self-emptying) of Jesus. Here, is Philippians 2:6-7 (NRSV)

who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

And again in the NIV:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

So, is that what @Robert_Byers is saying with “When born he was stuck to a human memory/mind. so he couldn’t remember all the God stuff he knew.” I’m nervous about “memory” there. Does that mean a pre-existing memory or just an empty memory?

P.S. I’m not sure if “neuroscience” is the right phrase here. I’m interested in that too, but for now it seems a bit more like psychology of the Incarnation I guess.


I know you asked for others input but just to repeat. Jesus surely as a baby was not faking it. He was not intelligent as a baby even though he was God/trinity. therefore something must be interfering with his thinking. i say its obvious its about memory. he didn’t know there was a lake ontario or kangaroos ever. yet he was God. Therefore he is the proof he was put into the connection between the soul and the mind.
The mind is just another word for memory. he had no memory of heaven.He was stuck. this interconnection goes both ways. once separated from the body/mind/memory one does remember.
This would also explain a healing he did where it took two shots to heal a blind guy.
he asked him what he saw because he had a hunch it would not work completly. or rather sight is not just the mechanism but its connection to the memory to be read by the soul.
to grow in wisdom must mean there was room to grow.this is impossible for God but not for God who has mysteriously united with the human mind/memory.

I like @Andrew_Loke’s model of the incarnation. Don’t have time to do anything more than recommend it at the moment, I’m afraid, but I think some of his work is available on :slight_smile:

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I agree and recommend @Andrew_Loke’s book too.

Hi @Jordan, @Robert_Byers, @structureoftruth and @swamidass,

Lots of very interesting questions!

In 451 A.D., the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (whose teaching is upheld by Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans & Episcopalians and many Protestants) defined that Jesus was one person in two natures (divine and human). In 553 A.D., the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople further declared that Jesus was a Divine Person (God the Son) - not a divine-human person. In 681 A.D., the Third Ecumenical Council of Constantinople proclaimed that Jesus had a Divine will and a human will. Christs’s human will was always obedient to His Divine will, but still possessed human freedom. And if Jesus possessed two wills as a consequence of having two natures, then by the same token, He must have possessed two minds or intellects: a Divine mind which is eternally omniscient, and a human mind which was not (and still is not) omniscient. In addition, Jesus possessed a human body. So the traditional answer to your question would be that Jesus’ brain was a human brain, but He also had a finite human mind and of course, an infinite Divine Mind.

I would prefer to say that Jesus’ human mind, during His life on Earth, knew just as much (no more and no less) as His Divine Mind wanted His human mind to know. In some areas, His human mind was in the dark - for instance, I’m sure He knew nothing about quantum physics. As to whether Jesus’ human mind knew about the hypostatic union: it may well have done so from the get-go (that’s the traditional Catholic position), but I’d personally be quite comfortable if it dawned on Him gradually.

As to whether Jesus made mistakes: my own view is that (a) His human mind was free from any intellectual weaknesses which are a consequence of original sin; and (b) His human mind was also free from defects arising from brain defects and cognitive malfunctions. That doesn’t mean that He had a 200 I.Q. Rather, it means that you couldn’t pull the wool over His eyes (remember how He always got the batter of the Pharisees in their battles of wits, despite not having had a formal education)?

@swamidass, @AndrewLoke’s book sounds very promising. The notion that some of Christ’s supernatural properties were concealed during the Incarnation sounds intriguing, but I’d hesitate to say “all.” After all, He did work miracles.



It seems to me Jesus having any sort of divine level of knowledge diminishes his accomplishments. The significance is that he was human, just as we are, but was able to, under the same conditions as we are, accomplish what we cannot.

As I recall, his miracles were performed by the work of the Spirit. And it says “God raised” this man Jesus from the dead. I’m not a theologian, but it does not seem Jesus must have directly accomplished any miracles with out the involvement of the Spirit and Father.

Only what the bible says matters. not these ancient committees.
there is no reason to struggle over a divine or human brain /mind. The brain is never mentioned in the bible while human soul/intellect is a constant theme. The brain is a invention of humans and is a error. wE have no brain or evidence of it.
jesus , very simply, being put into a human body, separated from the trinity, simply got what we got. WE are souls with minds. I say the mind just means the memory.
so Jesus simply gettting a human memory lost his previous memories(while attached to a human memopry as its so intimate) and so from a babe he actually had to learn everything. however having a God soul he was a quick learn and wisdom was quickly his thing. Yet it was wisdom from what he learned and not from what he previously knew. very important.
It shows that our memory/mind is a dominent tool in our thinking although not the origin of thinking.
In fact this is why babies are the way they are. they actually have the same ability. soul, to think as us but are interfered with by incompetence in the memory(plus not knowing anything originally).
Then from this comes the cases of prodigys. They are not prodigys but only manesfestations of kids whose memory has been triggered to equal/surpass a adult. Yet its always about memorized things and not innovation/wisdom. The aberration of the prodigy proves the equation.