In his Second Theological Oration, Gregory of Nazianzus discusses the problem of knowing God. How is it that the Scriptures teach that some men really do know God while the object of knowledge is infinite and utterly transcendent? He explains it this way:

17. What God is in nature and essence, no man ever yet has discovered or can discover. Whether it will ever be discovered is a question which he who will may examine and decide. In my opinion it will discovered when that within us is godlike and divine, I mean our mind and reason, shall have mingled with its like, and the image shall have ascended to the archetype, of which it has now the desire. And this I think is the solution of that vexed problem as to “We shall know even as we are known.” But in our present life all that comes to us is but a little effluence, and as it were a small effulgence from a great light. So that if anyone has known God, or has had the testimony of Scripture to his knowledge of God, we are to understand such a one to have possessed a degree of knowledge which gave him the appearance of being more fully enlightened than another who did not enjoy the same degree of illumination; and this relative superiority is spoken of as if it were absolute knowledge, not because it is really such, but by comparison with the power of that other.*

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*Christology of the Later Fathers (trans. E. R. Hardy; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1954), 147-48.

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