While many are familiar with polemics which appeal to Mark 13:32 to dispute the omniscience of Jesus, fewer have encountered polemics in which it is similarly argued that the same verse even necessitates that the Holy Spirit is not omniscient. While one could object that 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 seems to imply otherwise, one can also note that the text can be read as being within a limited scope or domain of discourse. That is to say, the phrase οὐδεὶς οἶδεν (nobody knows) can be used in a limited sense.
Consider, for example, how Mark uses οὐδεὶς in Mark 5:3-4, when it states that no one could hold down or subdue the man under discussion. It would seem obvious that the text means that in a limited sense (i.e. it is referring to humans among him). But beyond that, it is interesting to note how the construction is employed in Dinarchus’ Against Demosthenes:
The author at one point criticizes the Athenians, observing that, with the trial of a common person, τῶν κρινομένων, ὅταν ἁλῶσιν, οὐδεὶς οἶδεν οὐδὲ ζητεῖ πυθέσθαι (whenever he is convicted no one knows or even cares to inquire about the sentence). The line does not mean literally no one knows about the conviction (as obviously both the convicted person and the judge who handed down the conviction know); rather, the phrase οὐδεὶς οἶδεν is being employed within a limited domain of discourse or set.
Once it is understood that οὐδεὶς can be employed in with a limited scope, then Mark 13:32, which doesn’t even mention the Holy Spirit, need not necessarily include the Holy Spirit. In other words, the lack of knowledge could be limited to humans (or, more broadly, persons possessing human natures) and angels.
(1) This blog entry focuses on the less well known polemic against the Holy Spirit. As for how Mark 13:32 pertains to Jesus, the verse can actually can be understood and approached in a variety of ways. For example, in the fourth century, St. Basil interpreted “ουδε ο υιος ει μη ο πατηρ” as meaning “nor the Son were it not for the Father” (in other words, in Basil’s view, it was not a denial of the Son’s knowledge, but rather a statement that not even the Son would know were it not for His union with the Father). I know that is not congruous with the modern reading of the text found in popular translations, but it does not strike me as a violation of the Greek conditional “ει μη”. That aside, I, personally, am happy to alternatively take a dyophysite approach, in which it is assumed that the apparent limitation pertains to a limitation on His human nature. The idea would be that when He took on a secondary human nature, a secondary range of mentation and knowledge –a secondary “mind”– was also taken on, and in the relevant verse, He was speaking from the limited human range of mentation. I understand if that initially seems counter-intuitive, but we actually now know from neurobiological studies that it is possible for a single person to possess multiple ranges of knowledge, for one such range to possess information which another such range lacks, and for such a person to sincerely express ignorance of a subject when speaking from the range which lacks such information, while possessing that information in another range.
(2) See John Ormiston Burtt, Minor Attic Orators, Volume II: Lycurgus, Dinarchus, Demades, Hyperides, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954), p. 190.