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Did Jesus Think He Would Be the Judge of the Earth?

In order to answer a very specific question about how Matthew uses the phrase “son of man” for Jesus, I have had to discuss what the phrase generally means in the Gospel and whether it is a phrase that Jesus actually used.  I am arguing that he did use it.  That one of the ways he used it was to refer to the judge of the earth who was coming from heaven to destroy God’s enemies and set up a kingdom here (down here, on earth).  And here is the big surprise.  My argument is that when he talked about the future cosmic judge, he was *not* talking about himself.

In my last post I talked about the criterion of dissimilarity.  Now I want to show how it relates to this specific problem/issue.  Among the various sayings about the Son of Man on the lips of Jesus are some that would not have been put *on* his lips by his followers.  (The ones where he is talking about himself obviously *could* have been put on his lips later, since his followers firmly believed he was the coming Son of Man.)  These are the ones that speak of the Son of Man as judge of the earth.  In these, Jesus gives no indication he is talking about himself.  My view is that these are the ones he said.  They would hot have been invented.  In what follows I splice together a few paragraphs, with a bit of editing, that can be found in my book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.

Consider a saying I quoted earlier: Mark 8:38.  “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of that one will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Now we know that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus himself was the Son of Man (cf. Rev. 1:13).   For that reason, when Jesus talks about himself as the Son of Man in the Gospels – as he frequently does – there’s no way to know, in view of this criterion, whether that’s….

Want to see where this ends up?  To keep reading you’ll need to be a blog member.  It’s an unbelievable deal: for much less than a milkshake a month at Hardees — and far better for you — you can be a member and get at least 20 substantial blog posts (that month).  And the fee goes entirely to charity.  So what’s the downside?

…. there’s no way to know, in view of this criterion, whether that’s the way he actually talked or if that’s how Christians – who believed he was the Son of Man – “remembered” him talking.  But in sayings like Mark 8:38, there is no indication that he is talking about himself.  In fact, if you didn’t know in advance the Christian idea that Jesus was the Son of Man, there’d be no way you would infer it from this saying.  On the contrary, just taking the saying on its own terms, Jesus appears to be referring to someone else.  To paraphrase the saying: “whoever doesn’t pay attention to what I’m saying will be in big trouble when the Son of Man arrives.”  That is, at the end of this age, the cosmic judge from heaven will punish those who reject Jesus’ message.

My point is that since Christians thought Jesus was the Son of Man, it seems unlikely that they would make up a saying in such a way as to leave it in question whether he was referring to himself.  That means Jesus probably did say the words now found in Mark 8:38.

And so, we say in an earlier post that in multiply attested traditions Jesus did use the phrase to refer to a cosmic judge of the earth.  And now it appears that he is referring to someone other than himself.  Moreover, these are sayings that Christians themselves would not have been likely to invent, since Jesus’ later followers naturally assumed that he was the Son of Man.  Thus these particular Son of Man sayings, at least, have a good chance of going back to Jesus on the grounds of dissimilarity.  The same is not true of the other kinds of Son of Man sayings, since they presuppose that Jesus, like his later followers, did use the term to refer to himself.  That is, they can’t be shown to have been said by Jesus on the grounds of dissimilarity.

 

Where did the idea come from, though, that a future cosmic judge of the earth would be called the Son of Man?  Almost everyone agrees that the phrase, used in this apocalyptic way, ultimately comes from our oldest surviving apocalypse, the book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible.  In a fascinating passage in Daniel 7, the prophet is shown the future course of history in one of those ghoulish nightmares that you’re glad was inflicted on someone else.  He first sees a series of beasts arising out of the sea, one after the other.  There are four beasts, each worse than the preceding.  These trample the earth, wreak havoc, and devastate the people of God.  But then, in contrast to these grotesquely formed beasts, Daniel sees “one like a son of man” coming from heaven on the clouds.  Unlike the beastly ravagers of earth, this figure is human-like, humane.  To him is given an eternal kingdom, the perpetual rule over the earth, with dominion, power, and praise forever, as the beasts are robbed of their power and done away with (Dan 7:2-14).

In an angelic interpretation of the dream, we’re told that the beasts represent kingdoms that will take over the earth and assert their oppressive control over its peoples.  These evil powers will remain until the coming of the one like a son of man, who will bring destruction to the forces opposed to God but eternal dominion to God’s people (Dan 7:17-27).

When Jesus refers to the Son of Man, he appears to be alluding to this vision in Daniel 7.  Like other apocalypticists from his time that we know about, Jesus maintained that there will be an actual cosmic judge sent from God to overthrow the forces of evil and bring in God’s good kingdom.  Consider the following Jewish apocalyptic texts of the first century:

 

And they [the people of God] had great joy, and they blessed and praised and exalted because the name of that Son of Man had been revealed to them. And he sat on the throne of his glory, and the whole judgment was given to the Son of Man, and he will cause the sinners to pass away and be destroyed from the face of the earth. And those who led astray the world will be bound in chains, and will be shut up in the assembly‑place of their destruction, and all their works will pass away from the face of the earth. And from then on there will be nothing corruptible, for that Son of Man has appeared and has sat on the throne of his glory, and everything evil will pass away and go from before him. (1 Enoch 69)

As I kept looking the wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. And I saw that this man flew with the clouds of heaven; and everywhere he turned his face to look, everything under his gaze trembled…. After this I looked and saw that an innumerable multitude of people were gathered together from the four winds of heaven to make war against the man who came up out of the sea … When he saw the onrush of the approaching multitude, he neither lifted his hand nor held a spear, or any weapon of war; but I saw only how he sent forth from his mouth something like a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath … [which] fell on the onrushing multitude that was prepared to fight, and burned up all of them, so that suddenly nothing was seen of the innumerable multitude but only the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke. (4 Ezra 13:1‑11).

 

 

And so my overarching view, which I argue for more fully in my book: one of the main points of Jesus’ preaching was that people needed to repent because the Son of Man was soon to arrive in judgment on the earth.  It was to happen within Jesus’ own resurrection.  And Jesus was not talking about himself.

 

I’ll continue from here, and eventually arrive at an answer to the question that started this thread.

 

Jesus appears to have shared this basic apocalyptic vision and called the coming judge the “Son of Man.”  In his view, at the judgment that this one will bring, those who are at present oppressed will be vindicated, and those who are in power will be vanquished.  This in fact is a general theme of Jesus’ apocalyptic teaching:  there is to be a major set of reversals when the kingdom comes.  Those who are suffering now will be rewarded then; those who are in control now will be overthrown.  And this coming reversal should affect how people live, and want to live, in the present.

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How Jesus’ Apocalyptic Teachings Were Changed (even in the NT)
How Do You Know If Jesus Said That?

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    DirkCampbell  August 13, 2020

    What was the matter with the gospel writers? Couldn’t they edit? Why would they include saying of Jesus that undermined their position that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and/or the Word of God, so that you can cast doubt on it? When I write even an email I spend an inordinate amount of time checking whether it says exactly what I want it to say. How could the gospel writers not have done the same? Maybe they were too naive and didn’t think things through properly. Maybe they thought whatever he said was the word of God so it was OK to keep it that way. Not like my emails.

    • Avatar
      gxianinw  August 14, 2020

      I guess they lacked modern, computer-based text editors 🙂

  2. Avatar
    GeoffClifton  August 13, 2020

    Yes this is fascinating. I’m pretty sure in all the sermons I’ve heard over the years, (probably thousands) no minister or priest has ever bothered to explain what ‘son of man’ actually means. So I somehow figured (in the absence of any clear explanation to the contrary) that it was interchangeable with son of God, and have probably thought that for the last 50 years. But this makes a lot of sense – that Jesus and the Son of Man were not necessarily the same person.

  3. Avatar
    tom.hennell  August 13, 2020

    Thanks Bart.

    But probing Mark 8:38, you might consider that this could be a circumlocutary use, examples of which are attested in Aramaic, by which ‘son of man’ is used instead if ‘I’ (or sometimes ‘you’) where the direct statement would be embarrassing or immodest. Vermes proposes a parallel instance at Mark 2:10, the healing of the paralytic. The direct claim ‘I have the authority to forgive sins on earth’ would be immodest; so Jesus frames it as “The Son of Man has authority.. “. Matthew (Matthew 9:8) allows that forgiveness authority has here been given generally to ‘men’. What is clearly impossible, is that Jesus was proposing that the forgiveness of the paralytic was then being exercised by a cosmic judge, other than himself.

    But there is also a general problem with your argument that, in Daniel 7, “a future cosmic judge of the earth would be called the Son of Man”. That misrepresents the text. In Daniel’s vision the cosmic judge is stated as being ‘human’. No Jewish authority then, or subsequently, is known to have proposed ‘the human being’ as the title of this judge.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 14, 2020

      Yup, that’s another way of taking it. But since the imagery comes from Daniel 7 and since Daniel 7 is not a self-reference, I think it’s the less likely interpretation of htat passage. In other places, of coruse, Jesus certainly is referring to himself. Those passages, as it turns out, do not pass the criterion. (Daniel doesn’t say “human”; he says “one like a son of man.” That was turned into the title “son of man” — e.g., int he Similitudes of 1 Enoch.

      • Avatar
        tom.hennell  August 14, 2020

        A couple of corrections Bart.

        Daniel does identify the figure as human. On this see Geza Vermes; “the Aramaic preposition ‘like’ is stylistically common in the description of a dream”. So, “like a man” means “a man in a dream”, not “a non-human with a human appearance”. In one Qumran text, this human judge is identified as ‘the people of God’ (Aramaic Apocalypse); and in Rabbinic interpretation as the King Messiah. In the Qumran text, ‘Heavenly Prince Melchizedek’, the non-human judge Melchizedek is explicitly distinguished from the Daniel judge.

        In the Ethiopic ‘Similitudes of Enoch’, the term ‘son of man’ is never used as a title; the counterpart title being ‘the Elect One’. This is plain in Ethiopic, as the different terms that are rendered there into English as ‘son of man’ (there are three of them) are generally preceded by a demonstrative pronoun; (e.g. this/that); whereas ‘the Elect One’ always stands without a demonstrative (and has one invariable form). The text must say, ‘this human being’ to distinguish the person denoted from any other such human being.

        And of course ‘the Elect One’ is entirely human – Enoch himself.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 15, 2020

          First correction: I wouldn’t call this a correction. It’s a different opinion. And Vermes’s view is not the one most widely held. See John Collins’s commentary on Daniel. Second correction: same. It’s debated. In my view it has titular aspects, but that’s not a particular hill I’m willing to die on. My bigger point is that it is definitely titular in the Gospels.

          • Avatar
            tom.hennell  August 16, 2020

            Key difference here Bart; as the Gospels are in Greek the term ‘the son of man’ can, and does, function as a title there; no question. The issue is whether it ever was, or could be, a title in Aramaic. This has not been demonstrated.

            A consideration seems to have been missed; the common apocalyptic figure ‘son of man’, is not just from Daniel.

            In Daniel;
            – the figure is not explicitly an individual (indeed Daniel 7:27 implies not),
            – the figure is not explicitly enthroned – though there are thrones set out (Daniel 7:9),
            – the figure is not explicitly a judge – the verdicts are delivered before his elevation (Daniel 7:12).

            These characteristics (an individual, enthroned, judging the nations) come rather from Psalm 110, especially Psalm 110:1, and Psalm 110:6)

            So, the apocalyptic figure we find in Enoch, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch is a composite of Daniel and Psalm 110.

            This is true too for the Gospels; especially Mark 14:62 and parallels; where both Daniel and Psalm 110 are quoted.

            But Psalm 110 is the Messiah’s job description. So, if Jesus thought he was the Messiah, how might he think of ‘the son of man’ as someone else?

            .

          • Bart
            Bart  August 17, 2020

            The reality is that various thinkers had various views on everything! Not everyone took Psalm 110 as the normative description, for example; consider the messianic views at Qumran. Among other things, Psalm 110 does not mention the messiah.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  August 17, 2020

            > My bigger point is that it is definitely
            > titular in the Gospels.

            but titular, even in gospels, does not imply non-human, this is where it seems to me you are making a huge jump ,
            your theory seems to rest on at least 2 points
            1. Jesus (historical) meant son of man is different than himself
            2. that different person/being is not a human

            Gospels and 3 other sources (Daniel Enoch Ezra) just dont support #2

          • Avatar
            tom.hennell  August 17, 2020

            Fair argument Bart; I do not dispute that the pre-Christian messianic understanding of Psalm 110 is debateable. Certainly Paul sees Psalm 110 as messianic; but that could be a post-Easter reading from the followers of Jesus.

            But I could put forward Psalm 45 to make exactly the same points – and I don’t think you would dispute a messianic understanding there (Psalm 45:7)

            In Psalm 45, by contrast with Daniel 7:

            – the Messiah is an individual (Psalm 45:2)
            – the Messiah is enthroned (Psalm 45:6)
            – the Messiah subjugates the nations beneath his feet (Psalm 45:5)
            – the Messiah exercises justice (Psalm 45:6 again)

            The ‘man’ and ‘son of man’ figures in Jewish apocalyptic literature – especially the Similitudes of Enoch – draw on the Psalms for their detailed content, as much as they draw on Daniel 7 for their imagery and dreamscape.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 19, 2020

            Psalm 45 is not referring to a future messiah but to the king of Israel (at the time); I don’t kjnow if it was ever used messianically in later interpretation (before Christianity) but it would certainly be worth finding out!

          • Avatar
            tom.hennell  August 19, 2020

            The exam question was “Did Jesus Think He Would Be the Judge of the Earth?”

            I agree that Jesus understood himself as called to be the Messiah; this calling was understood apocalyptically. God’s people were living in the end-times; and God would very soon interrupt history and call the nations to judgement. Jesus appears to have expected this interruption to include his own vindication, and the installation of the Twelve as judges of Israel.

            Messianic expectations came late to apocalypticism (there is no sign of them in Daniel for example), but they had become widespread around the first century CE; taking scriptures which had orignally been composed with reference to aspirations for an existing (or restored) Davidic monarchy, but applying these eschatologically to ‘the last days’ (e.g 1QSa in Qumran). Several of these familiar scriptural texts appeared to promise an enthroned and judging King/Messiah; as in Jeremiah 33:15 and Isaiah 11:4, and in ‘royal psalms’ such as Psalm 2, Psalm 45 and Psalm 110. I am not aware of any of these ‘messianic’ scriptures, where judging the nations is proposed as being done by an angel instead.

            Unless you can suggest different?

          • Bart
            Bart  August 21, 2020

            I”m not sure we can say whether messianic expectations were late in apocalypticism, both becuase the sources are so sparse (one or two early sources may not show us the broad swath of the movement) and because theological/ideological developments are almost never linear, with one view developing into the other consistently across time and space.

  4. Avatar
    flshrP  August 13, 2020

    I read your book “Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium” a few years ago. I wonder if the dissimilarity criterion you use is a completely modern tool (say within the past 500 years) for doing this type of analysis. Or did the early Christian theologians of the 2nd to 5th centuries know about and use it? How about the medieval Christian theologians of the 12th to 15th centuries? I mean we’re talking about some pretty smart cookies–Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, etc. Or was the kind of analysis you’ve done here on the “Son of Man” of no interest to these individuals?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 14, 2020

      Yes, it’s completely modern, developed int he mid 20th century. It’s very similar, of coruse, to what is used in all historical research (not to mention crime prosecution!) to figure out which sources can be trusted.

      • Avatar
        dankoh  August 15, 2020

        Something similar was known to the rabbis in Talmudic times. They called it “migo” – if someone freely gives testimony not to their advantage, it is likely to be credible. The example used is a woman who comes from a far country, arriving at a place where she is not known, asked whether she is married, replies that she was, but is now divorced and free to marry again, is to be believed both as to the marriage and the divorce. This is because, now that she has been divorced, she is not eligible to marry a Cohen (priest).

  5. tompicard
    tompicard  August 13, 2020

    I contend that neither Daniel, Enoch, nor Ezra were referring to anyone other than a human being – a human being sent by God, but still a fully human/non-angelic being. Their language is so symbolic, you are necessitated to pick and choose which parts to understand as literal and which metaphorical.

    Take beasts from sea – we will not accept literal beasts but certainly fully human, and SINFUL persons or Kingdoms.
    Son of Man coming from clouds of heaven is likewise best not to be thought an angel but a true human, SINLESS and RIGHTEOUS,

    Enoch does not imply anything other than righteous king

    Ezra the man is flying, like in Daniel but still a human man . The method by which he DESTROYS EVIL is too obvious a metaphor. Those sinners are destroyed by ‘flames coming out of his mouth’, and even more explicit holding absolutely NO WEAPON OF WAR. You do not think these flames are literal? No reason to think him a comic-being nor even a warrior-king.

  6. Avatar
    Stephen  August 13, 2020

    Would you say the speculations in the Dead Sea Scrolls about the figure of Melchizedek fall under this idea of the apocalyptic “Son of Man” ? Even though they don’t call him that he is a “cosmic judge” come to set things right at the End Times.

    Thanks

  7. Avatar
    veritas  August 13, 2020

    When considering Mark 8; 38 alone, I would agree that he is speaking of someone else,*deliberately*, I might add. In the context of the chapter, Jesus was travelling with his disciples and a crowd was following him. He concealed his identity only to them(disciples),Mark 8: 30,” And he warned to tell no one about him”. The same thing is found in Matt. 16:20. When everything unfolded like it was supposed to,last supper, last passover, gethsemane and finally his betrayal/arrest, he made it a point to reveal who he was. He told the authorities,High Priests/Pharisees the news they did not want to hear. “Are you the Christ the son of the blessed one?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14: 61-62(NASB). Continuing onto his presence before Pilate, Mark 15: 2-3, ” Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He *answered him, “It is as you say.” I am not convinced he didn’t think of himself as being the son of man who would come in power and glory……

  8. Avatar
    veritas  August 13, 2020

    …..power and glory, but rather he deliberately chose when not to and when to reveal himself until it was appropriate as in O.T., according to Daniel 7; 13-14, and really thought of himself as both son of man and son of God. He explicitly says that, as noted above, when he clearly was asked by authorities. Claiming to be son of man kept his ministry and followers close/safe without any repercussions. Claiming to be the son of God would have probably cost his life before establishing his ministry, so he carefully spoke those words only to his twelve until it was time for him to be arrested. In your post Bart, you allude that Christians would not invent this sayings and later followers of Jesus naturally assumed he was the son of man. I agree with you that he probably said that in Mark 8;38, but when you read the whole chapter and continuing unto chapter 15, would you not say he carefully spoke those words not to alarm the authorities until it was time for him(Jesus) to truly reveal himself ? At least in part. It sure sounds to me he thinks he is divine. The mystery is if Jesus really spoke those words

    • Bart
      Bart  August 14, 2020

      I don’t think everything in those chapters is historical — i.e. what really happened — no. If there were, we wouldn’t hve much debated about it!

  9. LukaPNW
    LukaPNW  August 13, 2020

    So Jesus would be the executive(King), but not the judiciary of the restored paradise. Did the Bible conceive separation of powers?

  10. Avatar
    Poohbear  August 14, 2020

    Quote Ehrman
    My argument is that when (Jesus) talked about the future cosmic judge, he was *not* talking about himself.

    Quote Zechariah 9:9
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey… Then He will proclaim peace to the nations; His dominion will extend from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth.…

    Quote Zechariah 12:9
    On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem…They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

    So if this isn’t Jesus then are the nations still waiting for the Messiah come? The one lowly and riding upon a colt, and who’s body is yet to be pierced?

  11. Robert
    Robert  August 14, 2020

    “It was to happen within Jesus’ own resurrection.”

    I think you mean, ‘it was to happen within Jesus’ own lifetime‘.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 14, 2020

      Ha! BTW, you’ve had 1001 comments approved!

      • Robert
        Robert  August 14, 2020

        Bart: “Ha! BTW, you’ve had 1001 comments approved!”

        Makes me wonder about the one that wasn’t approved!

  12. Avatar
    RICHWEN90  August 14, 2020

    “It was to happen within Jesus’ own resurrection”– I’m sure you meant “lifetime”. The son of man arising from the sea is an interesting variation. Does this being come from the sea or descend from heaven? Is that one of those biblical contradictions? In any case, descending from heaven is evidence of a primitive and incorrect cosmology. Ascending, descending– unless metaphorical, are all nonsense, we know now, unless we’re talking about God in a flying saucer.

  13. sschullery
    sschullery  August 14, 2020

    I just find it really, really odd that the Son of Man should be more important than the Son of God. Apparently, we’re all God’s children, but a child of men is singular!? Can you explain or rationalize how this usage came about?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 14, 2020

      It’s only because we think a son of man is a man and a son of god is a god, just as a son of a dog is a dog etc. But that’s not where the terms came from. One has to see how they are used in the ancient Israelite tradition to make sense of them.

  14. Avatar
    fishician  August 14, 2020

    Typo? “It was to happen within Jesus’ own resurrection.” You mean in his own generation, perhaps?

  15. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  August 14, 2020

    Limitations of Dissimilarity Criterion: What if one came across a scripture in the Gospels where Jesus said “Hate your neighbors.” Since this seems unlikely to have been something his followers made up and attributed to him would that mean that Jesus must have actually said it then? Of course not, but how do you limit the dissimilarity criterion to keep this from happening? :Can the criterion only be used in certain circumstances? If so, what circumstances? I am sure you have discussed this before, but I have forgotten how this is handled. You could in theory, if this were carried to an extreme, end up with a Bible that includes nothing but sayings of Jesus unlikely to be part of Christianity. Now, that would be a bit odd.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2020

      I’d say that there would be a good chance that he *did* say it if it were recorded in one of the Gospels that he did. Why else would it be in there? In Luke 14:26 we read that Jesus said that to follow him a person had to “hate his parents.” That is so unlike what both we and the early Christians thought Jesus would ever say that it’s hard to explain unless Luke is recording something Jesus really said. But yes indeed, the criterion has to be used very carefully and only as a gauge of some level of probabilities, otherwise you could make a case even more extreme: that Jesus said *nothing* that he is recorded as saying. And it’s important to emphasize: the criterion does *not* decide which things Jesus did *not* say (it doesn’t eliminate anything automatically), only the things that he more certainly *did* say.

  16. Avatar
    John Enderby Jr  August 14, 2020

    Bart,
    I haven’t checked to see if there had been a response to my question regarding the mysticism of God’s bridegroom. However, I have been doing my own searching on the topic and I came across the word “Shekhinah”. Apparently, in the 12th Century, its meaning had undergone a radical transformation. I find it most revealing that what I have found had never been revealed to me by ministers who talked about “the bridegroom” while I was growing up in church circles. Could it be because they hadn’t taken the time to investigate what they weren’t completely sure about or they knew what they were attempting to “preach” was folklore and a good revenue generator?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2020

      I think I replied that I didn’t know what passages you were referring to, so I wasn’t sure how to respond.

  17. Avatar
    vox_clamantis  August 14, 2020

    What happened to this title in the post-apostolic age? Clearly Son of God became prominent in time for the conciliar debates, yet the evangelists depict Jesus prominently using it in self-reference. Was it used with any frequency in the first or second century?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2020

      No, it dropped out of usage very quickly, since it was a term that many apocalyptic Jews understood, but not gentiles for whom it would have been puzzling.

  18. Robert
    Robert  August 14, 2020

    Bart: “(Daniel doesn’t say “human”; he says “one like a son of man.” That was turned into the title “son of man” — e.g., in the Similitudes of 1 Enoch.”

    1. You can’t really distinguish between ‘one like a son of man’ and ‘one like a human’ in Daniel. See John J. Collins’ Hermeneia commentary on the book of Daniel, Vol 27 p 303: “There is nearly universal consensus that the phrase ‘one like a son of man’ means simply ‘one like a human being’.” He goes on to cite 3 similar usages in the DSS.

    2. Similarly, I wouldn’t be so sure ‘son of man’ is used as a title in Enoch. George Nickelsburg is ambiguous on this point and Maurice Casey et al are strongly opposed. You don’t think a titular understanding is decisive, so why insert this questionable point into your argument/explanation?

    3. Personally, I lean towards your view, but it’s biggest difficulty is the fact that the heavenly son of man in the Parables of Enoch is the Annointed One, whereas you think Jesus distinguished between these two figures. Not an insuperable difficulty, but I think it should at least be mentioned.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2020

      I would think that one like a human is not necessarily a human. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “like” a human. And yes, the whole thing is messy; but I don’t think the usage of 1 Enoch for a specifically messianic figure would be determinative for Jesus’ own meaning. Everyone had a different nuance and we simply have to see what the range of options are and then do our exegesis.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  August 17, 2020

        > I would think that one like a human (Daniel) is not
        > NECESSARILY a human.
        but no one is claiming that, as far as I know, , aren’t they saying rather
        one like a human (Daniel) is MOST LIKELY a human.

        if Jesus did not see it that way, the necessity, then what evidence do you have that he did, in fact, see the being as non-human

  19. Avatar
    anthonygale  August 15, 2020

    In Daniel, is the Son of Man both judge and ruler of the new kingdom? Unless I am mistaken, your view is that Jesus didn’t expect to be judge but did expect to be king. Does Jesus have a somewhat different view of the Son of Man than Daniel then?

    I agree that Jesus doesn’t appear to be talking about himself when speaking of the Son of Man. I suppose he could have been talking about himself in the third person though.

    • Avatar
      anthonygale  August 15, 2020

      On a related note, do you think that it is historical that “the Jews” accused Jesus of blasphemy? I remember reading (the opinion at least) that claiming to be the messiah would not be blasphemy, but claiming to be the Son of Man would. If that is all true, would this suggest Jesus may have claimed to be the Son of Man (or at least that’s what people thought)?

      • Bart
        Bart  August 15, 2020

        No, I don’t. He’s not recorded as actually committing a blasphemy in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It appears that they actually handed Jesus over as a trouble maker who might start a riot.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2020

      In Daniel, he is the judge, and he is handed the kingdom. For Daniel, the “one like a son of man” is the nation Israel. That is clearly not waht Jesus has in mind.

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    Jaclynm  August 15, 2020

    In Revelation you have the Whore ( Mystery Babylon ) riding the Beast. Later the Beast is to turn against her and destroy her with fire.
    This sounds like your quote from 4 Esdras especially since the Beast is out of the sea in both cases .
    Also I wonder how ” The Son of Man ” and “One Like The Son of Man” can be the same person (Jesus for example ). Someone who is like you cannot be you!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2020

      Jesus never talked about “one like a son of man” only the “son of man”

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