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The Son of Man, Pericopes, and the Complexities of Biblical Scholarship

I realized anew this morning why it is so difficult for scholars of the NT (or the Hebrew Bible) to explain the results of their results of their research to non-scholars.  Well, one of the reasons.  As is true, I suppose, for most fields of serious intellectual inquiry, the *results* of scholarship are built on other results that are built on other results that are built on… and so it goes.   If the scholar explains his findings without explaining the background – the assumptions based on previous findings that are built on the assumptions based on yet previous findings and so on – then it all sounds very arbitrary and rather easily dismissed. That’s why it is so easy for a scholar to give an interpretation of a passage based on a detailed analysis that is itself based on careful research only to have a non-scholar “refute” it simply by quoting a verse from somewhere else.   The non-expert simply assumes the scholar doesn’t know about this other verse, or hasn’t thought about it, or taken [...]

2020-04-03T01:54:12-04:00October 24th, 2017|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

Jesus and the Son of Man

Over the past few weeks, as I have been talking about the rise of Jewish apocalypticism, in relation to the historical Jesus, a number of readers have asked me to explain what I think about the “Son of Man” in the sayings of Jesus Jesus.  Did Jesus call himself the son of man?  If so, what did he mean?  And if not, what did he mean? As it turns out, these are some of the most complex, convoluted, and confounding questions confronting scholars of the historical Jesus.  Many books, some of them big and dense, have been written on the issue.  There are lots of opinions about it.  Here I’ll try to explain my view, and try to justify it.  The following is taken from my book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium ***************************************************************** The Coming Son of Man Among the most heated, and least enlightening, debates among New Testament scholars has been the question of the origins of the phrase “the Son of Man” in the teachings of Jesus.  Everyone agrees -- since [...]

2020-04-03T03:55:05-04:00January 21st, 2016|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus, Reader’s Questions|

The Resurrection of the Son of God

I’m in the midst of the most entangled thread I have yet produced in my well-over-three-years of doing the blog.   It started with orthodox scribes who were altering their texts of Scripture (specifically Luke 22; this was part of a thread I began in April!  I’ll get back to it….) and it has now managed by a number of intricate twists, turns, and interweavings to end up at the resurrection of Jesus. I have been arguing that the resurrection radically changed the disciple’ understanding of the belief that he was the messiah –  a belief that he himself had, and that they shared.  I have argued that given everything we know about Jewish beliefs at the time, almost certainly anyone hearing that a man (such as Jesus) was the messiah would have thought that this meant that he was (or would become) the king of the Jewish people.   That’s certainly how the Roman governor Pontius Pilate took it.  It was because Jesus made such a claim that Pilate ordered him crucified. The crucifixion proved beyond [...]

Jesus as the Messiah in Mark’s Gospel

Jesus as the Messiah in Mark's Gospel.  In this thread within a thread within a thread, I’m discussing the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as the Son of God whom no one knows.  For background, see my preceding post on the topic.  One of my overarching points is that Mark goes out of his way to portray Jesus as the Son of God. Even though the title does not occur very often in the Gospel. Only at really crucial points of the narrative, in the first episode of Jesus’ life (his baptism), in the final episode of Jesus’ life (his crucifixion), and at the very middle of the Gospel (the transfiguration). My other point is that even though both Mark and God himself, in the narrative, declare straightforwardly that Jesus is the Son of God, no one understands it. When they do start to understand it, they misunderstand it. No One Around Jesus Got Him That no one “gets” it is obvious if you read the first eight chapters carefully.   Everyone around [...]

2022-06-28T13:02:49-04:00November 2nd, 2015|Canonical Gospels|

The Son of Man and Jesus

In my previous post I began to discuss Larry Hurtado’s evaluation of How Jesus Became God.   For the link to his initial post, see   As I indicated, after I read his comments we had some exchanges on email, and he graciously agreed to correct several of his mistaken comments, in which he attributed views to me that I do not have and never expressed in my book.  (These views, which I do not hold, are the reasons he claims I’m out of date and ill informed).  The post in which he gives his corrections can be found here:   In this post I’d like to begin to reiterate the points that he makes in the second post, but quoting his initial comments that I thought were in error, and saying a few things about them. The first comment that startled me was the following: As I’ve mentioned, on several matters Ehrman seems ill-informed and/or not current.  For example, he assumes that the expression “the son of man” (used numerous times by Jesus in the [...]

The Son of Man as Divine

Another bit from my ch. 2 of How Jesus Became God.  It's just a draft.  I'm interested in feedback if you think there are problems or ambiguities in what I say.  It's a very brief treatment, I know.... ********************************************************************************************************************** There are other figures – apart from God himself – who are sometimes described as divine in ancient Jewish sources, both in the Bible and in later writings from near the time of Jesus and his followers.   The first is modeled  on a figure found in an enigmatic passage of Scripture, Daniel 7, a figure that came to be known as “the Son of Man.” The Son of Man For my purposes here I do not need to provide a thorough summary or analysis of the vision that led to the Son of Man speculations in later times.   The ostensible setting of the book of Daniel is in the sixth century BCE – although scholars are convinced that the book was not actually written then, but centuries later in the second century BCE.   In this book [...]

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