I’m embarrased to realise that I don’t know why Jesus Christ used to call himself
“Son of Man”. I just been hearing it all through my Catholic life at mass. But now,
I cannot understand why he said(says) that. It’s everywhere in the Gospels
Please can anyone explain what He means?
Son of God, yes!
Son of Joseph, yes!
Son of Man? … I just don’t get.
SON OF MAN. The most frequently used title of Christ in the New Testament, occurring eighty-two times and, all but once (Acts 7:56), in the Gospels. A messianic title (Daniel 7:2-14), it identifies the heavenly transcendence of the Savior while stressing his humanity, in contrast with the “Son of God,” which emphasizes his divinity.
“Son of Man” was a title Christ used for himself, which he used frequently as the third person equivalent to the first person, “I”
But, “Son of Man”, when referencing Jesus, also ties Christ to fulfillment of the Messianic Promise in Daniel 7:13 - I saw in the night visions, ***and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, ***and he came to the Ancient of Day and was presented before him.
In some Old Testament passages, “son of man” simply a Semitic way of referring to a human being—that is, one who shares in the limitations of a mortal human existence (Job 25:4-6 - How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight;how much less*** man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm***.”
Ezekiel is referred to as “son of man” about 90 times. Here, “son of man” is a poetic expression for a mere mortal. Some theologians say the use of the term by God to his prophet Ezekiel was a playful reminder to the prophet of his mortality.
Jesus Christ is called the seed/root/cutting of David, so this can be a multi-generational lineage that is defined and that is reflexive. Jesus Christ the Son of Man/Adam is able to retro-redeem the “Sin of Adam” as the Son of Man reflexively liberating everyone back to and including His Earth “father” as prophesied!
There was apparently a great deal of speculation about who and what the Messiah would be, and one aspect of that was the spiritual/physical divide: would he be a mortal, or an angel? This divide is visible in the apocryphal 1 Enoch, in particular.
In that regard, his repeated and emphatic statement that he is a Son of Man was a demonstration of his humanity, just as his miracles were a demonstration of his divinity.
It’s this “everyday” interaction that baffles me. I really really feel for the apostles back then. It was great risk of faith on their part to just believe just like that. A man walks up to you and says, “come follow me”. Or “You shall see the Son of Man seated at the Right Hand of the Father”. I personally would be thinking, “Why’s this guy talking like this?”
In our days now, I know there’s great speculation about 2 main events.
The coming of Christ
The appearance of the Not Christ guy.
I’m really scared to be in close contact with any. To realise, “Oh no this guy is actually the other guy!!!” No wonder he’s been talking funny.
I need to put my life in order and maintain it before I realise one day, “Oh no, The Son of Man is here and I’m not ready”.
No matter what’s written down in the Bible, we do have to realise that God likes approaching to us human beings on a VERY personal level. Very subtle. You just have to be spiritually alert to realise it.
It is often suggested that the term has a double meaning. On the one hand, it may be interpreted as Jesus pretty much implying “I (as) a human being.” But on the other hand, the term is also a possible reference to, among other things, the heavenly “one like a son of man” figure from Daniel 7 who is exalted by the ‘Ancient of Days’.
“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened. …]
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
You can see this reference clearly during Jesus’ hearing before the high priest.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62)
The TV Bible teacher Les Feldick was talking about differences between Jesus of Nazareth and “Son of man” recently. (Makes me wonder now if it should be rendered Son of (M)an", as in Gen. 1 Man?)
Curious, I went looking for more info and came across a Google e-book called, “Jesus of Nazareth” by Jürgen Becker. On p. 210 it talks about there possibly being two distinct entities of Jesus.
Personally, I’ve always had a problem with the passages that deal with bond-servants and chains as it sounded like Baal. Now that I see others are questioning two distinct Jesus figures of the ‘good’ Jesus, it gets even more curious. I did wonder why some passages emphasized Jesus eating with Pharisees and others emphasized that He was eating with publicans and sinners.
Speaking of two entities: based on some passages where Jesus seems to refer to ‘the son of man’ as if that was an entity distinct from Himself (for example, Mark 8:38/Luke 12:7-8/Matthew 10:32), some modern historical Jesus scholars - this was particularly popular among German scholars - has this theory that whenever Jesus talks about ‘the son of man’ He was actually referring, not to Himself, but to a distinct eschatological figure like the one in Daniel 7. In other words, the idea is that originally, Jesus did not see Himself as this ‘son of man’ but was actually expecting another superior figure to come and vindicate Him. The implication thus is that it was Christians who identified Jesus with this ‘son of man’ post-Easter and accordingly, altered (and invented) sayings in order to make it appear as if Jesus was talking about Himself.
As I noted, this theory was particularly popular in German-speaking countries for many decades (Jürgen Becker apparently is also one of those who follow this theory) ever since Rudolf Bultmann popularized it, but it eventually collapsed when weightier arguments against this theory were produced by other scholars. For one, this ‘Jesus ≠ son of man’ argument rests on the idea that ‘son of man’ was a proper, established title at the time of Jesus. But the thing is, neither the book of Daniel nor 1 Enoch (the two works that is most often looked to for the genesis of the concept of the eschatological human-like figure) use the term as a title. Instead it is just a generic description: ‘someone (who looked) like a human being’. Neither do we find Jesus being directly addressed as ‘son of man’ by Christians (though you’ll find Him being addressed very much often as ‘Christ’, ‘Lord’, or ‘son of God’), nor do we find any evidence of a Jewish-Christian dispute over the title (as what happened with the other titles accorded to Jesus) - which would have been odd if ‘son of man’ was an established title at that time. It is thus more likely that ‘the son of man’ (note the ‘the’) is an original invention by Jesus Himself, or by the early Christians - and that all the sayings referring to the coming son of man refer to Jesus alone rather than some other figure.
English is not a very cooperative target language for the original Bible tongues. So while we read expressions like “Son of Man” in our translations, we have to keep reminding ourselves that even the best of our translations fail to capture things as precisely as we would like.
As a matter of fact, in Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages Jesus and his apostles were speaking in) the expression “son of man” doesn’t sound funny. It is the normal way of saying “me (or I), myself,” a common idiomatic expression a person used when speaking about themselves.
It is this use of “son of man” that the high priest considered to be blasphemy as we read at Matthew 26:63-65. When the high priest demanded that Jesus tell them plainly about his identity, Jesus stated: “From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
The expression sounded like this, however, to native Jewish speakers: “From now on you will see me, myself seated at the right hand of GOD (YHWH) and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Jewish speech is very terse (meaning layered with various meanings), purposefully indirect, regularly involves clever plays on words, and has no neuter state (“son” and “man” don’t always mean the subject is male in Hebrew/Aramaic). In these verses of Matthew, Jesus employs a euphemism for “yes,” uses a terse phrase to refer to himself in connection with Daniel’s prophecy (but in such a way as it can be mistaken as an indirect reference), and a substitute word for the Divine Name…in fact all this in verse 64!
Because these expressions are heavily laden with meaning, translators usually employ a word-for-word manner of rendering for us. It’s good, but it fails to capture the meaning at times. We get the actual words used but sometimes at the expense of the meanings. There’s no fix to this either because we are supposed to see both facets at the same time. So Bibles employ footnotes to help us read through Bibles, otherwise we are left with surface readings that make us think in English when we are supposed to be thinking like a Semite.