Clip from movie on Mark (I think this project was abandoned) and passage from Mk 13:25-26. Sadly, Mark is the only gospel of the 4 not to get the movie treatment
Rudolf Bultmann (Theology of the New Testament, 30) spoke of 3 types of Son of Man sayings: present ministry (Mk 2:10, 28), dying/rising (Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34) and future coming (Mk 13:26; 14:62). Against Wright’s view on the Son of Man’s ascent to Heaven and vindication at the fall of the Temple in 70 CE, I have argued for the traditional reading of his descent at the end of the age here (Mark uses the participle form of erchomai [coming], but Matthew seems to interpret it this way by substituting the technical term parousia in 24:3, 27, 37, 39). Further, regardless of the Aramaic idiom possibly underlying it, it seems to me that for Mark the Son of (the) Man has become a christological title (ho huios tou anthropou, a gender neutral translation might be “The Human One”) and the Danielic background primary though some contest this (cf. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 290-306 argues it was not a title but the double articular constructionbhas the emphatic force designating this particular human [i.e. Jesus] and Daniel only part of the background of divine theophany imagery). Finally, if we are to ask how a first century reader like Mark read Daniel 7, I think the evangelist updated the oracle to address his time so the end is at hand, the current oppressor is Rome and Jesus is the son of man representing the saints of Israel who will triumph over the beast. Repeated references to suffering and persecutions (Mk 4:17; 8:34-38; 10:30b, 38; 13:9-13) and injunctions to self-denial and taking up the cross may be the cost of following Jesus in the present evil age, but Mark reassures the reader of the good news that the kingdom (1:15; 9:1) ruled over by the Human One will soon come in full power. But that is Mark, so what of the historical Jesus?
The Positive Evidence :
1. The future sayings are multiply attested all over the tradition (Ehrman, Apocalyptic Prophet, 146): Mark (13:26, 14:62), Q (Matt 24:27, 37-39/Luke 17:24, 26-27, 30), M (Matt 13:40-43), L (Luke 21:34-36), Paul (1 Thess 4:16) and possibly John (1:51). Ehrman follows the older scholarly line that the historical Jesus’ references to the Son of Man in the 3rd person is to a future apocalyptic judge distinct from himself, while Dale Allison has changed his earlier opinion from Millenial Prophet on the collective interpretation of the son of man as Jesus and his followers as the vindicated saints to the son of man as Jesus’ heavenly double or celestial alter ego (e.g., Enoch identified with the heavenly son of man in 1 Enoch 71:14, the church who believes they are being visited by Peter’s “angel” in Acts 12:12-15, Judas as the human alter ego of the demon Iadoboth in the Gospel of Judas, the angel Michael as the angelic double of Joseph in Joseph and Asenath, etc) (cf. Constructing Jesus, 292-303).
2. Double dissimilarity: the one like a son of man in Daniel has been interpreted as representing the saints of Israel (Casey), an angelic representative of Israel (Collins) or a messianic figure (Horbury). Dan 7 seems to have influence the Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71, that son of man identified as Enoch in 71:14) and the man from the sea in 4 Ezra 13, but there are issues of dating the Similitudes and textual uncertainties in the post-70 work 4 Ezra. However, the biggest argument against it as an established title in Second Temple Judaism is that it is never a title the Son of Man (even Revelation has “one like a son of man”) and no one is shocked at the use of Son of Man itself as a self-referent as one might expect if it was a known exalted title. In Christian literature, it is far most often on Jesus’ lips and quickly replaced by terms like Lord (kyrios) or Son of God, appearing outside the gospels only in Acts 7:56, Heb 2:6, Rev 1:13 & 14:14. However, there are major problems with this criteria as it has Jesus operate in a cultural vacuum not influenced by his Jewish context (it fits a context where scholars were trying to prove Jesus`uniqueness and superiority visa-vie Judaism) nor influencing later followers, assumes we know enough about first-century Judaism to declare something unparalleled (what if Deane Galbraith is right on the dating and influence of the Similitudes and Enochic Judaism?) and neglects the evangelists own theologies. Yet the tradition consistently remember this as a distinctive usage of Jesus while it had no meaning for Gentile audiences so it drops out.
3. Embarrassment: the Son of Man or kingdom would come before the completed ministry to Israel (Matt 10:23), before they all tasted death (Mark 9:1) or soon after Romans destroyed the temple (Mark 13:30) may have embarrassed later Christians. Already in Mark a saying one such saying (9:1) may perhaps be slightly reinterpreted as at least partially fulfilled in the transfiguration six days later (9:2).
4. Coherence: If fits with Jesus is an apocalyptic prophet. And Jesus did not issue a call to take up arms yet was executed as a would-be messianic pretender, might the expectation to be enthroned as Son of Man by divine power in the age to come explain some of this tension?
The Negative Evidence
1. Many see the Greek title as an attempt to translate the Aramaic bar (e)nash(a) which was an idiomatic expression that could be rendered “human being”, “someone”, “one”, etc. For Vermes it is simply a circumlocution for “I” and that might fit a saying such as Mk 2:10 “the Son of Man (“I”) has authority to forgive sins” (note Matt 9:8 where God has given such authority to humans). Casey make a strong case that it has a general level of meaning about humanity in general, though with particular reference to the speaker (RBL reviews here and here). This seems to make good sense of Mk 2:27-28 (and note that Matthew and Luke omit the generalizing reference of Mk 2:27) that “the Sabbath was made for [the son of] man, not [the son of] man for the Sabbath, therefore the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” The fact that this might be an ordinary idiomatic usage along with the fact that there was no pre-christian evidence for the Son of Man as a title may indicate this was a later christological development among Greek speaking Christians who didn’t understand the Aramaic idiom, though perhaps one way out might be with Hooker to see Jesus as using the general level of meaning yet also embracing the role of the one like a son of man who suffers under the beast but receives divine vindication?
2. The Son of Man produced from early Christian exegesis: Psalm 110 (the second Lord sitting at the right hand now understood as Jesus exaltation to heaven) combined with Daniel 7:13 for ascension and then with Zechariah 12:10 (looking on one whom they pierced) to make the parousia (Perrin, Rediscovering the Teachings of Jesus, 180-182). Some see this as an obvious reference to the later Christian belief in the second coming to fully inaugurate the kingdom, which was demanded when the Christians believed that Jesus’ resurrection/exalted to heaven vindicated their belief in him as the annointed messiah and yet the expected messianic kingdom had not yet materialized.
3. Scholars who accept the literary stratification of Q where apocalyptic Son of Man sayings are in a later stratum (Q2) when the Q people now declare apocalyptic judgment on this generation for rejecting their message in Q1. Crossan also makes the interesting argument that the theme may be multiply attested, but in 18 complexes of apocalyptic Son of Man sayings the phrase itself is not multiply attested (phrase “son of man” itself only multiply attested in “foxes have holes” – Thomas 86, Matt 8:20/Luke 9:58) (Crossan, Historical Jesus, 238-256).
So do you think the coming Son of Man sayings go back to Jesus? For more resources:
- Allison, Dale. Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998; Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
- Bird, Michael. Are You the One Who is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.
- Casey, Maurice. The Solution to the Son of Man Problem. London: T&T Clark, 2007; Jesus of Nazareth. London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2010.
- Collins, John J. ”The Son of Man in First-Century Judaism” NTS 38 (1992): 448-466.
- Crossan, John Dominic. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
- Erhman, Bart. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1999.
- Hooker, Morna. The Son of Man in Mark. London: SPCK, 1967.
- Horbury, William. Jewish Messianism and the Cult of the Christ. SCM Press, 1998.
- Marshall, I.H. “Son of Man” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992.
- Perriman, Andrew. The Coming of the Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church. Paternoster, 2006.
- Perrin, Norman. Rediscovering the Teachings of Jesus. London: SCM, 1967.
- Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin Books, 2003.
- Witherington, Ben. Jesus, Paul and the End of the World. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992.
- Wright, N.T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996