Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Title "Son Of Man" (Part 4)

Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

AP: In this post we want to ask ourselves whether it is obvious that Jesus referred to himself when he spoke of a universal and future judge who would die and rise again.

It seems to me that it is by no means obvious. If such sayings are carefully analyzed, doubts arise. Let's take as an example the sentence in Luke 12:8: "And I say to you, everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God." The sentence is understood perfectly, and even better, separating a human Jesus, who preaches the kingdom of God on earth, from the heavenly figure of a Son of Man who in the moments of the final judgment acts as a lawyer for the human being ("is declared by him") to have heeded the message of Jesus as God's agent on earth.

Another example is the well-known scene of the Jewish trial of Jesus shortly before being handed over to Pilate to be put to death. The text reads as follows:
"The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, 'Do you not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against you?' But he kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning him, and saying to him, '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.' Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?' And they all condemned him to be deserving of death." (Mark 14:60–64).
In the first place, this passage cannot be historical down to every detail because of the great implausibility of a Jewish trial with the result of capital punishment during the night and on a date about to begin the Passover. It follows that there is, in any case, a mixture of possible historical data and much of Christian reinterpretation.

The non-confessional exegesis of the passage is usually the following: It is possible that at some point during the process of arrest, passion, and death of Jesus that could last longer than the Gospels say, the high priest asked Jesus if he was considered the Messiah. Jesus was able to respond in the affirmative, and was able to put forth as proof of truth the argument that his testimony would be vindicated when at the end of the process of establishing the kingdom of God, which he considered absolutely close, the celestial figure of the "Son of Man" with great power would be a judge of the wicked who condemned him.

It does not follow strictly from his expression that Jesus said that the Son of Man was himself. It is widely believed today by the investigators that "Son of Man" was not a usual Jewish designation for a salvific character or figure (messiah) related to the kingdom of God. This conclusion has been strengthened thanks to repeated studies of the few sources that the Jewish antiquity has handed down to us regarding the expression and the characteristics of the possible figure of the "Son of Man." If Jesus had taken the expression "Son of Man" from the religious environment of his day, that is, as usual and well-known, and applied it to himself, it would be incomprehensible to be silent about the rest of the ancient contemporary sources of the Nazarene.

The accusation for blasphemy, on the assumption that Jesus himself was the Messiah and Son of Man, is unprecedented and unlikely in Judaism, who never considered blasphemy or a matter of the death penalty for anyone who considered himself the Messiah. This condemnation is only an interpretation of the Christians in publishing the Gospel to make the main fault of the death of Jesus fall on the Jews.

To this non-confessional exegesis is usually added an observation that affects all the sayings discussed: Curiously, in the history of the transmission of the tradition of the words of Jesus, the sentences of categories 2 and 3 are mixed. That is, the prophecies of passion never speak of the parousia; and, on the contrary, the announcements of the parousia never mention that the Son of Man must die and be resurrected. This means that at first the two categories of sayings were independent. The Christian tradition, which ascribes the two categories simultaneously to Jesus, is thus suspect.

Therefore, one can reasonably doubt that Jesus referred to himself when he spoke of a universal and future judge who would both die and rise again.

Finally, it is argued in concrete with respect to the sayings of category 3 ("future, universal judge of divine status") that we do not keep in the whole tradition about Jesus a reasonably authentic saying in which he considered himself divine in some way.

Of the approximately 1,315 times that the word "God" appears in the New Testament, there are only seven texts that clearly or most likely affirm that Jesus is God. They are the following: John 1:1; 1:18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:18; and 2 Pet. 1:1. Now in them there is none in which Jesus speaks of himself and his nature and expressly says that he is God. None of these statements comes from the lips of the historical Jesus. Others make that statement. We can therefore affirm: In the opinion of the critic it is more than doubtful that Jesus considered himself as truly God, since we do not keep any authentic word of his that affirms it. Few independent exegetes, or none, in the Protestant camp know that they defend that the Nazarene believed himself to be God in the right sense. Even some Catholic interpreters join this position.

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