Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Title "Son Of Man" (Part 5)

Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

AP: Once this foundation is established, the reasoning goes on as follows: It seems clear that all early Christian theology, based on the firm belief that the Master had been resurrected by God, reinterpreted the figure of the earthly Jesus, idealizing him, modifying him and ultimately deifying him. This process is technically called a belief in an "exaltation" of Jesus. He is believed to have been elevated to the category of divine because he has been God himself, beginning with the fact of his resurrection, which has exalted him to that category.

Most of the texts transmitted on the Son of Man and Jesus in the Gospels are tinged with faith in that divine character of Jesus: They convey not only the historical words of the Nazarene, but also the testimony of a post-Paschal faith in his resurrection and exaltation. In reality, all the problems to correctly understand the sayings about the "Son of Man" in the history of theological tradition of primitive Christianity come from the fact that in the Synoptics themselves we find sentences about the Son of Man without finding even one direct and explicit interpretation of the phrase.

Nor was the Scripture of the Old Testament a clear guide to its interpretation. Daniel 7:13 is a very obscure text. About ninety times the Hebrew expression בן-אדם ("Son of Man") appears in Ezekiel, with diverse meanings, the majority of which are untranscendent, although never in the Gospels is it alluded to or reflected upon. The same Synoptic tradition does not always link the expression with the special characteristics of an unusual character, or with continuous traits of power. One speaks of both poverty and the power of this character; there is no continuous and natural connection between "Son of Man" and messiahs in the sense that ordinary people who heard Jesus understood the last term, but rather a somewhat confused whole.

That faith in the risen Jesus consists in thinking that Jesus, already exalted to God, is of some celestial being, sitting or standing at the right hand of God. In this case, in particular, it consisted of identifying him with the "Son of Man" as he was presented in the Daniel and as many Jews of the time understood this character. Let's see how:
1. After Jesus' followers had developed their belief in the resurrection, and since Jesus himself had used the phrase "Son of Man" to refer simply to himself but without further explanation, his followers were able to use the text of Dan. 7:13 ("And I saw the coming of one like the Son of Man upon the clouds of heaven . . . and to him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom") as proof of the Scripture.
2. The necessary apologetic tendency to justify the Passion of the Master, ignominious to the eyes of many Jews, led to merging Dan. 7:13 with Zech. 12:10 ("They will look on me whom they have pierced and they will mourn . . ."), where the complex notion arises that the" Son of Man" is pierced (i.e., crucified), exalted to heaven after his death, until later returning to earth, where the wicked, when they see him, shall mourn.
3. Later were added other similar ideas to the the Dan. 7:13 and Zech. 12:10 passages: E.g., Mark 13:26 and 14:62: "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory" and "You shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven."
This process of theological creation of the Christian community after the death of Jesus imagines, therefore, the Master as the heavenly Messiah sitting, or standing, at the right hand of the Father, as "Son of Man" in the style of Daniel 7, as a human being with divine characteristics or actual divine something in some way, ready to judge Israel and the nations, from a theological reflection whose fundamental basis was the prophecy of Dan. 7:13.

Therefore, the phrase "Son of Man" seems to be a self-designation chosen by Jesus for himself in a harmless sense, although a designation that is not too common in the spoken and written Aramaic of the time. As a messianic appeal, it seems to be a construction of the authors of the Synoptic Gospels.

In conclusion: It seems sensible to think that the remodeling of the concept of Messiah by means of the inclusion of the new image of a "Son of Man", or rather the recreation of a new concept of messianism, since Judaism lacked the idea of a suffering messiah, to die and be raised and to return from heaven immediately as judge of the living and the dead, was not carried out by Jesus, but by theologians of the primitive community. The culmination of this process is reflected in the theology of the Synoptic Gospels. Theology around the mysterious figure of the "Son of Man" does not belong to the "gospel" of Jesus, nor does it belong to his messianic self-consciousness.

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