‘Son of Man’– The Dialogue: Part Sixteen

‘Son of Man’– The Dialogue: Part Sixteen January 19, 2024

Q. In the Parables of Enoch, you suggest that the author does not think of ‘that Son of Man’ as personally or ontologically pre-existing creation, but merely foreordained before all creation to do something. This conclusion seems problematic when you also want to maintain that the Son of Man figure is merely human and has at some juncture been taken up into heaven in preparation for his returning to earth to judge the world. Surely the author of the Parables does not think humans pre-existed creation, and so they were not present back then to be chosen to do something. The concept of foreordination which only exists in the mind of God seems problematic. Are we not talking about someone who personally pre-exists?

A. I think that in Jewish thought Abraham was predestined before the foundation of the world. Probably Moses too. Some rabbis say the world was created for the sake of Abraham. In scripture both the Servant of the Lord (in Isaiah) and Jeremiah were selected before their birth for the task God gives them. (I think the Parables reflect that Isaianic passage). I don’t see why any of this is problematic.

Q. On p. 77 you suggest that the author of Parables combines ideas from Dan. 7, Isa. 11, and Isa. 42 to sketch his portrait of ‘that Son of Man’, but he avoids royal or kingly language. Why would he do the latter and yet be talking about a messianic figure, and does he also combine the suffering servant material in Is. 52-53 with Dan. 7? If not why not?

A. My argument is that language of “rule” is strikingly absent from both the Parables and 4 Ezra. (That doesn’t mean the absence of any royal language, because judicial judgment is the role of the king.) My suggestion is that this reflects a post-70 situation in which both authors are anxious to avoid messianic activism of the kind that had featured in the Jewish revolt. No allusions to Isa 52-53. All messianic exegesis is selective. Who wants a suffering Messiah?

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