A Divine Son of Man?

A Divine Son of Man? December 3, 2014

I just got through reading an interesting piece b y Markus Zehnder, “Why the Danielic ‘Son of Man’ Is a Divine Being,” BBR 24.3 (2014): 331-47.

Zehnder argues that Daniel’s Son of Man belongs to the “upper level” on the divine spectrum and notes the various features that make him divine like coming with the clouds of heaven, receiving worship, worldwide and everlasting dominion, human-like shape, intertextual relations with Pss 89 and 110, and reception in 1 Enoch.

Zehnder gives good caveats on what counts as “divine” in the ancient world. His argument reminds me of Daniel Boyarin’s view of Daniel 7. His article proves that the identity and agency of the Son of Man is notoriously hard to define. In my mind, the one like a Son of Man is a polyvalent figure representing God, God’s kingdom, God’s king, and God’s people. He is the heavenly counter-part to the arrogant horn. Someone seriously needs to write on the Jewish reception history of Dan 7:13-14.

Zehnder concludes:

If it is true that the Son of Man already in Dan 7, no less than in post-biblical Jewish texts of the Second Temple period, must be understood as a divine figure, we are compelled to deduce that the use of the expression “Son of Man” in some of its instances in the NT, insofar as it relates to Dan 7:13, points to a conception of Jesus as more than an exemplary ideal human being  but as a divine figure, and that this conception arose out of a Jewish milieu and was not the product of a Gentile, Hellenistic influence (p. 347).

No doubt some do not feel equally “compelled” on this topic.


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