Son of Man

Son of Man
A common phrase used on the lips of Jesus frequently in all the gospels, but not elsewhere in the NT (except Acts 7:56 and Rev. 1:13); in Greek, a curious translation of the Aramaic bar nasha (= in Hebrew ben adam). In the OT it is the form of address by God to the prophet Ezekiel, and in Ps. 8 it is used of mankind in general as pre-eminent in the created order; in Dan. 7:13 f. the phrase symbolically represents the people of Israel, contrasted with the beasts who stand for the gentile [[➝ Gentiles]] nations. Later, in the Similitudes of Enoch, the Son of Man is a supernatural figure, the agent of salvation and of judgement [[➝ Judgement]].
In the course of the many discussions of this term, it has been suggested that Jesus was not referring to himself at all by this title and that it was attributed to him by the post-resurrection Church. However, the lack of its use outside the gospels suggests that it was avoided because it was regarded as sacred to the utterances of Jesus himself. Other scholars have distinguished those sayings which refer to Jesus' present life and imminent death from the sayings which anticipate the future Kingdom and the place of the Son of Man in it. Most German scholars take the view that ‘Son of Man’ could only have the latter, apocalyptic, significance; it was part of Jesus' expectations of the future. Sayings which do not fall into this category are creations of the Church. Yet another view, increasingly accepted, is that Jesus did use the term and did mean himself by it, but that it was an elusive, round about, deliberately enigmatic way of saying: ‘I, being the man I am’. Matt. certainly intends ‘Son of Man’ to mean ‘Jesus’ for he sometimes substitutes ‘I’ for ‘Son of Man’ (Matt. 10:32 for Mark 8:38). For him, it is a title of special dignity. Jesus is no ordinary man (Matt. 16:13), and when the passion is complete (‘from now’, Matt. 26:64) the Son of Man will be enthroned.
Such a view maintains the authenticity of the ‘present’ sayings, while allowing that the apocalyptic sayings affirming the future glorification of the Son of Man may be creations of the Church as part of mainstream Christian interpretation.

Dictionary of the Bible.


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  • SON OF MAN — (Heb. בֶּן אָדָם; pl. בְּנֵי אָדָם, Aram. בַּר אֱנָשׁ). In the Bible In the Bible the phrase son of man, or sons of man (adam), is used as a synonym for a member of the human race, i.e., descendants of Adam. It occurs frequently in Psalms in the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Son of Man — • Several instances of its use are detailed Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Son of Man     Son of Man     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Son of Man — ► Son of Man Jesus Christ. Main Entry: ↑son …   English terms dictionary

  • Son of Man — Son′ of Man′ n. rel Jesus Christ, esp. at the Last Judgment • Etymology: bef. 900 …   From formal English to slang

  • Son of man — The phrase son of man is a primarily Semitic idiom that originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, used to denote humanity or self. The phrase is also used in Judaism and Christianity. Ancient languagesIn Sumerian, child of (a) man is: *DUMU.LU.A (?)In… …   Wikipedia

  • son of man — Etymology: Middle English sone of man 1. : a human being : mortal 2. often capitalized S & sometimes capitalized M : God s Messiah; especially : God s divine representative destined to preside over the final judgment of the world the coming of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • son of man — Son of God, the Saviour, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, the Holy One, the Anointed, the Mediator, Shiloh, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Intercessor, the Advocate, the Judge, the Word, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Way,… …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • SON OF MAN —    a term found in the HEBREW BIBLE, especially in the Book of Daniel, meaning the man which is clearly linked to the idea of the MESSIAH and the KINGDOM OF GOD. CHRISTIANS have taken it as the counterpart of the title SON OF GOD and seen it as… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Son of man —    1) Denotes mankind generally, with special reference to their weakness and frailty (Job 25:6; Ps. 8:4; 144:3; 146:3; Isa. 51:12, etc.).    2) It is a title frequently given to the prophet Ezekiel, probably to remind him of his human weakness.… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • son of man — Date: 14th century 1. a human being 2. often capitalized S God s messiah destined to preside over the final judgment of mankind …   New Collegiate Dictionary