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Mahlon H Smith,
Rutgers University

0.1. Impasse

For more than a century of deliberation scholars have sought consensus on the question of the origin and significance of the words "the son of man" in the sayings of Jesus.  But the jury is still out.   Researchers in this case have taken more care to gather every piece of evidence and review it from all conceivable perspectives than in any NT investigation outside the parables. But we are still far from unanimous in seeing how the whole puzzle fits together. While individuals have significantly shifted their views (notably, N. Perrin and B. Lindars), the reconstructions suggested at the beginning of this century are still championed, though with more sophistication and variation in detail./1/

0.2. Options

Disregarding for now the nuances that distinguish one scholar's opinion from those of others with whom one basically agrees, the primary interpretations of the origin of "the son of man" that still find advocates are these:

(a) Jesus, under the influence of Jewish apocalyptic (particularly Dan 7:13-14), predicted the appearance of an exalted anthropoid who would play a decisive role in the ultimate cosmic order. Only later was Jesus himself identified as the subject of these sayings. And this, in turn, enabled "the son of man" to be made the subject of sayings describing Jesus' own earthly life. Hence, only a few sayings envisioning "the son of man" as yet to come reflect Jesus' own usage./2/ 

(b) Jesus used an everyday Semitic generic idiom for a human being in statements relating to his own situation. Only as these sayings were translated into Greek was this indefinite aspect lost to view and "the son of man" understood as an exclusive designation of Jesus. Post-crucifixion convictions that Jesus fulfilled scripture led to his identification as the subject of Dan 7:13-14 and the formation of sayings predicting his reappearance in apocalyptic terms. Hence, only a few sayings representing "the son of man" as present reflect Jesus' own usage./3/ 

(c) Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, not his own reign or that of some other agent of divine judgment. The post-crucifixion community of Jesus' followers first proclaimed his exaltation in terms of Ps 110:1. Among Hellenists, this came to be linked in midrashic logic first with Ps 8:4-6 and then Dan 7:13-14. Thus, the identification of Jesus as "the son of man" is a rather late apologetic development unrelated to any element of Jesus' message. Hence, no "son of man" saying reflects Jesus' own usage./4/

Options (a) and (c) differ regarding Jesus' responsibility for initiating the "son of man" trajectory, but agree in seeing Dan 7:13-14 as the root of this logia tradition and in setting sayings about the subject's earthly activity and fate in the branches. Likewise, options (b) and (c) differ regarding the authenticity and relative dating of references to the current status of "the son of man," but agree in tracing statements about his eschatological role to a source other than Jesus. From a purely quantitative perspective, the publishing pendulum is presently swinging in the direction of those who deny that Jesus clothed "the son of man" in apocalyptic dress. Yet publishing activity is only one gauge of the status of current scholarship. There are still enough who see Jesus' message as having a consistently eschatological focus that the apocalyptic son of man refuses to give up the ghost. Every time someone declares him to be either a fabrication of the early church or a figment of the modern academic imagination, someone else rises to claim that he played a vital role in the mind of Jesus./5/  So the debate continues.

0.3. Gaps and Leaps

The reason that the "son of man" problem has resisted swift and easy solution is not so much the volume and complexity of the material as the lack of decisive evidence supporting assumptions basic to the various hypotheses. There are points at which each of the suggested explanations of the data depend on claims of circumstantial possibility rather than concrete connections that all are able to see. While one may readily notice the aporia in a rival's argument, it is much more difficult to recognize aspects of one's own perspective that result from a logical leap unsupported by clear and incontestable facts. For the human mind tends to reinforce the bridges it has itself projected between promontories reality has isolated. Often a particular reconstruction strikes one as more cogent than others because of a predecessor's skill in spanning the void rather than a critical examination of the tensile strength of the elements with which he (or she) has chosen to build. So before jumping to conclusions about any "son of man" saying's relation to the thought of Jesus, it would be prudent to call attention to hidden holes in the presentation of the evidence, lest unexamined assumptions lead us to the wrong verdict.

In the case of "the son of man," appearance and silence have led to allegations that have assumed an aura of facticity simply because of their frequent repetition. As such impressions are open to conflicting interpretations, however, it is dangerous to make them the basis for deciding the fate of the subject.

1.1. The alleged absence of "the son of man" in Jewish speculation

Justified reaction to overblown and insufficiently critical modern discussions of the origin and influence of "the son of man myth" in early Judaism has led to the opposite extreme of emphatic denials that any such speculation existed among first century Jews. But failure to prove existence is not to prove non-existence./6/  It is true that neither in Daniel nor his later Jewish interpreters was "son of man" used as the name or title of a specific person. But the fact that the authors of 1 Enoch 46-71 and 4 Ezra 13 independently sought to identify and explain the role of the man-like figure in Daniel's vision does indicate that interest in this passage was not limited to Christian evangelists Yet, there is still no proof that these ostensibly novel revelations were in circulation prior to 70 CE. References to "that son of man" in 1 Enoch clearly introduce a single scribe's exegetical reflections on a specific text (Dan 7:13) and, therefore, cannot be cited as evidence of general practice./7/  The so-called "two powers controversy" at the beginning of the next century is evidence of a widespread Jewish interest in biblical texts that portrayed an exalted man-like figure as exercising dominion over the whole cosmos./8/  But there the term "son of man" did not figure even in speculation based on Dan 7.  The targum of Ps 8 twice identifies the agent to whom God entrusts the cosmic order as "the son of man."/9/  But it is not clear that this represents anything more than a generic ideal. R. Abbahu's ironic (late 3rd century) warning, "if someone tells you 'I am ben adam (“son of Man”),' he will regret his end" (yTa'an 2.1), does presuppose some current (Jewish?) speculation in which "son of man" was an epithet that one might claim for oneself. Yet, none of this evidence of Jewish speculation shows that either in Jesus' day or later "the son of man" was used in oral statements to designate a person other than oneself.

1.2. The alleged role of Dan 7:13 as source of "the son of man"

Although scholars generally recognize that in Jewish apocalypses "son of man" (without articles) is meant to describe rather than name the figure envisioned in an eschatological context, proponents of options (a) and (c) insist that Dan 7:13 is the source, not only of Greek references to  ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου  (“the son of the man” with two articles), but of the use of this designation for the subject of sayings with no clear link to the material in Daniel. The reasoning runs: the Danielic "son of man" was first identified with Jesus, so eventually anything about Jesus could be predicated of "the son of man." This is more an intellectual residue from old theories of the Jewish son of man myth than the product of a critical examination of the Christian sources.

(a) To be sure, the dependence of the author of Mark 13:26 and 14:62 on Daniel's description of one "like a son of man" must not be minimized. But the only instance of imagery in other "son of man" sayings that can be traced to a possible indirect influence of Daniel is the association of this subject with a parousia motif in: 

(1) a secondary qualifying phrase in Mark 8:38c and parallels;
(2) a non-descriptive call for eschatological preparedness in Q (Matt 24:44 //Luke 12:40);
(3) Matthew's version of other Q sayings (Matt 24:27,37,39) and a logion that he alone records (Matt 10:23)./10/ 

Thus, one must certainly recognize an influence of Daniel on Mark and probably on Matthew. But unless one is prepared to defend Matthew as a more literal reporter of Q than Luke, the case for the influence of Dan 7:13 on "son of man" sayings earlier than Mark must be made to rest on Luke 12:40. One finds here, however, a non-Danielic emphasis on the "unexpected hour" of the coming---a theme attested elsewhere in NT passages that refer neither to Daniel nor to "the son of man."/11/   In fact, apart from this epithet, Luke 12:40 is closer to general eschatological expectation of the coming of "the Lord" than to Dan 7.

(b) Clearly at some point Dan 7:13 was drawn into Christian messianic exegesis. But without firm support from Q, the claim that this was the ultimate source of the awkward Greek technical term, is weakened. And it is all but undermined when proponents of this explanation claim that the eschatological "son of man" predictions of Q rather than those of Mark are original!/12/  Moreover, the fact that early Greek Christian writers regularly used υἵος ἀνθρώπου (without any article) in citing Dan 7:13, even when identifying this figure with Jesus, calls in question the claim that the emphatic designation, "the son of man" (with two articles in Greek) originated in references to this text./13/

1.3. The alleged use of "the son of man" as a christological title

For more than a century scholars have considered "Son of Man" to be a (messianic) title, whether as an ideal with which Jesus himself identified or as a label pinned on him by others. Its prominence in the logia tradition has been attributed, on the one hand, to Jesus' own use of the term to counter popular Jewish "son of David" messianism or, on the other, to the urgent apocalyptic eschatology of the primitive Christian church. It has long been presented as the original christology of Jewish Christianity and is still widely viewed as the sole title used to refer to Jesus in the Hellenistic Q community./14/  Even some scholars who have denied a titular use of this idiom among non-Christian Jews seem compelled to regard it as a title in at least some NT logia./15/ 

(a) This opinion is based on three impressions:

(1) the two Greek articles focus the nouns on a specific figure;
(2) many of the sayings describe the subject so designated as functioning in an official capacity;
(3) the subject of the sayings is presented objectively in the third person and so seems to be distinct from the speaker.

It is these impressions that provide the primary support for options (a) and (c). If a saying is traced to Jesus, then it seems he was referring to someone other than himself. If the details of the saying obviously describe Jesus, then it seems to have been spoken by someone else. The problem is that neither of these conclusions is supported by external evidence. As the failure to find a Jewish reference to "the son of man" as an apocalyptic title makes the claim that Jesus used it this way questionable, so the absence of ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (with two articles) in Hellenistic christological formulas from Paul through the apostolic fathers renders suspect the theory that early Christians used this phrase to affirm their faith in Jesus. Its limitation to Jesus' speech in the gospels, where attested titles are regularly invoked both by other characters and by the narrator, weakens the claim that this term served as a title at any stage in its development./16/ 

(b) True, the report of Stephen's dying vision (Acts 7:56) has been regarded as a key witness to or even source of the titular use of this term in the confessional activity of the Jerusalem church./17/  But it is debatable whether this sole canonical record of the Greek definite "son of man" formula outside the sayings of Jesus can bear the test of historical reliability. Though Luke is rightly regarded as a cautious historian, he is also an apologist who demonstrably does not shrink from revising the wording of even written sources to serve his own theology of history. If he regularly corrects Mark's version of Jesus' logia and reports speeches for Paul that are out of sync with the logic of the apostle's own letters, how is it certain that his report of the first martyr's last words is anything more than a literary echo of predictions of such visions attributed elsewhere in the tradition to Jesus?/18/

Eusebius' quote of Hegesippus' account of James' last words is clearly of this order./19/ Apart from these hagiographic legends there is no written record of "the son of man" ever being used by either Aramaic or Greek speaking Christians as a third person designation for Jesus or anyone else. And accounts of a gnostic hypostasis named "Son of Man" are unrelated to the synoptic logia tradition./20/

(c) It is often noted that none of the apostolic fathers---neither pseudo-Barnabas nor Ignatius nor Justin Martyr---, authors who had some familiarity with the thought of Palestinian Jewish Christianity, regarded "son of man" as an apocalyptic title but, instead, regularly took the term as a claim of Jesus' generic humanity./21/  We were taught that this indicates how soon the "original" titular sense of this term was lost to view. But is it not, rather, an indication that "son of man" was never originally used as a title? If there is no evidence of a titular use in Jewish sources; if there is no confirmed instance of a titular use in our records of early Christian communities; if in the gospels it is used only by Jesus in statements that usually point to the speaker himself, where is there clear evidence that "son of man" was ever regarded as a title at any stage in the development of the NT "son of man" trajectory? There are a few sayings where the focus of the formula is not so clearly reflexive./22/  But it is not certain that such fuzziness comes from the fact that Jesus was indicating a figure other than himself. Neither the evangelists nor anyone else before the rise of the historical quest took these sayings to be other than self-references by Jesus. Thus, the idea that "the son of man" originated and circulated as a christological title has no firm material support. Rather, the titular use of this term---like "the son of man myth" of which it is an essential part---is a modern academic motif.

1.4. The alleged Greek misunderstanding of Jesus' use of "the son of man"

The evangelists clearly understood "the son of man" to be Jesus' own characteristic term for saying something about himself. This alone is able to account for the care of Greek-speaking Christians to use it only to present logia ascribed to Jesus.  And ultimately this points to a basis in Jesus' own patterns of speech. Every language gives speakers the option of describing themselves objectively through the use of circumlocutions. In such cases the term selected has some reflection on the author of the statement, though not everyone will always perceive this.  Some circumlocutions are less obvious than others because they do not focus exclusively on the speaker.  Thus, the real question is not whether the Greek-speaking church was correct in thinking that Jesus intended reference to himself in speaking of "the son of man" but, rather, whether the sayings in which this subject seems to indicate Jesus alone employed the idiom as he would have used it.

(a) Generalization?: It is generally agreed that technical use of the otherwise unprecedented Greek epithet in Jesus' sayings originates in the awkward translation of an underlying Semitic idiom, probably Aramaic בר אנשא [bar (e)naš (a)]. The absolute form of this expression (without the final alef) is attested as subject of generalizations intended to apply to any (male?) human person and, in a more abstract indefinite sense, in statements where the subject could be any individual without discrimination. In either case, assuming the speaker is human, the author of the statement is meant to be covered by what is predicated, but not to the exclusion of others.  Thus, it has been suggested that only those sayings that can be interpreted or reconstructed to apply to persons other than Jesus can be considered genuine. There are, however, several problems with this approach.

(1) A statement is not necessarily general just because its subject is "generic". Observations about particular individuals may identify the subject by a common name without intending to infer that the predicate applies to any other member of that species. In reporting an accident one may say "A man is dead," implying that only one human has died. Aramaic, like most ancient languages lacks an indefinite article; so such a thought would be phrased: "Man (is) dead!" As in all languages, generalizations intended to apply indiscriminately to several persons normally use the plural "men", which in Aramaic is בני  [benei], not בר [bar], אנש [(e)naš].

(2) Examples of the absolute singular בר אנש [bar enaš] in pre-Targumic Aramaic are too rare and scattered to say definitively just how common the idiom was in Jesus' world and what range of uses it may have had there. To date, linguists have been able to cull only five examples from texts ranging over more than eight centuries of Aramaic usage in greater Syria (including Israel)!/23/ Although the documentation of Aramaic itself during this period is admittedly slim, the instances of בר אנש [bar enaš] are proportionately small and not illustrative of everyday discourse in first century Galilee./24/  There is only one properly secular example of indefinite usage, and that is in a formal treaty proclamation from northern Syria seven hundred years before Jesus! Otherwise, the idiom is found once in Jewish scripture to describe the appearance of a figure envisioned as a unique individual (Dan 7:13) and three times in commentaries found at Qumran. In two of these (11QtgJob and 26.3) it translates the equally rare Hebrew בן אדם [ben adam] in poetic assessments of the human condition (Job 25:6 and 35:8). While these appear applicable to any member of the human species, in context they are part of pointed criticism of one man: Job.

These statements were hardly formulated as generalizations or with the subject left indefinite. This means that in three out of the five cases where we have evidence of the use of בר אנש [bar enaš] prior to the composition of the NT, the idiom is used to relate the particular person in view to the generic idea of what it means to be human rather than to say anything about other persons of the same genus.

(3) It is improbable that the absolute form, בר אנש [bar (e)naš], whatever its range of meanings, is the point of origin of the sayings tradition attributed to Jesus. בר אנש [Bar (e)naš] regularly was translated literally into Greek, by Jews and Christians alike, as υἵος ἀνθρώπου ("son of man" without any article) or simply as ("human" again, without an article). Thus, it is the regular use of the two definite articles in the evangelists' awkward neologism, ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, that needs to be explained. And the explanation proposed by some Aramaic scholars are not altogether convincing.

(i) Though Aramaic lacks a separate article, in pre-Christian usage the emphatic suffix (alef) functions much as the article does in Hebrew or Greek to give the noun a more definite focus than the absolute form. In the rabbinic dialect of third-fourth century Galilee, however, this distinction had broken down, so that the emphatic form was used in general statements where the subject was not defined as a particular individual. Some have claimed that this process was already underway in the first century, so that sometimes Jesus may have used בר אנשא [bar enaša]---or בר נשא [bar naša], since later Galilean Jews and Christians regularly dropped initial alefs---in sayings that were meant to apply generally to any human./25/  This hypothesis sounds plausible; but as there is no data on the use of this Aramaic idiom by first century Galileans it is unverifiable./26/  And it becomes tenuous when it is recognized to rest on two questionable assumptions: (a) that languages develop at a uniform rate within a given region, and (b) that Jesus' speech is in direct line with that of tannaitic scribes. This theory presupposes that scholars two centuries after Jesus, who did not follow his teaching, preserved his usage and meaning better than the bilingual students of his thought who translated his sayings into Greek within decades of his death. If Jesus had used the emphatic בר אנשא [bar enaša] in a general sense, without intending to define the person, there would have been no need to create a new Greek idiom using two definite articles, as this would certainly be seen to obscure the original meaning, even by those who admittedly did not speak the best Greek. For the diarthous neologism, ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, to be synthesized for translation purposes there must have been at least one Aramaic saying that was already understood to refer to a definite subject. But this contradicts the claim that the emphatic בר אנשא [bar enaša] had already lost any ability to identify or define a particular individual. And this, in turn, calls into question the validity of ascribing to Jesus only those sayings which generally apply to persons other than himself.

(ii) The uniformity of the double article in the Greek version of "son of man" sayings in all strands of the tradition is hard to explain without presupposing that a core of authentic sayings regularly employed the emphatic בר נשא [bar naša], which makes it seem less likely that an indefinite or general sense was intended. Such uniformity has been credited to a secondary harmonization of the sources./27/   But this is not supported by either manuscript evidence or the redaction history of the tradition.   The only evangelist to preserve an anarthous "son of man" is John (5:28), even though he obviously interprets the saying as describing Jesus' role exclusively!  On the other hand, the only place where the diarthous idiom "the son of the man" is taken in a general sense is Matthew's secondary comment (9:8) on a passage drawn from Mark (2:10). Unless one is prepared to argue for the priority of the first gospel, here the tradition displays a tendency of at least one later writer to generalize a reference that in the original pericope clearly focused exclusively on Jesus. And there is no manuscript evidence to show that any "son of man" saying in Mark or Q ever had an anarthous subject.  So there is no pattern of originally anarthous general statements being particularized by translators adding articles to limit their application to Jesus.

(b) Circumlocution?: The simplest explanation of the presence of "the son of man" at every level of every independent source in sayings where Jesus speaks of himself is that ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου was invented as a literal translation of a term that was generally understood to focus on a particular "son of man," who was recognized as none other than the speaker. Presuming an Aramaic substratum, the sayings being translated probably had בר אנשא [bar enaša], rather than the less definite בר אנש [bar enaš], as their subject. Like the article in Greek, the emphatic alef suffix in Aramaic traditionally functioned as a weak demonstrative. So both idioms would have been taken by native speakers to mean something like "this (son of) man," i.e., the man in question. Here the subject is identified as human without implying that his particular predicament is shared by others of that species.

(1) Absence of direct evidence: Demonstration that בר נשא [bar naša)] was used in the first century by Aramaic speakers to refer to themselves is difficult. There are no recorded instances of the emphatic ending in uses of this idiom prior to the third century CE, when distinction between the emphatic and absolute forms of Aramaic nouns in general was no longer strictly observed. Moreover, only a few of the instances where בר נשא [bar naša] may be taken to refer to the speaker actually have the final alef./28/   And even these have been read as general statements. The claim by G. Vermes that in certain situations "son of man" functioned merely as a substitute for "I" might explain variant versions of the same NT logion./29/  But the Aramaic evidence he cites does not demonstrate this beyond dispute. Likewise, B. Lindars' suggestion that the Aramaic emphatic suffix grammatically paralleled the Hebrew generic article---so that "the (son of) man" meant "a man in my position"---appears to rest more on his exegesis of NT than Jewish texts./30/   Thus, both interpretations of the linguistic data have been challenged by other competent Aramaicists./31/   Yet such critiques show only that hypotheses based on nuances of the limited Aramaic evidence remain unproven and perhaps forever unproveable. They do not show that a person who spoke of "the son of man" in statements that are apparently self-referential had anyone in mind other than himself.

(2) Circumstantial clues: In all the furor over the current philological phase of the "son of man" debate a few things have been lost to view.  While none of these guarantee that Jesus used בר נשא [bar naša] as a self-designation, taken together they make this explanation of the origin of "the son of man" in the sayings of Jesus more probable than others.

(i) There is ample evidence in the extant Greek versions of Jesus' logia that statements about "the son of man" were taken in the first century as self-references by the speaker. Whether the individual logia are correctly ascribed to Jesus or not, ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου itself was virtually restricted to reflexive statements. So, unless one has decided a priori that this represents a misinterpretation of Jesus' usage, there should be little difficulty in tracing the origin of "the son of man" to his own use of this idiom in speaking of himself.

(ii) The names one chooses to identify oneself are used quite differently than those invoked to indicate others. When a person makes a statement about "birds," it may be taken to apply indifferently to any avian within his range of knowledge. Not so with names for the human being, for here the presumption of direct knowledge may lead one to say things about "man" on the basis of personal image alone. Everyday logic, though scientifically and syllogistically suspect, runs: if I am human, then what is true about me is true about the human being. While much of what a person learns about being human comes first from observing others, once one accepts the name as one's own, one can say things about "man" without consideration of others.

(iii) It is easy to distinguish oneself from others who bear the same name by using an appropriate demonstrative. Thus, if I said something about "this author" or even "the author," it should be evident to readers that I meant to speak only about myself---unless, of course, I happened to be reviewing the work of another writer. Likewise, statements about "the (son of) man" would readily be recognized as reflecting upon the speaker, unless the context made it clear that someone else was intended.

(iv) There is no evidence that the emphatic had already lost its demonstrative force in first-century Aramaic./32/  Thus, the subject designated "the son of man" would be readily recognized as a definite figure. While there was always an implicit reference to the idea of generic man, the emphatic ending clearly pointed to the particular individual in view. The survival of this twofold reference in even later Aramaic is evident from two of the texts cited by Vermes and Lindars./33/  In one (yKet 35a) Judah ha Nasi gives instructions that he be buried in a single sheet, since the condition of בר נשא [bar naša] (emphatic) at his demise does not mirror that of his return. Appended to this logion, however, is a (traditional?) tannaitic aphorism to the contrary: בר נש [bar nas] (absolute) comes as he goes. Rabbi's burial request was memorable because it contradicted the norm. The בר נשא [bar naša] whose resurrected appearance is claimed to differ from that of his corpse is not just any man but rather the prince who asked not to be distinguished in death from paupers. Similarly, Simeon ben Yohai was rcalled (yBer 3b) to have claimed that he would have asked God to make two mouths for בר נשא [bar naša]---one for reciting Torah and one for eating---, if he had been on Mount Sinai when the Torah was revealed to Israel. This curious request makes sense only if the speaker envisioned himself as filling Moses' shoes and not as just another man among those who heard the original proclamation of the covenant. Any man might eat as he listened, but the human need to ingest orally limits the one called to act as God's mouthpiece. In both of these cases בר נשא [bar naša] serves, on the one hand, to identify the speaker as sharing the common human condition and, on the other, to predicate of him circumstances that set him apart from other men.

(v) In Jewish tradition names indicated roles performed by a person rather than categories circumscribing a genus. While the Hebrew scriptures provided various names for the human persona, in Aramaic בר אנשא [bar (e)nas(a)] increasingly became the name that could represent all others./34/  So for Jews who depended primarily on scripture rehearsed in Aramaic, the role assigned to the "son of man" was dramatically larger than in the original Hebrew. These scattered appearances in scenes portraying election, exaltation, degradation and vindication, though hardly synthesized into a coherent myth, presented a broad range of settings within which any pious Jew who sought to play “the man" could improvise his own dialogue.

2.1. The question of criteria

The extant evidence does not show that "the son of man" was either a technical title derived from a single apocalyptic text (Dan 7:13f) or yet a common everyday term for anyman.  Still, in the world of early Aramaic-speaking Judaism, the idiom was used to render scriptural passages that spoke of the human being's paradoxical status in the cosmos.  And, while it is questionable whether other Jews generally used it as a circumlocution, in Christian tradition it was remembered as Jesus' typical form of self-reference.  Since there is no provable precedent for Jesus' use of the emphatic form, there is no way to establish exactly what he could have meant by it.  Nor is it at all certain that he had a single meaning in mind.  Thus, one cannot use a prior understanding of the original sense of "the son of man" to judge the authenticity of the logia in which this idiom appears.  Nor are arbitrary categorizations on the basis of matter or form ultimately reliable criteria.  For one cannot know a priori just what Jesus thought of himself or how he expressed it.  That is not to say that each occurrence of "the son of man" in the gospels has an equal claim to originality.  It is just that the question of ascription needs to be decided case by case on the basis of standards other than conceptual consistency. Two principles that may help identify sayings that can reasonably be traced to Jesus are dialectical difficulty and ambiguity. The less explicit the logion, the more likely it originated in a pre-crucifixion context.  And the more problematic its formulation from the perspective of the post-resurrection community, the less likely it is to have been produced by a mind other than that of Jesus.

2.2. Secondary scribal compositions (M & L):

The fact that there was no reference to "the son of man" in early Christian circles apart from citation of the sayings of Jesus means that these logia could have been generated only by one of three sources: Jesus himself, someone who posed as speaking for Jesus (an apostle or prophet) and someone who wrote portraying Jesus as speaking (an evangelist). Sayings originating at either the first (oral) or second (written) stages removed from Jesus were efforts to mimic a pattern derived ultimately from him. Such mimicry took three forms: (i) paraphrase and reinterpretation of things Jesus had said about "the son of man," (ii) insertion of this idiom into logia that did not originally mention "the son of man," and (iii) new formulations that were believed to reflect what Jesus thought about himself quite apart from what he had said about "the son of man." Sayings which are readily recognized as scribal creations include:

(a) Passages in triple tradition where only one later evangelist (Matthew or Luke) mentions "the son of man":

  • Matt 16:13 "Who do men say that the son of man is?" (Mark 8:27 = Luke 9:18 have "I");

  • Matt 16:28 "Some are standing here who will not taste death before they see the son of man coming in his kingdom." (Mark 9:1//Luke 9:27 have seeing "the kingdom of God");

  • Matt 26:2 "You know that after two days the Passover comes and the son of man will be delivered up to be crucified." (Mark 14:1//Luke 22:1 have only the date as narrative);

  • Luke 21:36 "Watch at all times, praying to be strengthened to escape...and stand before the son of man." 
    (Mark 13:37//Matt 25:13 only give injunction "watch," though each describes eschatological crisis in preceding verses);

  • Luke 22:48 "Judas, would you betray the son of man with a kiss?" 
    (Mark 14:45//Matt 26:49 mention the kiss as narrative;

  • Luke 24:7 "Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee that the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and rise on the third day."
    (echo of Luke 9:22,44; replaces the command to go to Galilee in Mark 16:7//Matt 28:7).

As the interpolated words concerning "the son of man" (italics) are all clearly the product of redaction, they cannot be cited as evidence of Jesus' usage even if the underlying saying could be shown to rest on authentic tradition. Therefore, in any red letter edition of the gospels these lines should be printed black.

(b) Passages in double tradition where the version with "son of man" has signs of amplification by that evangelist:

  • Luke 6:22 "Blessed are you when men hate you and exclude you and revile you and cast our your name as evil on account of the son of man!"
    (Matt 5:11 has "on my account" and no mention of excommunication);
  • Matt 19:28 "In the new world, when the son of man shall sit on his throne of glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." 
    (Luke 22:28ff uses first person singular in referring to Jesus' kingdom and does not mention "new world" or enthronement of son of man).

While it is possible that "the son of man" stood in Q's version of each of these logia, in neither case is the argument for its presence more probable than that for its absence.  The final prepositional phrase in Luke 6:22 is probably no less the result of redaction than the graphic description of the process of formal excommunication to which it is directly linked.  Similarly, Matt 19:28 is quite intelligible without the temporal clause.  The vision of the son of man on the throne of glory is a recurrent Matthean motif that may have been called to mind by a Q logion that concerned only the enthronement of the twelve. Although cases can be made for the ascription of the underlying logia to Jesus, the italicized words are probably interpretive paraphrases, reflecting the thoughts of Christian scribes. Print: black.

(c) Passages in single tradition where "the son of man" is described in terms characteristic of that evangelist:

  • Matt 10:23 "You will not be done with the towns of Israel before the son of man comes." 
    (both the mission to Israel and the parousia expectation are typically Matthean);
  • Matt 13:37 "He who sows good seed is the son of man...
             13:41 The son of man will send his angels...."
    (allegorical exegesis of uniquely Matthean parable of weeds; 
    only Matthew claims son of man has own angels);
  • Matt 24:30 "Then will appear the sign of the son of man in heaven
                        and then all the tribes of earth will mourn..."
    (midrash based on Dan 7:13 and Zech 12:10 prefaced to prediction of son of man's parousia from Mark's little apocalypse; cf. Rev 1:7);
  • Matt 25:31 "When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
                       then he will sit on his throne of glory."
    (apocalyptic preface to the uniquely Matthean parable of the judgment);
  • Luke 18:8 "When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (rhetorical question appended without logical link to the uniquely Lukan parable of the unjust judge);
  • Luke 19:10 "For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost."
    (aphoristic conclusion of the uniquely Lukan story of Zacchaeus).

Where passages have no parallel it is harder to determine whether the evangelist is reproducing material as it came to him or spinning it fresh from stock images.  It is possible that Matt 10:23 and 24:30a reflect pre-literary formulations by anonymous Christian prophets. But they fit the first evangelist's style so well that there is no reason to postulate an earlier source. Likewise, Luke 18:8 is a homiletical flourish that could have been uttered by any eschatologically oriented preacher. But it is like so many other pious aphorisms that Luke appends to difficult parabolic stories that there is no need to view it as an isolated logion with a history of oral circulation. A case could be made, however, for Luke 19:10 as an authentic dominical saying, if it had a parallel in some other gospel. But it is so easily read as a lesson abstracted from the parables of the lost in Luke 15, that there is no way to prove that it existed before Luke wrote it. Print: black.

2.3. The problem of paraphrase (Mark):

Mark has thirteen "son of man" sayings.  All are reproduced by Matthew with minor variations and Luke has versions of all but three.  Moreover, the Markan logia which focus on predicting the demise of "the son of man" and his coming in glory provide adequate models for virtually all the sayings unique to Matthew and Luke.  It used to be assumed that at least some of Mark's "son of man" sayings represented things that Jesus actually said.  But critical examination has led scholars to see Mark's hand in the formulation of each.  If, however, there is no pre-Markan basis for any of these sayings, then one is hard pressed to explain where Mark got the idea of placing so many "son of man" sayings on Jesus' lips. He certainly did not get it from Q, since he has only three passages that resemble the Q "son of man" logia; and one of these (Mark 3:28ff//Matt 12:32//Luke 12:10) he does not understand as a statement about the “son of man"!  Nor is it conceivable that he took his initial cue from Dan 7:13-14.  That text did have a formative influence on the three sayings that envision "the son of man" coming in glory (8:38, 13:26, 14:62).  But, unlike Matthew, the center of Mark's interest in "the son of man" is not his eschatological appearance as cosmic ruler but the necessity of his prior betrayal, death and resurrection. Eight of his sayings spell out these themes in terms derived more from the story of Jesus than fresh exegesis of any OT text.  As there is no pre-Markan text that deals specifically with the rejection and revival of a "son of man", Mark's inspiration for making this idiom the subject of such sayings cannot be traced to a source either outside or elsewhere within the Jesus tradition. The most likely explanation of Mark's persistent association of this subject with such themes is that he was working from logia which already set "the son of man" under the shadow of death. The problem is whether that pre-Markan core can be recovered or has been totally obscured by the evangelist's embellishments.

(a) The passion-resurrection predictions:

  • Mark 8:31 "The son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes and be killed and after three days rise again."
  • Mark 9:9 He charged them to tell no one what they had seen until the son of man should have risen from the dead.
  • Mark 9:12 "How is it written of the son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt.
  • Mark 9:31 "The son of man will be given over into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed after three days he will rise."
  • Mark 10:33 "The son of man will be given over to the chief priests and scribes and they will condemn him to death and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him and spit on him and scourge him and kill him; and after three days he will rise."

The details of these logia clearly reflect elements of both the primitive kerygma (1 Cor 15:3-4) and the synoptic passion narrative.  So one cannot with confidence date the bulk of these sayings prior to the crucifixion. Jesus' opening words in Mark 9:31 (italics), however, have a reasonable claim to authenticity.  Quite apart from the "son of man" sayings there is ample testimony that Jesus predicted his betrayal (e.g., Mark 14:18, John 13:21, 1 Cor 11:23-26). Yet Mark had no particular reason for making "the son of man" the subject of such a prediction. Lindars recognizes that a statement which says simply that "the man will be given up" (Aramaic: Ithmesar bar enaša) is too brief to have circulated as an isolated logion, but he is unduly pessimistic about our ability to reconstruct the rest of the saying as it came to Mark./35/  There is enough ironic wisdom and ambiguity in the statement that this (son of) man will be handed over to men to argue that Mark 9:31b was not invented after the fact. For early Christians the fact that "the son of man" was delivered into the hands of men was the cause of much guilt and grief. For the author of this statement there is an almost tranquil sense of ironic inevitability, if not tragic justice.

As a human, this man's life is in the hands of other persons (the Greek future tense comes from retrospective interpretation of an original Aramaic indefinite). Who these may be is unspecified; and this ambiguity points to authenticity. As the other passion predictions show Mark was concerned to portray Jesus as having detailed foreknowledge of the events that befell him. The absence of Mark's kerygmatic appendix from Luke's parallel passage (9:44) increases the probability that this saying circulated independent of post-crucifixion clarifications. Print italics (Mark 9:31b par and Mark 10:33b par): red; all the rest: black.

(b) Betrayal:

  • Mark 14:21 "The son of man goes as it is written of him, 
                         but woe to that man by whom the son of man is given up."
  • Mark 14:41 "The hour has come;
                        the son of man is given up into the hands of

Both of these sayings are easily recognized as expanded variations of the preceding logion. Mark 14:41c is close enough to Mark 9:31b// Luke 9:44b to be accepted as an approximate paraphrase.  Mark 14:21b represents a transposition so that the focus is on "that man" who delivers this man rather than those men to whom he is delivered. Given the tradition that Jesus said or did something at his last supper which indicated his betrayer (Mark 14:18-21 par; John 13:21-26), it is not impossible that this warning has an authentic basis. But the formal woe is so consistent with the church's post-crucifixion attitude toward Judas that it is easily read as a Markan reformulation.  The logion to which it is appended, however, (14:21a) is not particularly Markan.  Its authenticity is often challenged because the appeal to scripture sounds so much like post-crucifixion apologetics.   Thus, Lindars proposes that Luke 22:22a with its vaguer reference to predestination gives the more original wording./36/  But Mark makes no reference here to a particular proof text nor is the saying kerygmatic.  The reference is simply to the transitory nature of human life, a sentiment expressed in hosts of OT passages. And the ambiguity of the euphemism "goes" might very well stand behind the tradition that Jesus warned his disciples of his departure in terms they did not understand at the time (Mark 9:31-32, John 14:1-5). Moreover, a logion that mentioned unspecified scripture as describing this man's fate is more likely to be the inspiration for rather than the product of Jesus' disciples' meticulous exegetical studies in the wake of his crucifixion. Print Mark 14:21a par (boldface): red; 14:21b (italics): grey; 14:41b (italics): pink; other words: black.

(c) The servant:

  • Mark 10:45 "The son of man comes not to be served but to serve,
                         and to give his life as a ransom for many."

This verse has been so consistently interpreted as an echo of Isa 53 that it is difficult to see it alluding to anything else. But the first half says simply that man's proper role is to be servant rather than lord, a theme consistent with OT descriptions of man as servant of YHWH. Such a sentiment is more readily traced to Jesus' lips than to followers who after the crucifixion proclaimed that all flesh must bow in proclaiming Jesus as "Lord" (Acts 2:32-35, Phil 2:9-11). Also, while it is hard to get the idea that a human is predestined to a life of service from Isa 52-53, an emphatic claim that this man's mission is to serve would easily, after his death, lead his followers to discover similarities to deutero-Isaiah's suffering servant. Print Mark 10:45a (italics): red; 10:45b: black.

(d) Authority

  • Mark 2:10 "That you may know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins...
              2:11  I say to you rise, take up your pallet and go home."
  • Mark 2:27 "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath;;
              2:28  so the son of man is lord even of the sabbath."

Both of these logia have been dismissed as Markan creations because they focus on themes emphasized by the second evangelist: Jesus' extraordinary authority (1:22,27; 3:15; 6:7; 11:28-29,33), the forgiveness of sins (1:4; 2:15; 3:28), disregard for sabbath restrictions (2:23-24, 3:1-4), and the identification of Jesus as "lord" (11:3, 12:36-37, 14:62). Neither saying is integral to the pericope in which Mark locates it./37/  And the elevation of "the son of man" to a position of unrestricted power contrasts with those portions of the sayings about human destiny that have a good claim to authenticity. Yet none of this indicates that it was Mark who first formulated these statements about "the son of man" or that they were proclamations by some anonymous post-crucifixion prophet. It is historically certain that Jesus said and did things that were considered controversial, if not blasphemous, by other first-century Jews. The evidence that his attitude towards sinners and sabbath regulations were points of dispute is widespread in the tradition and may be accepted as reliable, regardless of the historicity of the particular anecdotes. Given the serious cultural implications of such charges, it may be presumed that he had to defend his behavior. While the themes of forgiveness of sins and sabbath freedom went through development in the early church, there is nothing in the wording of Mark 2:10 or 28 that betrays a post-crucifixion viewpoint. And there are elements intrinsic to these sayings that reflect the perspective of Jesus as a Jew rather than that of those who glorified him.

(1) Mark 2:10 delimits the sphere of the son of man's authority by specifying that it is "on earth."/38/   The implication of this phrase is that no authority is claimed for the son of man "in heaven." If this saying had been composed by someone who saw the son of man as now enthroned at the right hand of God, one would expect an unrestricted affirmation of his jurisdiction, either by the insertion of a ("even on earth") or by the omission of a territorial reference altogether. The presupposition of the statement as stands is not the Christian kerygma's exaltation of one man chosen from among many but, rather, the very Jewish conviction that God placed the Human in charge of earthly affairs, while retaining cosmic dominion for himself (Gen 1:28). Although this idea has generic implications, the earthly ruler is regularly represented as an individual---as Adam or even ben Adam (Ps 8:4)---reflecting the character of the One in whose image he acts. What distinguishes the viewpoint of the author of the gospel logion from that of other first-century Jews is not the claim that God-like authority on earth is assigned to "the son of man" but, rather, that this includes authorization to forgive sins. Still, it is distinctly Jewish to consider forgiveness an attribute of God himself (Ex 34:7; Num 14:18; Ps 86:5, 99:8, 130:4; Dan 9:9).  For a Jew to utter a sentiment like that in Mark 2:10 it would only require a conviction that the role of a (son of) man on earth so mirrors that of his heavenly Creator that any characteristic traditionally associated with the latter can be transferred to the former. Such a radicalization of Jewish convictions is better traced to Jesus than to anyone in the post-crucifixion church. Mark's secondary insertion of this logion into the account of the healing of the paralytic is not evidence that he created it. Elsewhere in the NT the authorization for other humans to forgive sins is traced to Jesus as individual mediator rather than claimed as an innate prerogative of earthly man as such./39/  So, his is the mind most likely to have framed an argument based on the cosmic role of generic humanity.

(2) Mark 2:28 similarly radicalizes human authority in the temporal sphere by claiming that it extends "even" to the sabbath. This assertion makes little sense in a community that saw fit to celebrate resurrection on the first day rather than rest on the seventh. One cannot be lord of what has been abolished. The claims that humanity's God-given dominion (Gen 1:28) is not limited to what was created on the first six days, a thought that might easily occur to a Jew who saw the son of man as surrogate lord over all works of God's creation (Ps 8:6).

(3) The fact that both of these logia are easily explained as radical applications of OT generic references further distinguishes them from the perspectives of both early Christians and Jews other than Jesus. Priests and scribes, who saw themselves as custodians of the covenant, would have perceived such claims on the lips of a layman as a challenge to temple and torah, which had been eternally ordained by God. Yet the followers of Jesus who eventually abrogated these institutions did so, not on the basis of the role the Creator gave to all of Adam's offspring, but by virtue of participation in the messianic lordship bestowed on Jesus. So the fact that here authority is claimed for a generically named figure points to Jesus as author of these sayings. Print italics (Mark 2:10b par and 2:28): red, the rest black.

(e) The vision:

  • Mark 14:62 "You will see the son of man seated at the right hand of Power
                          and coming with the clouds of heaven."
  • Mark 13:26 "Then they will see the son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory."

Once widely seen as clues to the source of "the son of man" logia, these promises of apocalyptic visions are now generally recognized by scholars with widely divergent views of the history of this tradition to be products of post-crucifixion apologetic./40/  The possibility that a first-century Jew, who understood himself in terms of OT descriptions of the cosmic status of "the (son of) man," might take Dan 7:13-14 as describing his personal vindication cannot be rejected simply because it strikes twentieth-century exegetes as insane./41/  But these sayings speak of coming not to, but from heaven. While there was a widespread tradition that Jesus promised his disciples that he would return (Matt 24:44 //Luke 12:40; John 14:3,18,23,28; 1 Thess 4:15), it is only here that there is a clear reference to Dan 7:13-14. Since only in Mark and passages dependent on him does one find repeated allusions to Daniel attributed to Jesus, there is no way to prove that these sayings antedate the second gospel. If they are earlier, they are most easily read as pronouncements by a Christian prophet speaking for his risen lord. Print both sayings: black.

(f) Q parallels:

Mark has three passages (3:28f, 8:12 and 38) related to "son of man" sayings in Q. These versions should be treated together, since in each instance Mark's wording reflects the evangelist's redaction.

2.4. Paradoxical perspectives (Q):

Since Bultmann, scholarly attention has generally focused on Q as containing clues to the origin of "son of man." The problem is that quite opposite conclusions can be drawn from or read into the evidence. On the one hand, Q has eschatological pronouncements that can be understood as heralding the appearance of a figure other than Jesus. On the other, it has the most patently autobiographical statements where "son of man" appears to be little more than a periphrasis for the first person singular pronoun. Moreover, the apparent absence of any reference to the earthly fate of this figure leaves Q's collection of logia strangely disjointed. For there is no point of transition between statements where "the son of man" seems radically imminent and those where he is already immanent. Thus, the anonymous compilers of Q have been credited with making contributions to the development of NT christology that are as contradictory as they are momentous.  If Jesus saw "the son of man" as someone other than himself, then Q is credited with being first to identify the speaker with the one of whom he spoke.

If, on the other hand, Jesus spoke of his earthly experience in terms of "the son of man," then Q was the first to turn this idiom into a title by projecting it into prophetic references to his reappearance. Or, if Jesus did not say anything about "the son of man," then Q is blamed for inventing this name. The question raised by such divergent reconstructions is whether the theory is based on the evidence or the evidence is being made to fit the theory.

(a) Embarrassing experience:

  • Matt 8:20 "Foxes have holes and birds of the air nests
                       but the son of man has no place to lay his head."
  • Matt 11:19 "John comes neither eating nor drinking and you say: He has a demon;
             11:20 the son of man comes eating and drinking
                       and you say: Behold, a glutton and a drunk,
                        a friend of tax-collectors and sinners."

Neither of these statements is likely to have been created in a post-crucifixion context.

(1) Matt 8:20//Luke 9:58 is the best attested "son of man" saying, with not only the synoptics in verbatim agreement but also a close parallel in GThom 86. There is neither kerygmatic content nor didactic moral. "The son of man" here is neither an ideal figure nor a generalization but a concrete person who at the moment of utterance is without a bed. The saying itself has neither apocalyptic imagery nor eschatological urgency. In itself it is not programmatic but rather simply descriptive. While Q takes it as a warning that a disciple of Jesus must be willing to be homeless, it probably originated, not as teaching, but as Jesus' striking comment on his own experience of an ironic inversion of the traditional image of human superiority to the beasts. Such a remark does not refer to the human condition in general but only the momentary predicament of a particular person whose eventual fate remains unresolved./42/

(2) Likewise, in Matt 11:20 "the son of man" is a specific person contrasted with John, whom the predicates make clear is Jesus. Luke's version of this logion has minor hermeneutical clarifications, identifying John as "the Baptist" and the food he abstained from as bread and wine. Both the implied equality of John and Jesus and the scurrilous slur against the eating habits of the latter point towards authenticity. Charges of demon possession and association with sinners might have continued to haunt Jesus' followers after his death. But there would have been no point in inventing a charge of self-indulgence when he was no longer around, nor in repeating it except to recall his response./43/

(3) Both of these sayings are reminders of embarrassing situations that might well have been forgotten had not Jesus made them the pretext for pronouncements that were both dramatic and ironic.  In each logion "the (son of) man" means simply "this man." Print both sayings (Matt 8:20// Luke 9:58//GThom 86 and Matt 11:19//Luke 7:34 (except for editorial interpolations): red.

(b) Provocative pronouncement:

  • Mark 3:28 "All sins will be forgiven the sons of men
                        and whatever blasphemies they utter; but
              3:29 whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness
                       but is guilty of an eternal sin."
  • Matt 12.31 "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but
                        the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven;
              12:32 and whoever says a word against the son of man will be forgiven;
                       but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven,
                       either in this age or in the world to come."
  • Luke 12:10 "Every one who speaks a word against the son of man will be forgiven;
                         but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
  • GThom 44 "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven
                          and whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven
                          but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven
                          either on earth or in heaven."

The legal form of this saying has caused it to be dismissed as a regulation created by the post-crucifixion church. Yet this does not take into account the differences between the versions. The only point on which all four are agreed is that "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit," an offense which remains unexplained, is inexcusable. Mark interprets this as the sole exception to Jesus' proclamation of a blanket amnesty covering every conceivable human offense and quotes it as Jesus' rebuttal to opponents who claim he is motivated by the prince of demons. The link to the Beelzeboul controversy, however, is purely editorial as is evident from the fact that these pericopes appear separately in Luke. Yet, Luke's appending of this logion to one in which "the son of man" serves as public defender is equally artificial. This linkage, however, is indication that the form in which the third evangelist received this saying concerned a singular "son of man" who was subject to rather than initiator of the slander. Lindars is probably correct in attributing the different wordings given by the second and third evangelists to variant translations of a single Aramaic saying./44/  But more than misreading of ambiguous grammar is involved in Mark's version. For Mark regularly understood "the son of man" to be Jesus' unique self-designation. The Q version of this logion, as reproduced by Luke, would absolve anyone who slandered Jesus. Mark 3:30, however, interprets the second half of this saying as a condemnation of those who called Jesus a demoniac. Thus, he had to find an interpretation of the first half that did not make slander against "the son of man" a forgiveable offense. Matthew has clearly inherited both the Markan and Q versions of this saying and as usual simply reproduces both. By giving the Q form second, however, the first evangelist allows "the son of man" in 12:32 to be read as an equivalent of "men" in 12:31. Thus, for Matthew as for Mark, slander against mere humans is forgiveable while that against one who is filled with the Holy Spirit is not. Thomas' interpretation is a secondary reflection of the Matthean form. But its radically anti-trinitarian formula is valuable testimony that the original intention of the saying was to acquit anyone who attacked Jesus, not other men. Luke, for his part, while reproducing Q's more difficult wording, has sought to tone it down by appending it to a warning that anyone who "denies" Jesus on earth will be subject to rejection in heaven (Luke 12:9). The fact that all of the evangelists, except Thomas, are uncomfortable enough with this saying that they try to tone it down is a clear sign that it was not a regulation that was at home in the early church. The only person who was in a position to issue a general reprieve for those who attacked Jesus was Jesus himself.  Modern scholars should have little difficulty with this. Doubts about the authenticity of this logion center, rather, on that portion that early Christians had no trouble with: the unforgiveability of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This strikes many as inconsistent with Jesus' radical acceptance of all kinds of sinners. But there is no evidence that early Christians were any clearer on how to apply the second part of the saying to a post-crucifixion setting than they were on the first (cf. 1 Cor 12:3). In a Jewish and early Christian context the Holy Spirit is not so much the object of human speech as the initiator of it (e.g., Isa 61:1, 1QH 7, Mark 13:11, 1 Cor 12:8). Thus, the second half of this logion is perfectly compatible with the general amnesty proclaimed in the first if one takes it not as a condemnation of opponents but rather as a warning to followers not to respond to slander with slander. Print Luke 12:10 and parallel wording in the variants: red; all else: grey.

(c) Threatened judgment:

  • Matt 10:32 "Everyone who acknowledges me before men,
                         I too will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven;
            10:33   but whoever denies me before men,
                        I too will deny before my Father who is in heaven."
  • Luke 12:8 "Everyone who acknowledges me before men,
                        the son of man will acknowledge before the angels of God;
                       but he who denies me before men will be denied before God."
  • Mark 8:38 “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
                         in this adulterous and sinful generation,
                        of him will the son of man be ashamed,
                         when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
  • Matt 16:27 "The son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father,
                         and then he will repay every man for what he has done."

Once considered to be proof that Jesus distinguished "the son of man" from himself Luke 12:8 and Mark 8:38 are now widely admitted to be products of post-crucifixion crises in which Christians were called upon to deny Jesus. In defending the essential authenticity of these admonitions, Lindars argues that both versions go back to a single Aramaic saying most faithfully represented by Luke 12:8. But he admits that reconstruction of the original and the history of oral transmission is largely a matter of "guesswork."/45/  To project the hypothetical original back into a pre-crucifixion context he has to claim further that the implicit court setting was only meant to be a metaphor. But the only reason he gives for avoiding a more "simple interpretation" is his contention that the bar enaša idiom was characteristic only of utterances of the earthly Jesus./46/  There is, however, no reason why a Christian prophet, speaking for his risen lord, could not have echoed idiosyncracies of authentic utterances in addressing new logia to exhort and encourage a latter-day church. In all the versions of these sayings "the son of man" is understood to be with the angels in the presence of God. Presumably that means he is now in heaven. Luke 12:8//Matt 10:32-33 speak only of his role as advocate before the throne of God. Mark 8:38 and Matthew's derivative substitute, on the other hand, betray an indirect influence of Dan 7:13 in bringing the divine judgment to earth. It remains possible, of course, that behind all these sayings is a promise or warning by Jesus that he would represent his followers before God. But given their present wording, one cannot prove that these variants go back to anything the earthly Jesus said. Print all black.

(d) Uncertain sign:

  • Mark 8:12 "Why does this generation seek a sign?
                          In truth I tell you, no sign shall be given to this generation."
  • Matt 12:39 "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign;
                        but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
            12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale,
                        so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
  • Luke 11:29 "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign,
                          but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
              11:30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh,
                         so will the son of man be to this generation."

These passages have a complex relationship. The fact that there is both a Q and a Markan version of the rebuff to "the generation" that "seeks a sign" indicates its antiquity. And it seems more probable that Mark has suppressed the mention of an exception than that Q has invented one. It is also reasonably certain that this logion was followed in Q by a warning that the men of Nineveh who repented at Jonah's preaching would serve as witnesses against the present generation (Matt 12:41//Luke 11:32). Given the wide disparity between Matt 12:40 and Luke 11:30, however, it is not clear whether Q contained any explanation of the sign of Jonah or not. The fact that both Matthew and Luke parallel Jonah to "the son of man," who is not otherwise mentioned in this context, makes it likely that some such comparison stood in Q./47/  If so, Luke's version is more appropriate to the context. But Luke 11:30 can equally well be read as applying to the contemporaries of either Jesus or the Q preachers. For both were regarded as unresponsive to the message of Jesus./48/  The use of a self-referential "son of man" idiom does not prove that Jesus is the author of this statement but only that the author posed as Jesus' mouthpiece. The real problem with accepting the authenticity of the parallel between Jesus and Jonah lies in proving that the historical Jesus was as much a preacher of repentance and doom as Q makes him out to be. Print Luke 11:30 in grey, Matt 12:40 in black.

(e) Indefinite expectation:

  • Matt 24:44 "You also must be ready;
    Luke 12:40   for the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

Given Q's clear identification of "the son of man" as Jesus, this logion is easily read as a prophetic warning in which the risen lord exhorts the post-crucifixion community to prepare for his coming. Yet, the pervasiveness of an expectation of Jesus' imminent return leaves open the possibility that this was based on something that was said prior to the crucifixion. Of all parousia pronouncements this has the best chance of authenticity. It is closely tied to the parable of the thief (Matt 24:42-43//Luke 12:39) which Paul regarded as common knowledge in the earliest of his letters (1 Thess 5:2-6). The problem, however, is in the tense. The indefinite present ("comes" or "is coming") presupposes that from the speaker's perspective "the son of man" is now somewhere else. It is possible that Q's Greek renders an Aramaic imperfect meant to refer to a future event. If so, this statement may come from an open-ended promise by Jesus facing arrest that his departure would not be permanent: "this man (= I) will come (back to you) sometime" (compare John 14:18). A vague promise like this would explain not only the development of a parousia expectation in the primitive community but the inspiration to place an inverted reading of Dan 7:13 on the lips of Jesus (Mark 13:26 and 14:62). It is generally recognized that Daniel envisions the one who looks like a bar enaš as coming to, rather than from, God. Yet early Christians regularly understood this text as predicting the reverse (Rev 1:7 and 1 Thess 4:15-16). The standardization of such a misreading in so many strands of the tradition is explained, if the primitive church remembered Jesus to have promised to return by saying "the son of man will come." Q's wording, however, so reflects the perspective of a household awaiting the return of its absent head that it is improbable that this prediction is a verbatim report of what Jesus actually said. Print: grey.

(f) Ambiguous time-frame:

  • Luke 17:22 "The days are coming when you will want to see
                          one of the days of the son of man and you will not see it."
  • Luke 17:24 "As flashing lightning lights up the sky from horizon to horizon,
                          so will be the son of man [in his day]."
  • Matt 24:27 "As lightning comes from the east and shines to the west,
                         so will be the parousia of the son of man."
  • Matt 24:37 "As the days of Noah, so will be the parousia of the son of man."
  • Luke 17:26 "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the son of man."
  • Luke 17:28 "Likewise, as it was in the days of Lot...
          17:30 so it will be on the day the son of man is revealed."
  • Matt 24:38 "For as in those days...they did not know until the flood came,
             24:39 so will be the parousia of the son of man"

These sayings are the lynchpins that have kept the theory that Jesus expected a "son of man" other than himself rolling. On the other hand, those who deny a pre-Christian "son of man" expectation feel compelled to claim that they are incompatible with the authentic use of the Aramaic idiom. It is generally assumed that "the son of man" in these sayings is understood to be not yet present. But that impression is more the result of taking these verses within the hermeneutical framework provided by Q and the evangelists than of wording intrinsic to the Lukan version of the core logia.

1) Matthew's parousia motif is recognizable as his own interpretive interpolation. The original Q sayings focused only on "the day(s) of the son of man." Clearly, both Q and Luke understood this phrase as referring to a future cataclysmic manifestation of Jesus. The probable basis for such an understanding is apologetic use of OT prophecies of "the day of the Lord" (yom YHWH). Since the Greek term κύριος was used ambiguously in Hellenistic translations of the OT to refer to God and the messianic king and, in the apostolic mission, to Jesus, it is easy to understand how Greek-speaking Christians would apply predictions traditionally associated with YHWH's decisive intervention in history to expectations of the return of Jesus. And as the Q community knew Jesus referred to himself not as "Lord" but as "the son of man," the substitution of the latter for the former would be a prerequisite of attributing such eschatological predictions to Jesus. The primary flaw in such an explanation is that the idea of the "day of the Lord" or even a single "day" of "the son of man" is probably not the seed from which these sayings developed. Luke 17:29-30 comes from the mind of the third evangelist rather than Q. And the phrase "in his day" is missing in several important manuscripts of Luke 17:24./49/

(2) The plural "days of the son of man" in Luke 17:26 is probably a pre-Lukan formula, paralleling "the days of Noah" (cf. Matt 24:37). This is most simply taken to mean "in his time." No future reference is implied in the phrase itself or necessary to be read into it to make sense out of this logion. There is no intrinsic reason why Jesus could not have compared his own pre-crucifixion era to the days of Noah. Nor would the point of such a comparison necessarily be to focus on cataclysmic destruction. As in the reference to the sign of Jonah (Matt 12:39b//Luke 11:29b) the core logion leaves the point of parallel with the OT figure deliberately enigmatic. Luke 17:27 is easily dismissed as a hermeneutical appendix to this saying created by a commentator who was trying to make the primary reference unambiguous. In Jewish sources "the generation of Noah" was a standard metaphor for a sinful world rather than the flood itself. Noah, however, and those who were with him were the exceptions. So, the original reason for mentioning Noah may have been to make "the son of man" the focus of salvation rather than the harbinger of destruction. Those who stuck with him could expect to be saved whatever his "days" may bring. This was, after all, the meaning of the ark symbolism in the primitive Christian church.

Whatever was anticipated "the son of man" must be seen as a figure already on earth for the parallel with Noah to be exact. It is only in the post-crucifixion era, when the subject was no longer physically present, that this logion would be taken as a prediction of his reappearance before an eschatological crisis. Print Luke 17:26 and Matt 24:37 red (except for the latter's reference to the parousia); print the parousia reference and Luke 17:28f and Matt 24:38ff black.

(3) The same can be said of Luke 17:24. The explicit point of comparison between "the son of man" and a lightning bolt is not the unexpected suddenness of the appearance of the latter but rather its ability to pierce the darkness and illuminate the horizons. Thus, the reason for this analogy is to emphasize a man's ability to enlighten the world (cf. John 1:9, 8:12; Matt 5:14a). There is no hint of apocalyptic crisis in this saying at all./50/  It is simply a simile based on observation of a natural phenomenon. If universal illumination is the original focus of this logion, why did the author choose lightning as his metaphor rather than daylight or some celestial body? The reason becomes clearer when one brings Luke 17:22 into focus.

Because there is no Matthean parallel, Luke 17:22 is often dismissed as a creation of the third evangelist. But this ignores both the content of this logion and its context. Luke, like Q, clearly understood the following string of sayings as predictions of a dramatic and unanticipated manifestation of the risen Jesus. So it is odd that he prefaced such prophecies with a statement warning his readers that they would not see "the son of man." The notion of a delayed parousia is insufficient to explain the wording of Luke 17:22, because here there is no reference to "the day when the son of man is revealed" (17:30) but, rather, only to his "days." As in 17:26 this term is better interpreted as indicating a time when "the son of man" is already present than the moment of his arrival. If one disregards the following catena, Luke 7:22 is easily understood as a warning by Jesus to his disciples that his time among them is coming to an end. The days of this man, like those of any human, are numbered. Luke, however, has not understood the saying this way, which is a good sign that he did not create it./51/

The emphasis on the transiency of human life in Luke 17:22 helps to explain the imagery in 17:24. A man's light is not like that of the sun or any celestial body, because it shines with momentary brilliance and then is gone (cf. John 12:35). Lightning is a most appropriate metaphor for the character of the enlightenment provided by any "son of man." Print Luke 17:22 and 24 red; print Matt 24:27 grey.

From the thirty-seven "son of man" sayings in the gospels (not counting parallel variants), one can isolate eleven logia whose perspective antedates that of the post-crucifixion kerygma and eschatological expectations. Five of these are in Mark:

(i) 2:10 "The son of man has authority on earth to forgive sin."

(ii) 2:28 "The son of man is lord even of the sabbath."

(iii) 10:45a "The son of man came to serve, not to be served."

(iv) 4:21a "The son of man goes as it is written of him."

(v) 9:31b "The son of man is to be given over into the hands of men.
                 (=Luke 9:44; echoes are also found embedded in Mark's
                 kerygmatic predictions in 10:33b, 14:21b and 14:41d).

The other six are from Q:

(vi) Matt 8:20 "Foxes have holes and birds of the air nests,
                         but the son of man has no place to lay his head.">
                         (= Luke 9:58//GThom 86)

(vii) Matt 11:18 "John comes neither eating nor drinking,
                            and you say he has a demon;
                 11:19  the son of man comes eating and drinking,
                            and you say: Behold, a glutton and a drunk,
                            a friend of tax-collectors and sinners."
                            (//Luke 7:33-34)

(viii) Luke 17:22 "The days are coming when you will want to see
                             one of the days of the son of man and you will not see it.

(ix) Luke 17:24 "As lightning lights up the sky from horizon to horizon,
                            so is the son of man [in his day]."

(x) Luke 17:26 "As it was in the days of Noah,
                           so it will be in the days of the son of man."

Luke 12:10 "Everyone who speaks a word against the son of man will be forgiven;
                     but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
          (//Matt 12:32; with paraphrased variants in Mark 8:38f, Matt 12:31, GThom 44).

Both collections reveal similar reflections on the status of the subject: his life is transient (iv, v, vi, viii, ix) and his behavior controversial (i, ii, vii, xi) but appropriate to a man of God (iii, x), thoughts reflecting the outlook of an itinerant radical Jewish sage. Other sayings may be based on things Jesus said. But their present form has been so shaped by the perspective of the community of the risen Jesus that they cannot with confidence be cited as evidence of his views of "the son of man."

Of the eleven logia with a reasonable claim to authenticity, none is directly dependent upon a particular OT text. Yet eight (all of those in Mark and Luke 9:58, 17:22 and 17:24) betray some reflection by the author on the paradoxical images of man's cosmic status in Jewish scripture. Gen 1, Ps 8, and various statements in the prophets and wisdom literature about the transitory character of human existence may have been in the back of the author's mind when he spoke about "the son of man." Still, these eight sayings refer neither to "man in general," nor to "any man in my position" but, rather, are reflexive statements about the speaker's own experience "in the position of man." The doubly definite "son of man" here refers at once to the generic human condition and to the particular experience of this man. In only three sayings (Matt 11:18-19, 24:44b and Luke 17:26) has the emphasis on circumstances peculiar to the speaker come so much to the fore that the "son of man" idiom can be regarded as a virtual circumlocution for the first person. Yet even here the term is best translated as "this man" rather than "I".

There are no provably authentic echoes of Dan 7:13 in the sayings of Jesus. Yet the inspiration for seeing him as the subject of this text may have come from something he said (cf. above 2.4e). In fact, the authentic sayings in both Mark and Q provide a sufficient basis for development of all the secondary accretions and formulations regarding both the temporal difficulties and cosmic authority of "the son of man." In the transition from the perspective of Jesus to that of the post-crucifixion church there was no creation of a new sphere of predication about "the son of man." Nor was the self-referential idiom transformed into a title. Rather, things that Jesus said about himself while physically present were repeated and echoed when he was absent. Thus, the words spoken by this son of man about his own life were refocused and developed to illuminate the historical horizons of those sons---and daughters---of Man whom he had left behind.

/1/ For summaries of recent scholarship see W. O. Walker, "Some Recent Developments," 589-598 and J. R. Donahue, "Recent Studies on the Origin of 'Son of Man' in the Gospels," 484-496.

/2/ See Bultmann, Theology of the NT 1, 29-32; Colpe, TDNT 8, 433-441; Tödt, Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition, 224-227; Higgins, Son of Man in the Teaching of Jesus, 123-125; A. Y. Collins, "Origin of the Designation of Jesus as 'Son of Man'," 4O2-403.

/3/ See Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 185-186; Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 27-29; Casey, "General, Generic and Indefinite," 36-49.

/4/ See Perrin, IDB Supplement, 833-835; Modern Pilgrimage in NT Christology, 58-66; Walker, "Origin of the Son of Man Concept as Applied to Jesus," 487; " Some Recent Developments," 595-606.

/5/ E.g., Leivestad, "Exit the Apocalyptic Son of Man," 244-246 and Lindars, "Reenter the Apocalyptic Son of Man," 54,72. More recently, against: Walker "Some Recent Developments," 585,589, 607; Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 3-8; and for: Horbury, "Messianic Associations," 36,53; A. Y. Collins, "Origin of the Designation of Jesus," 403, 406.

/6/ So, Collins, "Origins," 404.

/7/ Compare 1 Enoch 46 and 62 with Dan 7:9-16,26-27.

/8/ A. Segal (Two Powers in Heaven, x-xi) suggests a relationship of the rabbinic dispute to NT christological problems. P. S. Alexander (in Charlesworth, OT Pseudepigrapha 1, 246-247) and C. Rowland (Open Heaven 347-348, and "John 1:51, Jewish Apocalyptic and Targum," 498) also indicate points where NT christology ties into the trajectory linking apocalyptic speculation to later Jewish mystical exegesis.

/9/ See Moloney, "Reinterpretation," 660-661.

/10/ See Casey's meticulous review of possible echoes of Daniel 7:13 in the NT (Son of Man, 202-206).

/11/ E.g., Mark 13:32-37 par; 1 Thess 5:1-2; 2 Thess 2:1-3; Rev 3:3.

/12/ E.g., Collins, "Origin," 402-403; Walker, "Recent Developments," 607.

/13/ E.g., Rev 1:13, 14:4; and Justin Martyr, DialTryph 31.1, 32.1, 76.1, 100.3 and 126.1. The next to last is particularly significant as Justin quotes Jesus as using two definite articles, but follows with an anarthous "son of man" in his interpretation. See Borsch, Christian and Gnostic Son of Man, 36-48.

/14/ E.g., Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 36-37, 49-54; Bultmann, Theology of the NT 1, 33-52; Walker, "Recent Developments," 605-607.

/15/ E.g., Fitzmyer, "New Testament Title," 153-154; Walker, "Recent Developments," 585, 589; Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 27, 65-66; but Vermes denies that "son of man" functioned as a title even in the NT (Jesus the Jew, 185).

/16/ John 12:34 is no exception. The crowd here merely claims to echo Jesus' words and asks for clarification: "how is it you say ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου must be lifted up?' Who is this ' ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου'?" The Greek clearly represents Jesus' audience as being confused by Jesus' terminology rather than seeking to discover the personal name of a messianic claimant.

/17/ See Walker, "Origin," 489-490.

/18/ Compare Mark 13:26 par and 14:62 par. Though in both cases Luke departs from the Markan wording, it is virtually certain that he knew the version of the logia recorded in the second gospel.

/19/ "Why do you ask me about the son of man? He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the great Power and will come on the clouds of heaven" (Ecclesiastical History 2.23.13; compare Mark 14:62). It is unclear at what level ' ὁ υἵος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου' came into this report. But as a distant echo, the Greek is unreliable evidence of the vocabulary of Jesus' brother or that of any other member of the Jerusalem church.

/20/ Borsch, Christian and Gnostic Son of Man, 111. Most quotations by Greek heresiologists use the anarthous υἵος ἀνθρώπου. The exceptions in Hippolytus' descriptions of the teachings of the Peratae and Monoimus (Menahem) are obviously based on John or Paul. The article in Coptic texts may reflect the influence of the Greek NT idiom on translation. But these betray no direct dependence on the logia of any gospel (see also, Christian and Gnostic, 59-110).

/21/ Barn 12:10; Ignatius Eph 20:2; Justin Dial 100.3.

/22/ Mark 8:38 par, 13:26 par; Luke 11:30 par, 12:8 par, 12:40 par, 17:24,26 par and 17.28-30

/23/ Sf III.16; Dan 7:13; 1QapGen 31.13; 11QtgJob 9.9 and 26.3; cf. Fitzmyer, Wandering Aramaean, 147-148; Casey, "General, Generic, and Indefinite," 22-23.

/24/ So, Fitzmyer, Wandering Aramaean, 147, 153; Casey considers them "quite sufficient" ("General, Generic, and Indefinite," 22).

/25/ See Casey, "General, Generic and Indefinite," 31; but Fitzmyer argues that first-century evidence does not prove that the emphatic state was no longer determinate (Wandering Aramaean, 154).

/26/ See Casey's admission ("General, Generic and Indefinite," 28).

/27/ Casey, "General, Generic and Indefinite," 32; Son of Man, 230-231.

/28/ Judah ha Nasi's burial request (yKet 35a) and two remarks by Simeon ben Yohai (yBer 3b and ySheb 38d); see analysis in (iv) below.

/29/ Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 163, 181-182. 

/30/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 23; "Response," 35-38.

/31/ E.g., Fitzmyer, Wandering Aramaean, 154; Bauckham, "Son of Man," 24ff; Casey,Son of Man, 224-227; "General, Generic and Indefinite," 28-36.

/32/ So, Fitzmyer, Wandering Aramaean, 155.

/33/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 31-32; Vermes, Jesus the Jew 165-166.

/34/ While targums are no guarantee of first-century oral translation of particular verses, they do indicate something of the range of the בר אנשא [bar (e)naš(a)] idiom. As a replacement for בן אדם [ben adam] (Ps 8:5, 80:18, 146:3; Job 25:6, 35:8) and בן אנוש [ben enoš (Ps 144:3) it was a natural choice. But it was also used for אנוש [enoš] (Ps 8:5; Job 25:6), גבר [geber] (Job 16:21), יש [] (Exod 19:13; Deut 34:6), and especially אדם [adam] (Gen1:26f, 2:18, 8:21, 9:5; Deut 5:21, 20:19; Ps 144:4; Job 34:29). See Fitzmyer, Wandering Aramaean, 151-152.

/35/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 68, 74.

/36/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 75-76.

/37/ John's version of healing of the paralytic focuses on the command to carry the pallet (5:8-12) without relating it to Jesus' authority to forgive; and the debate over the violation of sabbath restrictions by the disciples (not Jesus!) is better resolved by the pronouncement in Mark 2:27 than by reference to "the son of man."

/38/ The various locations of ἐν τῇ γῇ in the manuscripts indicate that early scribes found this phrase problematic.

/39/ John 20:23; Matt 16:19, 18:18. See also Acts 2:38, 10:43, 13:38, Col 3:13, and Eph 4:32 where forgiveness is linked directly to Jesus' name and example.

/40/ E.g., Perrin, Rediscovering, 173-181; Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 108-112; Higgins, Teaching of Jesus, 77-80; Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 182-183; J. Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 209-210.

/41/ E.g., Bultmann, NT Theology 1, 29-30; J. Knox, Death of Christ, 58.

/42/ For fuller discussion see Smith, "No Place for a Son of Man." See also, Vaage, "Q1 and the Historical Jesus," 166-167.

/43/ See also Vaage, "Q1 and the Historical Jesus," 165-166; Cotter ("Children Sitting in the Agora," 76-77) admits the historicity of the accusation, but declines to trace this saying to Jesus. [These papers appeared after this essay was written].

/44/ See Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 35-38. He reconstructs the original Aramaic as:
        we-kol di yomar millah le-bar enasha, yishtebeq leh;
        we-kol di yomar le-rucha de-qudsha, la yishtebeq leh.

/45/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 51-53.

/46/ Lindars, Jesus Son of Man, 54-57.

/47/ So Tödt, Synoptic Tradition, 211-213. But Perrin argues that this is an artificial link between two independent dominical sayings produced at some unspecified point in the "developing Christian exegetical tradition" (Rediscovering, 192-195).

/48/ Lindars suggests that Jonah was mentioned to point to the extraordinary popular response to Jesus' preaching (Jesus Son of Man, 41). But see Matt 11:16-24//Luke 7:31-35, 10:13-15.

/49/ Notably, p75 (third century), codex Vaticanus (fourth century), and codex Cantabrigiensis (sixth century) and early Latin and Coptic translations.

/50/ Perrin cites Bar 53:9 as evidence that lightning was "a commonplace of apocalyptic" (Rediscovering, 196).

/51/ Lindars attributes the strangeness of this verse to Luke's “difficulty in integrating the material" (Jesus Son of Man, 94). One could believe that of Mark or even Matthew, but hardly of Luke!  For full examination of this passage see M. H. Smith, "Missing the Son of Man."

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  • This paper was first presented on 3 March 1988 to a session of the Jesus Seminar at Sonoma, CA. An edited version was published in FORUM 7,3-4 (1991) 207-242. This revised hypertext edition was posted on 1 February 2006.

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