Mahlon H Smith,
mian ton hmeron tou uiou tou anqrwpou idein
kai ouk opsesqe
The days will come
when you will want
to see one of the days of the son of man
and you will not see.
-- Luke 17:22
While some sayings using the Greek
idiom ho huios tou anthrópou ("son of man") have been the
focus of repeated evaluation by the Jesus seminar, no vote has yet been
registered for Luke 17:22 (SP 233). The saying is not multiply attested and is
widely regarded as an editorial insertion between the repeated "Look,
here!" and "Look, there!" of 17:21 and 23./1/
17:20-21 deals with key themes in Mark: Pharisees demanding signs (Mark 8:11)
and the timing of the kingdom of God (Mark 9:1). Luke 17:23-30 picks up Q
material about the time of "the son of man" which Matthew (24:26-39)
dovetails with Mark's little apocalypse (Matt 24:15-25//Mark 13:14-23)./2/
If Luke 17:22 is merely an
editorial link between material drawn from two identifiable sources, there is
little reason to consider it as a separate saying that may be traced to Jesus.
But a closer look reveals that it ill fits the notch into which it has been
inserted. And the logical gaps are large enough to argue that Luke is here
utilizing a pre-formed logion that can ultimately be traced to Jesus.
Scholars have regularly interpreted
Luke 17:22 as referring to the the son of man's parousia./3/
the key word here is "interpreted". The word parousia is not
found here nor, for that matter, anywhere else in Luke. The subject coming in
this sentence is not "the son of man" but "days."
(a) No appearance.
The "coming" of v. 22 is
one of only two verbal links to the preceding Lukan context: v. 20 focuses on
the expected "coming" of the kingdom of God and v. 21 warns not to
run here or there to see (idein) what is already present. But such
links mask the fact that relation of subjects, movement and modifiers in these
sayings is not parallel. In v. 20 someone asks when the kingdom will come. In
v. 22 there is neither question nor suggestion of the son of man's arrival or
epiphany. What is "coming" is days when he will not be seen (idein).
Instead of making an appearance, in the coming days the son of man will be
discovered to be absent./4/
In reading connected sayings whose
logic is discontinuous, one must not draw inferences from the evangelist's
context, especially if one of those sayings is transitional, as Luke 17:22
seems to be. Luke is not the only evangelist to link sayings about the coming
of the son of man and kingdom of God./5/ But no saying covers the coming
of both together./6/ Luke knows sayings about the son of man
"coming"./7/ Thus, his decision not to mention his arrival
here must be deliberate. The question is whether his choice of words is his
own or that of a source.
Scholars disagree over whether Luke
17:22 came from Q./8/ Those who include it in the eschatological
discourse concluding the sayings source claim Matthew dropped the first (and
last?) of Q's string of son of man sayings (17:22,24,26, and perhaps 28-30) in
folding them into Mark's little apocalypse. Those who don't include it, argue
that Luke created it as an editorial seam to introduce Q material. The lack of
a Matthean parallel sways many cautious scholars to accept the latter option.
But even if it is questionable that Luke 17:22 came from Q, one can show that
it is not characteristic of Luke.
(a) Q’s cataclysm.
One can see Luke's understanding of
Q's son of man sayings by the way in which he has framed them. On the one
hand, he introduces them with the question of the coming of the kingdom of God
(17:20-21). On the other, he concludes them (17:28-30) by comparing the
"day" of the son of man's apocalypse to the destruction of
Sodom in the "days of Lot."/9/ While the kingdom may sneak in
silently, Luke certainly doesn't think the son of man will. He will appear
with fireworks. All this is just as uniquely in Luke as 17:22. The question
here is not whether the Lot saying stood in Q or Luke invented it, but rather
what its inclusion here says about Luke’s view of the "day" or
"days" of the son of man. The latter’s appearance is as sudden and
cataclysmic as anything in Mark or Matthew. It could cost your life (17:32).
(b) Q’s vocabulary.
Whether Q's eschatological discourse
included the destruction of Sodom or only Noah's flood, it is clear that
Luke's use of the son of man's "day" or "days" comes from
the wording of his source. If Q had mentioned parousia, then Luke has
systematically replaced it with a more common Semitic idiom. It is more likely
that reference to the son of man's parousia in Matt 24 is a uniquely
Matthean hybrid, adapting the language of Hellenistic Jewish eschatology to
interpret Q sayings with a Semitic subject./10/ Thus, at the very least
the vocabulary of Luke 17:22 is that of Q.
The perspective of Luke 17:22 is
hardly derived from the following Q sayings. In the latter the "day"
or "days" of the son of man is a blinding revelation, consuming all
but the few alert enough to escape. In the former it is something one cannot
find even if one seeks it. The days of Noah (17:26) or Lot (17:28) are times
that only the self-righteous would want to see. And only the foolhardy
might miss them.
It is generally assumed that Luke
17:22 refers to the eschaton. But again any eschatological connotation has to
be read in from what follows. There the "days" of Noah and Lot are
described in detail; here the "days" of the son of man are not. Nor
is one told which "one" is sought or why.
Some have suggested that Luke
introduced this saying to stress the eschaton's delay. But if so, he could
have made this clearer! Why, then, did he bother to copy and emphasize
not only Q's eschatological discourse but also Mark's little apocalypse (Luke
21)?/11/ In both Jesus gives instructions for dealing with cosmic emergency.
To introduce a warning with a notice that "days will come" when it
will not be needed is counter-productive. The idea that Luke rehearsed these
eschatological passages simply because, as a meticulous scholar, he felt
obliged to quote his sources verbatim and in full, is pure hogwash. His
handling of Mark shows his readiness to delete, revise and rearrange material
in a written source to make it fit his view of history. Moreover, he proves
that he can create polished logical transitions. If so elsewhere, why not
here? There must be a better explanation of this verse than to claim that Luke
suddenly became a clumsy editor./12/
Contextual analysis reveals Luke
17:22 to be an isolated saying that must be evaluated as a
self-contained aphorism. Textual and methodological observations show it
cannot be dismissed as Luke's creation:
As an awkward transition whose
relation to the surrounding material is based on verbal catchwords rather than
sequential logic, 17:22 is not typically Lukan. Catchword, thematic and
structural parallels are common devices in Q to join sayings with different
origins and logic. At other points Luke has discontinuous sequences of
proverbial wisdom and cryptic comments. But unless there are obvious Lukan
elements, he is generally conceded to be compiling rather than inventing.
17:22 contains no wording that is
peculiar to Luke. On the contrary, almost every word is found in the appended
sayings, which can be traced to Q. Yet it does not echo either their detail or
their viewpoint, making it a poor example of editorial mimicry. As a proven
master of detail and logic, Luke can be expected to compose a clearer and
closer copy of the Q son of man sayings than this.
17:22 neither introduces nor develops
the speech in which it stands but, rather, complicates its message by making a
prediction at odds with what comes before and after. First the disciples are
told not to look for what is here (17:21), then that what they look for will
not be found anywhere (17:22), then that it will be visible everywhere, even
to those who don't seek it (17:24). One expects such dizzying reversals of the
gospel of Thomas but not Luke.
2.1. Dramatic setting.
The lack of eschatological detail in Luke 17:22
is important to note. But more basic for locating the historical horizons of
both speaker and audience are the internal temporal references. The saying
begins and ends with a reference to "days"; but these are not
(a) A ticking clock.
The fact that the first "days" are
future ("will come") starts the clock ticking. The formula echoes
Hebrew prophetic threats or promises, but none with an overt eschatological
date./13/ Rather, the focus is on a future era when the predicted conditions
will finally come to pass. Things will change. Here there are no spatial
markers to identify the time of transformation; there is only the movable
temporal indicator that as time passes a second set of "days", those
of the son of man, will not be seen.
The strict logic of this progression necessitates locating the son of man in
the audience's present rather than the future. The condition for the
disappearance of his days is the passing of time. There is no hint that they or
he cannot be seen now. Far from being an eschatological persona whose
presence is approaching, this son of man is a historical presence whose time is
As structured this saying speaks not of eschatological hope but of future
regret. There is no claim that those addressed want to see the son of man
now, but they are told that sometime in the future they will. It is not a person
who is the subject of this coming but the audience's desire. And they are
told that this will be frustrated. They will want to see what they no longer
(b) Time sharing.
A detail that is generally ignored or misunderstood
is that the predicted longing will be for "one of the
days."/14/ This is no way to refer to a cosmic end-time! Eschatology
has one temporal focus, the punctiliar climax ("that day" or, in the
NT, "hour"), beyond which is only eternity./15/
precede that moment may be expressed in terms of duration ("those
days"), but always as an undivided whole.
"Days" is not an eschatological word, but the standard Semitic way
of referring to any era: past, present, or future. Their extent is determined by
the subject in apposition, which is often a particular human person./16/
So, "days of the son of man" implies his historical presence. And to
tell people that they will long for just one of them without qualification is to
say that his presence, the time shared with him, is what they will miss.
2.2. Conceptual background.
For Semites, God's time is
"everlasting"; but human time is measured in terms of
"days." And it is axiomatic among Semitic sages that a human's days
are limited./17/ One comes, one goes; only one thing is certain: no human
will stay forever. To be human is to have a temporary presence.
(a) Existential wisdom.
While awareness that human existence is
fleeting sometimes gave individual Semitic sages an acute attack of existential
Angst (e.g., Job), they generally expressed their awareness of temporality in
objective generic terms. It is not just "my" days that are few, but
those of humanity (adam, enosh) in general. And so it is not a
unique "son of man" whose days disappear; disappearance is an
unavoidable fact of human existence. By definition, there will come a day
when the days of any "son (or daughter) of man" will not be
seen. Thus, Luke 17:22 fits better into the world-view of Semitic wisdom than
Jewish Christian eschatology. From this vantage point it is an aphorism of
universal existential significance.
(b) Jesus’ usage.
The very universality of this aphorism makes it
imperative to trace it to the proper speaker. Any Semite might speak of human
existence in terms of "the son of man."/18/ But, in the gospels
this idiom is found only on the lips of Jesus. This is probably because
Greek-speaking Christians regarded it as a barbarism but, out of respect for
Jesus, translated it rather literally whenever it occurred in sayings ascribed
Luke 17:22 deserves more serious consideration as a genuine Jesus logion than
most son of man sayings, since recent writers have established that Jesus' own
use of this idiom was probably more generic and existential than eschatological./20/
The Jesus Seminar's voting on son of man sayings has
supported this trend./21/ Luke 17:22 is, in fact, an even better
example of the simultaneous generic and existential connotations of the
"son of man" idiom by Semitic sages than either of the sayings of
Jesus that have garnered a pink vote (Mark 2:27-28 par; Matt 8:20//Luke
If the characterization of Jesus as a sage is taken
seriously, there is no reason to think he could not be the source of a
piece Semitic wisdom like Luke 17:22. There are really only two obstacles to
showing that he probably was:
(1) Limited attestation:
among extant sources, only Luke credits this
saying to Jesus;
(2) Lack of dissimilarity:
in vocabulary and worldview this saying is
such standard Jewish wisdom that anyone could have said it.
The combination of these two criteria justifies some caution in tracing Luke
17:22 to Jesus. Single attestation by itself would pose no problem, if the
logion reflected Jesus’ penchant for turning traditional wisdom on its head.
For there are several demonstrably genuine Jesus sayings that can be traced to
only one written source, and some the most prominent (notably, the parables of
the good Samaritan, prodigal son and unjust steward) are now found only in Luke.
But their authenticity is granted precisely because they are so unlike the
outlook of anyone else at the time. Conversely, even a multiply attested Jesus
saying becomes questionable, if it is indistinct from things that others in that
period were saying. So reservations about the pedigree of Luke 17:22 must depend
ultimately on its apparent lack of dissimilarity.
Yet, this lack of dissimilarity is more apparent than real. Despite the fact
that sapiential observations tend to sound alike, the voices of individual sages
may be distinguished if one considers not only characteristic speech patterns
but dramatic spaces. After all, how clearly you hear a speaker depends upon the
path of the sound. Luke 17:22 may seem to be a standard piece of Jewish wisdom,
but it comes to us, not from a compendium of Judean proverbs, but from the most
obviously Gentile scribe among early Christian writers. We have already noted
that this verse is not a typically Lukan construction./22/ So the questions that
face us are: where did Luke get if from and why did he ascribe it to Jesus when
other more Judaic gospel writers did not? Which is more likely: that Luke
interpolated a Semitic common place or that Matthew and others dropped it?
(a) Not a Generalization.
Luke 17:22 is probably not a free creation
by the evangelist. Nor is it a general proverb that might have freely circulated
in Jewish Christian circles. Neither is it formally a meditation on the passing
of human days. While the speaker has the world of such Semitic wisdom behind
him, before him is an audience who is being alerted to time limits on its
association with "the son of man".
The use of this idiom here is generic but not general. It makes no more sense
to tell people that some day they will miss the time constraints on human
existence than to tell them that someday (but not now) they will miss time with
one who has yet to appear on the stage of history. The logical space between
audience and "son of man" requires that he be seen here as a
particular person. The only question is whether this reference to a son of man
whose presence will be missed originated as a statement about a third party or
about the speaker himself.
(b) Not a third party prediction.
As elsewhere, the idiom "the
son of man" (ho huios tou anthropou) sounds so objective that many
scholars interpret such sayings as statements about someone other than the
speaker. If the idiom points to Jesus, the saying is taken as a statement by
somebody else; conversely, if Jesus is regarded as the speaker, the idiom is
read as a pointer to a third party./23/ While such interpretations may
make sense of parousia pronouncements, neither option is plausible in the
case of Luke 17:22, where the horizons are historical rather than
eschatological, and the days of this son of man are not coming but going.
Luke 17:22 is obviously not a Jesus pronouncement about someone else. The
only historical person other than Jesus whose imminent
disappearance he himself might plausibly have predicted is John the
Baptist. But John is clearly not the missing person of Luke 17:22. While Luke
transmits the Q passage where Jesus identifies John as "the greatest born
of woman" (Luke 7:28//Matt 11:11), in almost the next breath he echoes Q’s
radical distinction between John and "the son of man" (Luke
7:33-34//Matt 11:18-19). Nobody who used the son of man designation to contrast
two figures so sharply is apt to turn around and confuse them.
Nor was any of Jesus’ followers in a position to announce his impending
disappearance. True, long after the crucifixion Mark and John reported that
Jesus predicted his own demise in son of man sayings that were not understood
until after the fact./24/ The details of such statements are easily
recognized as inventions of Christian story-tellers to reassure readers that
their vanquished hero was fully aware---and thus master---of his own destiny.
For accurate premonitions of catastrophe can transform even the greatest tragedy
into a personal triumph, as clairvoyants from Jeremiah to Jean Dixon have
demonstrated. Thus, the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion is diminished by gospel
assurances that he knew exactly what was going to happen (even if his disciples
did not) and confronted death with a triumphant, or at least stoic, spirit.
Luke 17:22, however, is categorically different from both the well-informed
predictions ex eventu typical of Mark and the optimistic cryptic
euphemisms for crucifixion that one finds in John. Here the speaker neither
tells what is to happen to the son of man nor offers a theologized explanation.
The audience is left simply with a disturbingly vague reminder that someday
someone will be missing in action. This is not the sort of statement that any
fan of Jesus is apt to have fabricated to honor him. For the only thing the
speaker is sure of is that this human being is not going to outlive his
(c) Subjective reflection.
While Luke 17:22 makes little sense
in reference to a third party, it makes perfectly good sense as Jesus’
reflection on his own temporal limits. Anyone can tell somebody, "Some day
you're going to miss me!," and many, in fact, do. Such a statement requires
no special psychic powers, just a realistic awareness that the speaker is not
exempt from the constraints that time imposes on the general human condition.
The very ordinariness of this observation makes it more likely that Luke 17:22 is
a genuine Jesus saying rather than a sentiment that a later Christian author
(Luke or the editor of Q) placed on Jesus’ lips.
(1) Editorial nonsense.
Even though the logical gaps in the context
show that Luke did not fabricate this saying, he may have mended it by replacing
a first person pronoun with "the son of man" as in 6:22 (cf. Matt
5:11). Those who resist accepting the possibility that Jesus could use "son
of man" as a circumlocution for the first person pronoun automatically
favor this option. Jesus admittedly used "son of man"; but, they
claim, it was the community of his followers who narrowed its usage to a
personal nickname for their leader. The evangelists (and probably others)
demonstrably created son of man sayings and revised others to include this
idiom. So if Luke makes Jesus speak of himself as the son of man elsewhere (at
least in 22:48) what is to prevent that from being the case here?
But this makes editorial nonsense! Without "son of man" Luke's only
reason for inserting it before Q's eschatological discourse is its reference to
"days". But then he surely would have noticed that the subjects' days
are portrayed here as slipping inexorably into the past, to join those of Noah
and Lot (17:26,28). For him the "day" (sing.!) of the son of man is
future emphatic (17:30). If he edits Q by inserting an allusion to the Markan
theme of the son of man's suffering (17:25) to clarify for the reader that the
historically uncertain "day" of the son of man in 17:24 is to occur
after the crucifixion, then why did he not also change "days" to
"day" here and eliminate the "not see" as well? Elsewhere he
makes Jesus tell his audience to prepare to stand in the son of man's presence
(21:36). They would surely see and spend time with him then!
(2) Genuine logion.
The only way to account for the wording of this
saying on the lips of Luke's Jesus is that it came to Luke as a Jesus saying in
its present wording. Either it stood in Q or he got it from an anonymous oral
A case can be made for its presence as the original incipit of Q’s
so-called "eschatological discourse" (Luke 17:23-37//Matt
24:26-28,37-41). For its key terms ("days" and "son of man")
provide the motifs that link the central sayings of Q’s aphoristic cluster
(Luke 17:24,26,30). Moreover, without it, this Q discourse begins with an
unintelligible warning (Luke 17:23):
they'll tell you "Look, there!" or "Look, here!" [kai
erousin umin:idou ekei ekei, idou wde
rush off! Don't
mh apelqhte mhde diwxhte]
Unlike a similar sentence in the Markan
apocalypse (Mark 13:21) which has the Messiah as the subject sighted, the quest
that launches this Q cluster is strangely unfocused despite the fact that its
logic requires an identifiable antecedent. Moreover, the logic of Luke 17:23 is
identical with that of 17:22. At some unspecified point in the future what
is sought will not be found anywhere. The implied subject
could not have been either the kingdom of God (which Luke 17:20-21 just declared
to be already present "within you") or some future day of the
son of man (which Luke 17:24 claims will be visible from horizon to
horizon). Thus, it is the disappearing days of the son of man in Luke 17:22
that provides the best logical grounds for calling off the search in 17:23.
Whether Luke 17:22 was in Q or not, it would have to be either a genuine Jesus
saying or an oracle by a Christian prophet. But Christian prophets spoke for a
son of man who addressed his followers on earth from heaven. While they
understood themselves to share common time, the post-crucifixion community was
painfully aware that it was now separated from the son of man by a vast space.
This situation gave rise to the the parousia hope. Yet we have already
seen that Luke 17:22 is an anti-parousia saying. The son of man's
"presence" here is fading and there is no hope that it will come
Having rejected all other options, we are left with only one possible
conclusion. After the crucifixion the only reason why anyone would claim that
Jesus said "there will come days" when you will miss time with
"the son of man" is that he actually said this before the crucifixion.
From that Friday afternoon he was already missed; and after Sunday morning (or
thereabouts) his followers were confident of seeing him again, if not here then
Luke 17:22 is commended as a genuine Jesus saying on the basis of all
objective criteria except multiple attestation.
Both terminology and world-view are totally Semitic.
The speaker addresses his audience as a Jewish sage telling supporters who take
his presence for granted that he too is mortal. Time will pass and you will miss
me! Now is not forever.
Both wording and perspective are not like anything
found elsewhere in early Christian tradition.
(a) The sense of this melancholic aphorism is totally out of place in Luke,
or Q for that matter. Scholars who note the difficulties try to remove them by
emendations and explanations that create more problems than they solve. Its
internal logic explains why it got placed where it did and does not appear
elsewhere. It was axiomatic among Jewish and Christian scribes that the best way
to take the sting out of a hard saying is to follow it up with sayings that are
easier to accept. And early Christians, including Luke, found an eschatological
Jesus much more comforting than a mortal one. The attempt to bury this son of
man saying here proves that it was not a scribal invention.
(b) There is a distant parallel between this Lukan son of man saying
and those in Mark about his suffering (8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34) and in John about
his exaltation (3:14, 12:34). All portray Jesus as predicting his departure. So
in the broadest sense one can say that this tradition is multiply attested after
all. But there is no similarity in anything else. The Jesus of Mark and John is
(almost) omniscient, so he can dispassionately predict his own demise. The
speaker in this saying is painfully aware of a certain but unknown end to his
existence, so he can speak of it in only the most generic sense. In Mark and
John Jesus gives his disciples hints that death is not the end, so there is
nothing to be afraid of. The son of man in Mark will be "seen"
again; in John, "glorified" before the world. Both reflect
post-crucifixion perspectives. But if the speaker in this saying is aware of a
happy ending, he doesn't tell. Neither resurrection appearances nor parousia
hopes have left their imprint on the logic of Luke 17:22. And that more than
anything locates its composition as pre-Easter.
Apart from the fact that the speaker of this saying is a
Jewish sage who speaks of his own existence in terms of a generic "son of
man" the initial impression is that Luke 17:22 has little in common with
genuine Jesus sayings. But closer examination reveals that this is not the case.
"Foxes have holes" (Luke 9:58//Matt 8:20) also expresses the
insecurity of the son of man's existence. And all but a few fellows of the Jesus
seminar agreed that this saying either came from Jesus or reflected his outlook
Finally, while the language of this saying may sound morbid its logical
implications are not. To tell your friends that they will miss you only
in the future is not meant to dampen their spirits now. On the contrary, it's a
call to make the most of your time together. The time to weep is not now!
The speaker is saying: "Hey, I'm only human! Like yours, my days are not
many. So let's enjoy them while we can. Tomorrow will be too late!" Thus,
it is fully compatible with a son of man who was called "a glutton and a
drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34//Matt 11:19).
Wisdom of this kind is not un-Jewish, though there are Christians who think so.
It is vindicated by the words of another radical sage who was seen as a
spokesman and ruler of God's kingdom:
"Here is what I see as good:
For a man to eat and drink
and enjoy all the fruits of his work
under the sun
during the few days of life
which God gives him...
For he will not think about the
days of his life
God keeps him busy with joy in his heart.
neither sage nor fool has a permanent remembrance
in the days to come all will have been long forgotten."/26/
The traditional reason for rejecting Luke 17:22 as a genuine word of Jesus is
contextual confusion with eschatological son of man sayings. I humbly request
those who regard Jesus as a radical Jewish sage who viewed God's kingdom as
present and himself as completely human: Please re-view!
Recommended vote: RED!
Bultmann: "it is possible that Luke 17:22...is a formulation by Luke
(or some earlier editor), meant to serve as an introduction to the following
eschatological discourse" (History of the Synoptic Tradition 130).
Those less tentative: Tödt Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition 51,
Conzelmann Theology of St. Luke 105, Ellis Gospel of Luke 211,
Boring Sayings of the Risen Jesus 174, Lindars Jesus Son of Man
/2/ Luke 21:5-36 follows Mark 13 without the Q sayings in Matt 24.
/3/ E.g., Manson Sayings of Jesus 142, Higgins Son of Man in the
Teaching of Jesus 56, Vermes Jesus the Jew 185 n. 83; Lindars Son
of Man 94, Piper Wisdom in the Q Tradition 139. As reference to the
son of man's own future "coming" if not explicitly parousia:
Boring Sayings of the Risen Jesus 241; Jeremias NT Theology 1,
163; Tödt Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition 105, Perrin Rediscovering
the Teaching of Jesus 196, Colpe "huios tou anthropou",
Leivestad: "...v. 22 is an isolated logion, which has been placed
(by Luke) in an unsuitable setting. The saying may be authentic. But then its
original meaning can only be to prepare the disciples for a future time of
distress. Such afflictions are to come, that they will desire to see again one,
if not more than one, of the days when the Son of man was in their midst... They
will look back upon the days of the Son of man and wish that they might once
more have him among them. Such a wish cannot be fulfilled" ("Exit the
Apocalyptic Son of Man," 261). Leivestad’s analysis of this verse has
been generally overlooked by later scholars.
/5/ Mark 8:38-9:1, Matt 19:23-28.
/6/ See Perrin Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus 187.
/7/ Luke 12:40 (Q), 21:27 (Mark) and 18:8 (probably Lukan). All use erchomai
/8/ See Kloppenborg. Q Parallels 192 for rosters and references.
/9/ See Kloppenborg. Q Parallels 192-4 for reasons to trace 17:28-30 to
Q and references to scholars for and against.
/10/ Parousia occurs in the gospels only here in Matthew's version of
three Q sayings. It appears frequently in 1 and 2 Thessalonians but only once
elsewhere in an eschatological sense in Paul (1 Cor 15:23). Otherwise, he uses
it like other Greek writers as reference to the physical presence of any
living person, himself included! Its eschatological usage is found in 2 Peter
(1:16, 3:4,12) and even James (5:7-8). 1 John 2:28 is the only use by a Greek
Christian whose access to traditional Jewish eschatology is not clear.
/11/ There is general consensus that at least Luke 17:32 ("Remember
Lot's wife!") is Lukan redaction. And Luke not only keeps Mark's claim that
the preceding predictions---including the coming of the son of man
(21:27)---will occur before the end of "this generation"
(21:32), but he appends his own unique warning to watch and pray that you
are prepared "to stand before the son of man" (21:36).
/12/ Pace Lindars Jesus Son of Man 94, Bultmann History of
the Synoptic Tradition 130.
/13/ Cf., Amos 4:2, 8:11, 9:13; Isa 39:6; Jer 9:25, 16:14, 19:6, 31:31. Jer
23:5 is the closest to being "eschatological"; but its temporal
setting is immediately historicized by 23:7.
/14/ Those who note it but find it odd and in need of correction include:
Manson Sayings of Jesus 142, Higgins Son of Man in the Teaching of
Jesus 56, Lindars Jesus Son of Man 94-95. Fitzmyer reviews and
rejects a number of "farfetched" explanations, but concludes: "It
is not at all clear" what Luke means by "this difficult
expression" (Gospel According to Luke 1168-69).
/15/ Cf., Amos 5:20, 8:9; Isa 2:12, 4:2, 11:10, 27:12-13; Jer 25:33, 30:7-9;
Zech 14; Mal 3:2, 4:1; and Matt 25:13; Mark 13:32; Luke 12:40; 1 John 2:18; Rev
/16/ E.g., Luke 17:26,28. Cf. Gen 5, 9:29, 26:1,15,18; Josh 24:31; Judg 5:6,
8:28; 1 Sam 7:13, 14:52; 2 Sam 21:1.
/17/ Cf. Gen 6:3, Exod 23:26; but especially Job 7:1-6,16, 8:8-9, 9:25, 10:20,
14:1-2; Eccl 2:3, 5:17-20.
/18/ See my
Jesus Seminar paper "To Judge the Son of Man" (Sonoma 88) in Forum
/19/ See Lindars Jesus Son of Man 25-26.
/20/ There is general agreement between Vermes (Jesus the Jew
162-186), Lindars (Jesus Son of Man 1-28), Casey ("General, Generic
and Indefinite" 36-53), myself and others. Differences are over nuances and
detail. Anyone who wants to argue that Jesus used "son of man" in an
eschatological sense must address not only these arguments but those of
Leivestad ("Exit the Apocalyptic Son of Man") and those who doubt the
authenticity of any son of man saying (e.g., Perrin).
/21/ The response to general questions was:
Jesus used "son of man" in a generic sense: agree 67.7%
Jesus used "son of man" of apocalyptic figure: disagree 67.7%
No "son of man" saying goes back to Jesus: disagree 65.5%
Only two son of man sayings got enough support to be printed pink:
Luke 9:58//Matt 8:20 ("foxes have holes") and
Mark 2:27-28 ("lord of the sabbath").
Both have generic reference and application to Jesus personally.
/22/ See sections 1.2 and 1.3 above.
E.g. Bultmann claimed that
Jesus "points ahead to the Son of Man as another than himself" (Theology
of the NT 1, 9). Perrin, on the contrary, argued that "Jesus could
not have spoken of the coming of the Son of man, either in reference to
himself or in reference to an eschatological figure other than himself"
and concluded that all Son of man sayings were "products of the early
Church" (Rediscovering 198).
Mark 8:31-33, 9:9f &31f; John 12:23, 34.
/25/ On its third consideration in Toronto it received the following vote
spread: 56.3% red, 21.9% pink, 9.4% gray and 12.5% black. Of all Q sayings it
ranked 9th highest in red votes and 11th over all.
/26/ Qoheleth 5:17,19 and 2:16 (translation from the Hebrew is mine).
Boring, M. Eugene, Sayings of the Risen Jesus: Christian Prophecy in the
Synoptic Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Borsch, Frederick H., The Son of Man in Myth and History.
Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1967.
Bultmann, Rudolf, The History of the Synoptic Tradition. Trans. J.
Marsh. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963.
_____, Theology of the New Testament. Vol. 1. Trans. K. Grobel. New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951.
Casey, P. Maurice, "General, Generic and Indefinite: The Use of the Term
'Son of Man' in Aramaic Sources and in the Teaching of Jesus," Journal
for the Study of the New Testament 29 (1987): 21-56.
Colpe, Carsten, "ho
huios tou anthrópou." Trans.
Geoffrey Bromiley. Pp. 400-477 in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
Ed. Gerhard Friedrich and Gerhard Kittel. vol. 8. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans,
Conzelmann, Hans, The Theology of St. Luke. New York: Harper, 1960.
Crossan, J. Dominic, In Fragments. San Francisco: Harper & Row,
_____, Sayings Parallels: A Workbook for the Jesus Tradition.
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986 [cited above as SP].
Ellis, E. Earl, Gospel of Luke. New
Century Bible Commentary.
Fitzmyer, Joseph A., The Gospel according to Luke (X-XXIV) . Anchor
Bible 28A. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1985.
Higgins, A. J. B., Jesus and the Son of Man. London: Lutterworth
____, The Son of Man in the Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1980.
Jeremias, Joachim, New Testament Theology. The Proclamation of Jesus.
Trans. J. Bowden. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.
Kloppenborg, John S. Q Parallels: Synopsis, Critical Notes &
Concordance. Sonoma CA: Polebridge Press, 1988.
Leivestad, Ragnar, "Exit the Apocalyptic Son of Man," New
Testament Studies 18 (1971-1972): 243-267.
Lindars. Barnabas, Jesus Son of Man. Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Manson, T. W., The Teaching of Jesus. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1935.
Otto, Rudolf, The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man. Trans. F. V.
Filson and B. L. Woolf. 2nd ed. London: Lutterworth Press, 1943.
Perrin, Norman, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus. New York: Harper
& Row, 1976.
____, "Son of Man." Pp. 833-836 in The Interpreter's Dictionary
of the Bible Supplement. New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976.
Smith, Mahlon H., "To Judge the Son of Man: the Synoptic Sayings" Forum
7,3-4 (1991): 207-242.
Tödt, Heinz Eduard, The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition. Trans.
D. M. Barton. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965.
Tuckett, Christopher, "The Present Son of Man," Journal for the
Study of the New Testament 14 (1982): 58-81.
Vermes, Geza, Jesus the Jew. New York: Macmillan, 1973.
Vielhauer, Philip, "Jesus und der Menschensohn. Zur Diskussion mit Heinz
Eduard Tödt und Eduard Schweizer," Zeitschrift für Theologie und
Kirche 60,2 (1953): 133-177.
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