Son of man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Son of man" is the translation of various Hebrew and Greek phrases used in both the Tanakh and the New Testament. In Judaism it refers to normal human beings. In Christianity it is a title given to Jesus. Christians also believe that the Son of Man is a prophesied spiritual divine transcendental ruler who are referred to in the Old Testament; equivalent of the immanent Christ seed, Anthropos, referred to in the New Testament.
The expression "the Son of Man" occurs 81 times in the four Canonical gospels, and is used only in the sayings of Jesus. However, the use of the definite article in "the Son of Man" in the gospels is novel, and before its use there, there are no records of its use in any of the surviving Greek documents of antiquity.
For centuries, the Christological perspective on Son of Man has been a natural counterpart to that of Son of God and just as Son of God affirms the divinity of Jesus, in many cases Son of man affirms his humanity.
However, while the profession of Jesus as the Son of God has been an essential element of Christian creeds since the Apostolic age, such professions do not apply to Son of Man and the proclamation of Jesus as the Son of Man has never been an article of faith in Christianity.
Although Son of Man is distinct from Son of God, some gospel passages equate them in some cases, e.g. in Mark 14:61, during the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus when the high priest asked Jesus: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus responded "I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.".
James D. G. Dunn and separately Delbert Burkett state that the interpretation of the use of "the Son of Man" in the New Testament is a prime example of the limits of biblical interpretation in that after 150 years of debate no consensus on the issue has emerged.
Three contextsAccording to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus referred to himself as "Son of man" in three contexts, each with its own circle of fairly distinct meanings. He used this self-designation of (1) his earthly work and its (frequently) humble condition (e.g., Mark 2:10, 28 parr.; Matt 11:19=Luke 7:34; Matt 8:20=Luke 9:58); (2) his coming suffering, death, and resurrection (Mark 9:9,12; Mark 14:21 and, above all, Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34 parr.); (3) his future coming in heavenly glory to act with sovereign power at a final judgement (e.g., Mark 8:38; 13:26-27 parr.; Matt 24:27=Luke 17:24; Matt 25:31-32; see John 5:27). These classifications show how the "Son of man" served as a way of indicating Jesus' importance and even universal relevance. This was especially true of the class (3) sayings. In other words, "Son of man" was used to say what Jesus did rather than what he was. It was not and did not become a title in the normal sense — at least not on the lips of Jesus himself.
At the same time, the evangelists (and/or their sources) do not always seem to distinguish "Son of man" sharply from "Christ/Messiah" or "Son of God". For Mark, the Davidic Messiah and Daniel's Son of man are one and same person, and their name is Jesus. In Mark 14:61-62, the reply that Jesus makes to the high priest's question ("Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?") conveys some glorious connotations of "the Son of God" as a figure who will come in triumph on the clouds of heaven to judge his enemies: "I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven". In John's Gospel the expression gains a very significant element, not to be found in the Synoptic Gospels under any of the three meanings listed above: the "Son of man" is a personally pre-existent figure (e.g., John 3:13; John 6:62).
Jesus' ministryAs regards Jesus himself, much debate originated in deciding whether any or all of the three classes of self-referential sayings derived from what he said in his ministry. A few scholars have even attempted to prove that none of the "Son of man" sayings came from Jesus himself.
However, there remain good and convergent reasons for maintaining that, while there was some editorial reworking, Jesus did speak of himself as "Son of man", filled the term with his own meanings, and was responsible for the three classes of "Son of man" sayings listed above. Along with the way he used the image of the kingdom of God and that of God as Father, here a third classic example is supplied of Jesus taking an inherited expression and using it massively but in his own way.