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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Son of man

The term son of man occurs 29 times in Matthew and 12 times in Mark, all in reference to Jesus. Bible scholars suggest Jesus borrowed the term from Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13-14, but the term also occurs in Ezekiel numerous times. In the New Testament, scholars suggest the term refers to the following:

Jesus himself
his humanity
his divinity
his messiahship

People who are unfamiliar with the term son of man don’t realize it could convey all this meaning, and they are often confused when Jesus uses the term to refer to himself. Since the various components of meaning can easily be drawn from the context in which the term occurs, I've chosen to replace it with a personal pronoun in most contexts in the Better Life Bible to avoid confusion. A comparison of the parallel texts below illustrates that Matthew did the same thing by replacing the term son of man with the personal pronoun I:

Luke 12:8 . . . whoever confesses me . . . the Son of Man will also confess . . .
Matthew 10:32 . . . whoever confesses me . . . I will also confess . . .

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At Sat Aug 13, 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

And, of course, in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) this important phrase often simply means "human being." Hebraic "son of" often has nothing to do with sonship, but, rather means "having the same characteristics as." So the "sons of the prophets" (e.g. 1 Kings 20:35) were not the biological offspring of the prophets, but, rather, the students (disciples) of the prophets. Most recent English Bible versions correctly translate 1 Kings 20:35 and other verses with similar Hebrew, not with the inaccurate "sons of the prophets" which sounds like these men were the male children of the prophets.

At Sat Aug 13, 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Paul W said...

The translator of the Better Life Bible also has the scholarship of Geza Vermes to back him up on this translational decision. He suggests that on the lips of Jesus, the expression "son of man" was more or less a circumlocution for "I."


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