Early Christology: The Eschatological Son of Man in Daniel, Jewish Apocalyptic, and the Synoptics

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

If the NT is the result of the Jesus-event, and the Jesus event is the root cause of the NT, then S. Neill may be right in saying that every theology of the NT must be a theology of Jesus, “or it is nothing at all.” In the Jesus event is the most intriguing designation, “son of man,” which Jesus used solely and most frequently in the Gospels, but the NT writers disregarded almost entirely (Acts 7:56; Heb. 2:6; Rev. 1:13; 14:14). We grapple then with the son of man of the Gospels. How was Jesus like or unlike the son of man of Jewish expectation? How does Jesus’ use of “son of man” define his self-understanding and future role in the end times? The aim of this essay is two-fold—to show the characteristics of the eschatological son of man in Daniel and Jewish apocalyptic tradition, and compare similarities and dissimilarities with the trajectory of early apocalyptic son of man sayings2 in the Synoptics. . . . more

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