B A Man Like Me

In the light of this first conclusion, the key question ceases to be whether it was linguistically possible for Jesus to have spoken of 'the Son of Man'. Rather, given that he did so speak, the question is how he would have been understood. The evidence already reviewed indicates that such a usage would have been meaningful in terms of the traditional Semitic idiom, including the possibility of an individual or implied self-reference.140 Here we must recall just how common the idiom was and how it could be used in the singular with the implication that the 'man' indicated shared the typical weaknesses of the human species; the polite English idiom 'one' is sufficiently close to carry the connotation which we observed earlier in the use of ben This also means that we need to disabuse ourselves of any assumption that the phrase itself inevitably carried an allusion to Dan. 7.13. The Daniel reference was itself a specific use of the idiom and hardly 'took over' the whole idiom. Notwithstanding Dan. 7.13, the idiomatic 'son of man' still denoted humankind as a whole or in its individual typicality.

The key data within the Jesus tradition are the two early references to 'the son of man' in Mark (Mark 2.10, 28), the intriguing Mark/Q saying on the unforgiveable sin (Mark 3.28-29/Matt. 12.31-32/Luke 12.10/G77i 44), the Q 'nowhere to lay his head' saying (Matt. 8.20/Luke 9.58IGTh 86), the 'friend of sinners' saying (Matt. 11.18-19/Luke 7.33-34),142 and the several cases where 'the son of man' is equivalent to T in the parallel tradition. For convenience I repeat elements of previous fuller citations.

139. Matt. 16.28; see also Matt. 26.2/Mark 14.1; Matt. 24.30a added to Mark 13.26.

140. It is worth asking how Paul would have expressed himself had he written 2 Cor. 12.2 in Aramaic — 'I knew a man (anthropos = bar^nas?)in Christ. ..' — since the large consensus is that Paul was speaking of himself.

142. These passages were already identified by Bultmann as resulting from a misunderstanding of the Aramaic idiom (Theology 1.30).

Matt. 9.6-8

Mark 2.10-12

Luke 5.24-26

6 'But that vou mav know that

'But that vou mav know that

24 'But that vou mav know that

the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' — he then said to the paralytic,

'Rise, take up vour

the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive said to the 'I sav to YOU. rise, take up vour

the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive said to the one who was 'I say to vou, rise and take up

bed and go to vour home'. 7 And he rose and went to his home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

pallet and go to vour home'. 12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'

vour bed and go to vour home'. 25 Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26 Amazement seized all of them, ley glorified God and were fiheu with awe, saying, 'We have seen strange things today'.

Of interest here is the fact that the Son of Man saying belongs to the core of the story, together with the following command to the paralytic. Quite possibly it was the stability of the core, encasing the awkwardness of the turn to the paralytic,144 which ensured that that awkward element was retained in the retellings of the story. In the form as thus 'fixed' and maintained, 'the Son of Man' has titular force, presumably in part at least because in context the self-reference to Jesus himself is so clear. At the same time it should be noted that the auditors in the narrative express no surprise and take no offence at the usage; this presumably counts at least somewhat against the thesis that 'the (heavenly) Son of Man' was a well-known figure in first-century Jewish expectation.145 Nor can we assume, to repeat the point, that the phrase in and of itself carried an allusion to the Danielic manlike figure.146 It may also be significant that Matthew's conclusion (ignoring Mark's typical choral ending) has the crowd glorifying God (so also Mark/Luke) that he 'had given such authority to men (tois anthropois)7 (Matt. 9.8). Does this reflect awareness (by the most Jewish of the Synoptic Evangelists) that the strange Greek ho huios tou anthropou (9.6) originally referred to man (humankind)? In which case, Matthew's tradition preserves awareness of an earlier sense of 'the son of man', even though it had been lost in the Markan ver

144. See Guelich, MarÁ81-83 and Hampel, Menschensohn 189-97 for discussion ofthe integrity of the narrative. Caragounis robustly disputes the suggestion of awkwardness in the Greek {Son of Man 180-87).

145. Cf, Casey, Son ofMan 159-61, who offers an Aramaic reconstruction (160).

146. Hooker, Son ofMan 89-93, further 178-82, 190-95 (taking up from Todt, Son of Man 126-30), focuses on the Danielic overtones of the one like a son of man being given 'authority' (also Caragounis, Son ofMan 188-90; Witherington, Christology 246-47); but in the pericope the surprise is only at the authority claimed, not at any claim to be the authorized Son of Man (see further Hare, Son ofMan 185-90). Here as elsewhere, Hampel simply applies his thesis — bar^nasa as a cipher bringing to light 'the exclusive and unique consciousness of mission and so messianic self-understanding of Jesus' {Menschensohn 199).

sion of the saying itself (possibly when the Aramaic was put into Greek).147 Something similar is clearer in the second example. In short. we may tentatively conclude that Jesus was initially remembered as drawing attention to the surprising fact that 'that son of man'. 'someone like me' had authority (exousia) to pronounce sins forgiven.148 (2) Mark 2.28 pars.

Matt. 12.8

Mark 2.27-28

Luke 6.5

8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

27 Then he said to them. 'The Sabbath was made for man. and not man for the Sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath'.

5 Then he said to them,

'The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath'.

Here the point of interest is the climax of Mark's account of the Sabbath controversy over plucking the grain (Mark If we assume for the moment that underlying 'the Son of Man' (2.28) lies the Aramaic bar *enasa, 'the son of man'. then we are confronted with a variation on the regular parallelism in Jewish writing between 'man' and 'son of man' (2.27-28).150 This suggests that the saying would have been heard initially in these terms: the Sabbath was made for man; therefore the son of man is lord of the Sabbath. In other words. in response to criticism of his disciples. Jesus was remembered as defending their action as appropriate to the lordship which God had given to humankind (or Israel) over all his creation.151 It would appear that by the time the tradition reached Mark the more generic 'son of man' had been taken as a more exclusively personal reference and given titular significance ('the Son of Man').152 In turn. Matthew and Luke. confronted with Mark's now not quite so coherent sequence (2.27-28). presumably chose (independently?) to omit the now redundant 2.27 and left the

147. Cf. also Lindars. Jesus Son ofMan 44-47. though he doubts Matthew's awareness of the idiom since he normally understands the Son of Man as an exclusive self-reference on Jesus' part (46).

148. Colpe, TDNT 8.430-31 defends Wellhausen's often criticized view at this point (n. 236). See further below § 17.2b.

151. See particularly Casey, Aramaic Sources 158-66. The case here is regularly seen as much stronger than with Mark 2.10; see. e.g.. Pesch. Markusevangelium 1.185-86; Guelich. Mark 125-27 (with earlier bibliography and debate); Hampel, Menschensohn 202-203; Crossan. Historical Jesus 251. But to push too strongly for an exclusively generic sense (as Hampel and Crossan do) ignores the significance of the articular form — 'that son of man'.

152. Hooker is justified in recognizing that 'the Son of man is again portrayed as one who possesses authority . . . beyond that exercised by any ordinary individual' (Son ofMan 99) — at the level/stage of Mark's performance of the tradition.

climactic apophthegm with an exclusively christological focus.153 But this was in effect only an extension of the original, that what was true of (eschatological?) humankind in general was especially true of Jesus (and his disciples). Here again we can well envisage that the translation of the tradition into Greek, where the Aramaic idiom would have been lost to view, was a major factor.

Matt. 12.31-32

Mark 3.28-29

Luke 12.10

GTh 44

Therefore I every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven to men.

but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven to him, but whoever speaks against the

28 Truly I .everything will be forgiven to the sons of men, whatever their sins and blasphemies whatever they blaspheme;

29 but whoever blasphemes against the

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven to him; but to the one who blasphemes against the

Jesus said: He who blasphemes against the Father will be and he who blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the

Spirit, it will not be forgiven to either in this age or in the age to come.

Holy Spirit has no forgiveness for ever, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

Spirit will not be forgiven.

Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven.

In terms of tradition history this is one of the most interesting examples in the Gospels. In all four cases a saying is recalled which contrasts two kinds of sins/blasphemies: those which may be forgiven and blasphemy/speaking against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven. The interest begins with the fact that the first half of the saying seems to have been preserved in at least two different versions: Mark speaks of unspecified Matthew/

Luke (= Q) in contrast envisages speaking against the Son of Man, and Thomas has a further variation — blasphemies against (the Father and) the Son. The interest quickens when we note that in Mark the first half speaks of sins/blasphemies being forgiven to 'the sons of men', a usage ('sons of men') unparalleled in the Gospels.

It could be, of course, that Jesus was remembered as saying two different

153. Becker, Jesus 299; Ebner, Jesus 176-79; cf. Funk, Five Gospels 49; in contrast, Ludemann, Jesus 19-20, shows little awareness of the ambiguities of the Aramaic idiom.

154. In this case Lindars fails to show sufficient sensitivity to the possible tradition history behind Mark's version (Jesus Son ofMan 102-106).

things on different occasions, and in the tradition the two versions have become somewhat assimilated. But the more straightforward explanation of the divergent forms is that underlying each is the same Aramaic saying, using bar which was taken different ways in reference, probably before translation into Greek, but with the difference consolidated in the transition to Greek. It is not too difficult to envisage such a saying, possibly in the somewhat cryptic form 'All that blasphemes to the bar 'enasa will be forgiven'.155 The 'all', bar 'enasa, and the syntax are ambiguous. The saying could be taken to refer to all (everything) being forgiven to bar 'enasa (man/men/sons of men/humankind). Or it could be taken to refer to all (everyone) blaspheming against bar being forgiven. In which case it rather looks as though

• Mark has inherited a version of the former possibility (Mark 3.28),156

• Q has inherited a form where bar 'enasa has been taken as a titular self-reference, as in the two cases already considered,

• Matthew, aware of both versions, and of the Aramaic idiom, has simply conflated both to make a double saying, and

• Thomas has lost the Son of Man reference altogether but has retained the Q version's basic antithesis.

If then Jesus did utter a bar saying of this form, what did he mean by it? A good question, to which no firm answer is possible. For if I am right, the tradition in its original form was a classic a riddle, as dependent for its meaning on how it was heard as on how it was uttered. And, if I am right, it was heard in two distinctively different ways, whether immediately or in the course of its early re-expression and transmission. I have already suggested that the saying provides a good clue to Jesus' own self-conscious claims to inspiration by the Spirit (§15.7h). Here the point is rather the further indication that Jesus is likely to have used the bar phrase in a more general way (as in Mark 2.28), or perhaps in a deliberately ambiguous way to include a self-reference (as in Mark 2.10). In both the Markan and Q collections of exorcism sayings, of course,157 the context is one of Jesus' responding to personal attack. And if I am right, the second half of the saying (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) also had a personal reference, since Jesus' exorcisms as demonstration of

155. For more carefully laid out Aramaic reconstructions see R. Schippers, 'The Son of Man in Matt. 12.32 = Luke 12.10 Compared with Mark 3.28', Studio Evangelica IV (1968) 231-35; Colpe, 7EW78.442-43 (followed by Higgins, Son of Man 116-17); Lindars, ,/esus Sow ofMan 35-37; Marcus, Mark 1.275 (modifying Lindars slightly); Davies and Allison, Matthew 2.345-46 also think Lindars is close to the truth; cf. Hare, Son ofMan 264-67.

156. In the same way Ps. 145.3 LXX renders Ps, 146.3'sben 'adamas huioianthropoi.

the Spirit's power were immediately in view So a personal reference within a more ambiguous reference is quite likely, but we can hardly be more positive than that.

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