Last week, we had a Research Seminar, at which a research student of mine presented on the topic that he is exploring, which is Ezekielic backgrounds to Jesus’ use of Son of Man in the Gospels. This is a really interesting area. Here are some of the key things he pointed out, in paving the way for his research:
- The only place in which ‘Son of Man’ occurs in a way that is grammatically singular and (semantically) definite in ancient literature prior to the New Testament is in the book of Ezekiel – where we find the singular vocative 93 times. This is the way God consistently refers to Ezekiel in the book
- As ‘Son of Man,’ Ezekiel is commissioned to the sons of Israel, and their rebelliousness against God comes against him. He must eat the scroll of suffering, thus taking in the judgement on the people. He also has authority to judge.
- The term ‘Son of Man’ is always used in Mark in narrative contexts of potential rejection of Jesus
- There are thus some interesting parallels between Ezekiel’s Son of Man and Mark’s Son of Man, which could be explored further. If ‘Son of Man’ is a term that is particularly used by Mark to picture Jesus as one who is in Ezekiel-like situations of potential rejection by his own people, it might explain why the term dropped away as the message went out to the Gentiles
There was a lot more to it than this, but these are some of the elements I found most interesting. The student is not denying either the significance of Daniel 7, or the possibilities of Aramaic idiom – he is just wanting to probe further into other potential backgrounds that have perhaps been under-explored.
I look forward to the continuing research!