Son of Man

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El cofrade de San Miguel by Saturnino Herran.

"Son of Man" is the common English translation of the enigmatic phrase Jesus used to describe himself.

Jesus was careful to avoid wording that committed the crime of blasphemy, which was punishable by death under the Old Testament and by a lesser penalty under Roman law,[1] and which would have resulted in the prosecution of Jesus before he completed his ministry. Hence he implied his divinity without expressly saying so.

The Greek version of how Jesus described himself is "ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου," which is best translated as "The Son, a human being." The Greek wording implies the divinity of Jesus in a non-blasphemous manner, without Jesus expressly claiming to be God. Faith is required to accept the obvious implication that Jesus was divine, and his opponents thereby had a difficult time catching him in the crime of blasphemy during his ministry. Another possible translation to capture the original meaning is "The Son, with the character of man."[2]

John 9:35 does not make sense as merely "Do you believe in the Son of Man?", and the Greek manuscripts disagree at this verse, some stating "Son of Man" (ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου), others "Son of God" (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ). A fuller translation might be, "Do you believe in The Son, a human being?"

Notice that the ancient Greek did not have the punctuation of a comma to convey meaning, as English does.

The term highlights Jesus's humanity and how He came to serve and save mankind, but its translation should also emphasize that Jesus was God and not merely man. The term also illustrates how the best of the public comes from ordinary people rather than the elite.

The Common English Bible, which includes a superb pro-life rendition of one controversial verse, translates the Greek for "Son of Man" as "Human One." The translators explain, with other examples, that "Greek usage often refers to 'a son of x' in the sense of 'one who has the character of ‘x.’'"[3]

Contents

Logical Basis

The logic of Christianity is that good and insights do not arise from the self-centered elite, but from the opposite. "Man" is fallen and cannot redeem himself. Instead, an unexpected "Son of Man" brings salvation in a way that liberals could never anticipate and prevent.

"Son of Adam"

Though the Greek version is clear, the Hebrew term for "Son of Man" could be a mistranslation of "Son of Adam," which emphasized how Jesus was a son (male descendant) of Adam. This meaning is suggested by Proverbs 8:31, where "sons of Adam" was translated by the KJV as "sons of men."

This possible mistranslation in English Bibles then permitted Darwin to deny, with his theory of evolution, that Adam existed as described in the Bible. Had Jesus been known in the English-speaking world as the "Son of Adam," the theory of evolution would have been a non-starter.

Fulfillment of a Prophecy

It is possible that its first use in reference to Jesus Christ is in the Book of Daniel, 7:13, in a prophecy of the Messiah:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

References

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02595a.htm
  2. Other possible translations are less consistent with the Greek, and would have constituted the crime of blasphemy: "God as a man," "Son of Man from God," "God became man," "God descended as man," or "Christ, Son of God."
  3. https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2011/08/son-of-man-or-human-one-tough-translation-questions-raised-by-the-common-english-bible/
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