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PASSAGES IN WHICH JESUS SPEAKS OF HIMSELF AS THE SON OF MAN
In view of the doubt which has been cast on the use of this title by Jesus at all, it is worth while to refer to its distribution in the pages of the gospels. As Dr. Armitage Robinson has pointed out,' it occurs in every one of the strata of the evangelic records which criticism has learned to distinguish. It is found in Mark, in the non-Marcan source common to Matthew and Luke with which we are at present concerned, in passages peculiar to Matthew and to Luke respectively, and in John. Be the difficulties what they may, if anything can be established by testimony, it is established that Jesus used this phrase as a designation of Himself. It was indeed so characteristic of Him that no one, apparently, could give any account of how He spoke without making use of it. When we look more closely at the facts, however, it has to be admitted that the testimony as to the occasions on which it was used is not quite uniform. For instance, in the document with which we are dealing, it is sometimes not quite clear whether its presence is due to Jesus or to the evangelist. In Luke 6 22 we have a beatitude on those who suffer 'for the Son of Man's sake,' where the parallel in Matt. 512 has 'for My sake'; and similarly in Luke 12 we have 'him will the Son of Man confess,' where Matt. 10 2 gives 'him will I confess.' Such disagreements, however, are the exception. In the vast majority of cases, where one evangelist has 'the Son of Man,' so has the other; and in view of this fact it seems an overstatement to say with Harnack, that while it is certain that Jesus used gelien ziehen. The admission of this sound principle would draw the pen through an immense mass of what is regarded as historical criticism of the gospels.
'The Study of the Gospels, p. 49.
this title we cannot be certain that He used it on any given occasion.' The title is a significant one; and if there are occasions on which an utterance of Jesus depends for its point on this significance, and on which the use of the title is attested both by Matthew and Luke, and therefore by their source, we may surely say that on these occasions we have a certainty of it as well assured as anything can be in history. An attempt has been made to discredit the joint testimony of Matthew and Luke to some striking instances of the use of this title by arguing that it is in the strictest sense Messianic, and that Jesus could not possibly have made public and frequent use of it when His Messiahship was not only not proclaimed by Himself, but not even suspected by His most intimate disciples. It is pointed out, too, in this connexion, that in Mark, with the exception of two instances which are susceptible of easy explanation as due to misapprehension by the evangelist (Mark 2 10-28), the title is not used till after Jesus has been confessed as the Christ at Caesarea Philippi; and that when it is used subsequently to this it is in the specifically eschatological sense. That is, it designates Jesus not as actually the Messiah, which would be a contradiction in terms, no actual king being possible till the Kingdom had actually come; but as the Person who is to be the Messiah, and who will come in that character with the coming of the Kingdom.
The evidence of Mark will be considered at a later stage, but the highly problematical treatment of Mark 2 10-28, and the inferences drawn from it, are entirely insufficient to invalidate the witness of an authority which is at least as ancient as Mark, and had as wide a currency in the Church. We must not be too hasty and too precise in defining 'the Son of Man,' especially if 1 Sprüche u. Reden Jesu, 169.
the result is that many of the most moving and characteristic sayings of the gospel are obliterated, while those alone are left which perplex or embarrass the ordinary mind. The title, no doubt, goes back primarily to Dan. 713 There, however, it is not a title, but an appellative; not a proper name without meaning, but a term with essential significance of its own. What the seer beholds is not the Son of Man, but one like a son of man—that is, a human form, as opposed to the brute forms of the earlier visions. That this human form has 'the Kingdom' given to it-that it is invested with a final, universal, and glorious sovereignty-is true; in that sense the vision is eschatological. This, too, facilitated and made appropriate in the New Testament the use of the title Son of Man in eschatological connexions. But that on which the main emphasis lies in Daniel is the humanity of the form which is invested with this eschatological splendour, and though an apocalyptist might overlook this, it was not likely to be overlooked by Jesus. We do not need to trace the process by which the human figure of Daniel's vision, which originally stood for Israel, 'the saints of the Most High' (Dan. 718), was identified with the Messiah, Israel's ideal representative; but we can be sure that in appropriating the title to Himself, Jesus did not lose the consciousness of what originally gave it its meaning. It was always charged with the idea of humanity, as well as with that of final sovereignty, or apocalyptic splendour. The most technical expression would fill with finer import in the lips of Jesus, and admitting the Messianic and eschatological import of this title as it was currently used, we see no reason to question that Jesus may have employed it on occasion with an emphasis which brought out another part of its contents. It is the more natural to think so when we observe that the later New Testament writers
who indicate acquaintance with it, though they do not themselves use it-Paul in 1 Cor. 15 27 f. and the Epistle to the Hebrews 2 -connect it not with Daniel but with the Eighth Psalm. Here Man in His greatness and littleness is the Psalmist's subject, and the fortunes of humanity, as represented by Jesus, are what engage the minds of the Christian authors.
To turn, then, to the texts common to Matthew and Luke, we find first, following Luke's order, that in which Jesus contrasts Himself with the Baptist (Luke 731 f., Matt. 11 16 ff.). It occurs incidentally in the vivid little parable in which Jesus pronounces His verdict on His contemporaries, comparing them, in all their relations to God, to wilful children, who will not be in earnest with religion in any form, sombre or winsome. 'John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say He has a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say Behold a man gluttonous and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.' It is not easy to understand why Harnack thinks it 'more than doubtful' that Jesus used this title here. He says that in the discourse which precedes and of which this forms part, Jesus has clearly enough avoided any designation of Himself as Messiah; but He shows convincingly that the Messianic consciousness of Jesus pervades this speech from beginning to end. He does not regard this as unhistorical,' but if its historicity be admitted, why should we hesitate to think that the Messianic consciousness might reveal itself in a significant or suggestive term? It is true that Jesus did not at this period call Himself the Christ, and that even after the confession at Caesarea Philippi, He forbade His disciples to tell any one that He was so; but for this there were reasons. The Christ or the Messiah was a term which for the Jews was laden 1 Sprüche u. Reden Jesu, 167, quoted above in note on p. 254.
with political meanings and hopes in which Jesus had no part; He deliberately avoided using it therefore, because to use it was to excite expectations which it was His very calling to disown. But that is no reason why He should not have employed another title to express His unique relation to the Kingdom of God, if such a title could be found; a title which was at once free from the objectionable political associations of 'the Christ,' and singularly appropriate to convey some of the most characteristic thoughts of Jesus. The title Son of Man lay to His hand. It implied at once humanity and sovereignty, but while both of these ideas are essential elements in the meaning, either might be uppermost, while the other was more or less latent. In the passage before us, it is the humanity which is emphasised. The Baptist had seemed to separate himself from men-to rise, in a sense, above the measure of common humanity. He would not be in debt to it for anything, neither society nor food nor clothing. He was an exalted, austere, and solitary being; when common sense ceased to be frightened by his preaching, it said 'he is possessed by a demon-mad.' But the person whose transcendent greatness as compared with John is the presupposition of the whole discourse comes in quite another fashion. He is not too good to take the world as God has made it, to enter into the common life of men, to meet them, so to speak, on their own level. He comes 'eating and drinking.' Humanity is the very badge and device under which he lives. This is what the title particularly expresses, and surely a title or descriptive designation is wanted. To put 'I' into the sentence instead of 'the Son of Man,' is to rob it of its point and beauty. But something is lost also if we ignore the latent sense of sovereignty which is always an element in the meaning. To render the words as