The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man

The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man

The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man

The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man


A professor of biblical interpretations uses the epithet "the son of the man" to explore not only early Christology but also the anthropology articulated in the gospels. He explores how Jesus' self-referential phrase came to be universalized as the "Human Being" or "Truly Human One".


The son of the man” is the expression Jesus almost exclusively used to describe himself. in Hebrew the phrase simply means “a human being.” the implication seems to be that Jesus intentionally avoided honorific titles, and preferred to be known simply as “the man,” or “the human being.” Apparently he saw his task as helping people become more truly human.

All of the ancient texts that refer to the “son of the man” come packaged in male language. I have tried to translate that language into gender-inclusive terms, keeping male language to a minimum, and substituting other terms as often as possible, while still identifying the original terms. If I have failed to find the happy medium, please accept my apologies in advance. the gold of ancient wisdom is often hidden in mud such as this, and those who refuse to get dirty may forfeit the treasure.

This study may strike some who have read my earlier works on the biblical “principalities and powers” as a major departure from the concerns that animated that inquiry. While the current book explores new territory, it is by no means discontinuous with that earlier effort. in studying the Powers, I attempted to understand the forces that prevented people from becoming more human. in studying “the son of the man” I have attempted to gain some idea of what it means to become more human. in a sequel, I will search for clues about how to become more human.

Work on the Powers began in 1964. Research on “the son of the man” began in 1971, when I first attended a seminar given by the Guild for Psychological Studies in San Francisco. Those two research themes have been running on parallel tracks ever since. I must acknowledge my profound debt to the Guild, and especially to its founder and presiding genius, Elizabeth Boyden Howes, for insights that not only informed me but in part transformed me, and are transforming me still. I will attempt to acknowledge use . . .

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