Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

'Who Is This Son of Man?' the Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

'Who Is This Son of Man?' the Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus

Article excerpt

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'Who Is This Son of Man?' The Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus. Edited by Larry W. Hurtado and Paul L. Owen. Library of New Testament Studies 390. London: T & T Clark, 2011, viii + 191 pp., $ 130.00.

What could possibly justify yet another book on the Son of Man, and can anything new be said about a subject of countless articles and monographs? The present volume, however, is not just another Son of Man book; it is a valuable work by eight qualified scholars that provides a fruitful contribution and offers an important evaluation of Son of Man scholarship.

In "Issues concerning the Aramaic behind ...: A Critical Review of Scholarship" (pp. 1-27), Albert L. Lukaszewski gives a survey of two millennia of changing proposals from Wellhausen to Casey. The essay invites the reader to rethink the conventional perspective of reverting ... into a hypothetical source language and to allow for the possibility that the phrase might have a Greek origin. Through a retroversion of ... into Qumran Aramaic, Lukaszewski offers several proposals himself (e.g. ...), but he argues that before any attempt to uncover the Aramaic or Hebrew behind ..., the expression must first be demonstrated "to be dissonant in relation to the bulk of Greek usage at that time" (p. 17). Researchers who want to pursue this fascinating task are then offered specific guidelines with the warning that evaluating ... against a wide linguistic milieu has great limitations. In the end, the reader is leftpondering: How much more linguistic research is still needed, and will it bring us deeper into the labyrinth of speculations?

In the next essay, Paul L. Owen finds "Problems with Casey's Solution" (pp. 28-49), which he argues is driven by a low Christology and an anti-orthodox agenda. Casey has forcefully insisted that the Aramaic expression ... behind ... was simply an ordinary and generic term for "man." Owen, on the other hand, objects to this position on numerous grounds: (1) the generic use of the emphatic singular ... is nowhere attested in Aramaic texts predating or contemporary with Jesus; (2) the generic idea is always employed by the use of the plural construction ...; and (3) the generic meaning of ... leads to novel interpretations of the "Son of Man" Gospel sayings. On the whole, the essay is replete with observations on the development of the Aramaic language, the authenticity of the Son of Man sayings, and the messianic interpretation of this expression in Jewish apocalyptic literature.

The quest against Casey's solution continues in "Re-Solving the Son of Man 'Problem' in Aramaic" (pp. 50-60), where David Shepherd seeks to assess whether the singular emphatic form of ... was a common way of generally referring to a man in the Aramaic of Jesus' time. To do so, Casey extends the search for this form in Targum Onkelos, Targum Jonathan, and other relevant Aramaic corpora. The findings make Casey's position less than compelling and "utterly bereftof relevant evidence" (p. 60).

No one should miss "Expressing Definiteness in Aramaic: A Response to Casey's Theory concerning the Son of Man Sayings" (pp. 61-77) by P. J. Williams. Considerable doubt is cast against the view that the Aramaic language is stable and allows us to reconstruct the Aramaic behind the "Son of Man" Gospel sayings. Aramaic is a very flexible language that can express definiteness in a variety of ways with the result that if Jesus wanted a reference to a "son of man" to be understood as definite he would be quite capable of denoting this, whether or not there was a definite concept of a son of man (p. 76). Instead of reconstructing the Aramaic behind Gospel sayings, Williams recommends relying on the meaning and intentions of those who recorded the words that now appear in the Gospels (pp. 66-68).

With "The Use of Daniel 7 in Jesus' Trial, with Implications for His Self- Understanding" (pp. …

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