Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lent Day 23

Just realised I have now written more blog entries in the last 23 days than in the previous 6 months combined! It's getting more difficult though, as the days go by. I keep finding myself at the end of the day, tired and then thinking 'oh I need to do my blog.' I never was any good at keeping a journal.
I've finished my 'Daniel' essay. I've just got to get it down from 2750 words (it's meant to be 2000). If I can get it under 2500 I think I'll just give it in.

So who was the 'Son of Man' to the original readers?
Well, that obviously begs the question - who were the original readers? This has been one of the most hotly debated topics in OT studies. The traditonal answer has been that it was written by Daniel, in Babylon, in the 6th C BC. Most modern scholars prefer a date in the Maccabean period, 2nd century BC, in Palestine. Largely the debate has revolved around the view of prophecy. Daniel 11 describes a 'prophetic' vision which describes the events leading up to Antiochus Epiphanes stopping of the daily temple sacrifice in 167 BC with a high degree of accuracy. If you don't believe that prophecy can do this sort of thing then it must have been written after the event. However, John Goldingay makes it clear that he does believe God can do this sort of thing, but still argues for a 2nd century date. I'm fairly agnostic on this one I think, I agree with Goldingay when he says 'Whether the stories are history or fiction, the visions actual prophecy or quasi-prophecy, written by Daniel or by someone else, in the 6th century, or the second, or somewhere inbetween, makes surprisingly little difference to the book's exegesis.'

The phrase 'son of man' just means man or human being. This is true in the 6th or the 2nd century, but I suspect what my lecturer means is 'what could it have symbolised?' Here are the candidates :
The interpretation given in the passage implies that the 'one like a Son of Man' refers to the 'holy ones of the most high'
This could mean :
All the saints on earth
A subset of Israel
A combination Angels and Israel

Taking the figure as an individual, the following have been suggested :
A divine figure inspired by the god Marduk!
A divine figure inspired by Baal!
A divine figure
A messianic figure:
A Davidic king
A high priest
A cosmic messiah

The messianic interpretations are obviously drawn from the fact that Jesus used the "son of man" as his favourite way of referring to himself, but there is very little evidence that anyone read the passage this way until the first century. I think that all the individual/angelic stuff confuses the symbol in the vision for the thing it is intended to symbolise, so the most likely answer is Israel (or faithful Israel). So when Jesus used the phrase he was using it in a new way. Not only was he claiming to be Israel, but the figure who represents Israel who must suffer but will be vindicated by God.
so there!

No comments: