Owen on “the Son of Man”
(I offer here a guest-post from Dr. Paul Owen, the co-editor of the newly-published volume, Who is This Son of Man?. Owen comments here on his own contribution to the volume: “Problems with Casey’s ‘Solution’.”)
I’m very excited about this new volume, and believe it carries the scholarly discussion of this topic forward considerably. My own chapter is focused on the work of Maurice Casey, with particular reference to his book, The Solution to the ‘Son of Man’ Problem (London: T&T Clark, 2007). I discuss his appeal to the stability of the Aramaic language as a defense for his uncritical use of texts ranging over a thousand-year period to support his hypothesis about the use of bar enash(a). I also defend the 2001 JSNT article which I co-wrote with David Shepherd from criticisms raised in Casey’s 2002 rebuttal in the same journal. He has criticized us for mis-stating the issues involved in the breakdown between the absolute and emphatic states in Aramaic, and for using antiquated secondary sources in our own research. I also show how in fact, the problem with Casey’s thesis is not that it is based on too little evidence, but that it actually contradicts the use of bar enash(a) in texts from the relevant time period. And I demonstrate that his hypothesis falls to the ground in light of Daniel 7:13, Sefire 3.14-17, 1QapGen 21.13, and 11QTgJob 9.9 and 26.2-3, none of which texts is adequately accounted for in Casey’s discussion.
The rest of my essay includes an extended discussion of Daniel 7:13, in
which I argue that the text does indeed refer to a specific individual
who functions as God’s agent in divine judgment. I argue that it is
most unlikely that the early church so quickly misunderstood the meaning
of the expression, as Casey proposes. I argue for the authenticity of
many of the “son of man” sayings which Casey rejects. And I examine the
dozen or so “son of man” sayings which Casey takes to be authentic, and
show that his reconstructed reading of the sayings is highly suspect.
Finally I have a brief discussion of 1 Enoch 37-71, 4 Ezra 13, and
Ezekiel the Tragedian 68-89, showing that they all interpret Daniel 7:13
as speaking of an individual who functions as God’s chief agent, and
they all appear unaware of the corporate “Israel” reading of the text
that Casey proposes.
All in all, my essay manages to cover a wide array of issues, and I hope
it offers something positive to our ongoing conversation regarding this
most allusive feature of the historical Jesus’ idiolect. (Dr. Paul Owen, Montreat College)