Why The Danielic “Son Of Man” Is A Divine Being -- By: Markus Zehnder

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:3 (NA 2014)
Article: Why The Danielic “Son Of Man” Is A Divine Being
Author: Markus Zehnder


Why The Danielic
“Son Of Man” Is A Divine Being

Markus Zehnder

University Of Basel / Evangelical Theological Faculty Leuven /
Ansgar College And Theological Seminary

This article addresses the question whether there are compelling reasons that suggest that the Son of Man as presented in the MT of Dan 7:13-14 must be a divine being, as opposed to having only symbolic, human, or angelic status. It presents nine arguments that support a divine understanding of the Son of Man and deals with one of the most important counterarguments. The investigation is located in the broader context of the question of monotheism within the Hebrew Bible and draws some conclusions concerning the theological consequences of the affirmation of the divinity of the Son of Man.

Key Words: Son of Man, Daniel, divinity, monotheism-polytheism

Introduction

How is the enigmatic figure “the one like a Son of Man” in Dan 7 to be interpreted?1 Is he to be identified with the Davidic messiah understood as a human being? Is he a mere symbol of the people of God? Is he an angelic figure who belongs to the heavenly realm but is not himself divine? Or is he in fact a divine being?

In the scholarly discussion of the Son of Man, there is no agreement on how these questions should be answered. In current scholarship, a widespread view is that the Son of Man in Dan 7 has to be interpreted as a symbol for the people of God or as an angelic being.2 According to

another view, the Son of Man has to be understood as a “Primal Man,” a Jewish variant of a cosmological myth inspired by Iranian speculation.3 There is also the view that the Son of Man has to be interpreted in terms of a Davidic messianic figure, without necessarily implying any notion of a divine status.4

It will be argued in this article that there are enough indications in the description of the Son of Man in the MT of Dan 7 that make a compelling case for interpreting him as a divine being. This view is not novel, but the collection of evidence and the line of argument that will support this claim is.5

The Wider Context Of The Question

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