“Son Of Man” Imagery: Some Implications For Theology And Discipleship -- By: Richard N. Longenecker

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 18:1 (Winter 1975)
Article: “Son Of Man” Imagery: Some Implications For Theology And Discipleship
Author: Richard N. Longenecker

“Son Of Man” Imagery: Some Implications
For Theology And Discipleship*

Richard N. Longenecker

In her little book of poems translated Prayers from the Ark, 1 Carmen Bernos de Gasztold expresses, as she imagines, the prayers and observations of Noah and twenty-six of his animal companions on that fateful diluvian voyage. Noah’s prayer begins:

What a menagerie!
Between Your downpour and these animal cries
one cannot hear oneself think!

And it concludes with the dual requests:

Guide Your Ark to safety;
Lead me until I reach the shore of Your covenant.

The cock’s prayer, however, begins and ends on a somewhat different note:

Do not forget, Lord,
it is I who make the sun rise.
I am Your servant, only do not forget, Lord, I make the sun rise.

The giraffe cannot deign to bow his neck, and rather loftily lectures the Lord—and any who might overhear— on his superior qualities:

I who see the world from above
find it hard to get used to its pettiness.
I have heard it said
You love humble creatures.
Chatter of apes!
It is easier for me
to believe in Your greatness.
I feed on exalted things
and I rather like
to see myself so close to Your heaven.
Chatter of apes!

The cat, without seeking to be presumptuous, asks only:

If You have by some chance, in some celestial barn,

*Presidential address at the 26th meeting of ETS, December 26, 1974. ~

a little white mouse,
or a saucer of milk,
I know someone who would relish them.

And then she offers but one small suggestion:

Wouldn’t You like someday
to put a curse on the whole race of dogs?
If so, I should say,


And so it goes throughout each of the twenty-seven prayers: each viewing life from its own perspective; each voicing its own prejudices; and each circumscribed by its own interests. After vicariously entering into the individual situations represented by the prayers, one can’t help agreeing with Noah in the opening lines of his petition to God: “Lord, what a menagerie!”

The analogy is obvious. How like the Ark is the Church, and Christians like its inhabitants—all too provincial, all too limited by our own interests, and viewing everything from our own perspectives. And this is particularly tr...

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