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Son of Man


Now there have been lots of discussions on the son of man looking only at the New Testament or Daniel. Now it gets very, very rich. Obviously in some books the “son of man” is generic for the human being. Sometimes it’s a reference to myself, I, as the son of man, I as a human; but in the parables of Enoch and in many of Jesus’ sayings, the Son of Man is the eschatological judge who is coming to punish those who have punished the Jews.

Why is that; because throughout the Dead Sea Scrolls, throughout the pseudepigrapha, throughout the Old Testament, all the literature: God is judge. But in the parables of Enoch, it says the Son of Man will come and be judge. So, it’s an expansion on Daniel, the books of Daniel, and Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes as judge”; so Jesus gets the eschatological judge concept from the groups that are behind the books of Enoch. So, I don’t think Jesus has to read the book of Enoch, which is called the parables of Enoch. He would have during his daily life talked with them when they were fishing, farming, walking around or sitting and discussing, how do we know about God; and it’s a time of judgment, who’s going to come as a great judge, Jesus and the, the people behind the parables of Enoch said, “It is going to be the eschatological Son of Man.”

So what I have come to the conclusion is that as he wandered around, that’s where the Enoch people were, people who were revering Enoch; and it was the same type of Judaism, apocalyptic eschatological, believing that this is a terrible time and something powerful is exploding in our midst. And Jesus buys into that and that is his message, but what really is the link that makes it certain to me that he’s been talking with the people that have given us the book of Enoch, is the Son of Man as eschatological judge. Among our hundreds and hundreds of documents, it’s only in the sayings of Jesus and only in the parables of Enoch. 

  • James H. Charlesworth

    James Hamilton Charlesworth is the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and is director and editor of the Princeton Dead Sea Scrolls Project.