Chapter 4: Jesus and the Future
Exegesis I. The Sower, Mustard Seed, Leaven, Seed Growing of Itself. Confidence in God’s Future
Mark 4.3-9. ‘Listen A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; 6and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain, 8And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.’ 9And he said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’
Thomas 9. Jesus said: ‘See, the sower went out, he filled his hand, he threw. Some (seeds) fell on the road; the birds came, they gathered them. Others fell on the rock and did not strike root in the earth and did not produce ears. And others fell on the thorns; they choked the seed and the worm ate them. And others fell on the good earth; and it brought forth good fruit; it bore sixty per measure and one hundred and twenty per measure.’
In this particular instance there is no point in attempting to reconstruct the original form of the parable. It was the story of a Palestinian peasant sowing and harvesting, and the interim period of the fate of parts of the seed sown has been described, both to add vividness and verisimilitude to the story and to prepare artistically for the contrast of the successful harvest. In the process of transmission details would be added and varied in accordance with knowledge of agricultural processes and dangers, e.g. the worm eating the seed in Thomas, and the scorching sun in Mark/Matthew versus the lack of moisture in Luke. Perhaps also details were added and varied in the pre-Markan stage of the tradition in accordance with the allegorizing in the Church now to be found in Mark 4.13-20 par., but this does not seem likely. Since all of the details are natural rather than artificial, and the explanation is separate from the parable itself, it is more probable that the explanation simply uses the text already found in the stage of the development concerned. But in any case, additions and changes of detail in connection with the fate of the seed are completely unimportant, since the significant thing is simply the fact of a story of a peasant sowing and harvesting. The details, in this instance, are ‘window dressing’ and of no substantial significance.
There is no good reason to doubt the authenticity of the parable:it reflects the Palestinian practice of not ploughing before sowing and the Semitisms are numerous; (J. Jeremias, Parables of Jesus [re. ed., 1963] p. 149, n. 80) the difficulties raised by Miss Linnemann (E. Linnemann, Parables of Jesus, pp. 117, 181-4.) concern its original meaning, not its authenticity. But the meaning of the parable is, in fact, not difficult to grasp, once we banish from our minds the varied interpretations known to us, from early Christian allegorizing to the ‘parables of growth’ interpretation of liberal theology. When we recognize the original point as that of the contrast between the handful of seed and the bushels of harvest, and when we set the parable finally in the context of the proclamation of God acting as king in the experience of men confronted by the message and ministry of Jesus, what is the significance of a story about a Palestinian peasant who sows handfuls of seed and, despite all the agricultural vicissitudes of that time and place, gathers in bushels of harvest? It is surely that of a contrast between present and future: in the present forgiveness, but also temptation; here and now table-fellowship in the name of the Kingdom of God, but only in anticipation of its richest blessings. Seed-time and harvest are well established Jewish metaphors for the work of God in the world and its consummation. With the proclamation of the Kingdom by Jesus on the one hand and this parable on the other, we are justified in arguing that Jesus, for all the claims he made and implied about the significance of his ministry and message, none the less looked forward to a consummation to which this was related as seed-time to harvest. With its original picturesque emphasis upon the vicissitudes endured by the seed, and the consequent heightening of the success aspects of the harvest, this parable was probably originally concerned to inculcate confidence in God’s future; but for our purposes we must note only that it does look from the present to the future, from the seed-time to the harvest, from a beginning to its consummation. We may have all kinds of difficulties in interpreting this as an emphasis in the teaching of Jesus, but this should not prevent us from recognizing that the emphasis is, in fact, there.
The Mustard Seed
Mark 4.30-32. And he said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31It is like a grain of mustard seed which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’
Thomas 20. The disciples said to Jesus: ‘Tell us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.’ He said to them: ‘It is like a mustard seed, smaller than all seeds. But when it falls on the tilled earth, it produces a large branch and becomes shelter for the birds of heaven.’
The Thomas version has introduced gnosticizing elements into the parable, the tilled ground representing the aspect of labouring in the gnostic soteriology, and the great branch the growth of the ‘heavenly man’, (B. Gärtner, Theology of the Gospel According to Thomas, p. 232.) and has characteristically omitted the Old Testament allusion (H. Montefiore [with H.E.W. Turner], Thomas and the Evangelists [Studies in Biblical Theology 35 (London: SCM Press, 1962), P. 51 and n. 2.) (to Dan. 4.21 or Ezek. 17.23; 31.6) in the reference to the birds resting in the shade/branches. The parallels in Matthew (13.31-32) and Luke (13.18-19) indicate that aversion of this parable was found both in Mark and Q. Matthew and Luke agree against Mark in referring (wrongly) to the mustard plant as a ‘tree’, and in having the birds nest in its ‘branches’ (although actually it is the shade which attracts them); in both instances Mark is the more correct. Matthew probably conflates Mark and Q, whereas Luke chooses Q over against Mark. But the Markan form of the parable seems superior in that it more vividly and correctly represents the Palestinian mustard plant.
The parable presents a striking contrast between a seed, proverbial for its smallness, and a bush, large and shady enough to be especially attractive to birds as a temporary roosting-place. This contrast is the point of the parable, and the reference becomes clear to us when we recognize that here again we have an allusion to a metaphor regularly used in Jewish expectation concerning the End. In the Jewish literature birds nesting in the branches of a tree could and did symbolize the nations of the world coming, penitently, to join the Jews in the blessings of the End time. (T. W. Manson, Teaching of Jesus, p. 133, n. I, with references.) Jesus’ parable uses this image, with the change from branches to shade necessitated by the fact that the reference is to a mustard bush rather than to a cedar tree or the like. We have again, then, a parable which looks from the present beginning to the future consummation, and one, moreover, which implies a point of departure in the success of the challenge to ‘tax collectors and sinners’, and an expectation of this being consummated in a moment when all men come together into the Kingdom of God. The small beginning contains within itself the promise of the particular glory of God’s future, precisely because both the present and the future are God’s.
Matt. 13.33 par. He told them another parable. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.’
Thomas 96. Jesus [said]: ‘The Kingdom of the Father is like [a] woman, (who) has taken a little leaven [ (and) has hidden] it in dough (and) has made large loaves of it.’
The Thomas version of this parable has been transformed in the service of gnosticism. The picture is now that of a woman who, using leaven, is able to produce ‘large loaves’, and the leaven now equals the heavenly particle of light, the spiritual element within man which makes salvation possible. (B. Gärtner, The Theology According to Thomas, p. 231.) This version, therefore, is of no value to us in our particular context. The synoptic version is a twin of the Mustard Seed, making the same point of ‘Simple beginnings: great endings’ by means of the homely analogy of the leaven and the dough. It would be natural to see in this the slow but sure ‘leavening’ of the world by the spirit of Christ, or the like, as did the older liberalism, if we did not recognize, again, that the point of departure is the activity of God as king. The beginning of the activity in the experience of men confronted by the challenge of Jesus and his ministry will reach its climax in the consummation of it, as the putting of leaven into meal reaches its climax in the batch of leavened dough. The emphasis is upon God, upon what he is doing and what he will do, and the parable, like all the parables of this group, is an expression of the supreme confidence of Jesus in God and God’s future.
The Seed Growing of Itself: Mark 4.26-29
26And he said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, 27and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’
This parable bears the stamp of authenticity, not only in that it coheres with the others of this group, but also in that we find ourselves once again confronted by the sure and sympathetic observation of Palestinian life so characteristic of Jesus. The Palestinian peasant knew nothing of the process of growth as visualized by modern men; to him this was a divine mystery. So, although he would do certain things by rule-of-thumb experience — plough after sowing, protect the field from birds or wandering animals, etc. — for the most part after sowing he went his daily round with his prayers said, his fingers crossed and a wary eye on the field. The seed grew of itself, he knew not how; what he knew was that suddenly, from one day to the next, the hour of harvest would come and he would be galvanized into activity again. All of this is most vividly expressed in the parable, and we have here once again the use of agricultural imagery to express the reality of God at work. As the Palestinian peasant, after sowing, trusts to God and waits for the moment of harvest, so the man who recognizes the challenge of the activity of God in the ministry of Jesus must learn the lesson of patient waiting, in sure confidence that what has been sown will be reaped, that what God has begun he will bring to a triumphant conclusion.
The message of this group of parables is clear enough: Out of the experience of God in the present learn to have confidence in God’s future. How we may interpret this message, however, is a very different matter, and the question as to whether it has any significance other than that of establishing the historical fact that Jesus had confidence in God and sought to inculcate upon others this confidence is a very real question. But it is a question that must wait until we have more data, for the parables are only part of the message of Jesus, and we must include in our deliberation here what we may learn also from other aspects of the teaching.
Exegesis 2. Luke 11.2=Matt. 6.10; Matt. 8.1= Luke 13.28-29. The Kingdom of God as a Future Expectation
That the Kingdom of God is a future expectation in the teaching of Jesus is not a matter of dispute in the current discussion. The present writer has set down in detail elsewhere the course of the discussion which has led contemporary biblical scholarship to this all but unanimous conclusion, (N. Perrin, Kingdom, passim.) and although he now finds himself more skeptical than once he was about the authenticity of some of the elements of the teaching involved, this does not change the fact that this emphasis was a part of the teaching of Jesus; there is still more than sufficient evidence to show this. In what follows we will discuss only the two most important sayings, not so much to establish the point as to determine, so far as we can, the form in which it is presented in the teaching of Jesus.
Luke 11.2 = Matt 6.10: ‘Thy Kingdom Come’
There are good grounds for accepting the authenticity of this petition in the Lord’s Prayer. The following ‘thy will be done, on earth as in heaven’ in Matthew is doubtless liturgical explication, but the petition itself differs from the Kaddish petition, ‘May he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time’, which it parallels in sentiment, in ways which are characteristic of Jesus, not the early Church: the brevity of formulation (cf. ‘Father [abba]’ versus ‘Our Father who art in heaven’); the intimate ‘Thy’ for the formal ‘his’; and the use of the verb ‘to come’ rather than ‘to establish’ (the early Church prayed for the coming of the Lord, not the Kingdom, cf. I Cor. 16.22 [Aramaic: Maranatha]; Rev. 22.20). As authentic, and as paralleling the Kaddish prayer in sentiment, it is a petition for the coming of God’s Kingdom, a plea for God to manifest himself as king in the experience of his people — of this there can be no doubt. But we must remember that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer taught to the general public, but a disciple’s prayer; it is a prayer intended to be prayed by people who recognize that God has acted and is acting as king in their experience. If this were not the case for them, they would not pray this prayer at all, for they could not address God as abba. As we argued earlier, (Ibid., p. 192) the use of this extraordinary mode of address to God symbolizes the change wrought by the fact that the Kingdom had, in a real sense, ‘come’, so far as these people were concerned. Since this is the case, we must interpret this petition either as a prayer that others may experience the ‘coming of the Kingdom’, or as a prayer from a present experience to a future consummation. (We are repeating in essence our previous argument, N. Perrin, Kingdom, p. 193.) Of these two, the latter is much the more likely possibility, both because the highly personal nature of the Lord’s Prayer altogether would make the former a jarring note and also because it coheres with the emphasis we have already detected in the parables. This petition is, then, further evidence that Jesus did look toward a future consummation of that which had begun in his ministry and in the experience of men challenged by that ministry.
Matt. 8.11=Luke 13.28-29
11I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
28There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. 29And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.
The saying has been used differently by the two evangelists; Matthew uses it in the story of the centurion’s servant, immediately following the saying about the centurion’s faith (v. 10), to formulate a promise that a Gentile with such faith will share in the messianic banquet, and he follows it with another saying (v. 12) which threatens judgement on the Jews who have no such faith. Luke has no such conclusion to his version of the story (Luke 7. 1-10); after the saying about the centurion’s faith (v. 9), the story concludes with the report of the servant’s cure. There can be no doubt but that Luke has, in this respect, the more primitive version of the story; Matthew’s vv. 11 and 12 are certainly Matthaean additions. There is no parallel to Matthew’s v. 12 in Luke; it is to be regarded as a Matthaean formulation using traditional phraseology, but his v. 11 turns up in a Lukan collection of sayings about the difficulties of salvation (Luke 13.22-30). This collection does seem to be Lukan rather than from Q; Klostermann has shown (E. Klostermann, Das Lukasevangelium [Handbuch zum Neuen Testament 5 (Tubingen : J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck] 1929)], pp. 146f.) that although some of the material in it is from Q the present arrangement and form is Lukan. Both Matthew and Luke, therefore, make different uses of an originally quite independent saying.
So far as the form of the saying is concerned, Matthew seems to have preserved the more original wording. Luke’s order is clumsy and seems designed to link the saying to the remainder of the pericope (v. 25 ‘stand outside’, v. 28 ‘there’), and ‘all the prophets’ and ‘and from north and south’ seem to be Lukan additions, the former perhaps under the influence of Christian apologetic, which regularly claimed that the Jews had rejected the prophets and Jesus, and the latter under the influence of passages such as Ps. 107.3. The Matthaean version, on the other hand, is simple in construction and the movement of thought within it is natural.
The saying moves in the world of the regular Jewish symbolism of the messianic banquet. This takes its point of departure from the picture of the feast of God upon the mountains in Isa. 25.6-8, and from there spreads widely throughout the ancient Jewish literature, both apocalyptic and rabbinic. (Billerbeck’s listing of such references occupies more than ten pages, Kommentar IV, 1154-65.) A characteristic passage from apocalyptic is I Enoch 62.14:
And the Lord of Spirits will abide over them
And with that Son of man shall they eat
And lie down and rise up for ever and ever.
and from the rabbinical literature, Ex. R. 25.8:
It is written, ‘For the Lord thy God bringeth thee unto a good land’ (Deut. 8.7) — to see the table that is prepared in Paradise, as it says, ‘I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living’ (Ps. 116.9). He (God) as it were sits above the patriarchs, and the patriarchs and all the righteous sit in His midst (toko) as it says, ‘And they sit down (tukku) at thy feet’ (Deut. 33.3), and he distributes portions to them. . . . He will bring them fruit from the Garden of Eden and will feed them from the tree of life.
The expectation plays a real part m the life of the Qumran sectaries, since they have a sacred meal (? their regular daily meal) which they eat in anticipation of the day when they will eat it in the presence of the Messiah: IQSa ii. 11-22, cf. IQS vi. 4-5.
As can be seen by simple comparison, Matt. 8.ii 15 concerned with the same kind of expectation as the apocalyptic and rabbinic passages, but there are some striking differences. First, there is the vividness of detail over against the apocalyptic passage, and both vividness and brevity over against the rabbinic. Although we chose those passages at random, no amount of searching the literature would produce an apocalyptic or rabbinic statement on this theme with such vividness and brevity; in these respects Matt. 8.1 is reminiscent of the parables and the Lord’s Prayer. Further, the saying uses the Kingdom of God to designate the End time state of blessedness, a usage characteristic of Jesus and extremely rare in Judaism. We have been unable to find any instance of a Jewish text referring to this messianic banquet which has Kingdom of God, and if one were found, it would be extremely uncharacteristic: Age to Come, Paradise, Messianic Age and the like are the characteristic Jewish phrases. Finally, the Jewish concept is concerned very much with the ‘righteous’, the ‘elect’, and so on, who enjoy this blessing; the reference to the outcast and Gentiles implied in Matt. 8.1 (and certainly understood by both Matthew and Luke), while it would not be absolutely foreign to Judaism, would certainly, again, be extremely uncharacteristic.
As far as the early Church is concerned, the saying could be a prophetic word in the context of a sacred meal anticipating the messianic banquet, at a time when the Church was concerned with the influx of the Gentiles. On the other hand, it could be a saying of Jesus addressed to the table-fellowship of the Kingdom that was a feature of his ministry, and celebrating the coming of the ‘Jews who had made themselves as Gentiles’ into that fellowship. Of these two possibilities, the latter is overwhelmingly the more likely. Not only because of the dominical characteristics of the saying noted above, but also because it coheres so completely with undeniably genuine sayings, such as the eschatological simile of the marriage feast, Mark 2.19, and the parables discussed earlier in this chapter. We are, therefore, justified in regarding Matt 8.11 as a genuine saying of Jesus.
We have argued the authenticity of this saying with some care, not because of any need to controvert skepticism with regard to it — indeed, most critical scholars accept its authenticity — but because of its intrinsic importance. Arising directly out of the table-fellowship of the Kingdom in the ministry of Jesus, it directs attention towards a moment in the future when that fellowship will be consummated. The fellowship of the ministry of Jesus, immensely significant though it is, is still only an anticipation of the ‘sitting at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God’. So, again, the same theme is found: the fulfillment in the present, although it is truly fulfillment, still only anticipates the consummation in the future.
Exegesis 3. The Apocalyptic Son Of Man Sayings (See annotated Bibliography No. 7: Jesus and the Coming Son of Man.
Our interest at this point is in the teaching of Jesus concerning the future, so we shall limit our discussion to the so-called ‘apocalyptic’ Son of man sayings, the core of which may be regarded as being found in Mark 8.38; 13.26; 14.62; Luke 12.8f.par.; 11.30; 17.24 par.; 17.26f par. The other two groups of Son of man sayings, those having a ‘present’ reference, e.g. Mark 2.10; 2.27f., and the ‘suffering’ Son of man sayings: Mark 8.31; 9.12, etc., lie outside the scope of our present enquiry. We hope to discuss them at some future date as part of a wider investigation of New Testament christological traditions. The apocalyptic sayings are sufficiently distinct from these others to warrant quite separate discussion.
Before we can discuss the apocalyptic Son of man sayings in the synoptic gospels, we must first discuss the Son of man in Jewish apocalyptic, for a great deal depends upon our assumptions in regard to this. A widespread assumption, especially in German language research, is that there existed in Jewish apocalyptic the conception of a transcendent, pre-existent heavenly being, the Son of man, whose coming to earth as judge would be a major feature of the drama of the End time. H. E. Tödt, for example, has as a heading for the first chapter of his book The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition, (ET by D.M. Barton of Der Menschensohn in der synoptischen Ûberlieferung ; London: SCM Press, and Philadelphia; Westminster Press, 1965 [hereinafter = Son of Man].) ‘The Transcendent Sovereignty of the Son of Man in Jewish apocalyptic literature’, and in the subsequent discussion he assumes that there is a unified and consistent conception which reveals itself in various ways in Dan. 7, I Enoch 37-71 (the Similitudes) and IV Ezra 13, the conception of a transcendent bringer of salvation: the Son of man. He sees that there are differences between Daniel and I Enoch on the one hand and IV Ezra on the other, such as to suggest that there is not, in fact, a unified and consistent conception in Jewish apocalyptic, but he argues that in any case a conception did develop in early Christianity in which consistency was achieved and differences disappeared. This enables him to conclude his chapter with a summary of the elements which he regards as common to the different seers. Their vision is of a heavenly being, a saviour to whom are ascribed supernatural and even divine powers and functions. His sovereignty and power are not those of an earthly being, as could be the case with the Messiah, but come from the future, from the Second Aeon. The seers’ conception is characterized by a strict dualism which radically distinguishes between the present and the coming Aeon, and which determines the transcendental character of the conception of the sovereignty of this redeemer figure. (H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, pp. 22, 30f. Cf., in more summary form, F. Hahn, Christologische Hoheitstitel, pp. 28, 29; Ph. Vielhauer, ‘Gottesreich und Menschensohn in der Verkündigung Jesu’, Festschrift fur Günther Dehn [Neukirchen: Verlag der Buchhandlung des Erziehungsvereins Neukirchen, 1957], pp. 51-79, esp. p. 52; E. Jüngel, Paulus und Jesus, pp. 246ff.; A. J. B. Higgins, Jesus and the Son of Man [London: Lutterworth Press, 1964], p. 15.) Despite the widespread acceptance of this assumption there seems to be a number of difficulties with it.
In the first place, neither of the two cycles of tradition using Son of man subsequent to Dan. 7 in Jewish apocalyptic introduce Son of man as an independent conception with a title which is in itself a sufficient designation; rather, each cycle begins afresh with clear and careful references to Dan. 7. Whether we regard I Enoch 70, 71, as the climax of the Similitudes or as the earliest use of Son of man in the Enoch saga, this remains true, for I Enoch 71 has clear references to Dan. 7 (e.g. vv. 2, io) while I Enoch 46, where Son of man is first introduced in the Similitudes as they now stand, is virtually a mid-rash on Dan 7.13. IV Ezra 13.3 carefully identifies its ‘as it were the form of a man’ which comes from the sea as the one who flies ‘with the clouds of heaven’, i.e. as the Son of man from Dan. 7.13.
Further, the differences between the Son of man in I Enoch and the Man from the sea in IV Ezra are such that the reference to Dan. 7.13 is the only thing they have in common, apart from the fact that pre-existence, in the special apocalyptic sense, is ascribed to both figures, as it is to many other things. In view of the fact that IV Ezra 13 does not have a titular use of Son of man at all, we are not justified in regarding it as supplementing I Enoch in references to a Son of man concept. Having identified its Man from the sea with the figure from Dan. 7.13, it then goes on to refer to him as ‘the same Man’ (v.12), ‘a Man from the sea’ (vv. 25, 51), ‘a Man’ (v. 32), but never as ‘Son of man’. As for the distinction between the sovereignty and powers of the (earthly) Messiah and those of the (pre-existent, heavenly) Son of man, it should be noted that although IV Ezra 13.26 has the Man from the sea being kept ‘many ages’ by the Most High, the description of the redemptive activity of this figure in vv. 9ff. is couched in language drawn largely from Ps. Sol. 17, a description of the activity of the (earthly) Messiah.
What we have, in fact, in Jewish apocalyptic is not a Son of man conception at all, as Tödt and others assume, but a use of Dan. 7.13 by subsequent seers, a usage which does not end with apocalyptic, but continues on into the midrashim. In so far as Dan. 7.13 exhibits a concept we may speak of a Son of man conception in Jewish apocalyptic, but it would be better to speak of an ‘image’, and, therefore, of the varied use of ‘Son of man imagery’ in Jewish apocalyptic and midrashic literature. In order to make our meaning clear, and in view of the intrinsic importance of this subject, we shall offer an analysis of the use of ‘Son of man imagery’ in Jewish apocalyptic and midrashic literature as we see it.
1. Dan. 7 itself takes up an existing image from ancient Canaanite mythology, the nearest parallels to which, in texts now available to us, are from Ugarit and Tyre. (Endless possibilities from the history of religions and from Jewish speculative theology have been proposed as the origin of the Son of man figure n Jewish apocalyptic, but two recent areticles have pointed strongly to Ugarit and Tyre: L. Rost, ‘Zur Deutung des Menschensohnes in Daniel 7’, in Gott und die Götter: Festgabe für Erich Fascher [Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1958], pp. 41-43 [Ugarit], and J. Morgenstern, ‘The "Son of Man" of Dan. 7.13f. A New Interpretation’, JBL 80 (1961), 65-77 [Tyre]. C. Colpe, himself a Religionsgeschichtler of real standing, has investigated thoroughly all the proposed possibilities and reached the conclusion that this ‘Canaanite hypothesis’ comes nearest to meeting the needs of the case, so far as our present knowledge goes, TWNT article, B. Das religionsgeschichtliche Problem, esp. BVc Ergebnis. This investigation is so thorough and convincing that its publication may be expected to produce a general consensus of agreement. For details of this work by Colpe, see Annotated Bibliography No. 7.) This is to be found in Dan. 7.9, 10, 13, 14, which because of its metric structure is to be distinguished from the remainder of the chapter, and is the account of an assembly of gods at which authority is passed from one god, designated Ancient of Days, to another, younger god, designated Son of man. This existing image the author of Daniel weaves into his vision, a procedure altogether characteristic of apocalyptic literature, and then goes on to offer his interpretation of the Son of man figure (v. 27). It represents ‘the people of the saints of the Most High’, almost certainly the Maccabean martyrs, and his coming to dominion, glory and greatness is their coming to their reward for the sufferings they have endured. In other words, the use of Son of man in Daniel is a cryptic way of assuring the (Maccabean) readers of the book that their suffering will not go unrewarded. In exactly the same way the Christian apocalyptic seer uses a vision of white-robed figures ‘before the throne and before the lamb’ (Rev. 7) to assure the persecuted Christians that their suffering will not go unrewarded. In all probability, the author of Daniel was attracted to the mythological scene he uses because it is a cryptic reference to a giving of power and glory, and, therefore, will bear his message, and also because it has in it a mysterious figure which he can set in contrast to the beasts of his vision. That the figure is ‘one like unto a Son of man’ is probably a pure accident; any other cryptically designated figure would have served his purpose equally well. His purpose was to bring to his readers a message of assurance, of power and glory to be theirs as a reward for their constancy, and nothing more should be read into his use of this Son of man imagery than that. But Daniel becomes the fountain-head of a stream of apocalyptic and, like much else in his book, the Son of man scene is taken up and used by subsequent seers.
2. The first use of the imagery from Dan. 7 in subsequent apocalyptic is in I Enoch 70-71. We accept M. Black’s contention that this is earlier than the remainder of the Similitudes, that it is, in fact, the third of three descriptions of the ‘call’ of Enoch (14.8ff., 60, 70-71), each of which is built upon the model of Ezek. 1, and describes Enoch’s call to a different task. (M. Black, ‘Eschatology of the Similitudes of Enoch’, JTS [n.s.] 3 , 1-10.) These are not doublets but rather developments going on within an ever-expanding Enoch saga.
The Enoch saga is a major development in Jewish apocalyptic, inspired by the cryptic references to Enoch in the Old Testament, especially Gen. 5.22, 24: ‘Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.’ Indeed, the ‘call’ of Enoch in I Enoch 70-71 is an elaboration of the second part of this verse, i.e. the reference to Enoch’s translation to heaven, with a characteristic use of existing imagery, in this instance Ezek. and Dan. 7. From Ezek. 1 come the chariots of the spirit (70.2), the flaming cherubim (71.7), the fire which girdles the house (71.6; in Ezekiel fire surrounds the cherubim); and Enoch, like Ezekiel, falls to the ground when confronted by the vision (71.11; Ezek. 1.28). From Dan. 7 come the stream (s) of fire (71.2), the Head of Days (71.10) and, above all, the use of the Son of man in connection with Enoch. It is easy enough to see what has happened: the seer has interpreted the translation of Enoch in terms of the call of Ezekiel and of the appearance before the Ancient of Days of the Son of man. This was no doubt the easier because in Ezek. 2.1, Ezekiel is addressed as Son of man; indeed, that use of Son of man may well have been the connecting link for the seer, that which brought together for him the two scenes he uses in connection with the translation of his hero. Because the translation of Enoch is interpreted in terms of Dan. 7.13, Enoch becomes the Son of man.
Dan. 7 and the figure of the Son of man having been introduced into the Enoch saga in this way, they come to play a major role in that part of the saga we call the Similitudes. In Enoch 46 the scene from Dan. 7 is taken up again and attention focused anew on the Son of man, who now for the seer is Enoch. Significantly, the first thing said about him is that he has ‘righteousness’ (46.3), which is surely an allusion to Gen. 5.22, 24, where Enoch ‘walked with God’ (MT), ‘was well pleasing to God’ (LXX). At this point the characteristic concerns of apocalyptic come to the fore and Enoch/Son of man reveals ‘the treasures that are hidden’, namely, the way in which through him the wicked shall be destroyed, and the passage moves on to concentrate upon the coming destruction of the wicked. In connection with this revealing of the hidden we must remember that the basis for the work of the apocalyptic seer is always the idea that the things which will make up the drama of the End time already exist, so to speak, in prototype, in ‘the heavens’, where they await the moment of their revealing. An apocalyptic seer is granted a vision of these things prior to their being revealed to all the world at the End; hence, he has a message concerning the End to bring to his audience. In this sense all the features of the End are pre-existent, including the New Jerusalem of IV Ezra and the Christian apocalypse, and these are the hidden treasures which are revealed to Enoch.
In I Enoch 48.2 the Son of man/Ancient of Days imagery is taken up again, and the Son of man is further distinguished as the one whose role had been determined (48.3). We are on the way to an assertion that he is pre-existent in the heavens awaiting his revelation at the End. The role of the Son of man is elaborated in terms taken from the prophetic books of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, and in the course of this elaboration of the role of the Son of man, his pre-existence, in this apocalyptic sense, is affirmed (48.6), and he is further identified with the Messiah (48.10).
The imagery from Dan. 7 is taken up for a third time in 62.5. Here the seer depicts the distress of the kings and the mighty when they see the Son of man ‘sitting on the throne of his glory’. Clearly he has in mind Dan. 7.14, and he is expressing the idea of the dominion, glory and kingdom of the Son of man from that verse in these terms. With his mind set on the Son of man on his throne, the seer proceeds to elaborate the role of the Son of man as judge of the oppressors and as the one with whom the elect and righteous will dwell for ever. Both of these are, of course, common apocalyptic themes. Normally in apocalyptic, God himself is the judge, but in the Similitudes of Enoch, the Son of man assumes this function. But again, the reason is the scene from Dan. 7. In 47.3 God himself is the judge, but God designated as the Head (Ancient) of Days. Precisely because the Son of man is given the throne of the Ancient of Days in Dan. 7.14, as our seer understands it, he can assume the role of apocalyptic judge; indeed, this becomes his major role. Having assumed the role of judge, he can also assume that of leader of the redeemed community, which elsewhere is also the role of God himself (Isa. 60.19, 20; Zeph. 3.15-17).
The seer returns to Dan. 7 for the last time in 69.26-29, which is the close of the third parable and a kind of closing summary of the role of Enoch as Son of man. The name of that Son of man is revealed to the righteous, i.e. the (future) function of Enoch as Son of man is revealed, and he sits on the throne of his glory and exercises his function of judgement. It is interesting that here in this summary we should have reference only to the revealing of the name of the Son of man to the righteous, the characteristic message of hope to the readers of apocalyptic, and to the function of the Son of man as judge. This latter fact, together with the sheer extent of the references to this function in the previous Son of man passages, indicates that the seer is concerned predominantly with the Son of man as judge.
What has happened in I Enoch is, then, in our view, that in the course of the development of the Enoch saga the translation of Enoch has been interpreted in terms of Ezek. i and Dan. 7, and Dan. 7 has then been understood as referring to the giving of the role of eschatological judge to the one represented by the Son of man figure (a quite different interpretation from that given to this scene by the author of Daniel) which in this saga is Enoch. Then the saga goes on to elaborate on the theme of the judgement to be carried Out by the Son of man, although constantly returning to the initial scene, and in the course of this elaboration, other ideas characteristic of apocalyptic, e.g. pre-existence in the special apocalyptic sense, are introduced.
In what we have said above it has been assumed that the Similitudes of Enoch are the work of one seer and, further, no attempt has been made to differentiate between things said of the Son of man figure on the basis of the different Ethiopic expressions which are represented by Son of man or Man in the English version of I Enoch. With regard to the first point, even if there are several seers represented in the Similitudes as they now stand, their work is sufficiently homogeneous to be treated as a unity. With regard to the second, the Ethiopic text itself is a translation of a Semitic original, and a division into sources on the basis of linguistic factors would only be justified if the use of different terms corresponded to the occurrence of different conceptions, which is certainly not the case in this instance.
3. The vision of the Man from the sea in IV Ezra 13 also makes use of Dan. 7. This Man has ‘as it were the form of a man’ and he flies ‘with the clouds of heaven’ (v. 3). In the interpretation of the vision he is the one whom the Most High is keeping many ages (v. 26), i.e. he is pre-existent in the apocalyptic sense. But, as we noted above, the Man from the sea is not called Son of man, and the description of his activity is largely taken from Ps. Sol. 17.
The vision in IV Ezra 13 is not a vision of the Son of man at all but a vision of the Messiah (‘my [i.e. God’s] Son’, vv. 32, 37, 52). It is reminiscent of Ps. Sol. 17 (which concerns the ‘Son of David’), from which it takes much of its language, and, indeed, it might be described as a translation of Ps. Sol. 17 into the more fanciful style of apocalyptic fantasy. In the course of the vision the imagery of Dan. 7.13 is used to describe the manner of the Messiah’s appearance (‘as it were the form of a man’) and the mode of his movement (‘this Man flew with the clouds of heaven’). The argument that we have here a transcendent sovereign Son of man conception must turn entirely upon two points, that the Messiah here is ‘kept many ages’ (R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament II, 616, n. 26, finds this sufficient to identify the figure with the Son of man of I Enoch [G. H. Box]). and that he functions as a redeemer, for these are the only things in common between this figure and the Enochic Son of man.
The latter point cannot be held to be significant. The central concern of apocalyptic is with the coming redemption, and the fact that two figures function as redeemers only unites them into some such broad category as ‘apocalyptic redeemer figures’, of which, incidentally, there is a large number. This is especially the case in this instance, since the main thrust of the redemptive activity is clearly derived from different sources in each case. The activity of the Son of man in Enoch has been derived largely from the concept of his taking the throne of God, while that of ‘my Son’ in IV Ezra comes from the description of the redemptive work of the Son of David in Ps. Sol. 17. Everything turns, then, upon the fact that pre-existence, in the special apocalyptic sense, is attributed to both figures. But that pre-existence is attributed to many things in apocalyptic. If this were not the case there could be no apocalyptic literature, for, as we pointed out earlier, what the seer sees is always the things which the Most High is ‘keeping many ages’ until the time of their appearance at the End. Because of this, we remain completely unconvinced that this one point will bear the weight of the whole ‘transcendent sovereignty of the Son of man in Jewish apocalyptic’, especially in view of the facts that Son of man is not used as a title in IV Ezra and that there are no other points in common between the two figures.
One further point about IV Ezra 13 is that this is the first time in the use of Dan. 7.13 that the phrase ‘with the clouds of heaven’ is understood as referring to the movement of the Son of man figure. In the original text of Daniel it should be understood as introductory to the whole scene, the clouds forming the background or frame to the celestial scene, and not as a description of the approach of the Son of man figure to the throne. (R.B.Y. Scott, ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds’, NTS 5 [1958/9], 127-32.)
4. The use of Dan. 7.13 in connection with eschatological expectation does not end with the apocalyptic literature, but continues into the talmudic and midrashic tradition, where it is also used in connection with the Messiah. Here the major use is a development of that found in IV Ezra 13 in that the ‘clouds’ phrase is understood as descriptive of the figure’s movement, but it goes a step further in that the figure now moves from heaven to earth. This is the first time that this happens in the use of the imagery in the Jewish traditions. It can be urged that I Enoch implies that the Son of man will be revealed as judge from heaven to earth, but it is nowhere definitely stated that he ‘comes’, much less that he ‘comes with the clouds of heaven’. However, this now happens in b. Sanh. 98a: ‘R. Alexander said: "R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, ‘and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of man came’ (Dan. 7.13); while it is written, ‘lowly, and riding upon an ass’ (Zech. 9.9). If they are meritorious [the Messiah will come] ‘with the clouds of heaven’; if not ‘lowly, and riding upon an ass’." ‘ A similar understanding and use of the text is found in the midrashim: Tanhuma B 70b; Aggadath Bereshith 14a (Billerbeck, Kommentar I, 957); Num. R. 13.14, and also in Gen. R. 13.11, where, however, the reference is to the coming rain clouds, not to the Messiah.
5. Finally, the midrashic tradition also maintains the original meaning of the text in that Dan. 7.13 is used as descriptive of the Messiah’s coming to God, not of his coming to earth: Midrash on Ps. 2.9 and 21.5. 2.9 is concerned with the glory of the Messiah, and it quotes Dan. 7.13a, interpreting it in terms of the glory and dominion which the Messiah will be given by God; 21.5 15 concerned with the manner in which the Messiah will come into the presence of God, quoting and contrasting Dan. 7.13b and Jer. 30.21, and then reconciling the two.
The above is, we believe, an account of the significant eschatological use of Dan. 7.13 in the ancient Jewish traditions, and it can be seen at once that each use is accounted for, the developments envisaged are reasonable and the hypothetical relationships are smooth. What we have is not the conception of the coming of a transcendent, sovereign figure, the heavenly redeemer, the Son of man. There is no sufficient relationship between the use of Son of man in I Enoch and IV Ezra for us to suppose that they are both reflections of a common conception. What we have is the imagery of Dan. 7.13 being used freely and creatively by subsequent seers and scribes. These uses are independent of one another; the common dependence is upon Dan. 7.13 on the one hand and upon the general world of apocalyptic concepts on the other. Similarly, the scribes of the midrashic traditions in their turn use the imagery of Dan. 7.13 in connection with the Messiah. Although they abandon the general world of apocalyptic concepts, none the less they find Dan. 7.13 every bit as useful in their presentation of the Messiah as did the seer of IV Ezra 13 in his.
It is proposed that some such account as the one we have given be accepted as the background against which to view the apocalyptic Son of man sayings in the synoptic tradition. In particular, attention is called to the free development of the tradition in the Enoch saga, once Enoch is identified as Son of man by reason of the interpretation of his translation in terms of Ezek. 1 and Dan 7. It will be argued below that a similar but completely independent thing happened in the Christian tradition as a result of the interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus in terms of Dan 7.13. Just as Enoch becomes Son of man on the basis of an interpretation of his translation, so Jesus becomes Son of man on the basis of an interpretation of his resurrection.
The apocalyptic Son of man sayings with a claim to authenticity fall naturally into three groups: those clearly reflecting Dan. 7.13: Mark 13.26, 14.62; the judgement sayings: Luke 12.8f. par., Mark 8.38; and the comparison sayings: Luke 17.24 par., 17.26f. par., 11.30.
Sayings reflecting Dan. 7.13: Mark 13.26; 14.62
Mark 13.26. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Mark 14.62. And Jesus said, ‘lam; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’
We have conducted an intensive investigation of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings in the synoptic tradition on the basis of the hypothesis that the point of origin was the use of Dan. 7.13 in a Christian exegetical tradition connected with the resurrection. As a result of this investigation we believe that we can now satisfactorily explain and interpret the sayings Mark 13.26 and 14.62. (On Mark 14.62 see N. Perrin, ‘Mark 14.62: End Product of a Christian Pesher Tradition?’ NTS 12 [1965/6], pp. 150–55.) It is our contention in particular that the synoptic tradition, and related parts of the remainder of the New Testament, preserve traces of three exegetical traditions using Dan. 7.13.
Most obvious of all is the purely apocalyptic and parousia type usage represented by Mark 13.26. As compared with any version of Dan. 7.13 known to us from outside the New Testament, this saying has changed the order of words to bring the ‘clouds’ phrase Into close connection with the verb ‘coming’, a change common to every allusion to this text in the New Testament. It is a change obviously made to make unambiguous the fact that the clouds are the medium for the figure’s movement and that the movement is one from heaven to earth. Such changes in a text are common in, and indeed a hallmark of, the Qumran pesharim, to the methodology of which the Christian exegetical traditions are certainly indebted. (B. Lindars, New Testament Apologetic, pp. 24ff. N.Perrin, ‘Mark 14.62 . . .’,NTS 12 [1965/6], p. 151) This double emphasis now occurs for the first time in the use of Dan. 7.13 in apocalyptic literature, Jewish or Christian. (Assuming for the moment that Mark 13.26 represents the first use in Christian apocalyptic. If, as we shall argue below, this text is not the first use in Christian tradition, then we would substitute another text for Mark 13.26, but the essential point would remain the same: this double emphasis is first known to us from a Christian text.) As we pointed out above, the linking of the clouds with the movement of the figure first occurs in Jewish apocalyptic in IV Ezra, but there the figure does not come from heaven to earth. The LXX version of Dan. 7.i3 must certainly be regarded as understanding the figure as moving on the clouds, because it translates the Aramaic preposition involved by the Greek epi (‘upon’), whereas the Theodotion version uses the more correct meta (‘with’). But the scene is still purely a heavenly scene, and the change in the word order characteristic of the Christian tradition is not, of course, found.
Mark 3.26 has neither the LXX ‘upon the clouds’ nor the Theodotion ‘with the clouds’ (= Aramaic), but uses the preposition en ‘in clouds’. This is a second change over against the original text, and again it has the appearance of a characteristic pesher type change in the service of the text’s reinterpretation. The phrase ‘in clouds’ is characteristic of Old Testament epiphanies (Ex. 16.10; 19.9; Lev. 16.2; Num. 11.25), and the use of it here, therefore, emphasizes the fact that the coming of Jesus as Son of man is an epiphany.
We are assuming that Mark 13.26 is a Christian product, and that the reference, Son of man, is to Jesus. The latter point would present no difficulties if the former point is to be granted, but there is a considerable body of opinion that Mark 13 is based upon a piece (or pieces) of Jewish apocalyptic and that v. 26 should be reckoned part of that Jewish Vorlage. (So, most recently, A. Suhl, Die Funktion der alttestamentlichen Zitate und Auspielungen in Markusevangelium [Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1965], p. 18, n. 46.) That Mark 13 has been constructed in large part on the basis of Jewish apocalyptic material we do not doubt, but we would argue that the Markan reworking begins in this instance at v. 26 and not, as Suhl and those whom he follows argue, at ‘V. 28. In the first place, for v. 26 to be a product of Jewish apocalyptic, there would have had to exist in late Judaism the complete and consistent Son of man conception, the existence of which we have denied above. Then, this Jewish conception would have had to produce a saying which exhibited those characteristics which are regularly to be found in the Christian sayings, but, apart from this one text, not at all in Judaism: the ‘they will see’, and the change in word order bringing the cloud phrase next to the verb. Further, the Jewish apocalyptic texts would then have had to lose all trace of this form of the conception, for in no other such text does the Son of man ‘come with the clouds’, except for this one instance preserved by Christians, and, finally, the Christian tradition would have had to be indebted to this one Jewish saying for the features most characteristic of the specifically Christian expectation. All of these things are possible, but they are so extremely unlikely that we will waste no further time on this text as a product of Jewish apocalyptic and seek, instead, an explanation of its features in terms of Christian traditions.
If this text, and the particular form of Son of man expectation which it embodies, is a product of Christian tradition, then one thing becomes clear: Jesus must first be regarded as having ascended to heaven as Son of man before he can ‘come with the clouds’ from heaven as that Son of man. This is a very important point so far as our discussion of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings is concerned. If a clearly defined conception of the Son of man ‘coming with the clouds’ existed in late Judaism and produced such a saying as Mark 13.26, then Jesus could have alluded to it, and the Christian tradition have taken it over, simply identifying Jesus as that Son of man. If such a clearly defined conception of the Son of man ‘coming with the clouds’ did not, however, exist in late Judaism, and Mark 13.26 is a Christian production, then Jesus could not have alluded to it, and the Christians must have had some factor at work in their traditions to produce it. It is for this reason that we have discussed at some length both the Son of man concept in ancient Judaism and the origin of Mark 13.26, and on these points we now simply rest our case and go on to explain the Christian traditions on the assumption that we may be right. We would, of course, regard our case as being strengthened if we are able to explain satisfactorily the Christian traditions on the basis of our assumption.
We have reached the point in our discussion where we must seek a factor in the Christian tradition which could be the occasion for the development of the conception of Jesus ‘coming with the clouds’ as Son of man, and we claim that the only factor sufficient for this purpose would be an interpretation of the resurrection as Jesus having ascended to heaven as Son of man. In other words, there must be a moment in the Christian tradition when the resurrection of Jesus is interpreted in terms of Dan. 7.13, just as in the Enoch traditions there is the moment when Enoch’s translation is interpreted in this way (I Enoch 70, 71). Of course, we may expect to find only traces of such a moment, because it must have been one of the first things to develop in the early Christian theologizing, since the expectation of the return of Jesus as Son of man is a feature of the very earliest forms of Christianity, and all our documents are comparatively late. But if we are correct in our argument thus far, then it should be there. Is it?
Well, the interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus as an ascension is certainly there; indeed, it is the most prominent feature of the New Testament understanding of the resurrection. Moreover, this understanding is reached by means of an interpretation of the resurrection in terms of an Old Testament text, Ps. 110.1. We called attention in our first chapter to B. Lindars’s demonstration of the fact that Luke, in Peter’s Pentecost speech, has preserved for us the primitive Christian interpretation of the resurrection in terms of various passages from the Psalms, including Ps. 110.1, and his further demonstration of the way in which this exegesis then underlies traditions widespread in the New Testament. As we pointed out there, Lindars is able to establish the fact that Luke, in Acts 2, is reproducing very early Christian theologizing, and, indeed, that Luke is reproducing an early use of Ps. 110.1 rather than himself pioneering in such a use, no one would doubt. The use of Ps. 110.1 is reflected everywhere in the New Testament and cannot, therefore, have been introduced by Luke.
Luke himself emphasizes the ascension aspect of the resurrection; indeed, it becomes a major part of his theology, and he goes so far as to systematize the ascension as an event separate from the resurrection (Luke 24.51 [RSV margin]; Acts 1.9), whereas elsewhere in the New Testament it is always an aspect of the resurrection itself. But for all this, he is not himself responsible for the understanding of the resurrection as an ascension; this he derives from the primitive Christian interpretation of the resurrection in terms of Ps. 110.1, an interpretation reflected throughout the New Testament.
There are two places in the New Testament where Ps. 110.1 and Dan. 7.13 are used together: Mark 14.62 par. and Acts 7.56. Mark 14.62 as a whole will concern us later; for the moment we note only the first Old Testament allusion in that verse: ‘. . . the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power’. This is an allusion to both Dan. 7.13 and Ps. 110.1, and, taken by itself; is evidence that the resurrection of Jesus has been interpreted in terms of both these texts: in his resurrection Jesus is understood to have ascended to God’s right hand (Ps. 110. 1) as Son of man (Dan. 7.13). Let it be noted that there is here no parousia reference; were it not for the ‘you will see’ which comes before, and the explicit parousia reference which comes after, also alluding to Dan. 7.13, there would be no hint of a parousia, only of an ascension, in the ‘. . . Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power’ of Mark 14.62a.
Acts 7.56 is Stephen’s account of his vision:
. . . and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’
This is an extraordinarily interesting verse. In the first place it represents a major aspect of the Lukan theology. Luke himself is not greatly concerned with the parousia; although he echoes it (Luke 21.27 [= Mark 13.26]) as a traditional Christian hope, his own concern is with the ongoing present of Christian experience and Christian work, rather than with the future of the parousia. In the course of the rethinking of primitive Christian eschatology which this entailed, and as a part of his own distinctive eschatology, he develops the conception of the death of a Christian as a kind of individual experience of the parousia, (We are here indebted to C. K. Barrett, ‘Stephen and the Son of Man’, in Apophoreta. Festschrift für Ernst Haenchen, ed. W. Eltester (Beihefte zur ZNW 30 [Berlin: Alfred Töpelmann, 1964]), pp. 32-38. In what follows we are consciously contrasting our views, in part, with those of H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, Excursus II, pp. 303-5, to whom we are also, at some points, indebted.) and offers us this understanding here in Stephen’s vision. At his death Stephen sees Jesus rising (hence, the ‘standing’) to come to him as Son of man. In the service of this understanding of an individual parousia, Luke has modified Mark 14.62 (Luke 22.69). He has omitted the ‘you will see’ addressed to the High Priest, since the individual parousia is to be a Christian experience, and substituted for it, ‘from now on’; and he also omits the specific reference to the parousia in Mark 14.62, because he is preparing for Stephen’s vision and the individual parousia. As we shall argue below, this ‘you will see’ comes from Christian ‘passion apologetic’ addressed primarily to Jews, and Luke, knowing this, must have regarded it as inappropriate here. The very reason which makes it appropriate for Mark (and Matthew), i.e this allusion to ‘passion apologetic’, makes it inappropriate for Luke. This gives us: ‘But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the Power of God’, which is now a preparation for Stephen’s vision and is to be read together with Acts 7.56 to give the particular Lukan understanding of an individualized Christian parousia. That Luke is dependent upon Mark, or the tradition which Mark is using, in Luke 22.69 is, we believe, to be argued from the way in which he maintains the Semitic circumlocution for God, ‘Power’, while adding ‘of God’ for the sake of his Gentile readers who may not understand the construction. In Acts 7.56 he has not the same immediate Vorlage and, hence, there we find the direct ‘right hand of God’.
Acts 7.56, therefore, serves a most definite purpose within the Lukan theology, as does Luke 22.69, but this does not mean that the particular thing which concerns us at the moment, i.e. the combination of allusions to Dan. 7.13 and Ps. 110.1 in the ‘Son of man standing at the right hand of God’, is a wholly Lukan construction, although the particular verb ‘standing’ may well be supplied by Luke in the service of his particular understanding. The allusions themselves, indeed, cannot be Lukan; not only does Mark 14.62 have the same combination of allusions, but there is also no indication that Luke ever uses Son of man except in dependence upon a Vorlage. His use in his gospel is determined by his Vorlage there, largely Mark, (H. Conzelmann, Theology of St. Luke, p. 171, n.2.) and this is the only occurrence in Acts. Moreover, there is an indication that Luke is, at any rate in part, dependent upon a Vorlage in Acts 7.55f.; witness the clumsy combination of the singular ‘heaven’ in v. 55 (the normal Lukan use) and the plural ‘the heavens’ in v.56 (the non-Lukan use). (H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, p. 305.)
One further point about Acts 7.56 to be taken into account is the reference to ‘the right hand of God’. In Luke 22.69 we have ‘the right hand of the Power of God’ which we argued above was a Lukan explanatory expansion of his Markan Vorlage, ‘the right hand of Power’. It is a well-known feature of Luke’s editorial work that he follows his sources as closely as he can; to restrict himself to the explanatory addition rather than to remove the, to him, unnecessary Semitic circumlocution would be quite typical. The other changes he makes in that verse are forced upon him by the theological point he intends to make by the combination of Luke 22.69 with Acts 7.56. But if Luke is dependent upon a pre-Lukan formulation in Acts 7.56, and we are following Tödt (Ibid.) in arguing that he is, then the phrase ‘the right hand of God’ is not specifically Lukan, despite the fact that it is oriented towards the Gentile world in that it mentions God directly and not by circumlocution. This would be in accordance with Luke’s own predilections, but if he were going to introduce the phrase for some other phrase in his source he would have done so in Luke 22.69. Hence, ‘the right hand of God’ must have stood in the pre-Lukan formulation of Acts 7.56. But this means that the combination of Ps. 110.1 and Dan. 7.13 found in Mark 14.62 and the same combination found in the pre-Lukan formulation of Acts 7.56 cannot be dependent upon one another, since the one, Mark with the circumlocution, reflects a Jewish way of thinking, and the other, Acts with the direct mention of God, reflects a non-Jewish way of thinking. Yet both have exactly the same combination of Old Testament texts.
Our thesis is that these two verses represent the remnant of a Christian exegetical tradition in which the original interpretation of the resurrection in terms of Ps. 110.1 was expanded by the use of Dan. 7.13: the resurrection of Jesus is now interpreted as his ascension to God as Son of man. Such a use of Dan. 7.13 in connection with the resurrection-ascension of Jesus would parallel the use of the text in connection with the translation of Enoch in I Enoch 70, 71 to which we called attention earlier. Additional support for this thesis, that a tradition linking ascension and Son of man tradition existed in primitive Christianity, can be claimed from the ascension story in Acts 1.9. As an ascension story it is dependent ultimately upon the Ps. 110.1 tradition, and it also contains an echo of Dan. 7.13, the reference to the ‘cloud’ which takes Jesus away. This is an allusion to the ‘clouds’ of Dan. 7.13 just as is the same singular ‘cloud’ in Luke 21.27 (= Mark 13.26 ‘clouds’), and is, therefore, additional evidence for the existence of a tradition combining Ps. 110.1 and Dan. 7.13. The original text of Ps. 110.1 has ‘my right hand’, God being the speaker, but in using the text in an exegetical tradition, where God would no longer be directly identified as the speaker, it would be necessary, and natural, to make the ‘my’ specific. This could be done either directly or by circumlocution, depending on the susceptibility of the scribe concerned. In this case, the Mark 14.62 reference comes from one form of this tradition and the pre-Lukan formulation of Acts 7.56 from another.
An argument in favour of our thesis is that it explains an aspect of Acts 7.56 that other exegetes have found puzzling. In his excellent study of the Son of man sayings in the synoptic tradition, Tödt argues convincingly for the existence of a pre-Lukan formulation in Acts 7.56, but then finds it impossible to relate the resultant synoptic-like Son of man saying to the synoptic tradition because the words are not on the lips of Jesus, and there is no specific parousia reference. ‘So we cannot share the view that there is a pre-Lukan tradition underlying both Luke 22.69 and Acts 7.56 which would complement and render comprehensible by the concepts expressed in it the synoptic tradition concerning the Son of man.’ (H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, p. 305.) The first point is not too significant, because Son of man sayings were certainly formulated in the Church, and it is, therefore, the (admittedly surprising) fact that they are normally only found on the lips of Jesus which requires explanation, not an appearance out of such a context. The second point is what really matters, and here Tödt is quite right: in the pre-Lukan formulation of Acts 7.56 there is no parousia reference (since we are dealing with the pre-Lukan formulation, the specifically Lukan individualized parousia does not come into consideration). But then in Mark 14.62a there is also no parousia reference; only when we read the first Old Testament allusion in Mark 14.62 in the light of the second does it become a parousia reference, for the parousia first comes into Mark 14.62 with the second allusion ‘. . . coming with the clouds of heaven’. Tödt attempts to relate Acts 7.56 to Luke 22.69 directly, and here we would agree there is nothing to be found relating to the general synoptic concepts of Son of man. But if we relate it to Mark 14.62a, then there is very definitely something to be learned, namely, the existence of a non-parousia, ascension usage of Dan. 7.13 in the synoptic tradition like that in I Enoch 70, 71, and the pre-Lukan formulation in Acts 7.56 takes its place in the total structure of synoptic Son of man traditions.
We have so far argued for the existence of two Christian exegetical traditions using Dan. 7.13, one (represented in Mark 13.26) using Dan. 7.13 in the parousia sense, and the other (represented in Mark 14.62 a and Acts 7.56) a development of a tradition interpreting the resurrection in terms of Ps. 110.1 and using Dan. 7.13 in its original Danielic, non-parousia sense. But this cannot be the end of the matter, if only because we have so far found no explanation for significant parts of both Mark 13.26 and 14.62: the ‘they will see’ of the one, and the ‘you will see’ of the other. If our basic assumptions are correct, then there must be an explanation of this aspect of these texts also in terms of early Christian exegetical traditions. We may not call it a ‘characteristic apocalyptic touch’ or the like, because in our view these texts are not the product of a general apocalyptic conception, but of specific Christian exegetical traditions.
The next step in our thesis is to claim that there are to be found in the New Testament remnants of a third exegetical tradition using Dan. 7.13, a tradition whose starting-point is not the resurrection but the crucifixion. It is well known that earliest Christianity used the Old Testament extensively in her attempts to present a crucified Messiah to the Jews, (B. Lindars appropriately calls this ‘passion Apologetic’.) and one such text used was Zech. 12.10ff., or rather a selection from these verses: ‘They shall look (epiblepsontai) upon him whom they have pierced . . . and they shall mourn (kopsontai) over him, all the tribes of the earth.’ This is used of the crucifixion in the fourth gospel:
John 19.37. And again another scripture says, ‘They shall look upon him whom they have pierced’,
where it should be noted that the verb represented by ‘they shall look’ is not the LXX epiblepsontai, but opsontai. John 19.37 represents an example of early Christian ‘passion apologetic’; all Jewish expectation to the contrary notwithstanding, a crucified Messiah is a possibility. Indeed, God had foretold that crucifixion through the scripture fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion.
Once the use of Zech. 12.10ff. is established in early Christian passion apologetic, it would be natural to go on to use other aspects of the passage to formulate Christian expectation, a practice we find often enough in the Qumran pesharim. This could lead to a development in which the ‘they will mourn’ part of the passage was introduced to add to the apologetic the note that, just as ‘they’ have seen him crucified, so ‘they’ will have occasion to mourn, namely, at his coming as Son of man. This is exactly what we find in the Apocalypse:
Rev. 1.7. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Like John 19.37, this passage varies from the LXX by having opsomai for the LXX epiblepsomai. In this text we can see that the apologetic begun by using Zech. 12.10ff. of the crucifixion has been carried, not one stage further, but two. First, the ‘they will mourn’ has been used as the basis for the introduction of the note of the crucified one’s ‘coming with the clouds’, and then, a further step, the weight has been shifted to this aspect of the interpretation of the text. In doing this, the original reference in ‘they will see’, to the crucifixion, has been lost and the reference of that verb now is to the parousia.
The use of Dan. 7.13 in connection with the idea of the crucified one’s ‘coming’ would be the occasion for the change in the word order of that text which is common to all parousia uses of it in the New Testament. We shall argue below that this is, indeed, the first parousia use of Dan. 7.13 in the New Testament, that the idea of Jesus’ ‘coming with the clouds’ as Son of man developed out of this passion apologetic.
Our argument at this point is that John 19.37 and Rev. 1.7 are remnants of a Christian exegetical tradition using Zech. 12.10ff. and Dan. 7.13, the one of an early stage of this tradition and the other of a later. As evidence of this, we offer for consideration the verb opsomai, found both in John 19.37 and Rev. 1.7. This is a common divergence from the LXX of Zech. 12.10, which has, as we pointed out above, epiblepsomai. But it is more than this, for the verb opsomai has two very interesting features: in meaning it is the same as epiblepsomai, and in form it differs from the other important verb in the Christian exegetical use of Zech. 12.10ff., ‘to mourn’, kopsomai, only in omitting the initial k. A marked feature of the Qumran pesharim is the play on words, both with regard to meaning and form, and similar word-plays must have been a feature of the Christian exegetical traditions, related as they are in methodology to the Qumran pesharim. We suggest that it is such a word-play in a Christian exegetical tradition which has caused opsomai, with its relationship in form to kopsomai, to replace epiblepsomai in the Christian use of Zech. 12.10 if. The fact of this common use of opsomai, and also the fact that we are able to explain the switch from crucifixion to parousia reference on the basis of our hypothesis, is, of course, the hub of our argument for a relationship between John 19.37 and Rev. 1.7, a common relationship to different stages of a Christian exegetical tradition.
If our argument is correct, then the verb opsomai, when it is used in relationship to a reference to Jesus ‘coming with the clouds’, is by no means a general apocalyptic touch, but a specific allusion to an exegetical tradition in which Zech. 12.10ff. and Dan 7.13 have been used together in Christian passion apologetic, and this is then the case in both Mark 13.26 and 14.62. So far as 13.26 is concerned, we have proof that we are right, for we can show that Matthew has understood it in this way. In his version of Mark 13.26, Matthew adds a reference to Zech. 12.10ff. !
Matt. 24.30. . . . then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
That, we would argue, is the Christian exegetical tradition in its fullness, with the word-play kopsomai/opsomai, and it is evidence that the ‘they will see’ of Mark 13.26, and with it the same verb in 14.62, is an allusion to this tradition.
We have argued that there are three Christian exegetical traditions using Dan. 7.13: a parousia tradition (Mark 13.26); an ascension tradition developing from an interpretation of the resurrection in terms of Ps. 110.1 (Mark 14.62a and Acts 7.56); and a passion apologetic tradition using Zech. 12.10ff. (John 19.37; Rev. 1.7; Matt. 24.30). How these are related to one another, and specifically which came first, we cannot know for certain. They are all much earlier than any text we now have in the New Testament; all that we have are remnants and reminiscences of them reflected in the various authors’ works. It is for this reason that the comparative dates of the various New Testament works are completely unimportant in this connection; a comparatively late work could include a reminiscence of a comparatively early stage of such a tradition, and vice versa. But Lindars is able to show in general terms that the interpretation of the resurrection comes first, (B. Lindars, New Testament Apologetic, esp. pp. 32ff.) as, indeed, we would expect, since without the experience of the resurrection there would have been no Christian theology at all, and this would lead us to assume that the Christian exegetical tradition using Ps. 110.1 and Dan. 7.13 is the first to use Dan 7.13 at all. We can support this by arguing (1) that the use of Ps. 110.1 is so early and so widespread in the New Testament that it would be natural to assume that a tradition using Dan. 7.13 in association with it antedates any other use of that text. Again, (2) the use of Dan. 7.13 in an ascension sense is the most natural one from the text of Dan. 7.13 itself; witness the use in I Enoch where this is the first use (70, 71) and the parousia use never develops at all. Further, (3) the full-blooded apocalyptic use in Mark 13.26 embodies the ‘you will see’, itself dependent upon the tradition using Zech. 12.10ff. and Dan. 7.13, so this cannot be the earliest of the traditions; it must represent a tradition secondary to the one using Zech. 12.10ff. Finally, (4) the parousia tradition in Mark 13.26 shows signs of developing away from the exegetical tradition which gave it birth and moving towards becoming an independent Christian apocalyptic tradition. Specifically, it has ‘in clouds’, which is moving away from Dan. 7.13 in the interests of defining the coming of Jesus as Son of man as an epiphany. Christologically, this is a more developed conception than that of the passion apologetic of Rev. 1.7.
So we argue that it is reasonable to regard the traditions as having developed in the following order. First, there was the ascension use of Dan. 7.13 in a tradition already using Ps. 110.1. This tradition establishes the concept of Jesus at the right hand of God as Son of man. Second, there came the use of Dan. 7.13 in a passion apologetic tradition already using Zech. 12.10ff., adding to that tradition the idea that the one who has ascended to God as Son of man will return as that Son of man, and ‘they’ will see him as such and mourn. This would be the first parousia use, and it would be here that the characteristic word order of Dan. 7.13 in the New Testament would be established. Third, there developed the full parousia use, in which the connection with Zech. 12.10ff. and the passion apologetic is gradually lost, although it is still there in Mark 13.26 and 14.62, as emphasis came to be put more and more upon the expectation of Jesus’ ‘second coming’, as Son of man, and as this expectation came to exist in its own right, independently of the exegesis which gave it birth.
The hypothesis that we have advanced accounts satisfactorily for every part of Mark 13.26 (and of its Matthaean version!), but there remains something to be said about Mark 14.62 as a whole; thus far we have discussed only the first part of the text. The problem with the interpretation of Mark 14.62 as a whole has always been that it implies both an ascension reference (‘the Son of man sitting . . .’) and a parousia reference (‘coming with the clouds . . .’). On the basis of the hypothesis of Christian exegetical traditions, both are readily accounted for, because we have an ascension and a parousia tradition, both using Dan. 7.13. The common use of this text would be what brought them together, and the fact that the usage is different in each case has presented no problem to a tradition which does not resent ambiguity. Indeed, some such explanation is demanded by the text itself; there has to be a reason for the ambiguity. On our hypothesis the text of Mark 14.62 is to be accounted for as follows: ‘And you will see’ is the characteristic claim of passion apologetic and, like the same verb in Mark 13.26, it is to be regarded as a reminiscence of Zech. 12.10ff., the change of person from 3 pl. to 2 sing. being accounted for by its position in the present narrative as addressed to the high priest. ‘. . . the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power’ is from the tradition using Dan. 7.13 and Ps. 110.1. ‘. . . the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven’ is from the tradition using Dan. 7.13 and Zech. 12.10ff. Note that it agrees with Rev. 1.7, which represents this tradition, in having ‘with the clouds of heaven’ against the LXX.
Our final conclusion is, then, that Mark 13.26 and 14.62 are reflections of early Christian exegetical traditions, and, as such, have no basis in the teaching of Jesus. We have spent a lot of time on this point, not only because of the intrinsic importance of these two texts and, hence, of the question of their authenticity, but also because of the importance of Christian exegetical traditions in the New Testament as a whole, of which these traditions using Dan. 7.13 and their significance for the synoptic Son of man traditions are only an example. It is our hope to develop a full-scale study of christological traditions in the New Testament on the basis of the hypothesis of the existence of such early Christian exegetical traditions.
The Judgement Sayings: Luke 12.8f. Matt 10.32f; Mark 8.38
Luke 12.8f. And I tell you, every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
Matt. 10.32f. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Mark 8.38. For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
These sayings have recently been the subject of an intensive discussion in German by a group of scholars who are all experts in the techniques of form criticism and of enquiry into the history of a tradition in which sayings are set. The fact that the scholars differ from one another in their results has both added to the intensity of the discussion and also indicated the potentials and limitations of the methodologies employed. All in all, it would be fair to say that they have advanced discussion of these sayings by a generation, outdated all previous work on them, and yet failed to solve the problem! (The Course of the discussion is given in Annotated Bibliography No. 7: Jesus and the Son of Man [b]).
This discussion has established certain conclusions. Käsemann’s hypothesis of an eschatological judgement pronouncement tradition in the early Church in which these sayings have a Sitz im Leben is to be accepted. That such a tradition as Käsemann describes existed in the early Church is clear enough, and that these sayings are at home in it is shown both by their form, the two-part sentence with the same verb in each referring to present action and eschatological judgement respectively, and by the fact that a Christian prophet makes use of one of them in Rev. 3.5b (‘I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels’). Mark 8.38 is to be accepted as a revision of Luke 12.8f. par., because the verb used has a more general meaning and is less Semitizing than those in Luke 12.8f., and a decision concerning the proclamation would be a later demand than one concerning the Son of man (Käsemann). Thus far the discussion is convincing and the participants are in agreement, but now the participants go their separate ways, or rather they fall into two separate groups, and that for most interesting reasons. All accept the hypothesis that there existed in ancient Judaism the conception of the Son of man as a pre-existent heavenly being whose coming as judge would be a feature of the eschatological drama, which we discussed and, in this definite form, rejected above. On the basis of this hypothesis, Käsemann and Vielhauer reject the authenticity of Luke 12.8f., largely because they believe that Jesus’ message was concerned with the Kingdom and with God drawing near to men in the immediacy of the proclamation of that Kingdom, and that, therefore, Jesus could not also have proclaimed the coming of an eschatological figure other than himself in the future. ‘Jesus proclaimed the immediacy of the near God. (German:‘die Unmittelbarkeit des nahen Gottes’. This is one of those pregnant German phrases to which it is impossible to do justice in English. The adjective nah means ‘near’, but also ‘approaching’, and Unmittelbarkeit is literally ‘unmediatedness’. So the phrase carries with it the connotation of God having drawn near to man so as to grant him the experience of his direct, unmediated nearness.) Whoever does this cannot, in my opinion, have expected to wait for the coming Son of man, the ingathering of the twelve tribes into the messianic kingdom and the associated parousia in order to experience God as the Near.’ (E. Käsemann, ZTK 57 , 179.) They also argue, especially Vielhauer, that the concepts Kingdom of God and Son of man are mutually exclusive, never being found together in ancient Judaism, or united in the Jesus tradition. (This point had been noted several times in the English language discussion, e.g. H. B. Sharman, Son of Man and Kingdom of God, New York: Harper & Bros., 1943; H. A. Guy, The New Testament Doctrine of the Last Things, London: Oxford University Press, 1948. Vielhauer remarks that he had no access to the former; he does not mention the latter [Festschrift für G. Dehn, p. 51, n.5]) Their opponents are not impressed by these arguments. They feel that Jesus could have referred to a coming judgement by a figure other than himself that would validate his ministry; they claim that the fellowship between Jesus and his disciples is thought by Jesus to play a role in the coming of the Kingdom, and, hence, it would be confirmed by the Son of man. (H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, pp. 55-60, esp. 60. F. Hahn, Christologische Hoheitstitel, pp. 33-36.) Jüngel goes to some pains to argue that the Kingdom proclamation and these Son of man sayings do belong together in the message of Jesus in that the one is concerned with God in his nearness and the other in his distance, both finding their focal point in the fact that Jesus’ proclamation and conduct towards men demands of them a conduct towards himself which will be validated by the conduct of the Son of man towards them. So the future of the Son of man is related to the present of men, that present already being qualified by the nearness of the Kingdom, and the nearness of God remains guaranteed to men. (E. Jüngel, Paulus und Jesus, pp. 261f.)
We begin our own discussion, then, by concentrating attention entirely on Luke 12.8f. par., accepting the fact that Mark 8.38 is secondary to this. Luke 12.8f. par. uses two verbs (homologein [confess] and arneisthai [deny]) which are regularly used in early Christian literature in the forensic way in which they are used here: John 1.20; I John 2.23 (both verbs); John 9.22; Rom. 10.9; I Tim. 6.12; Heb. 13.15; I John 4.2, 3, 15; II John 7 (all ‘confess’): Acts 3.13, 14; 7.35; I Tim. 5.8; II Tim. 2.12; Tit. 1.16; II Peter 2.1 (all ‘deny’), etc. But the use of homologein in Luke 12.8f. par. is most unusual in that the object of the verb is expressed by means of the preposition en: en emoi and en auto. Now, this is completely un-Greek; II Clement 3.2 avoids this construction while explicitly quoting the saying in its Matthaean form, the version in Rev. 3.5 does not have it, and the Greek fathers Heracleon, Clement of Alexandria and Chrysostom all puzzle over what it can mean. (References given by Eb. Nestle, ZNW 8 , 241; 9 , 253. See further Arndt and Gingrich, Lexicon, p. 571b.) It is, in fact, an Aramaism representing the root ydy (Syriac yd’) which in Aramaic and Syriac regularly takes the preposition b with its object. It should be noted that the Hebrew equivalent ydh does not do this. Luke 12.8f. par. is the only place in the New Testament where homologein has en with its object, and it is hard to resist the conclusion that here, therefore, homologein is being used in a way different from the normal. In other words, while the second part of this saying, the ‘denying’, fits smoothly into the liturgical language of the early Church, the first part, the ‘acknowledging’, does not. On the basis of this observation and our acceptance of the results of the recent German discussion, we propose the following transmission history for the sayings with which we are concerned.
1. The most original form of the saying consisted of only the first half of the present doublet:
Everyone who acknowledges me before men,
(?) the Son of man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
This is suggested by the fact that Luke 12.8 (Matt. 10.32) with its marked Aramaism (homologein en) is linguistically distinct from Luke 12.9 (Matt. 10.33) with its regular ecclesiastical use of arneisthai. Also, sayings with an element of promise do tend to be ‘completed’ in the tradition by the addition of an antithesis in the form of a threat, e.g. the Woes added to the Beatitudes in the gospel tradition, and the development of Matt. 6.14f. from the petition concerning forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer. This creates a presupposition in favour of the hypothesis that the present Luke 12.9 (Matt. 10.33) has been supplied in the tradition. Also Semitic poetic and gnomic style has a marked preference for parallelism.
A question mark has been set before the second part of Luke 12.8 (Matt. 10.32) above, because although Luke has the form given, Matthew has: ‘I also will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.’ The fact that this still has the Aramaism (homologein en auto) shows that it is close to the Lukan version, but the variations present problems. The ‘my Father who is in heaven’ could well have crept in for ‘angels of God’, probably in two stages: first, and still pre-Matthew, ‘my Father’, and, second, the addition by Matthew of ‘who is in heaven’. That both ‘my Father’ and ‘before the angels of God’ are known in the tradition can be seen from Rev. 3.5, which has the two side by side, with the necessary variation of ‘his’ for ‘of God’. The question of the original subject of this clause, however, presents very difficult problems. It can be argued that since Matthew does not normally substitute ‘I’ for ‘Son of man’, the Matthaean form is the more original. But we are not necessarily dealing with a Matthaean modification, because the occurrence of the form with ‘I’ in Rev. 3.5b suggests that this form existed in the tradition independently of Matthew, rather than that it was produced by Matthew directly from the form with ‘Son of man’ as the subject. Therefore, the normal practice of Matthew has no necessary bearing upon the problem. Another complication is the possibility that Son of man could be used as a circumlocution for ‘I’ in Aramaic, which could mean that the two forms in Greek are possibly simply translation variants of this Aramaic idiom. (We mention this as a possibility without thereby intending to take sides in the dispute as to whether this idiom did or did not exist in the first-century Aramaic. The matter is not important enough in connection with this saying to warrant a full discussion of the problem; it becomes important in connection with the ‘present’ sayings which lie outside the scope of our present enquiry.) Moreover, there is a third possible form: ‘. . will also be acknowledged before the angels of God’. This is suggested by the passive now found in Luke 12.9; it would also be an Aramaism (the passive voice as a circumlocution for the divine activity), and it would provide a basis from which the ‘I’ and ‘Son of man’ forms could have developed in the tradition, as variant ways of giving Jesus a role in the judgement. Further, if an increasing emphasis upon apocalypticism is a feature of the tradition, and this would be generally accepted, then the progression ‘will be acknowledged before the angels of God’ — ’Son of man will acknowledge’ — ’Son of man . . .when he comes’ is a natural one. We argue, therefore, that the earliest form was the one using the passive. This passive was a circumlocution for the activity of God, as is regularly the case in Aramaic. As the tradition developed, there was an increasing christological emphasis and this led to the ascription to Jesus of the original function of God in the saying. This took place in two ways, with the use of ’I’ and with the use of ‘Son of man’, giving us the double tradition now found in Luke 12.8f. par.
2. Given the saying:
Every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man will also acknowledge before the angels of God,
the next step would be to complete the antithesis by adding a parallel using ‘denying’. This has been done, giving us the form (s) found now in Luke 12.9; Matt. 10.33 (cf. II Tim. 2.12b) and probably also a form:
Every one who denies me before men, the Son of man also will deny before the angels of God,
now no longer preserved in the tradition. Evidence for the hypothesis that Luke 12.9 par. was created in the tradition was given above: the fact that it uses arneisthai ecclesiastically, and the tendency in the tradition to add an antithetical second element to ‘promise’ sayings and to complete a parallelism.
3. The next step would be to develop the reference to Son of man in the saying, and this would naturally take the form of bringing into the saying elements from the ‘coming of the Son of man’ tradition discussed in connection with Mark 13.26 and 14.62. So the saying develops into one concerned with the explicit ‘coming’ of the Son of man as in Mark 8.38. The fact that the characteristic reference to the clouds is missing here would seem to indicate that the reference is taken from a developing Christian exegetical tradition rather than directly from Dan. 7.13. We have already argued that there is no general ‘coming of the Son of man’ concept in late Judaism, apart from a use of Dan. 7.13, from which the reference could be drawn.
The result of this discussion of the history of this particular branch of tradition is, we believe, to establish the strong possibility that the earliest form of this ‘judgement’ saying must be one using the passive:‘Everyone who acknowledges me before men, he will be acknowledged before the angels of God.’ In this case, the reference would be to a future vindication such as that envisaged in the symbolism of Dan. 7.13. Such a form could go back to Jesus; certainly he could have used the passive in this way; indeed, such a use of the passive must have been a feature of his teaching. It is not possible to prove that such a saying does go back to Jesus, although the arguments for it are fairly strong: the non-ecclesiastical use of homologein en, the quite characteristic passive as a circumlocution for the divine activity, and the absence of any specifically ‘Christian’ expectation. But the point is that, even if it does go back to Jesus, it is evidence only for the teaching of a future vindication by God of the present ministry of Jesus and men’s proper response to it. It says nothing whatever about the form of this vindication, and it says nothing about the time element, except that it looks toward the future. Rather than saying anything specific about God and the future, it offers general reassurance to men that, if they have responded to the challenge of Jesus’ present, they may have confidence in God’s future. As such it coheres with an aspect of the teaching of Jesus we have already noted in the parables.
If our argument with regard to the earliest form of this saying is not granted, and it is insisted that the earliest form was:
Every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man will acknowledge before the angels of God,
then this is still not necessarily a reference to the ‘coming’ Son of man. It becomes such a reference only if it is read in the light of Mark 8.38, and Mark 8.38 is a Markan reinterpretation of the saying, not evidence for its original reference. If we take the saying by itself; then the reference is only a general one to the imagery of Dan. 7.13, this imagery being used as a symbol for vindication. There is no ‘coming’ of the Son of man, only vindication before God. Jesus could have made such a general reference to Dan. 7.13, but, if he did, this does not change our thesis one iota. Such a reference would still only be a general assurance of vindication; it would say nothing about the form or time of that vindication.
The Comparison Sayings: Luke 11.30=Matt. 12.40; Luke 17.23f =Matt. 24.26f ; Luke 17.26f.
Luke 11.30. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.
Matt. 12.40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
This saying is itself an explication of the preceding verse: ‘This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah’ (Luke 11.29 = Matt. 12.39 [with insignificant variations]). The Matthaean version of this (12.39) is duplicated at Matt. 16.4, and there is a parallel in Mark 8.12 which, however, omits any reference to the sign of Jonah (‘Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation’). There is another, but completely different, reference to Jonah in v. 32 in Luke, v. 41 in Matthew: ‘The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, someone greater than Jonah is here’ (Luke 11.32 = Matt. 12.41), which itself is firmly linked with a parallel saying about the queen of the South and Solomon: ‘The queen of the South will arise at the judgement with (Luke, the men of) this generation and condemn it (Luke, them); for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here’ (Matt. 12.42 = Luke 1.31). Thus, we have the following situation:
(a) A saying, ‘No sign shall be given to this generation’, found only in Mark (8.12).
(b) A saying exactly the same as this, but adding ‘except the sign of Jonah’ found in Luke 11.29 = Matt. 12.39 and clearly, therefore, from Q. This saying i5 duplicated in Matt. 16.4, where it is the Matthaean version of Mark 8.12, (a) above.
(c) An interpretation of this reference to the sign of Jonah in terms of the Son of man becoming a sign as did Jonah (Luke 11.30 = Matt. 12.40), whereby Matthew makes the reference to Jonah explicitly a reference to his being swallowed and regurgitated by the sea monster.
(d) A double saying which compares ‘this generation’ unfavourably with the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh in the matter of repentance. Here the reference to Jonah is an explicit reference to his preaching, not to his being saved from death.
Although the sayings (b), (c) and (d) are now joined together in a single discourse, and this was already the case in Q, this linking is certainly editorial. Originally there must have been two distinct units: the reference to the sign of Jonah, (b) above, and its interpretation, (c) above, on the one hand, and the double saying, (d) above, on the other. The common reference to Jonah will have brought them together in the tradition leading to Q.
Before discussing these two entities further, we must deal with (a), the saying not included in either. It is clearly a variant of (b) and the question is, which of the two is the original? Has the Q tradition added ‘except for the sign of Jonah’ or has Mark omitted it? The latter seems the more probable in that Mark puts great emphasis upon the mighty deeds of Jesus as the only, but complete, demonstration of his messiahship, and it would be natural for him to omit the reference to some other sign, however that reference was to be understood. Further, the saying in its Q form contains a regular Aramaic idiom, the idiom of relative negation, in which the apparent exception is, in fact, an affirmation. It is to be translated: ‘How this generation seeks a sign! Truly, I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation. The sign of Jonah will be given to this generation!’ (C. Colpe, TWNT article, C I ic. He gives other instances from the New Testament: Matt. 15.24; Mark 2.17; John 1.11; 7.16; Matt. 25.29b = Luke 19.26b.) and is, therefore, a complete unit in its Q form. We, therefore, conclude that Mark 8.12 is derived from a version of the saying now in Luke 11.29 = Matt. 12.39, and we will concern ourselves no further with it.
Turning to the two entities in the tradition, (b) and (c), the reference to the sign of Jonah and its interpretation, and (d), the unfavourable comparison of ‘this generation’ with the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh, we begin by pointing out that their original independence from one another is not only to be supposed on the basis of our knowledge of the tendencies at work in the developing tradition. It is also to be seen in the fact that (d) has no reference to a ‘sign’ at all; it is not here a question of the sign of Jonah, but of his preaching. Indeed, the two entities have nothing in common whatever except the verbal references to Jonah and the men of Nineveh, references which are, however, completely different in concern and purpose.
The Son of man saying occurs, therefore, as the second part of the first entity; it interprets the reference to the ‘sign of Jonah’. It should be noted that, on the basis of the Aramaic idiom pointed out by Colpe, the sign of Jonah saying is complete in itself; the interpretation must have been supplied later. The sign of Jonah saying itself is certainly authentic: exhibiting an Aramaic idiom, it must be early; it stands at the beginning of a Stream of tradition the history of which we can trace; it coheres with teaching attested elsewhere (Luke 17.20, 21). The interpretation can have been supplied either by Jesus himself or by the early Christian community, and of these alternatives we prefer the latter. Matt. 12.40 clearly interprets the ‘sign of Jonah’ in the light of knowledge both of the passion narrative and of the passion predictions, the author regarding the phrases ‘on the third day’ (Matt. 16.21) and ‘after three days’ (Matt. 27.63) as equivalents, and the Jonah story as prefiguring the burial and resurrection of Jesus. But if we accept the ‘sign of Jonah’ saying as authentic and Matt. 12.40 as a later ecclesiastical interpretation of it in terms of the burial and resurrection of Jesus, where does Luke 11.30 stand? Surely halfway between the two: it makes the Son of man a sign, as was Jonah, but does not specify in what manner. The implication is certainly that he will become a sign when he comes in judgement, in the manner of Luke 21.27: ‘. . . and then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’ But it is our argument throughout that such a conception is dependent upon the developing Christian exegetical tradition and cannot, therefore, have had a place in the teaching of Jesus. For this reason we reject Luke 11.30 as part of the teaching of Jesus and regard it as a product of the developing Christian tradition, against Tödt, (H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, pp. 53ff.) who accepts it because he accepts the hypothesis that such a developed Son of man conception existed in pre-Christian Judaism and argues that Jesus referred to this figure as distinct from himself in sayings such as this one.
The authentic element in this particular branch of tradition is, then, the refusal of a sign and the idiomatic affirmation: ‘The sign of Jonah will be given to this generation.’ What did this mean in the teaching of Jesus? The answer to this question is simply that we do not know, because we do not know what Jesus and his contemporaries would have understood by the phrase ‘the sign of Jonah’. As we saw above, the Christian tradition understood it as a reference to the parousia (Luke), or to the burial and resurrection of Jesus (Matthew), but these interpretations come from the world of ideas to be found in early Christianity and say nothing about ancient Judaism. In the absence of definite information, it is possible to assume that the reference is to some future event which will vindicate the message and ministry of Jesus, and be analogous to the deliverance of Jonah, despite the fact that neither the Old Testament nor the Jewish rabbinical literature exhibits any knowledge of a significance for the Ninevites to be ascribed to the deliverance of Jonah. (So Colpe, TWNT article, CI Ic.) Another possibility, one which we ourselves would prefer, would be to interpret the ‘sign of Jonah’ by means of the reference to the ‘preaching of Jonah’, for although these are completely independent sayings, and the references to Jonah quite different, they are both dominical. In this case we could argue that the significant thing about Jonah, for Jesus, was not his deliverance from the sea monster, but his preaching and its effectiveness, Then the ‘sign of Jonah’ is his preaching and the reference is to the fact that the preaching of Jesus will be effective to this generation — in ways beyond its imagination. This would come, in effect, to the same thing as the interpretation offered by Colpe; the reference would be to a future in which the message and ministry of Jesus is vindicated, without saying anything specific about the form of that future, or about the time element involved except that it is future.
The second entity in this group of sayings, the parallel references to the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh (Luke 11.31f.= Matt. 12.41f.), is certainly dominical. The double saying has no earlier history in the tradition; the point at issue is the question of repentance in face of a challenge, certainly a major concern of the message of the historical Jesus; the references to the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh are vividly apposite and absolutely in accord with Jesus’ use of unlikely good examples in his comparisons (the Good Samaritan); and the element of warning in the saying coheres with a major aspect of the message of the parables. But the reference to the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh arising at the judgement is no more than a conventional way of speaking of a future moment at which Jesus’ ministry will be vindicated. It is this, but it is no more than this, and in particular it says nothing about the form of this future moment, nor about the time element involved, beyond the fact that it is future.
Luke 17.23f. And they will say to you, ‘Lo, there!’ or ‘Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.
Matt. 24.26f. So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness’, do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms’, do not believe it. 24For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
The present settings of this saying are editorial; Luke puts it in the esoteric teaching addressed to the disciples following Jesus’ reply to the question of the Pharisees (17.20f.), and Matthew in the apocalyptic discourse based upon Mark 13. We will consider it as an independent logion. The striking thing about the saying is that it closely parallels the immediately preceding saying in Luke 17.20f.: ‘The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, "Lo, here it is!" or "There!" for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’ The differences are (1) the addition of the exhortatory ‘do not go, do not follow them’; (2) the reference to the lightning flash, a commonplace of apocalyptic, e.g. Apoc. Bar. 53.9: ‘The lightning shone exceedingly, so as to illuminate the whole earth’; and (3) the substitution of ‘the Son of man in his day’ or ‘the coming of the Son of man’ for the reference to the Kingdom of God. The first two of these changes are characteristic of a developing tradition in the Church, and since the early Christians spoke of the coming of the Son of man very much as Jesus had spoken of the Kingdom as a future hope, we can readily imagine that they could have taken the original and genuine saying of Jesus, Luke 17.20f., and transformed it in this way to express their expectation. Note that the transformation misunderstands the original; by concentrating on the ‘Lo, here!’ ‘Lo, there!’ it has misunderstood the reference to a present experience of the Kingdom by taking it to be one to a sudden and unexpected future experience. The explicit parousia reference in the ‘coming of the Son of man’ is certainly Matthaean, which makes ‘the Son of man in his day’ the more original of the two without thereby enhancing its claim to authenticity. ‘In that (these, those) day (s)’ is a commonplace of apocalyptic, e.g. I Enoch 48.8; 50.1; 51.3; 54.6; 60.5; 62.3, 8, and as soon as the concept of Jesus as Son of man is established, and his return as Son of man expected, the idea of the ‘day of the Son of man’ as a phrase to express his coming would be natural. We can compare IV Ezra 13.52: ‘. . . no one . . . (can) see my Son, but in his day.’ It is for these reasons that it is out of place on the lips of Jesus. Even if the concept of the coming of the apocalyptic Son of man were firmly and widely established in Judaism, which we do not for one moment believe, a reference to it in this commonplace way would be quite out of keeping with the originality of the teaching of Jesus. Let us remember that when he used Kingdom of God, an apocalyptic concept, he none the less used it in a way most unusual in apocalyptic. Expression of a Christian hope in commonplace apocalyptic terminology is a characteristic of the evangelical tradition, not of Jesus. We, therefore, regard the saying as inauthentic, although it is accepted by Bultmann, Tödt and Colpe. (R. Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, p. 122. H. E. Tödt, Son of Man, p. 224. C. Colpe, TWNT article CI 3a.) We believe we have offered grounds for the denial of the existence of a Son of man concept in Judaism that could be referred to in this way, and that we have accounted for it in terms of a development going on within the Christian traditions.
Luke 17.26f. As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. 27They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
The idea of the ‘day of the Son of man’ having been established in the tradition, it would be natural to expand and develop it by the use of Old Testament imagery, in this instance, the destruction at the time of Noah. Here we have a use of imagery taken from one catastrophe to fill out the picture of a second now to be expected. Matthew characteristically modifies the saying by introducing a specific reference to the parousia (Matt. 24.37-41: ‘the coming of the Son of man’ [twice]), and then the tradition goes on to expand the imagery further by making use of another Old Testament catastrophe: ‘the days of Lot’ (Luke 17.28-30). All of these sayings are testimony to the developing tradition in the Church; they are not evidence for the teaching of Jesus. (Against Tödt [Son of Man, pp. 224, 50], who accepts the saying as representing a warning by Jesus to ‘the present generation, [which] though living before the end, does not watch the signs of the times . . . in the way Noah did’ [p. 50,] and Colpe [TWNT article, C I 3a], who can find no ground for rejecting the saying in its earliest form. R. Bultmann [History of the Synoptic Tradition, p. 152] suggests that the saying could either have come from Jesus or be of Jewish origin, but [p. 126] inclines to the Jewish origin.)
We have devoted a great deal of space to this discussion of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings because of their intrinsic importance. The problems connected with them are so complex that nothing less than a complete presentation of our proposed solution would do justice to it or to them. If we may now briefly recapitulate the main points of our thesis for the sake of clarity, they are as follows:
I. No ‘coming apocalyptic Son of man concept’ in the sense of a definite set of expectations associated with a distinct figure, in this instance that of a pre-existent heavenly redeemer, existed in ancient Judaism.
2.What did exist was the imagery of Dan. 7.13, itself derived from an ancient Canaanite myth. This imagery concerns a mysterious figure coming to power, and probably originally concerned the coming to power of a younger god in place of an older one.
3.This imagery is used by the author of Daniel to express the concept of the ‘saints of the Most High’ (the Maccabean martyrs) being given their reward.
4. The imagery is used by the scribe (s) of the Similitudes of Enoch to interpret the translation of Enoch, and by those of early Christianity to interpret the resurrection of Jesus. These two things are completely independent of each other, as are the resultant Enoch-Son of man and Jesus-Son of man concepts.
5. Both the Enoch saga and the early Christian traditions go on to develop concepts of the present glory and future function of their hero-figures. These are developed quite independently of one another and the features they have in common, e.g. the concept of the function of the Son of man at the Last Judgement, they owe to a common dependence upon general and widespread apocalyptic ideas.
It follows from the above that Jesus could not have spoken of the coming of the Son of man, either in reference to himself or in reference to an eschatological figure other than himself. No such concept of a coming Son of man existed to be referred to in this way. This conclusion, we claim, is supported by the examination of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings in the tradition; they all reveal themselves to be products of the early Church.
The one thing that Jesus could have done is to use the imagery of Dan. 7.13 to express the concept of a future vindication of his ministry and of men’s proper response to it. He could also have expressed the same idea by referring to the ‘sign of Jonah’ that would be given to this generation, as he certainly expressed it by speaking of the men of Nineveh or the queen of the South arising at the judgement to condemn his contemporaries. In all of this we have the concept of a future vindication; but we have nothing of the form it will take, nor of the time element involved, except the fact that it is future. This is so different from Jewish apocalyptic, and from the early Church, that it demands careful attention.
We would like to point out that we are not here arguing in a circle. If we had used our criterion of dissimilarity to deny the authenticity of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings, then it could have been urged that we were using a criterion of dissimilarity to define the teaching of Jesus and then making a big thing of the dissimilarity! But, in fact, the apocalyptic Son of man sayings are to be rejected, not on the basis of the criterion of dissimilarity, but because they do not survive the enquiry into the history of the tradition. So we are entitled to call attention to this radically dissimilar aspect of the teaching of Jesus.
Exegesis 4. Sayings Setting a Time Limit to the Coming of the End: Mark 9.1 Par.; Mark 13.30 Par.; Matt. 10.23
Mark 9.1. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.
Mark 13.30. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.
These two sayings have to be discussed together, since they present parallels of both form and meaning. Each begins with the solemn ‘Amen, I say to you . . .’; each has the same form of emphatic negation (double negative and subj.); each has the same overall structure: solemn asseveration — ‘until’– statement concerning the End. At the same time there are important differences. The asseverations are both equally regular apocalyptic promises, but 13.30 is general and 9.1 specific: ‘this generation’, ‘some of these standing here’. 13.30 uses mechri for ‘until’ (nowhere else in Mark; Matthew and Luke have heos); 9.1 heos (the regular Markan word; so Matthew and Luke).
9.1 has some distinctively Markan characteristics: the concept of ‘seeing’ the parousia, and the use of ‘power’ and ‘glory’ in this connection. This we pointed out above (pp. 16ff.) and there we also argued, following Haenchen, that 9.1 serves a distinct function as the climactic promise bringing to an end the pericope 8.27-9.1. As such it is the promise antithetical to the threat in 8.38: ‘. . . of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father . . .’ This parallelism of function between 8.38 and 9.1 is matched by a verbal parallelism in their final clauses: ‘. . Kingdom come (lit. ‘has come’) with power’ — ‘. . . Son of man . . . comes in the glory of his Father . . .‘ Furthermore, the perfect in 9.1 is readily explicable on the basis of the function of 9.1 to express a climactic promise, a promise for a completion of experience, whereas it is inexplicable if 9.1 is an original isolated saying.
We suggest the following thesis to explain these phenomena.
1. Mark 13.30 is a product of early Christian apocalyptic. It is entirely characteristic of apocalyptic in general, and the ‘these things’ clearly refers to the whole sequence of signs, portents and events with which the apocalyptic discourse, Mark 13.5-27, is concerned. Also, it finally answers the question of the disciples which provides the narrative setting for the discourse: 13.3f. Most probably the discourse at one time had a form: Mark 13.3-27, 30, before the addition of further sayings and the insertion of the parable of the Fig Tree. So the saying will have been composed to bring the discourse to a close and it is, therefore, not a saying of Jesus, since the discourse certainly does not come from him. (N. Perrin, Kingdom, pp. 130-4. R. Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, p. 123, suggests v. 30 originally followed v. 27 and ended the apocalypse.) It has been suggested that 13.30 is a genuine saying which originally referred to the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem, and which has been adapted to serve its present purpose in the apocalyptic discourse. (V. Taylor, Gospel According to St. Mark [London: Macmillan, and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1959 (= 1952), p. 521.]) The difficulties with this suggestion are that we have absolutely no evidence that the saying ever existed in a form different from that in 13.30; that its present form fits its function as ending the discourse so perfectly that it seems likely that it was composed for this purpose; and that there is no single dominical feature about the saying except the solemn introduction, which could be, as it sometimes is, prophetic imitation of a dominical style. In a case such as this, where an early Christian prophet is certainly offering to his church an apocalyptic discourse in the name of the risen Lord, the imitation of the dominical style would be perfectly natural. The saying is not to be regarded as a Markan construction, because Mark never uses mechri for ‘until’, but heos.
2. Mark 9.1 has been constructed by Mark to bring to an end his pericope 8.27-9.1. It is doubly derivative. In form it is built upon 13.30 — hence the parallels noted above — and its second part is a deliberate echo of 8.38. In purpose it is linked with 8.38 to bring the pericope to an end. As we noted earlier, the two statements, of the coming of the Son of man and of the coming of the Kingdom in power, clearly refer to different aspects of the eschaton, the one to it as threat and the other to it as promise. Hence, the parallelism of expression is no doubt deliberate, and artistically very effective. In referring to the eschaton as threat Mark has used traditional material, adapting a saying from the apocalyptic Son of man tradition. In referring to it as promise, he has adapted a saying from the apocalyptic discourse he already knew and was to use later in his gospel.
The actual process of the composition of 9.1 would be (a) the acceptance of the basic form of 13.30: solemn asseveration — ’until’ — promise. Then (b) the asseveration is varied from that in 13.30 by the use of a stock phrase from apocalyptic ‘. . . (those) standing here who will not taste death’ (cf. IV Ezra 6.25f.) for ‘. . . this generation will not pass away’. The reason for this change is clear. It is that 9.1 is directed to a specific group, the members of the Church under threat of persecution, whereas 13.30 is addressed to a totality, all who will overhear or read it. At this point we have the solemn introduction (from 13.30), the varied form of the asseveration (but with the same construction as 13.30 [double negative and subj.]) and the ‘until’ (but with the more regular Markan heos for the unusual mechri). The last step is then (c) the construction of the promise. This is modeled on 8.38, varying from that by using ‘Kingdom’ for the eschaton, a usage from the Jesus tradition with which Mark is fully familiar (1.15!), and by putting the verb ‘to come’ in the perfect and adding ‘in power’, both changes stressing the promise as being a promise for an experience of complete fulfillment.
Thus we are able to account for every aspect of the present form and function of Mark 9.1, and for its obviously complex relationships to 13.30, to 8.38 and to the Jesus tradition.
Matt. 10.23b. Truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.
We earlier regarded this as a genuine saying of Jesus, claiming that as an unfulfilled prediction it was not lightly to be brushed aside. (N. Perrin, Kingdom, p. 83.) ‘Lightly’, perhaps not, but the arguments against its authenticity are, in fact, by no means light, as we have found on further investigation. Above all, our investigation of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings has convinced us that all sayings which speak of the ‘coming of the Son of man’ are necessarily products of the early Church, since the conception they embody arose in Christian circles on the basis of an interpretation of the resurrection. Further, a more careful attention to Grässer’s argument, especially to his argument that the situation envisaged by the saying is that of the early Church and her experience rather than that of the ministry of Jesus, (E. Grässer, Das Problem der Parusieverzögerung in den synoptischen Evangelien und in der Apostelgeschickte [Beihefte zur ZNW 22 (Berlin: Alfred Töpelmann, 1957)], p.138.) showed us that our previous opinion had been much too lightly reached. (In view of our previously negative reaction to Grässer’s work [N. Perrin, Kingdom, pp. 145-7], we may perhaps be permitted to add that now we would be much more sympathetic to parts of it, although we still could not accept its total thesis.) Matt. 10.23 has no claim to authenticity. It is the product of a Christian prophet, with the solemn introduction also to be found in Mark 13.30 and imitated in Mark 9.1, and it is directed to the early days of the Church’s mission to the Jews when the imminent expectation was at its height.
One other element from the teaching of Jesus often adduced as evidence for an ‘imminent expectation’ in the teaching of Jesus (Most recently by W. G. Kummel, ‘Die Naherwartung in der Verkündigung Jesu’, Zeit und Geschichte (1964), p. 35 (=Heilsgeschehen und Geschichte , pp.460f.). is the parable of the Fig Tree.
Mark 13.28f. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Verse 29 has clearly been added to make the parable serviceable in terms of early Christian apocalyptic, the ‘he is near’ referring to the type of expectation found in I Thess. 4.16 and in the prayer Maranatha (I Cor. 16.22). The simile in v. 28 may be authentic, but if it is, it by no means necessarily indicates an imminent expectation. Jeremias, who regards it as authentic, includes it in his section ‘Now is the Day of Salvation’, (J. Jeremias, Parables of Jesus [rev. ed., 1963], pp. 119f.) claiming that it expresses the concept: ‘the hour is come, the final fulfillment has begun.’ In other words, it is concerned with the Kingdom as present, not as future. In view of this ambiguity of reference, this parable, even if authentic, is not evidence for an ‘imminent expectation’ in the teaching of Jesus.
The Future Element in the Teaching of Jesus
We have now completed our analysis and exegesis of those elements in the teaching ofJesus which can be claimed to give an indication of his expectation concerning the future. The one thing we have not done is to repeat our interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer from this perspective, because we desire neither to add to, nor to change, our previous work on the prayer. (N. Perrin, Kingdom, pp. 101-9.) We will simply assume the results of that discussion in what follows.
The results of the investigation we have carried out in this chapter, and that of the Lord’s Prayer in our previous work, have been to convince us that there is an element of futurity in the teaching of Jesus. This is not actually a point disputed in the contemporary discussion, so we need waste no time on it. What is at dispute is the nature, form and proper interpretation of this element of futurity, and this is a point we must discuss with some care.
The first result of our investigation to become significant in this connection is the obvious one, namely, that almost all the elements in the tradition which give a definite form to the future expectation in the teaching of Jesus fail the test of authenticity. The regular apocalyptic type expectation of Mark 13 and its parallels is from early Christian apocalyptic; the expectation of the ‘parousia’ is a Matthaean development from the apocalyptic Son of man tradition; and the apocalyptic Son of man tradition has itself developed from an early Christian interpretation of the resurrection and early Christian passion apologetic. The only elements which go back to Jesus here are such general things as the expectation of vindication and judgement implied by the parables, by the possible use of Dan. 7.13, and by the references to the queen of the South, the men of Nineveh and the sign of Jonah. These express confidence in a vindication, but they tell us nothing about its form. The difference between this and the general expectation of the first century, both Jewish and Christian, is spectacular. Nor, as we pointed out above, is this difference due to a use of the criterion of dissimilarity to establish it. These elements fail to meet the test of writing a history of the tradition.
Equally spectacular is the way in which sayings which express an imminent expectation fail to stand up to serious investigation. Mark 13.30 is a commonplace bit of apocalyptic, an integral part of the ‘little apocalypse’ in Mark which can be shown, on literary and linguistic grounds, not to go back to Jesus. Mark 9.1 is a Markan product; Matt. 10.23 speaks of the coming of the Son of man and reflects the conditions of the early Church; and the parable of the Fig Tree is far from an unequivocal expression of an imminent expectation. Again, here, the difference between Jesus and both ancient Judaism and primitive Christianity is notable, indeed.
The first result of the investigation is, then, to establish major differences between Jesus and his contemporaries in that, although he spoke of the future, he gave neither specific form to his future expectation (beyond the general one of vindication and implied judgement), nor did he express it in terms of a specific time element.
What else can we say of Jesus’ expectation as it is revealed in his teaching? Extraordinarily significant, in our view, is the way in which elements of the disciples’ experience in the present form an integral part of the teaching concerning the future. The disciples experience the Kingdom of God in their present; they are taught to pray: ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ They gather together in the table-fellowship of the Kingdom; they are reminded that this is an anticipation of the table-fellowship in the Kingdom. The whole tenor of the teaching of Jesus at this point is that the experience of the present is an anticipation of the future. Further, the experience of the present is a guarantee of the future, as the parables we discussed earlier in this chapter show, in that they challenge men to learn from their experience in the present to have confidence in the future. The disciples’ present has become God’s present; God’s future will be their future!
It is at this point that we must remind ourselves that we are not dealing here with teaching which is couched in terms of a modern western concept of linear time. (N. Perrin, Kingdom, p. 185. Similarly, R. Schnackenburg, God’s Rule and Kingdom, p. 213; E. Fuchs, Studies of the Historical Jesus, p. 123. Further references are given by W. G. Kümmel, Zeit und Gesehichte, p. 32, n. 6 [= Heilsgeschehen und Geschichte, p. 458, n. 6]). We are dealing with a concept in which time is thought of not so much as something which passes from future to past, or past to future, but as opportunity or occasion, as something which is given meaning by that which fills it. So the present time of the disciple is filled with the reality of God — that is what gives it its meaning — and the promise is that nothing is to be expected other than a consummation of the experience of this reality in the future. Although the reality is there in the present, filling it and giving it its meaning, it is a reality known in terms of ambiguity, of conflict, of temptation; a reality known in terms of Now, but also of Not Yet. The assurance is that this is not the whole to be expected, but rather the foretaste of an unambiguous future.
In any statement of this theme we must use the words ‘present’ and ‘future’, but let us be careful to remind ourselves that the emphasis is not temporal, but experiential. The men confronted by the ministry of Jesus are challenged to recognize that this is the beginning, but not the end. The man responding to the challenge of that ministry is assured that he does not now know or have all that is to be known or had. The ministry of Jesus makes the present of that ministry, and of the people confronted by it, God’s present in a new and radical manner. But it also guarantees that, because of this new present, the future is also God’s. The future of the ministry, the future of Jesus, the future of the men challenged, all this suddenly becomes God’s future, and God’s future becomes their future.
There are no ways to express this theme, except to use words such as ‘Thy Kingdom come’, or to speak of ‘sitting at table in the Kingdom’, or to contrast a handful of seed sown with the bushels of grain harvested, the small lump of leaven with the mass of leavened dough. The moment a time is set, or the type of expectation categorized, then we have an objective expectation which men may love or fear, for which they may wait in hope or despair, but which has retreated out of the range of their immediate experience as they wait for it as something to be experienced at some future time. The act of objectification loses the dynamic of the tension between present and future so characteristic of the teaching of Jesus (On this tension see N. Perrin, Kingdom, pp. 190-9, with its detailed exegesis, in particular, of the Lord’s Prayer.) and is, therefore, strenuously avoided in that teaching. In the teaching of Jesus the emphasis is not upon a future for which men must prepare, even with the help of God; the emphasis is upon a present which carries with it the guarantee of the future. The present that has become God’s present guarantees that all futures will be God’s future.
It can be seen that further work and reflection has in no way modified our understanding of this theme in the teaching of Jesus. The conclusion we reached on the basis of an exegesis of the Lord’s Prayer has been substantiated by the further investigation of the teaching as a whole. The question remains, of course, the question of interpreting this aspect of the teaching. Granted that this teaching is of some relevance to a Christian today (and the question of how far and in what ways this would be the case will occupy us in our next chapter), how are we to express it in categories that would be meaningful today? This is a question that each must answer for himself, but the points to which any answer must remain true are clear. It must resist objectification of the hope. It must, further, do justice to the element of experience in the expectation. It must, lastly, recognize the inadequacies of a liner concept of time. Time, in the teaching of Jesus, is something which God fills and fulfils, and it is something which man experiences, rather than something which moves from past to future.