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The Founder of Christianity by C. H. Dodd


C.H. Dodd is recognized as one of the great New Testament scholars of the twentieth century. Dr. Dodd was for many years Professor of New Testament at Cambridge University. Published by the MacMillan Company, New York, 1970. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 6: The Messiah


In an historical view, the one evident outcome of the whole life and work of Jesus was the emergence of the church, a society which regarded itself as carrying on the distinctive vocation of Israel as the "people of God," and yet was quite clear that it was a new Israel, constituted by a "new covenant. It had taken shape, not about a platform or a creed, but about a personal attachment to Jesus himself.

The relation in which he stood to the new Israel was defined in the early church by assigning to him the traditional title, "Messiah," the "Anointed." For Greek-speaking people this was literally translated as "Christos," Christ; but even so it was not generally understood, and it was soon taken to be simply a proper name. But in the gospels generally the term is fully alive in something like its original sense, and we shall do well to retain the Hebrew word as a reminder that "Christ," or "Messiah," is here neither a personal name nor a theological term, but an index to an historical role. John, in bringing his gospel to a close, says it was written to support the belief that "Jesus is the Messiah." 1 The writers of the other gospels might have said as much. It is all the more surprising that in the account they give of his words and actions the use of the title is comparatively scanty, and there is some ambiguity about it. Except in one passage of the Fourth Gospel,2 Jesus is never represented as spontaneously claiming, in so many words, to be Messiah, and even there it is not a public claim. Not only so; he seems to have discouraged attempts on the part of others to give him the title, though he may not always have been in a position to silence them. In two instances only he appears, somewhat doubtfully, to have accepted it.

The first occasion, as described in the three earlier gospels, finds Jesus alone with his closest followers at a place outside the boundaries of Jewish Palestine, known as Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asked his disciples to tell him what people were saying about him. They gave some answers. Then he asked, "And you, who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Messiah." From this point our informants diverge. According to Mark (closely followed by Luke). all the response that Peter got was: "he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him." Matthew gives a different view. As he has it, Jesus welcomed Peterís statement, and yet, after praising him, went on (in agreement with Markís account) to warn them against letting anyone hear them say that he was Messiah. In John (to complete our survey) we seem to be looking at the same scene, perhaps through a less transparent medium, and yet one which allows us to see its main outlines. According to John, Peter did not actually use the term "Messiah," but said, "We know that you are the Holy One of God." The difference may be verbal: "anointing" (which makes the Messiah) is consecration, and the person so consecrated is "holy," by definition. There is something strangely enigmatic about this scene. Did Jesus, or did he not, intend to accept the title? If we follow Matthew, he did, though with some reservation. If we follow Mark, Luke and John, the most we can say is that he did not refuse it.3

And now let us look at the other occasion. According to the three earlier gospels, when Jesus was brought up for examination before the High Priest, he was asked point-blank, "Are you the Messiah?" According to Mark he replied, without ambiguity, "I am." According to Matthew the reply was, "The words are yours" (literally, "You have said"; there is no sufficient evidence that this was an accepted form of affirmation, either in Greek or in Hebrew or Aramaic; we might paraphrase it, "you may have it so if you choose"). In Luke we read that Jesus refused to reply at all. "Tell us, are you the Messiah?" says the High Priest; Jesus retorts, "If I tell you, you will not believe me." John does not describe the scene before the High Priest, but there seem to be echoes of it in a passage where Jesus is publicly challenged in words similar to those of Luke: "If you are the Messiah, say so plainly." Jesus replies, "I have told you but you do not believe" (meaning, apparently, that various things he had said and done should have led them to the right answer).4 Here again we have the same problem: did Jesus, or did he not, when he was publicly questioned, intend to accept the title, "Messiah"?

We may perhaps get some light on the matter if we consider the sequel to this questioning. Whether it was at a formal examination in court, or earlier in a public confrontation, that Jesus was asked the crucial question, we may fairly understand it as a preliminary to his arraignment before the Roman governor. The charge which was then preferred by the priests was that of claiming to be "king of the Jews." The charge was of course framed for Roman ears. Among themselves the priests would not have used that expression. They would have said that he claimed falsely to be the "anointed" king of Israel, the Messiah. In his examination before Pilate Jesus was asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?" and he replied (as all gospels agree) with the noncommittal expression, "The words are yours" ("Have it so if you choose"). At this juncture a refusal to disown the title would have the same effect as an avowal, and it was a matter of life and death. Jesus at any rate allowed himself to be condemned to death for claiming to be (in Jewish terms) Messiah.5

As we have seen, the office of Messiah was conceived in various ways, but always it was bound up with the special calling and destiny of Israel as the people of God. From the gospels we gather that Jesus set himself to constitute the new Israel under his own leadership; he nominated its foundation members, and admitted them into the new "covenant," and he laid down its new law. That was his mission. If it did not entirely agree with any of the contemporary ideas of what the Messiah should do, there was no other term available which came near to covering it. He could not deny his mission; he could not disavow the authority that went with it; and therefore, if the question was posed, he could not simply repudiate the title "Messiah." But it was an embarrassment to him, and lie preferred that it should not be used publicly, until at last his hand was forced. In the popular mind messiahship was associated with the political and military role of the "Son of David." To play that part was the last thing Jesus desired. Any suggestion that he proposed to do so was a hindrance to his true work and a danger to his cause. His appeal to his people must rest on something other than a debatable claim to messiahship.

Yet a title which he would not deny to save his life cannot have been without significance for him. Messiah he was, in his own sense of the term. We may therefore reframe our question, and ask, not, "Did Jesus claim to be Messiah?" but, "What kind of Messiah did he intend to be?" He would not be the Messiah of popular expectation. What then? At Caesarea Philippi, Peter hailed Jesus as Messiah. Jesus, having warned his followers not to say any. thing of the sort in public, abruptly changed the subject, or so it appeared to them: "He began to teach them that the Son of Man had to undergo great sufferings and to be rejected." (The enigmatic expression "Son of Man" we will leave for later discussion; here we may take it to mean simply "I.") Peter was scandalized, and took it upon him to set his Master right on the point. "Heaven forbid! No, Lord, this shall never happen to you." Jesus retorted in terms of unwonted asperity. "Away with you, tempter! You think as men think, not as God thinks." 6 Beneath the sharp interchange lies a profound difference of view. To Peter, this talk of suffering and rejection was utterly incongruous with any idea of messiahship; and most Jews of his time would have agreed with him. The Messiah was to be a conqueror, not a sufferer, not rejected but acclaimed as king of Israel. So the scriptures appeared to affirm.

They might however have recalled that the Old Testament knew of another character, hardly less significant than the Messiah himself, whose role was essentially that of the innocent sufferer. This character appears especially in certain passages in the latter part of the Book of Isaiah,7 as the "Servant of the Lord." To summarize briefly, he is one who has been given and has accepted a calling from God, and devoted himself body and soul to his service, bearing witness to the truth of God, enduring many sufferings, and in the end laying down his life for the sake of others. When the early church came to grips with the problem presented by the extraordinary career and the tragic fate of its Founder, it turned for elucidation to these passages of Isaiah, which speak of a life of service and a martyrís death. Matthew, indeed, has taken over the passage where Isaiah first introduces the figure of the Servant, and attached it as a kind of motto to his account of the mission of Jesus:

"Here is my Servant, whom I have chosen,
my beloved, on whom my favour rests;
I will put my spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim judgment among the nations.
He will not strive, he will not shout,
nor will his voice be heard in the streets.
He will not snap off the broken reed,
nor snuff out the smouldering wick,
until he leads justice on to victory.
In him the nations shall place their hope."8

In particular, the Servant is commissioned "to bring Jacob back to the Lord, and that Israel should be gathered to him"; 9 and so Jesus is said to have declared himself "sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 10 And in fact, as we shall see, this is a key to much of his activity. It explains the importance he attached to his approach to tile "tax-gatherers and sinners," in whom he saw just such "lost sheep." And if the mission of tile Servant defined the work to which Jesus set his hand, the fate of the Servant, whose life was made "an offering for sin," 11 and who "bore the sin of many," pointed to the destiny that awaited him: "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give up his life as a ransom for many." There is good reason to think that Jesus himself first directed the attention of his followers to the figure of the Servant. He did so because by reflecting on it they might be led to a juster idea of what it was to be "Messiah." "You think as men think, not as God thinks," he said to Peter; we might venture to paraphrase: "Your Messiah is a conqueror; Godís Messiah is a servant."

The fusion of the two ideal figures of Messiah and Servant of the Lord in the historical person of Jesus is dramatically represented in the scene which in all gospels prefaces the story of his public career. Let us take Markís account. Jesus has been baptized in tile River Jordan. "At the moment when he came up out of the water he saw the heavens torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice spoke from heaven: ĎYou are my Son, my Beloved; on you my favor rests.í" 13 Obviously all this is symbolic. If we want to decode the symbolism we may start with the words spoken by tile "voice from heaven." They come out of the Old Testament. "You are my Son" was addressed to the king of Israel, prototype of the Messiah.14 "My beloved on whom my favor rests" is the Servant of the Lord in the prophecy of Isaiah.15 There the Servant is equipped for his task by the gift of the Spirit, which is here symbolized by the open heavens and the descent of the dove. Here then is a summary of the essential purport of the life and work of Jesus in a kind of symbolic shorthand: he undertook his mission, our informants are saying, as Messiah, as Son of God, as the Servant of the Lord, in the power of the divine Spirit -- and this is "Godís truth," affirmed by the divine voice whose echo can be caught by the inward ear.

If however we conclude that Jesus saw his mission adumbrated in the ideal figure of the Servant of the Lord, we encounter a certain difficulty. The mission of the Servant, his demeanor, actions and sufferings, are depicted in vividly personal terms, and yet we repeatedly come upon such expressions as "Israel, thou art my servant," or "Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen.í 16 The alternation between the Servant as individual and the Servant as community is perplexing, but it should not be dismissed as if it were merely confused thinking due, perhaps, to an inability to form a clear idea of tile nature of personality. The prophetís description, read with some imagination, suggests the fruitful idea that God is to be worthily served, not by individuals in isolation, but by a community, and yet a community so completely united in his service that it can be spoken of as a person. It may even suggest that it is possible to conceive a real person in whom the corporate unity finds effective expression. Nor is this idea so farfetched as it might seem at first sight. After all, history, and even recent history, knows instances where a powerful personality, temporarily and for particular ends, has come to embody in himself the spirit and purpose of a whole nation, and has been spontaneously recognized as its representative, in a more than formal sense. We may legitimately have such an analogy in mind when the gospels present Jesus in terms proper to the Servant of the Lord. The Messiah is not only founder and leader of the Israel-to-be, the new people of God; he is its "inclusive representative." In a real sense he is the true Israel, carrying through in his own experience the process through which it comes into being.

It is in this sense that we may read the remarkable passage which, in the three earlier gospels, follows immediately upon the scene of the baptism. We are still in the realm of dramatic symbolism. Jesus is represented as engaged in a controversy with the devil, who suggests to him various courses of action. Each suggestion is countered by a quotation of Scripture; by a quotation, to be precise, from the Book of Deuteronomy.11 Let us then look there for a key to the meaning of the scene. Moses is addressing the Israelites toward the end of their wanderings in the wilderness:

Remember all the road by which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and put you to the test, to see whether you were minded to keep his commandments or not. He humbled you and famished you with hunger. and then fed you with manna, which your fathers never knew, to teach you that man cannot live on bread alone, but dives on every word that God utters.

And now look at what Matthew writes:

Jesus was then led away by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. For forty days and nights he fasted, and at the end of them he was famished. The tempter approached him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered. "Scripture says, ĎMan cannot live on bread alone; he lives on every word that God utters.í "

And so the story continues. At each stage we are reminded of incidents in which Israel was tested in the wilderness, and now the Israel-to-be, in the person of the Messiah (the Servant of the Lord) is put to the test. But where ancient Israel failed to pass the test, he stands firm. What may lie behind the story by way of a personal experience is a question I shall raise later; but our informants are telling us that Jesus won his victory, not simply for himself as an individual, but as the representative of the people of God incorporate in him.

Such Ďrepresentation" might of course be no more than a legal, or even a literary, fiction. But here we can see that it was given reality by an actual and deliberate self-identification with people. This is the meaning of such sayings as "Anything you did for one of my brothers here, you did it for me," 18 or "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me." 19 With this clue, we can see why his reporters give such prominence to the association of Jesus with the rejected, and his compassionate approach to the suffering and frustrated. He was creating a solidarity between himself and those whom he saw as being, by grace of God, members of the Israel-to-be, even though the existing "Israel" (the Jewish establishment) might not recognize them. In this light also we can see that when he called disciples to follow him he was both recruiting them into the new community and (which was the same thing) inviting them to identify themselves with him. Such identity he asserted when he sent them out to carry forward his own mission: "To receive you is to receive me." 20 It meant also sharing his lot: "The cup that I drink you shall drink, and the baptism I am baptized with shall be your baptism." 21

The symbol of a "cup" to be drunk recurs. As we have seen, at their last supper together, he handed his disciples a cup of wine, with the words, "This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood" (or, as otherwise reported, "This is my blood of the covenant, shed for many.").22 He was alluding to the ancient custom by which a solemn agreement or undertaking was validated by the sacrifice of an animal. But in the Judaism of the first century, although the primitive rite of animal sacrifice lingered on (until the temple was destroyed in AD. 70), the language associated with it had taken on meanings proper to religion on a more developed and spiritual level. Such language is employed in the prophetic description of the Servant of the Lord who died for others; and similarly the Jewish martyrs who suffered in the time of the Maccabees were said to have offered themselves as a sacrifice for the nation. Thus the idea of sacrifice passed into that of self-sacrifice, as a personal and moral act. Jesus was saying that in order that the "covenant" might become effective, or in other words that the new people of God might come into existence, he was voluntarily taking a course which would lead to his death. This was the length to which he was prepared to go in identifying himself with those to whom his mission was directed. The sharing in the cup by the disciples was a demonstration of their solidarity with their Master, both as beneficiaries of his sacrifice, and as being themselves committed to a like self-devotion for others, for this belongs to the character of the true people of God.

It was on the same occasion that Jesus spoke words which came to stand as the pre-eminent expression of this principle of solidarity. "During supper," we read, "he took bread, and having said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them, with the words, ĎTake this; this is my body.í" 23 No words of his are more firmly attested. The breadth and depth of their implications is a matter that has exercised the minds of Christian thinkers from the beginning until now. It is not necessary here to go into all that. But it is worthwhile to recall that within the first generation it was possible for Paul not only to describe the "breaking of bread" at the fellowship meal of Christians as "sharing in the body of Christ," 24 but to pass on from that to the idea that the church (the new Israel as it emerged in history) is itself the "body of Christ," each member of which is "in Christ," as Christ is "in him." The language, it appears, is Paulís own invention, but he invented it to describe something that was there before ever he became a Christian at all. It goes back to the solidarity of Jesus with those for whom he gave his life, and their identification with him. This, we may believe, consistently with the whole trend of his teaching, lay behind his words and actions when he gave his disciples bread and said, "This is my body." The church recalled it, from the beginning, in dramatic action; and in this it was wise, or fortunate, for a doctrine of "representation," or "corporate personality," may well appear abstruse; but those who share the broken bread in Christian fellowship know in themselves what it means, whether or not they could form, or accept, any particular theory about it.

In a number of the significant sayings we have been considering, we meet with the peculiar expression, "Son of Man." 25 It is now time to ask what meaning we are to attach to it. The question has been much debated, and it cannot be said to have found an agreed answer. I can only offer what has come to seem to me the most probable way of understanding it. To begin with, there is no sufficient evidence that in Jewish circles of the time of Jesus "Son of Man" was current as a title equivalent, or alternative, to "Messiah," or indeed as a title at all. The expression, as unnatural in Greek as it is in English, is a literal translation from the Aramaic which was the native speech of Jesus and his first followers. In Aramaic, "son-of-man" is a quite ordinary way of saying man, in the sense of an individual of the human species ("a man," or "the man," as the case may be). The writers of the gospels must have had some particular reason for translating it with an almost wooden literalness. It is noteworthy that they do so only in reporting sayings of Jesus. They never place this particular expression in the mouth of any other speaker, nor do they use it in telling their stories. It may be that they have sometimes introduced it into sayings where Jesus did not use it, but the most likely reason for this surely is that it was felt to be characteristic of the way in which he was accustomed to speak. What was his intention?

In many of the sayings, "Son of Man" could be replaced by "I" or "me" without apparent change of meaning. In other sayings it might seem as if he were referring to someone other than himself. Now in the Aramaic of Palestine it was not uncommon for a speaker, on occasion, to substitute "son-of-man" (i.e., "a man," or "the man") for the first personal pronoun. He might do so out of a certain sensitiveness in speaking about himself, or a desire to avoid the appearance of egotism. (We might compare the affectation, in colloquial English, of saying "one" in place of a blunt "I.") Or he might have a particular reason for using some reserve and leaving a possible doubt whether he really meant himself or "so-and-so." Thus, if a similar doubt can arise (as it has arisen) regarding some of the sayings of Jesus, there is nothing inherently strange about it, in a speaker of Aramaic. Only, we have to ask whether it is possible to discern any particular reason why, in certain connections, he should have chosen this indirect form of speech. I think it is possible. There are sayings so astonishingly bold that their very boldness might seem to justify the avoidance of direct statement in the first person. Some of these will come up for notice presently. But both there and elsewhere the use of the indirect form might often be understood if Jesus wished to suggest, without saying it in so many words, that he was fulfilling a role which would be recognized by those sensitive to his message, while others would be left asking (as John says they did ask), "What son-of-man is this?" 26 If so, then it would appear that the role he wished to suggest was that of the prophetic Servant of the Lord, with its overtones of corporate representation, which, as we have seen, was so much in his mind.

It is at any rate striking that so many of the "Son of Man" sayings are associated with functions of the Servant, and especially where Jesus is referring to the sufferings and death that lie before him: "The Son of Man is to undergo great sufferings . . . to be rejected . . . to be treated with contempt"; "The Son of Man came to give up his life as a ransom for many." 27 All of these echo the language of the prophet. The forecasts are more than an intelligent reading of the existing situation and its likely developments, though in part they may be just that; they are the acceptance of a vocation, and there is a solemnity about them to which the more indirect mode of speech might seem appropriate. If Jesus thus employed a familiar way of speaking, not just casually but in circumstances which made it the vehicle of a partly veiled assertion of his vocation, then "Son of Man" came to be something like a self-designation replacing the traditional title of "Messiah" That is how the writers of the gospels seem to have understood it.

Some of the forecasts to which I have referred point to a destiny lying beyond suffering and death. Of this Jesus is reported to have spoken in various ways. Some sayings speak of "rising from the dead," some speak of "coming again," and sometimes they are in vaguer terms: "A little while and you see me no more; again a little while and you will see me." 28 It is perhaps impossible to decide which of these best represent what Jesus actually said. That forecasts may have grown more specific in the light of what happened is likely enough. It is also likely enough that what he said on various occasions was sometimes more explicit, sometimes more cryptic. But one thing we may say with reasonable certainty: quite apart from the question of time authenticity or the verbal accuracy of this or that reported saying, the idea of new life through death, of victory coming out of defeat, is an inseparable part of the thought of Jesus about his destiny.

So much we may be content to affirm. Beyond that there are difficulties to be encountered. If we go back to the three types of forecast which I have distinguished, we may say that "rising from the dead" speaks simply of life beyond the grave, and "a little while and you will see me" speaks of the renewal of personal relations interrupted by death. These are tolerably straightforward. But the language about the coming of the Son of Man is another matter. "The Son of Man is to come in the glory of his Father"; "They will see the Son of Man coming in time clouds"; "Like the lightning flash that lights up the earth from end to end, will the Son of Man be when his day comes." 29 Of course it is imaginative symbolism; but what does it symbolize? It occurs in association with language about the Last Judgment and the End of the World, which apparently are conceived (at least in some passages) to coincide with the coming of the Son of Man. We cannot but recognize here traits of the "apocalyptic" hopes and speculations which, with a long ancestry behind them, revived in strength during the feverish years that preceded the fall of Jerusalem. The early Christians shared many of these hopes. They discussed them anxiously, as we know from writings of the New Testament outside the gospels. We can understand that they seized avidly upon any remembered words of their Lord which seemed to have a bearing upon them.

They remembered, for example, that he had uttered somber warnings of disasters threatening the Jewish community and its holy city, and that he had said that "this generation" was doomed to bear the accumulated guilt of Israelís sinful past. Perhaps (they thought) he was really saying that in the lifetime of men and women about him Godís final judgment would bring history to a close, so that "this generation" would actually be the last of all. There are passages in the gospels which seem to say so. Is this what Jesus meant? Or should we be right in suspecting that his reporters, understandably anxious to find his words relevant to their own urgent preoccupations, have given them a twist away from their original intention? There is reason to believe they have sometimes done so.

Yet we should here proceed with caution. It is reasonable to suppose that Jesus himself would have employed the imagery which was traditional and familiar among his contemporaries. Only, as I observed earlier, while the imagery was largely inherited, it could be, and was, applied differently by different people. If Jesus did use it, it does not follow, either that he intended it to be taken literally, or that line meant by it just what his reporters supposed. The question remains open, what did he mean?

It would seem right to start from the standpoint of sayings which are both plain and central to the teaching of Jesus. Nothing in it is more clearly original or characteristic than his declaration that the kingdom of God is here. It meant that a hope has become a reality. You no longer look for the reign of God through a telescope; you open your eyes to see. But at the same time there is more than meets the eye. It is the reign of God; it is the eternal God himself, here present. There is a power at work in this world which is not of this world, something "super-natural," an invasion from time Beyond -- how. ever you may choose to express it. It gives an eternal dimension to time temporal present, and to each succeeding "present"; but it can never be exhausted in any temporal present, however deeply significant. The kingdom of God, while it is present experience, remains also a hope, but a hope directed to a consummation beyond history.

To express this aspect of the kingdom Jesus was content to make use of long-established symbols -- a feast with the blessed dead who are "alive to God," 30 a great assize with "all nations" standing at the bar.31 These are not forthcoming events, to which a date might be assigned. They stand as symbols for the reality to which the spirit of man awakes when it is done with past, present and future. This is the Kingdom of God in the fullness of its meaning, and it lies beyond history. And yet it "came" in history, in that crucial episode of which Jesus was himself the active center. Its blessedness was a present possession of those who accepted it. "How blest are you who are poor! The kingdom of God is yours." 32 They were guests at a wedding feast: "How can you expect the bridegroomís friends to fast while the bridegroom is with them?" 33 And yet, it is in another world than this that they are to "eat and drink at his table in his kingdom." 34 Again, the moment of decision to which the presence of Jesus brought those who encountered him was the judgment inseparable from the coming of the kingdom. "Now," writes John, "is the hour of judgment for this world" 35 -- the Last Judgment, he means. Essentially it was a judgment which people passed on themselves by their reaction to his presence. It might be acquittal ("Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.") 36 or it might be condemnation ("Alas for you! It will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment.").37 It is judgment in history. but its significance reaches beyond history; and this ultra-historical significance is expressed in the dramatic picture of all nations gathered before the throne of the heavenly Judge.

In view of this, it follows that the total event of the earthly career of Jesus, as well as his action in detail, is regarded in two aspects: on the one side it had effects in an actual historical situation; on the other side it had a significance reaching out into manís eternal destiny, and to be expressed only in symbol.

It is in this light, I suggest, that we may best understand the cryptic sayings about the coming of the Son of Man. Central to the whole group of such sayings is the answer which Jesus is reported to have given to the High Priest when he was interrogated about his alleged messianic pretensions: "You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven." 38 The language is allusive and the imagery close-packed. There are echoes of two passages in the Old Testament. In one of these the Almighty is represented as conferring the highest dignity on the king of Israel (prototype of the Messiah), in the words, "Sit at my right hand." 39 This is here associated with another passage, from the Book of Daniel, which describes, in bizarre imagery, a vision of timings to come. First, there is a procession of weird and ferocious beasts, and then "one like a son-of-man [a human form, as distinct from the bestial figures] came with the clouds of heaven," to be invested with everlasting dominion.40 The prophet himself has supplied a key. The beasts stand for the brutal pagan empires by which Israel had been successively oppressed, and the human figure stands for "the people of the saints of the Most High." He is therefore a "double" of the Servant of the Lord, an embodiment of the people of God, first oppressed and then vindicated in glory. It is a vision of the final victory of Godís cause over all powers in the universe; it is also a vision of (expected) historical victory for Israel over its oppressors. We are probably to understand that in recalling this prophecy Jesus also was pointing to the final victory of Godís cause, or in other words the consummation of his kingdom, beyond history, and was affirming his own part in it; but as in Daniel, so here, this victory has its embodiment in history, namely in the impending fate of Jesus himself, who is to pass through suffering and sacrifice to glorious life. The human figure of Danielís vision has acquired a new identity. It is this historical Person in whom, as its "inclusive representative," the new Israel, the people of God, is to emerge from apparently irretrievable disaster -- "raised to life with Christ," as Paul was to express it.41 This is the coming of the Son of Man on the historical plane. His ultimate "coming" lies beyond history, but the essential pattern of it is already given in the historical Person and the historical event.

Footnotes:

l John 20. 31. It seems clear that the Fourth Gospel as originally planned, ended here, Chapter 21 is an ap. p end ix.

2 John 4. 25-26, in a private conversation with a Samaritan woman.

3 Mark 8. 27-so, Matt. 16. 13.16, Luke 9. 18-21; and compare John 6. 67-69.

4 Mark 14. 61-62, Matt. 26, 63-64, Luke 22. 67-70; and compare John 10.24.

5 Mark 15.2, Matt. 27.11, Luke 23.3, John 18. 33-37.

6 Mark 8. 31-33.

7 The most important of these is the poem contained in 52.13 -53.12, but the theme of the Servant is seldom long out of sight through chapters 40-55. The language of these chapters is echoed with remarkable frequency all through the New Testament, either in direct quotation, or by way of allusion. I have made a list of such echoes in According to the Scriptures, pp. 88-103.

8 Isaiah 42. 1-4, quoted in Matt. 12. 17-21.

9 Isaiah 49.5.

10 Matt 15.24: In Luke 19. 1-10 Zacchaeus is represented as just such a "lost sheep"; he is a "son of Abraham" who has strayed, and Jesus "has come to seek and save what is lost,"

11 Isaiah 53. 10, 12.

12 Mark 10.45. This is no bad summary, in the fewest words, of what Isaiah said about the Servant of the Lord.

13 Mark 1.10-11; compare Matt.3.16-17,Luke 3. 21-22, John 1.32.

14 Psalm z. 7.

15 Isaiah 42. 1.

16 Isaiah 44.1, 21, compare 45.4, 48.12, 49.3.

17 Matt. 4. 2-10, Luke 4. 2-12. The passages in Deuteronomy referred to are 6. 13, 16, 8.2.3.

18 Matt. 25.40.

19 Matt. 18.5, Mark 9.37.

20 Matt. 10.40.

21 Mark 10.39.

22 I Corinthians 11.25, Mark 1424.

23 Mark 14.22, Matt. 26.26, Luke 22.19. I Corinthians 11.24, and compare John 6.51, which appears to be based on a different translation of the original Aramaic of the saying.

24 I Corinthians 10.16, compare 12.27, Romans 12.5, Ephesians 4.12, etc.

25 It should perhaps be said that the view here put forward requires some modification of what I have previously written elsewhere. On the question of Aramaic usage I am greatly indebted to G. Venues, in an appendix to M. Black. An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (3rd edition, 1967) pp. 310-330.

26 John 12.34.

27 Mark 8.31. 9.12, 10.45, echoing the language of Isaiah 53. 3-5, 10, 12.

28 John 16. 16-18.

29 Matt. 16.27, Mark 13.26, Luke 17.24.

30 Matt. 8.11, Luke 20.38.

31 Matt. 25. 31-2

32 Luke 6.20.

33 Mark 2.19.

34 Luke 22.30.

35 John 12.31.

36 Luke 7.50, &c.

37 Matt. 11.24.

38 Mark 14.62.

39 Psalm 110.1.

40 Daniel 7. 13-14í 18.

41 Colossians 3.1.

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