Ordinarily in Hebrew, ‘son of man’, simply means an individual human being. In Ezekiel, God often calls the prophet ‘son of man’. Perhaps it is to distinguish him from the various creatures of his visions, perhaps to point out that when you take an ordinary human being, and add God’s call and the power of the Spirit, amazing things can happen. By the time Daniel is written, the term is beginning to take on additional meanings. It could be a representative of the nation Israel, but also something more. In the apocalyptic, intertestamental writings (works written between the time of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New), the term begins to take on messianic connotations. In the New Testament, it can be any of the above. Layers of meaning can frustrate our desire to know exactly what a phrase means. But the complexity can add a richness; it can reflect the truth that mysteries cannot easily be pinned down, or confined to one interpretation. Tracing how a word, phrase or concept evolves over the history of revelation can also keep us humble!

Sunday, November 22, 2015