The Son of Man

OT and purported apocryphal sources.

In Ezekiel 2:1-3 “Son of man” clearly designates “a child of Adam by descent” (Girdlestone, p. 46) as elsewhere in this prophecy where it occurs fifty-seven times. The designation in Psalm 8:4, from which the passage in Hebrews is quoted, appears to be applicable to both mortal man and Christ in His incarnate human identification with man. Psalm 80:17, an appeal, during the national decline, for a hero to appear and redeem Israel, may well have influenced Jesus’ Messianic consciousness (Stalker, ISBE, V, 2829).

The most important occurrence of the phrase “Son of man” is found in Daniel 7:13. There it may allude primarily to a personification of the ideal Israel or the saints of the Most High (Herbert G. May, IB, V, 76), but the deeper meaning appears to suggest a Messianic figure (see Kennedy, IB, VI, 461).

While some scholars would trace Jesus’ use of the term Son of man to the Apocryphal or Pseudepigraphical lit., esp. the Book of Enoch, this is categorically denied by both Strachan and Campbell. The notion of Hans Lietzmann, adopted by Wellhausen, that the title Son of man derived from the Aram. word barnash, Aram. being the language which they assumed Jesus spoke, and the word meaning vaguely “anyone” or “everyman,” was applied to Jesus in Asia Minor in the first half of the 2nd cent. and later incorporated into the gospels, is categorically denied by Stalker and Dalman, and later admitted by Wellhausen himself to be untenable (Stalker p. 2830).

In Daniel 10:16, 18 KJV we read of “one like the similitude of the sons of men &--;like an Adam, and yet not an Adam, because not yet incarnate” (Girdlestone, p. 47). The Heb. term Enosh is sometimes used as a parallel with Ben-Adam, the son of man (Job 25:6; Pss 8:4; 90:3; 144:3; ibid. p. 50).

The Heb. word גֶּ֫בֶר, H1505, “man as a mighty being,” is used by Jeremiah in a special sense in what Girdlestone regards as a Messianic allusion. “...the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman protects [‘encompass,’ ASV] a man”; “Literally, ‘a female shall compass (or enclose) a Mighty One’” (Jer 31:22; cf. Isa 7:14; ibid. p. 54).

NT use of the term Son of man.


A. Clarke, The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I (n.d.), 532, 533; R. B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament (1897), 45-47; K. Lake and F. J. Foakes-Jackson, The Beginnings of Christianity, I (1920), 368-384; C. H. Kraeling, Anthropos and the Son of Man (1927); J. Stalker, ISBE, V (1939), 2829; H. B. Sharman, Son of Man and Kingdom of God (1943); G. S. Duncan, Jesus, Son of Man (1947); S. E. Johnson, IB, VII (1951), 343, 344; W. F. Howard and A. J. Gossip, IB, VIII (1952), 507, 508; C. H Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (1953), 241-249; H. G. May, IB, VI (1956), 76; S. E. Johnson, IBD, IV (1962), 413-420; H. Lindsell, Harper Study Bible (1964), 1450.