Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the Aramaic phrase Bar ’ěnoš “Son of Man”

Written by Rev. Dr. Eugen J. Pentiuc on the Greek Archdiocese website here is a solid discussion of the term "Son of Man." I quite enjoyed reading it.

(GOARCH) - The Aramaic phrase Bar 'ěnoš "son of man" is a Semitic expression denoting a single member of humanity, a certain human being, hence "someone." This Aramaic phrase used by Daniel 7:13-14 to describe a quasi-divine figure riding with the clouds of the sky has become an important element of the eschatological-apocalyptic decorum in both Jewish and Christian texts; an eclectic decorum made of various elements such as, the Davidic king, the chosen servant of Deutero-Isaiah, and the "son of man" of Daniel.

In the New Testament the enigmatic figure mentioned by Daniel is almost always identified with Jesus. As one can glean from the philological analysis below, the Aramaic phrase bar 'ěnoš may connote more than a mere human being. It may define a human being in its defining characteristics vis-à-vis God, namely, weakness and mortality. Thus I would suggest rendering the phrase bar 'ěnoš as "son of weakness" or "the weak one." This semantic detail, absent in the New Testament Greek claque, huios (tou) anthrōpou "son of man," may help one better understand Jesus' references to himself as the humblest human being who came "to seek and save the lost one" (Luke 19:10) and whose eternal glory, temporarily overshadowed by incarnation, will be fully and publicly revealed at the end of time (Matthew16:27).

Daniel 7:13-14: "As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a Son of Man was coming with the clouds of heaven; he reached the Everlasting One and was presented to him. Dominion, glory, and kingship were given to him. All peoples and nations of every language must serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed."

In its present form, the Book of Daniel dates to the time of the Jews' persecution by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the years 167-164 BC. The book was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and it contains many hints at the events that marked the political, religious, and cultural milieu in Palestine in the 2nd century BC...
Complete article here.

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