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5927Re: [John_Lit] The Targums and the "Son of Man" title

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  • John Ronning
    Feb 3, 2011
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      Hi Jack,

      That's all very interesting -- I don't have the background to comment on all of
      the Enoch references. I tend to think that the DSS don't tell us anything
      definitive about Targum usage in the first century outside of the Essene

      I would disagree that Jesus never once claimed with certainty that he was the
      Messiah (taking the "words in red" from the NT, whether or not you regard them
      as authentic).

      Interesting that his clearest claim to this title is spoken to the Samaritan
      woman (John 4:26), not to the Jews. Is this not consistent with the view that he
      veiled such claims when speaking to the Jews?

      But when Peter says "You are the Christ," Jesus says this (truth) has been
      revealed to him by his Father (Matt 16:17).

      And at his trial he identifies himself as the Son of Man in terms of Dan 7:13
      (Matt 26:64 etc.), equating this figure with the one at the right hand of God
      referred to in Psalm 110:1, whom Jesus elsewhere affirmed is the Christ (Matt
      22:42-45). At least, his accusers took this as a "yes" answer to the question
      "Are you the Christ?" and he did not correct them. John the Baptist gave a very
      plain "no" to such questions, as piety required of him - so should Jesus if "no"
      was the answer. In the Synoptic accounts of Jesus' trial, then, it seems to be
      assumed that the one like a son of man of Dan 7:13 was to be equated with the


      From: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...>
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thu, February 3, 2011 2:27:25 PM
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] The Targums and the "Son of Man" title

      From: "John Ronning" <jronning@...>
      Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2011 11:27 AM
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [John_Lit] The Targums and the "Son of Man" title

      > w.r.t. "backgrounds" to study of John's Gospel, scholars obviously have to
      > decide whether a particular area of study promises to be fruitful in
      > illuminating the text under discussion. However, I doubt that anyone would
      > affirm that OT background can be overlooked in the study of any NT book.
      > The
      > point I would make in connection with this is that the Targums should be
      > studied
      > not just as "one potential background among many possible," but as
      > (interpretive) translations of the OT, therefore automatically of
      > interest. No
      > one needs to justify looking at the LXX translation as part of OT
      > background
      > studies, but there seems to be a strange double standard when it comes to
      > the
      > Targums.
      > E.g. Keener, in rejecting the Targums as a background for the Logos title,
      > treats the Word theology in the Targums as an isolated strand of early
      > Jewish
      > thought, therefore unlikely to be of general interest (p. 350). Surely the
      > opposite is the case, since the Targums were for the purpose of being
      > recited in
      > the synagogue, i.e. they are for the common people; they were the Aramaic
      > LXX
      > plus interpretive notes (as far as we know, the entire Pentateuch and
      > portions
      > of the prophets were read on Sabbaths, other books like Song of Solomon
      > were
      > read on feast days).
      > To be fair, Keener joins this statement with the observation that since
      > the
      > extant Targums are all post-John, we can't be sure of how the Word
      > theology
      > might have been used in the first century. To an extent I would agree, but
      > if we
      > investigate the extant Targums and see passage after passage in John
      > illuminated
      > by such an examination, then we do approach probability and perhaps
      > certainty,
      > though it would take considerable study to get to that point (thus, my
      > book). To
      > fail to undertake such a study is in my view a "head in the sand"
      > approach. Of
      > course, since scholars are busy, they might rely on others who say that
      > such a
      > study is a waste of time--many like to quote Barrett: "Memra is a blind
      > alley in
      > the study of John's logos doctrine" (also on p. 350 of Keener). Whether
      > Barrett
      > himself went down this alley to see if it was blind I don't know, but
      > since he
      > was such a Greek specialist I wonder if he was biased.
      > In 1 Cor 15:45, Paul quotes Gen 2:7, "The first man, Adam, became a living
      > soul." Sometimes in the Targums Adam is called )dm qdmy). (MacNamara
      > remarks
      > that this corresponds to Hebrew adam harishon, common in ranninic lit.).
      > None of
      > the extant Targums use this at Gen 2:7 but Neofiti uses it in the
      > following
      > verse. Some translators of the Aramaic Bible series translate this as
      > "first
      > man," others translate it as "first Adam." Interesting that Paul's phrase
      > "the
      > first man, Adam" looks like a conflation of these two possibilities.
      > Paul goes on to say that "the last Adam [became] a life-giving Spirit."
      > One
      > answer that has been given to the question, why is Jesus only called "the
      > Son of
      > Man" in the Gospels and Acts, not in any of the epistles?, is that in
      > calling
      > Jesus the last Adam, it amounts to the same thing as calling him the Son
      > of Man;
      > the reason he doesn't use the phrase "Son of Man" is that in the Gospels
      > the
      > title is meant to be obscure, to avoid a direct claim to be the Messiah,
      > but
      > Paul means to explain, not obscure. This interpretation depends in part on
      > assuming that "the Son of Man" depends on Ps 8:4, as one might suspect
      > from
      > Hebrews 2. The obstacle to this has been the belief that no saying in the
      > Gospels can be traced to Psalm 8. In fact, however, the first use of this
      > title
      > both in Matthew and John can be read as depending in part on Psalm 8. Matt
      > 8:20:
      > "The foxes have holes" etc. can be seen as an ironic allusion to Psalm 8,
      > according to which man/son of man is given dominion over the beasts of the
      > field
      > [e.g. foxes] and birds of the air. Jesus, the true Adam, doesn't even have
      > a
      > fixed place to lie down, whereas the creatures under his dominion do. This
      > was
      > pointed out, by the way, in the ABD article on the Son of Man, which also
      > pointed out that in Daniel 7, one like a son of man is given dominion over
      > kingdoms depicted as animals, with characteristics of beasts of the field
      > and
      > birds of the air - an eschatological version of Psalm 8 (with relevance to
      > some
      > Gospel Son of Man sayings alluding to Dan 7:13).
      > Likewise the first use of the title in John: angels ascending and
      > descending
      > upon the Son of Man, besides the obvious allusion to Genesis 28, depicts
      > the Son
      > of Man as "lower than the angels" a la Psalm 8. I point out in chapter 4
      > of my
      > book that all of the Son of Man sayings in John, except possibly 5:27, can
      > be
      > categorized according to how Hebrews 2 adapts Psalm 8 to Jesus: (1) his
      > temporary descent to a place "lower than the angels" (1:51; 3:13; 6:62);
      > (2) his
      > glorification or lifting up (3:14; 8:12; 12:23, 34; 13:31); (3) "bringing
      > many
      > sons to glory" i.e. spiritual progenitor of his people as Adam was the
      > physical
      > progenitor (9:35; 6:27, 53).
      > Of interest in all of this is that Tg. Neofiti, besides calling Adam "the
      > first
      > man/Adam," also calls him "the son of man" (bar nasha, used generically
      > for
      > "man") (Gen 1:27; 2:18). Neof. Gen 1:27 is particularly interesting in
      > light of
      > John 1:14: "The Word of the Lord created the son of man." If this reading
      > were
      > current in the first century, then it is possible that another clue to the
      > meaning of the Son of Man title as "the last Adam" is the Targum use of
      > "the son
      > of man" for "the first Adam."
      > Is this information not at least as relevant as the use of "the son of
      > man" in
      > the Ethiopic version of the Book of Enoch?
      > A generic use of "the son of man" in the Palestinian Targums Gen 40:23 is
      > also
      > of interest to johannine studies. The Targums are evidently trying to
      > answer the
      > question, why Joseph was stuck in prison for two more years after
      > foretelling
      > the future of Pharaoh's cup-bearer and baker. The answer that they give is
      > that
      > Joseph forgot the lesson of Jeremiah 17 (this anachronism is solved in
      > Neofiti
      > by saying that the passage is also in "the Book of the Wars"). In asking
      > the
      > cup-bearer to remember him to Pharaoh, Joseph trusted in flesh that tastes
      > the
      > cup of death, and forgot the Scripture that says "Cursed is the son of man
      > who
      > trusts in the flesh . . . but blessed is the man who trusts in the name of
      > the
      > Word of the Lord, and makes the Word of the Lord his trust."
      > The quotes are from Jer 17:5, 7. The reason I quoted this from Pal. Tgs.
      > Gen
      > 40:23 rather than from the Targum of Jeremiah is that the latter (as is
      > true of
      > Targum Jonathan generally) does not use the expression "name of the Word
      > of the
      > Lord," the expression I suggest is meant in John 1:12 - "those who believe
      > in
      > his (the Word's) name."
      > We can easily imagine Jewish Christians being charged with the same
      > offense:
      > "You trust in Jesus, you are trusting in a son of man, in flesh that
      > tasted the
      > cup of death, therefore you are under God's curse." John gives his answer
      > at the
      > end of chapter 2, read in light of Jer 17 as quoted in Pal. Tgs. Gen
      > 40:23:
      > v. 23; "during the feast, many believed in his name, beholding the signs
      > which
      > he was doing." Why does such faith not put them in the category of those
      > who are
      > cursed acc. to Jer 17:5, for trusting in the son of man, in flesh etc.?
      > Because
      > they are actually in the category of those who are blessed acc. to Jer
      > 17:7,
      > because they trust in the name of the Word of the Lord (who became the Son
      > of
      > Man; yes he tasted death, but overcame it).
      > John goes on to say that Jesus himself observed Jer 17:5: he himself did
      > not put
      > his trust in men (v. 24). Not only that, John goes on to say that Jesus
      > knew all
      > men, and knew what was in man which is what Jer 17:9-10 says about the
      > Lord:
      > "The heart is deceitful . . . who can know it? I the Lord search the
      > heart, I
      > test the mind, to give to each man according to his ways" (also
      > paraphrased by
      > Jesus in Rev 2:23).
      > Regards,
      > John Ronning

      Hi John:

      This is going to get rather lengthy also, so bear with me

      As the "follow the Aramaic" guy, I find this very interesting but I have
      several concerns. The extant Targumym are post John as for their final
      forms and codification but clearly date back to the time of John (c. 95 CE)
      and prior judging from the Aramaic text of Neofiti, copied in the 16th
      century from an earlier copy.

      Use of ממרא
      and נהורא

      in Neofiti Genesis 1:16-17 and 2:2-3 are clearly reminiscent of the
      Johannine epilog wording of "the Word" and "the light" but I am more
      inclined to believe these are neo-Platonic elements in an antiphonal hymn
      prefixed in the 2nd century to a Gospel that originally began at John 1:19.
      This does not mean that the logos doctrine may not have had a circuitous
      route from the targumym to Alexandrian neo-Platonic elements in Christianity
      to the epilog. Targums were oral and not written accounting for their
      scarcity in the DSS and it was probably pretty much up to the lector in the
      synagogue how he was going to present the Hebrew verse (one verse for the
      Torah, three for the prophets) in his and the congregants' native Aramaic.
      It was a free exercise so he may have decided on a literal translation, a
      paraphrase or an interpretation of what the Hebrew verse meant. I imagine
      that prior to being set down in writing in a fixed form in the
      post-destruction centuries, each lector would give a different form at
      different synagogues and at different times. Of course this does not mean
      that fixed forms did not become codified in oral targimic traditions. If
      the "cry from the cross" is historical (Mark being the original), Jesus may
      have been mouthing a targum of Psalms 22.

      I do not think that the use of the self designation בר אנשׁ by Jesus, about
      30 times in Matthew, was to avoid or obscure the direct claim to being the
      Messiah. I don't think Jesus considered himself to be the Messiah but
      instead exactly what he claimed himself many times, the "Son of Man" of
      Daniel and Enoch.

      There is a ton of literature on Yeshua's use of his self-description as the
      bar nasha (Son of Man) and disagreements on what that meant. If the Dead
      Sea Scroll corpus is a good barometer, the late 2nd temple period saw an
      emergence of Daniel-Enochian fervor. In both Daniel and the Enochian
      literature, the "son of man" plays a central role.

      Yeshua himself, NOT ONCE, refers to himself with certainty as the Messiah
      but instead refers to himself as the bar nasha/ben adam of Daniel and
      Enoch..."coming on the clouds, etc." It was Paul of Tarsus...hostile to the
      Nazarenes, who conferred the name of XRISTOS on Yeshua in his reconstruction
      of Yeshua as the Pauline "Christ Crucified."

      The cradle from which both Jewish and Christian "mysticism" arose was
      Enochian apocalypticism, the same cradle from which post-destruction Ma'asei
      Merkavah (which would eventually develop into Kabbala) and the Hekhalot
      literature arose which deals with "mystical" ascents into heaven.

      Anyone pursuing the ancient Jewish sources from which the Nazarenes arose,
      should read the considerable Enochian literary corpus now available thanks
      to the Qumran texts. The Books of Enoch and their related texts, Jubilees,
      Giants, Weeks, Parables, Watchers, Testimonies of the 12 Patriarchs, Dreams,
      etc. Enochian apocalypticism is a reflection of a Mesopotamian alternative
      to Mosaic" Judaism with its focus on Enmeduranki, the 7th antediluvian king
      of Sippar in the Sumerian Chronicles and a counterpart (or model) for Enoch.

      There was a considerable influence by Zoroastrianism on Judaism as a result
      to the Babylonian Captivity after which they brought the Enochian traditions
      to Jerusalem upon the return. The Jerusalem priests at that time hated the
      Enochian Jews (and it is my position that Jesus was an Enochian Jew) who
      supported the Maccabees thereby gaining favor with the Hasmoneans. These
      Enochian Jews became, IMO, the Essenes who subsequently developed serious
      issues with the Hasmonean priest-kings. I don't think anyone would argue
      that the Dead Sea Scrolls are not strongly Enochian.

      The Jewish Nazarenes ("branchers") were heirs, IMO, to the Enochian
      traditions but Gentile Christianity imported a constellation of influences
      from Graeco-Roman sources. That Enochian Judaism was alternative to Mosaic
      nomian Judaeism can explain why Paul appears anti-nomian and why Enoch was
      not included in the Rabbinical canon.

      Quoted in the Book of Jude:

      "And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute
      judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh
      of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And
      of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
      (Enoch 1:9)

      This is not a Bar Nasha that is "just a feller."

      Other references to the SON OF MAN in Enoch:

      "And there I saw One who had a head of days, And His head was white like
      wool, And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of
      a man, And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels. 2
      And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things,
      concerning that 3 Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he
      went with the Ancient of Days? And he answered and said unto me: This
      is the Son of Man who hath righteousness, With whom dwelleth righteousness,
      And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden, Because the
      Lord of Hosts hath chosen him, And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before
      the Lord of Hosts in uprightness for ever." (Part 8 Chapter 46:1-3)

      1 And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness Which was
      inexhaustible: And around it were many fountains of wisdom: And all the
      thirsty drank of them, And were filled with wisdom, And their dwellings were
      with the righteous and holy and elect. 2 And at that hour that Son of Man
      was named In the presence of the Lord of Hosts, And his name before the
      Ancient of Days. 3 Yea, before the sun and the signs were created, Before
      the stars of the heaven were made, His name
      was named before the Lord of Hosts. 4 He shall be a staff to the righteous
      whereon to stay themselves and not fall, And he shall be the light of the
      Gentiles, And the hope of those who are troubled of heart. 5 All who dwell
      on earth shall fall down and worship before him, And will praise and bless
      and celebrate with song the Lord of Hosts. 6 And for this reason hath he
      been chosen and hidden before Him, Before the creation of the world and for
      evermore. 7 And the wisdom of the Lord of Hosts hath revealed him to the
      holy and righteous; For he hath preserved the lot of the righteous, Because
      they have hated and despised this world of unrighteousness, And have hated
      all its works and ways in the name of the Lord of Hosts: For in his name
      they are saved, And according to his good pleasure hath it been in regard to
      their life. (Part 8 Chapter 48:1-7)

      The Book of Daniel, like Enoch, was written originally in Aramaic. It
      contains the most famous reference to the SON OF MAN.

      Daniel 7:13-14 (WEB)
      13 חזה הוית בחזוי ליליא וארו עם־ענני שׁמיא כבר אנשׁ אתה הוה ועד־עתיק יומיא
      מטה וקדמוהי הקרבוהי׃ 14 ולה יהיב שׁלטן ויקר ומלכו וכל עממיא אמיא ולשׁניא לה
      יפלחון שׁלטנה שׁלטן עלם די־לא יעדה ומלכותה פ

      13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of
      the sky one like a son of man (כבר אנש [kibar 'anash]), and he came even to
      the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 There was
      given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations,
      and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
      which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be

      Yeshua spoke of himself, just as above in Daniel, at Matthew 24:30 And
      then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all
      the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in
      the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

      .....and at Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said:
      nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting
      on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

      As you can see, Yeshua refers to himself as the SON OF MAN (Aramaic bar
      nasha) of Daniel and Enoch and not, IMO, as simply the bar nash/a idiom for
      "just a guy."

      An Enochian Jew, in the late second temple period, is one who believed in
      the Enochian apocalyptic such as the Essenes and Yohanan haMatbil.

      Jesus/Yeshua was indeed, IMO, a herald of the imminent malkutha
      d'alaha (Kingdom of God) in the Enochian tradition and, as such, outside of
      "normative" Mosaic Judaism. I think there are other indicators that this
      "Son of Man" from the ancient of days could be "Lord of the Sabbath" as well
      as the Mosaic laws (seen in the formula "It is written" or "You have
      heard"...ABC "but *I* tell you"...XYZ).

      So yes, he was apocalyptic but, in his mind, just not a "sage" but THE bar
      nasha that was expected by Yohanan/John (Matthew 11:3), with a different
      eschatology, perhaps, than the Essenes or John, more ethical than
      apocalyptic, the redeemer of Daniel 7:13-14.

      Having said all this, I am intrigued by the concept of targumym elements in
      first stratum NT material. What the Aramaic speaking first stratum Jesus
      People in the Galilee and Judea knew about the Old Testament came to them in
      oral Targumym.


      Jack Kilmon
      San Antonio, TX

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