Where is the Son of Man coming or going? Daniel 7’s place in Jesus’ eschatology
October 1, 2021 11:30 AM - 12;00 PM On Demand Save the Date
There has been debate over Jesus’ use of the Danielic phrase the “Son of Man … coming on the clouds”. The main problem is that Daniel 7 states that the Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days, whereas Jesus seems to use the phrase to describe an opposite movement of the Son of Man coming to the earth.
Various explanations have been offered of why this is so. Some utilise the variance to suggest an evolutionary development in the early church (which they seek to reconstruct) from the teaching of Jesus to a later and different position reflected in the Synoptics, others interpret it as Jesus creative reuse or adaption of Daniel to speak about his ascension/vindication or enthronement, or a coming in judgment against Jerusalem in AD 70, or the more traditional view of an end-time second coming.
The one thing common to all these views is that they leave Jesus and the Synoptics at odds with at least some key textual feature of Daniel 7’s vision (either downplaying the judgment theme; reversing or excluding a movement to the Ancient of Days, excluding any end-time-eschatological reading, etc).
Daniel 7 has both an explicit coming to the Ancient of Days and an implied coming to earth within the text. There is no need to imagine Jesus’ or the Synoptics arbitrarily reversing the movement of Daniel 7.
This paper will briefly review the various views and their tensions with the text of Daniel and the Synoptics. The paper will argue that when Jesus speaks of the “Son of Man…coming in the clouds” his comments reflect a very close reading of the text of Daniel. Daniel 7 has both an explicit coming to the Ancient of Days and an implied coming to earth within the text. There is no need to imagine Jesus’ or the Synoptics arbitrarily reversing the movement of Daniel 7.
The paper will conclude with an attempt to synthesise this into a coherent reading which has overlap with other views, but some unique features.
Eschatology in Gospels & Acts Research
- The Son of Man Problem and a Narratival Solution
- The Eschatological Attack of Jerusalem by Non-Israelite Nations in Zechariah and the Death of Jesus
- The ‘New Covenant’ Debate Revisited
- Ethics and Eschatology in the Synoptic Tradition: A Response to N. T. Wright on Gospel Eschatology in His Gifford Lectures