Tyndale Bulletin 56. 1 (2005) 43-60. ‘Son of Man’
3. ‘Pitiable Man’ (ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός), 10:11, 19
Formal Similarities with Chapter 8 (See Figure 1)
Both chapters employ the language of vision (ὅρασις) for the experience (line 1). In each case, the revealer has human (ἄνθρωπος) appearance (line 18) or is simply referred to as ‘(the) human’ (line 22). In response to the grandeur of the angelic presence in these instances, Daniel falls upon his face (line 25), distressed (line 24), and weakened (line 31). There is a comparable raising up (line 34) and revelation (lines 33, 39). Its subject has to do with the eschatological (line 54) emergence of arrogant kings (lines 41, 49) who oppose God’s people (53).
Formal Differences with Chapter 8
Whereas in 8:3-10, 13, 20-22, images of aggressive animals (which represent the political might of earthly counterparts) contrast sharply with Daniel, the Seer in ch. 10 is sharply distinguished from the magnificence of his ‘angelic’ interpreter (10:4-6). Each acts as a foil for the other.
Differences between OG and T (See Figure 3)
Furthermore, although the MT and both Greek translations point up the differences between the Seer and the heavenly emissary (See Figure 1), it is the OG that exaggerates them most.
According to both translations, Daniel had been mourning and fasting for three weeks (2-3). On the banks of the great river Euphrates, he
saw and look: a man [consistently ἄνθρωπος in OG, ἀνήρ in T], one clothed in linen; and his waist was girdled with linen [MT and T: gold]; and from his center, light; and his body as beryl; and his face was as the appearance of lightning; and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his legs as shining brass; and the voice of his speaking as the sound of a multitude (4-6).
Christopher Rowland has observed that in this description the angel’s appearance rivals that of the Ancient of Days himself (7:9-10),12 thereby making Daniel’s opposite condition more acute.
‘And no strength was left in me; and look a ruinous spirit came upon me, and I lost strength’ (8). ‘I fell with my face to the earth’ (9). At this, a hand extended and raised him upon his knees and upon the soles of his feet (10). The angel then addressed him as ‘pitiable human’ (11): (OG: ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός; T, ‘man beloved’: ἀνὴρ ἐπιθυμιῶν) and prepared him for revelation (10-11).
Although trembling, Daniel is told not to fear. His desire to understand, and his humility before the Lord his God are to be rewarded (11-12). Upon receiving a revelation concerning the struggle between Michael and the captain [OG: στρατηγός,T: ἄρχων] of the Persian king (13-14), Daniel again falls to the earth and is silent (15). Next, according to the OG, something like the hand of a man (ὡς ὁμοίωσις χειρὸς ἀνθρώπου; T: ὡς ὁμοίωσις υἱοῦ ἀνθρώπου)touched Daniel’s lips, thereby enabling him to speak (16).13
For the second time, the Seer acknowledges his lack of strength and especially his status, vis-à-vis the angel: ‘How is a servant (παῖς) able to speak with his lord (κύριος)?’ (16-17). Daniel reports becoming weak and losing strength (forms of ισχ- occurring nine times), there being no spirit left in him (18).
Undeterred, the angel once more fortifies this pitiable human (again, ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός; but T: ἀνὴρ ἐπιθυμιῶν, ‘man beloved’): ‘Fear not, be healthy (ὑγίαινε); be manly (ἀνδρίζου); and
be strengthened’. At this, the prophet gains strength, saying, ‘Let my lord speak, for he has strengthened me’ (19). Thus empowered, Daniel learns that his revealer must return to do battle with the captain of the king of the Persians, the captain of the Greeks being on his way. Only the angel Michael had supported him in these matters (20-21).
There can be little doubt that the OG accentuates the contrast between the personae, for both T and the MT describe Daniel’s frailty in lesser terms. Unlike them, OG stresses the distinction between the grand human-like (ἄνθρωπος) features of the angel and the lowly human-like condition (ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός) of the Seer. Consequently, because υἱὲ ἀνθρώπου in 8:17 and ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός in 10:11 & 19 function similarly in comparable situations (See Figures 1, 2, and 3), they appear to be equivalent expressions for a human condition different from the might of powerful political symbols and entities and with the human-like appearance of supernatural personages. Whatever the case in T (and MT), υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου cannot, without further ado, be regarded in OG as merely a synonym for ἄνθρωπος. The latter is general, requiring a qualifier such as ἐλεεινός to be the equivalent of the more specific υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου.
How does this linguistic phenomenon contribute to the theological motif in chs. 8 and 10? It emphasizes the view of God as the one who works with persons who might not seem qualified to be the recipients of his revelation. Daniel, who had mourned and fasted, he who had humbled himself and been open to instruction, he who in the presence of the dazzling ἄνθρωπος had been regarded as pitiable human (ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός), he it is who becomes empowered to receive the vision about the outcome of the historical, eschatological, and cosmic struggle.
4. ‘Rejected Man’ (ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος), (4:28)14
As in the case with chs. 8 & 10, the pattern of mysterious dream followed by revelation through an interpreter occurs here. However, there are some notable differences from these two chapters. Here, the one to receive the vision and its interpretation is a political figure rather than a prophet. He is an enemy of God and God’s people rather than God’s spokesperson, who is himself a captive. And it is Daniel who, while crediting God as the source, becomes the mediator of revelation rather than the recipient of it. A human agent replaces the supernatural one.
Furthermore, many have noted that the most dramatic differences between the principal Greek versions (and between the OG and MT) appear in ch. 4: blocs of material with no parallel in MT or T as well as shared material which OG clearly ‘slants’. Of the many texts that could be cited, I will focus on those that enlarge the magnitude of Nebuchadnezzar’s hubris, his punishment, and subsequent restoration. This then will be a foil for appreciating the significance given to his unlikely successor: ‘a rejected man’ (ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος). In the main, I shall present these differences in English paraphrase or translation, charting the Greek to display the most obvious verbal differences.
The magnificence of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign is acknowledged in the original vision, wherein the great tree had become home to the sun and moon, which illuminated the entire world [(11)8]. A powerful angel calls for its destruction, uprooting, and neutralization [(13)10-(14)11]. As a result, the tree is quickly cut down and destroyed: in one day, one hour [(17)14a]. In a shift of metaphor, the tree is not only torn and thrown down but it is also consigned to eating grass with the beasts and delivered into prison, manacled hand and foot [(17)14a] and beaten [(26)23]. The agents of this judgment are none other than the Most High and the angels, who will pursue the king [(24)21, (32)29] to prison [(25)22].
The OG intensifies Daniel’s reaction to the dream: ‘Daniel was greatly amazed and forebodings agitated him. He was afraid, trembling seized him, and his appearance changed. He shook his head for about an hour, and agitated he answered me’… [the king]’ [(19)16]. T simply reports that Daniel ‘was perplexed for about an hour, and alarmed by his thoughts’.
In keeping with this intensification, OG magnifies the enormity of Nebuchadnezzar’s hubris. T employs μεγαλύειν in (22)19 and elsewhere; OG uses ὑψοῦν alone in recounting Daniel’s accusation: ‘You have been exalted [by God] over all the peoples who are on the face of the whole earth. Your heart was raised up in arrogance and power through all the acts against the Holy One and his angels. Your deeds were seen, how much you desolated the House of the living God on account of the sins of the sanctified people’.15
This, then, incurs a harsher judgment [(24)21-(27)24], being described more dramatically in that the kingdom is torn from Nebuchadnezzar and, adding insult to injury, is given to a rejected / despised person [(31)28]. But the king’s repentance is more extensive, thereby resulting in a greater restoration [(27)24]. This eventuates in a profounder praise [(37)34a-c].
Here, then, is the background for the passing of royal power from Nebuchadnezzar to his successor, an ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος. Vocabulary common in Daniel regarding the transfer of political power from a greater entity to a lesser one is made even more prominent in OG (Figure 4). The language of transfer in T (lines 5, 8 and 15) is doubled in OG; and it occurs in greater variety, employing terminology in one limited passage that occurs throughout the entire book (underscored in lines 9-12, 15, 17). Although there is no parallel in OG Daniel to T (and MT) at (17)14, OG doubles the language in (31)28 of a rejected person’s taking over the kingdom, authority, and glory from the deposed king, for which there is no significant equivalent in T and MT.
Summary and Conclusions
As in the case of the later chapters, arrogance against the divine sovereignty is the issue (vv. (17)14, (22)19, and (31)28). Nebuchadnezzar’s hubris is akin to that of other rulers (4:(22)19; 8:10, 25). Taken together, the results of these studies show that, just as Daniel, calledυἱὲ ἀνθρώπου (8:17) and ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός (10:11, 19), was strengthened from a weakened condition, so it is that a rejected person, ἐχουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος [4(31)28], is to be elevated to a position of power.16 The dynamics are the same, whether the particular issue is prophecy or politics, whether one is speaking of the revelatory or royal. In all three instances, an expression with ἄνθρωπος was qualified in some way to make the point. Here is yet further evidence that the latter term and υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου are not mere synonyms.
5. ‘Son of Man’ (υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου), 7:13
A precise reading of this controversial expression in Greek can be accomplished in two ways: one negative and the other positive. For the sake of methodological integrity, one must avoid importing into the translator’s mind what one thinks the Aramaic expression meant. Furthermore, traditio-historical considerations appropriate to the study of Aramaic Daniel are not valid here. For example, if, in the reception history of MT Daniel, subsequent readers would have lost the significance of an alleged incorporation of Canaanite myth, then later Greek readers (perhaps in Alexandria?) certainly would have. Positively, we must relate this chapter to the other three, both formally and theologically, because they provide the context without which it can be misread.
Formal Similarities among Chapters 4, 7, 8, 10 (See Figure 1)
A vision (4, 7, 8, 10, line 1) occurs in a dream (4, 7, 8, line 2) about beasts (4, 7, 8, line 3) with horns (7, 8, lines 11, 16-17), and tramping feet (7, 8, line 12). Rulers struggle over kingship (4, 7, 8, 10, line 41) and suffer the consequences of hubris (4, 7, 8, lines 49-50). In the presence of superior power (whether human or supernatural), a figure designated as ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος, υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, and ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός (4, 7, 8, 10, line 26) is granted glory and strength (4, 7, 8, 10, lines 34, 40-41), although originally despised, without glory, and weakened (4, 7, 8, 10, lines 26, 31).
Formal Similarities between Chapters 7 and 4 (See Figures 1 and 5)
These two chapters are related in several additional respects, made more pronounced in OG. The personae in view are directly concerned with politics and royalty. In ch. 4, God deposes Nebuchadnezzar on account of his hubris [(22)19, (31)28] and subsequently restores his throne [(36)33-(37)34a-c]. In between, another takes his place [(31)28]. In ch. 7, the beasts (=kings) are deprived of their authority (12) and one like a υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου receives from the Ancient of Days eschatological authority, universal service, and an everlasting kingdom (13-14).
In a moment of heavy irony, the signs of animal strength in 7:4 (wings, eagle, and lion) become the sub-human characteristics of the deposed king [(33)30b]. The human heart (ἀνθρωπίνη καρδία) granted to the first beast (7:4) is that which, according to OG, is taken from the king, whose flesh and heart changed so that he walked among the beasts of the earth [(33)30b].17
So as to gain a greater appreciation for the contrast in power between the beasts and the one designated as υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου in OG, Figure 6 shows how the translator magnifies the extent of the damage that they inflict and the corresponding suffering endured, both by humankind in general (vv. 5, 7, 19) and by God’s people (or their heavenly counterparts or symbols) in particular (8, 21, 25). OG also portrays their greater reward more vividly (18, 27).
The Meaning (not Identity) of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου
In order to remove a significant obstacle from this complex discussion, it is possible and necessary to distinguish between the meaning of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου and the identity of the figure so named. Failure to do so obscures the issue. The point, for the present study, is not who?, but what kind? In other words, my aim has not been to determine whether ‘one like a son of man’ is referring to a being (angelic or otherwise) in the divine court or whether the translator regarded the expression as an individual or corporate symbol for earthly realities (or blended them in a complex manner).
Rather, the question which I am posing and attempting to answer is, what sort of human features did the figure possess—however he is identified? Given the phenomena observed in chs. 4, 7, 8, and 10 (both ‘vertically’ and ‘laterally’), I contend that υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου is not a mere synonym for ἄνθρωπος,as is universally asserted. The latter is general; ‘son of man’ is particular, reserved by the OG translator to convey the downside of human experience: its frailty and vulnerability.
A Potential Objection
Considerable discussion has arisen over the reading of p967, the earliest witness to the pre-hexaplaric text of the OG, dated not later than the first half of the third century. Although Ziegler’s reconstructed text of the OG and T read that one like a son of man was brought to the Ancient of Days as in MT, this manuscript supports all other Greek witnesses whereby he comes as the Ancient of Days.18 At first glance, this appears to undermine the thesis being defended. However, a closer look at the details needs to be conducted.
For our limited purposes, the only relevant issue is the character of the comparison as mediated by the narrative form of the text. Above all, the exegete must be careful about employing the language of ‘deity’, ‘divinity’ or ‘nature’ so as not to impose later theological convictions.19 More to the point of my inquiry, is the initial dissimilarity, whatever the reading, between one like a son of man and the One holding court.
The Narrative Key
The figure brought to the throne did not originally have kingly authority (ἐξουσία βασιλίκη); nor, prior to this time, did he possess all the nations of the earth according to their kind (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς κατὰ γένη), or all glory rendering service to him (πᾶσα δόξα λατρεύουσα αὺτῷ). These were given to him by the Ancient of Days.20 They were transferred to him, thereby making his possession of them derivative. In this important sense, one like a son of man was not like the Ancient of Days.21 The point holds, however the figure is to be identified—whether an individual or group, whether symbol or the subject of a direct vision, whether human or supernatural. If an angel, he must have come from the lower ranks, hierarchy being indicated in the later reference to Michael as ‘one of the chief rulers’ (εἷς ἀρχόντων τῶν πρώτων, 10:13).
The central question for the purpose of this study remains not ‘Who is this?’ but ‘What kind of human features did the figure have?’ Only when the narrative, dramatic character of the scene is appreciated will this distinction be noticed and its significance exploited. Otherwise, one tends to view the vision as a frozen image, focusing on the resultant majesty rather than on the movement from inglorious to glorified, from politically powerless to royally powerful. Once again, meaning and identity need to be kept distinct. The progress in stages must be attended to.22 The same pattern occurs in chs. 4, 8, and 10).
When Daniel 7:13 in the OG is read not only in its immediate context but also within the contexts of chs. 4, 8, and 10 where related terminology, literary patterns, and theological points of view occur, then it becomes possible to conclude that υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου was used by the translator to convey (along with ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος, and ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός) the sense of frailty and vulnerability.
These terms are intertwined in a fabric of thinking which, though present at times in the MT and T, is more highly developed and consistently maintained by the OG. In the tapestry of his sovereign will, God empowers unlikely candidates with political might and prophetic insight. He has done so in the past, (by implication) continues to work this way in his people’s (the readers’) present, and promises to accomplish his purposes through them in the future.
1Part of the research for this article was funded by a Senior Faculty Grant from the Center for Scholarship and Development at Seattle Pacific University in 2003. It constitutes part 1 of a larger study that will deal with the implications of these findings for the New Testament. Both parts are offered to honor the friendship of the Revd Dr John Bowker, who nearly thirty years ago argued that ben ’adam and bar ’enosh conveyed the sense of frailty, vulnerability, and mortality in Daniel 7, the OT, the Targums, and Mark’s Gospel. See John Bowker, ‘The Son of Man’, JTS 28 (1977): 19-48. I am contending that this sense is also shared and underscored by two additional expressions within three other chapters of Daniel in the OG.
2E. g. Christopher Rowland argues that this supernatural figure is portrayed as mid-way between that of an ‘ordinary’ angel and God himself. See The Open Heaven. A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Christianity (New York: Crossroad, 1982): 182-3. More recently, see Thomas Slater, ‘One Like a Son of Man in First Century ad Judaism’, NTS 41 (1995): 183-98. However, neither Slater nor Bowker nor Rowland takes into account the Hellenized Jewish tradition in this regard.
3This point is missed by Collins when he notes simply that ‘The theme of God’s ability to exalt the lowly is a common one’. Daniel stresses the exaltation of the lowly to royal and prophetic prominence in the exercise of political and revelatory functions. See J. J. Collins, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993): 228.
4By ‘politics’, I refer to the means by which authority is legitimated and distributed in human society. Various strategies for accomplishing this have been proposed throughout history. Of course, the Bible advocates divine politics as the best way to realize the goal. For Daniel and other biblical authors, the question to be answered is ‘Who rules, really – and how’?.
5Holger Gzella, Cosmic Battle and Political Conflict. Studies in Verbal Syntax and Contextual Interpretation of Daniel 8 (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2003): 7-8.
6Joseph Ziegler (ed.), Susanna. Daniel. Bel et Draco (Septuaginta. Vetus Testamentum Graecum. XVI.2; Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1954).
7See Angelo Geissen (ed.), Der Septuaginta-Text Des Buches Daniel (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag GMBH, 1968) and Frederic G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri. Descriptions and Texts of the Twelve Manuscripts on Papyrus of the Greek Bible (Fasc. VII; London: Emery Walker, Ltd., 1937).
8My proposal for Daniel would fit the usage of 'son of man' and accompanying phenomena in OG of Ezekiel 1 and 2:1, 3, 6, and 8.
9Delbert Burkett, The Son of Man Debate. A History and Evaluation (SNTSMS 107; Cambridge: University Press, 1999): 13-21, esp. 20-21.
10(Pseudo-?) Augustine’s observation (which I cannot credit formally as yet) is apt here: ‘We are born between the urine and the feces’. The American poet, E. E. Cummings, in the third stanza of an untitled poem (which I found discarded by the lectern after expounding this theme) wrote, ‘how should tasting touching hearing seeing // breathing any—lifted from the no // of all nothing—human merely being // doubt unimaginable you?’ (1944).
11Gzella, Cosmic Battle.
12C. Rowland, Open Heaven: 97-100.
13The fragmentary witness of the DSS is described thus by Abegg: ‘In pap6Qdan,… the verb ‘touched’ is feminine, while in the Masoretic Text it is masculine; the subject in pap6Qdan is most likely ‘hand’ (with LXX), whereas in the Masoretic Text it is the one in human form’. See M. Abegg, Jr.; P. Flint; and E. Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (San Francisco: Harper, 1999): 99. The author acknowledges in n. 63 that this is a reconstructed reading. An examination of the photograph and edited text reveals that only
14Numbers in parentheses indicate the OG (and in most cases, T) versification.
15The translation is by Matthias Henze in The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar, The Ancient Near Eastern Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1999): 246. Pierre Grelot sees Nebuchadnezzar’s experience as the precursor to the villainy and fall of Antiochus IV. See ‘La Septante de Daniel iv et son substrat semitique’, RB 81 (1974): 21. However, he does not suggest how this might have been significant for a later readership living outside of Palestine. Might there have been something more local in view (say, in Alexandria)? Whatever the answer, it does not affect the linguistic and theological points being scored.
16T. J. Meadowcroft sees this ‘hint of a usurper’ as having ‘less to do with the story at hand than with the polemical requirements of the LXX narrator’. My contention is that, on the contrary, it has everything to do with the story and theology of this episode, both within ch. 4 and in the company of chs. 8, 10, and 7. Cf. Aramaic Daniel and Greek Daniel. A Literary Comparison (JSOTSS 198; Sheffield: Academic Press, 1995): 52. Similarly, F. F. Bruce interprets this account as ‘something of the nature of a palace revolution’, which other ancient sources link to the subsequent Medeo-Persian rule. See ‘The Oldest Greek Version of Daniel’, OTS 20 (1976): 30-31. Again, there is no effort to relate the passage to the overall theological concerns of the translator.
17Meadowcroft, Aramaic and Greek Daniel: 236, has noticed this verbal linkage between the two chapters. But he does not make a point about the irony which binds them.
18J. Lust points out that Ziegler’s emendation from ὡς to ἕως is based solely on patrological evidence. See ‘Daniel 7,13 and the Septuagint’, ETL 54.1(April 1978): 62. The manuscript tradition of the LXX (with wJ~) is preserved at this point by A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta (vol. 2, 7th ed.; Stuttgart: Wuertembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935).
19This tendency laces the work of Seyoon Kim, The Son of Man as the Son of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985): 15-24.
20Failure to make this important distinction has led Lust to claim, ‘In the LXX text, the ‘Ancient of Days’ and the ‘Son of Man’ are one and the same symbol, referring to God and his heavenly kingdom’. See ‘Daniel 7,13 and the Septuagint’: 67. This also seems to be the conclusion of R. Timothy May, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003): 156. Sharon Pace Jeansome is among those who refuse to collapse the images and blur the distinction. Cf. The Old Greek Translation of Daniel 7-12 (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association, 1988): 113. Meadowcroft pits the MT against the LXX: ‘It remains an open question in the MT whether or not the son of man’s authority becomes intrinsic or remains derived. The LXX has decided in favour of the first option’. See Aramaic and Greek Daniel: 230. Perhaps there needs to be more clarity about usage. Does not ‘becoming’ violate the state of being ‘intrinsic’? Loren Stuckenbruck sees one like a son of man’s becoming ‘functionally identical’ [his italics]. But how does this deal with the language of transfer? See ‘“One like a Son of Man as the Ancient of Days” in the Old Greek Recension of Daniel 7,13: Scribal Error or Theological Translation?’, ZNW 86.3/4 (1995): 268-76.
21Some scholars tend to speak of the event more as vindication, a declaration by the judge of the defendant’s being in the right. See, among others, Morna Hooker, The Son of Man in Mark (London: SPCK, 1967): 29, C. F. D. Moule, The Origin of Christology (Cambridge: University Press, 1977): 11-12, 17-18, and Bowker, ‘The Son of Man’: 24, 44. But this does not do enough justice to the scene. The defendant is ‘awarded damages’, as it were. He is not merely the subject of judicial recognition; there is also the matter of judicial empowerment or authorization. It is as much a theopolitical phenomenon as it is a theojuridical one.
22Burkett, Son of Man Debate:19 fails to give enough weight to the narrative character of Dan. 7. Wilfrid Stott and John Bowker give more. But neither sees this dynamic occurring also in chs. 4, 8, and 10 and being underscored by OG. See respectively ‘“Son of Man”—a Title of Abasement’, ExpT 83 (1972): 278-81 and ‘The Son of Man’: 19-48.
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