Bart Ehrman Says Jesus Was Not the Son of Man / An Author and Member of Real Jock Responds

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    Oct 24, 2017 4:00 PM GMT
    Author, Bart D. Ehrman

    The more complicated example hit me in the face this morning as I was thinking about what I wanted to write on the blog about Jesus’ famous words about the “sheep and the goats” in Matthew 25:31-46, the passage where the Son of Man sits on his thrones and condemns to eternal flames the people (goats) who have not acted in love and kindness to the needy but rewards with eternal life the other people (sheep) who have behaved in compassionate ways.

    I was going to point out that the passage decidedly does not identify Jesus as the Son of Man. Jesus appears to be talking about the future cosmic judge of the earth, and he does not say that it is he himself. In my view, Jesus didn’t understanding himself to be that future cosmic Son of man who would judge the earth.

    But then I realized that if I simply state it like that, someone (maybe lots of someones) would write a comment pointing out that Jesus *did* see himself as the Son of man, as is evident from the very next thing he says. In the next passage, just two verses later, Jesus says that “The Son of man must be handed over to be crucified” (Matt 26:2). So he DID think of himself as that Son of man, obviously.

    And then I thought, once again, Ah, where to begin? But this time, no one can be faulted for making the comment, because it involves something I’ve never explored on the blog explicitly, to my knowledge.

    The very SHORT story is this: scholars since the early twentieth century have maintained, for a variety of reasons, that the Gospels comprise self-contained story-units that circulated independently of one another. The story found in one paragraph (paragraphs are inventions of modern editors: they didn’t exist in the earliest manuscripts) may have circulated independently of the story found in the paragraph before or after. The two paragraphs may have had entirely different pre-histories. One, for example, could have derived from first century Aramaic-speaking Palestine (possibly the life of Jesus) and the next one from decades later from somewhere else. It is the Gospel writers who have put these disparate stories together into one continuous narrative.

    The self-contained units of the Gospels (that I loosely spoke of as “paragraphs” just now) are called pericopes. The word pericope does not rhyme with telescope. It is pronounced “per-i-co-pee”, with the accent on the “i.” It literally means “cut around.” It refers to the fact that you could take out your scissors and cut around the paragraph and put it on your desk and it would be a stand-alone story that circulated independently without its surrounding context.

    When the Gospel writers assembled their Gospels, most of their accounts were probably such stand-alone accounts. One of the unspoken tasks of scholarship (i.e., something that scholars are trained to do that they almost never mention when talking to non-scholars) (as I’ve said, I don’t recall ever saying anything about this on the blog in five and a half years!) is to establish what each pericope is in the Gospels, and to analyze it for both its literary character (how does it *work* as a self-contained unit; what is it’s literary structure; what are its themes; what is its central point) and its historical character (within what situations was it told as a story; in what context did it originate; did it go back to the historical Jesus).

    Short story: the passage about the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) is a pericope. It did not originally circulate with what is now Matthew 26:1-2. And so even though Matthew himself understood Jesus to be the Son of Man – as is evident, for example, from the fact that he connected the two passages directly together — that is not necessarily the view of the story of the sheep and the goats itself. To know if *that* story (and its author) (was the author Jesus? I’ve been arguing it was) sees the Son of Man as Jesus you have to look only at the story itself to see if there are any hints that Jesus was talking about himself. It does not look like he was, even if Matthew believed he was.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 24, 2017 4:01 PM GMT
    Author, Steefen

    Dr. Ehrman, you wrote:
    pronounced “per-i-co-pee”, with the accent on the “i.”
    When a person goes to google and searches “define pericope” the result is
    There is a listen icon.
    Your pronunciation did not put the r before the i and connect the k sound to the end of the i. Just checking if the google pronunciation is how you are pronouncing the word.
    = = =
    You say the author/s who wrote under the name Matthew understood Jesus to be the Son of Man and explicitly wrote that Jesus was the Son of Man, but you are disagreeing with the author. I do not think anyone can tell Mark Twain who Tom Sawyer is.

    Your point seems to be you do not see how Jesus could be transfigured into the Son of Man at another time and at another place where souls would be judged. In this other place and other time or transfigured contemporary place and time [ the kingdom of God was at hand and people would have been weeping and gnashing teeth when long dead prophets would have been transfigured into life–and the Son of Man transfigured into life].

    The New Testament describes life after death for all Hebrew prophets and life after death for the crucified Son of Man Jesus.

    Question: Where else can someone say an author of fiction who is responsible for setting up the fictitious world is incorrect in the world he created?
    Question: Does Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Judas, Acts, Letters of Paul, or Revelation say Jesus was not the Son of Man?

    Thank you.
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    Nov 08, 2017 9:50 PM GMT
    Outside of being a Biblicist or for whatever reason Christology has limitations, outside of limitations, Gaius Julius Caesar is the Son of Earth - Son of Man. The fictional Jesus sometimes taught his disciples about Gaius Julius Caesar, the forgiveness of Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar's prediction of his destruction, his resurrection and divinization, the Romanization of Judaism from a militant messianism that caused Rome major problems.