Book Plunge: Jesus the Muslim Prophet Part 7

What does Son of Man mean?

Fatoohi is going to try to take on this one now. To his credit, he does at least interact with material like 1 Enoch. Fortunately, he comes to Daniel and the all-important passage in there on this topic, Daniel 7:13-14. One of his arguments for this not being the Messiah is the text says one like a Son of Man, not the Son of Man.

Which is really weak.

Daniel watched in awe as one “like a son of man [kĕbar ʾĕnāš]” descended into the throne room surrounded by the clouds of heaven (v. 13). “One like a son of man” means that this person was in human form. As Baldwin points out, however, he is more than a man.

Stephen R. Miller, Daniel (vol. 18; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 207.


While still gazing at the destruction of the beast Daniel’s attention was arrested by a most amazing event. In his vision of the night another figure emerged. This was no beast. It had no animal features. There were no deep, dark, recesses here, but only light. It came as one like a son of man, a human figure. At the same time it was a heavenly figure, not an earthly one. Boldly this one approached the courtroom and was led into the presence of the Ancient of Days. Once there he was handed a kingdom, given authority and sovereign power. All peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him, for his dominion was an everlasting dominion that would not pass away. His kingdom was one that would not be destroyed.
It is important not to miss the contrast here. Here was a human being, one in the image of God, who was at the same time a heavenly figure who ruled like man was meant to rule, that is, under the rule of God. The contrast occurs at a number of levels: chaos versus order, beastly versus human, temporary versus eternal, seized versus given, condemned versus endorsed. Here was something Daniel and many others had longed and waited for since Adam’s failure: one who lived out the divine rule of God.

Andrew Reid, Daniel: Kingdoms in Conflict (ed. Paul Barnett; Reading the Bible Today Series; Sydney, South NSW: Aquila Press, 2004), 123.

With this last one, in a Jewish monotheistic context you have a human figure who is worshipped. This doesn’t fit with what Fatoohi says, but it is just fine within Judaism.

But then something totally unexpected occurs. Into the presence of the Ancient of Days steps “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven” (7:13). Who is this figure? While the language and imagery of this verse would have been familiar to the ancient reader (though strange to us), the implications would have shocked them.
First, we should realize that “son of man” is a phrase that occurs a number of times in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Ezekiel (2:1, 3, 6, and throughout the book), and always means “human being.” But notice this is one “like a human being,” not a human being per se. And his association, though not identification, with humanity is clear from the fact that this human-like figure is accompanied by the clouds of heaven. In other words, this person is a cloud rider, a sure indication of divinity.
In the first place, in the broader ancient Near East, cloud riding was the function of storm gods like Baal, who was often called “cloud rider” in the Ugaritic myths that describe his exploits. By the time of Daniel, many Old Testament texts had appropriated this description and applied it to God (Ps 18:1–9; 68:4; 103:3; Is 19:1; Nah 1:3). Thus, to ancient readers this human-like figure was God himself riding into the presence of the Ancient of Days, also God himself, after achieving victory over the beasts. No wonder this passage is cited so often in the New Testament in reference to Jesus, God’s Son and God himself (more on this in chapter 16).
But for now, restricting ourselves to an Old Testament reader’s perspective, we should notice that the vision ends with the Ancient of Days conferring great honor on the one like the son of man. Indeed, “he was given (presumably by the Ancient of Days) authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”

Tremper Longman III, How to Read Daniel (How to Read Series; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2020), 101–102.

Now Fatoohi does appreciate giving what scholars say since he quotes some of them. I have done the same. I wonder who I should trust.

Fatoohi will go on later to say there is no evidence that Son of Man was used in reference to the Messiah before Jesus. Let’s leave out Daniel for the time being. To that, let it be said, “So what?” Even if that is the case, we could just as well the same could apply to the virgin birth, which I do affirm. Jesus shattered a lot of ideas on what the Messiah would be.

He does say that Jesus did use the Son of Man saying to avoid His deification. After all, everyone would just think to that Daniel passage upon hearing it and think “Yep. No shades of deity there.” This also assumes that Jesus’s deity was being taught in His lifetime, but Fatoohi keeps saying that these were monotheistic  Jews who would not do this, so who were these Jews risking turning Jesus into deity?

So color me still puzzled by Fatoohi’s arguments.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


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