a contemptuous denial of the Parousia such as might have been uttered by a Sadducee
|November 7, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter seventeen||
Jesus did not, therefore, veil His Messiahship by using the expression Son of Man, much less did He transform it, but He used the expression to refer, in the only possible way, to His Messianic office as destined to be realised at His “coming,” and did so in such a manner that only the initiated understood that He was speaking of His own coming, while others understood Him as referring to the coming of a Son of Man who was other than Himself.
The passages where the title has not this apocalyptic reference, or where, previous to the incident at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus in speaking to the disciples equates the Son of Man with His own “ego,” are to be explained as of literary origin. This set of secondary occurrences of the title has nothing to do with “Early Church theology”; it is merely a question of phenomena of translation and tradition. In the saying about the Sabbath in Mark ii. 28, and perhaps also in the saying about the right to forgive sins in Mark ii. 10, Son of Man doubtless stood in the original in the general sense of “man,” but was later, certainly by our Evangelists, understood as referring to Jesus as the Son of Man. In other passages tradition, following the analogy of those passages in which the title is authentic, put in place of the simple I—expressed in Aramaic by “the man”—the self-designation “Son of Man,” as we can clearly show by comparing Matt. xvi. 13, “Who do men say that the the Son of Man is?” with Mark viii. 27, “Who do men say that I am?”
Three passages call for special discussion. In the statement that a man may be forgiven for blasphemy against the Son of Man but not for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in Matt. xii. 32, the “Son of Man” may be authentic. But of course it would not, even in that case, give any hint that “Son of Man designates the Messiah in His humiliation” as Dalman wished to infer from the passage, but would mean that Jesus was speaking of the Son of Man, here as elsewhere, in the third person without reference to Himself, and was thinking of a contemptuous denial of the Parousia such as might have been uttered by a Sadducee. But if we take into account the parallel in Mark iii. 28 and 29 where blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is spoken of without any mention of blasphemy against the Son of Man, it seems more natural to take the mention of the Son of Man as a secondary interpolation, derived from the same line of tradition, perhaps from the same hand, as the “Son of Man” in the question to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi.
The two other sayings, the one about the Son of Man “who hath not where to lay His head,” Matt. viii. 20, and that about the Son of Man who must submit to the reproach of being a glutton and a wine-bibber Matt. xi. 19, belong together. If we assume it to be possible, in conformity with the saying about the purpose of the parables in Mark iv. 11 and 12, that Jesus sometimes spoke words which He did not intend to be understood, we may—if we are unwilling to accept the supposition of a later periphrasis for the ego, which would certainly be the most natural explanation—recognise in these sayings two obscure declarations regarding the Son of Man. They would then be supposed to have meant in the original form, which is no longer clearly recognisable, that the Son of Man would in some way justify the conduct of Jesus of Nazareth. But the way in which this idea is expressed was not such as to make it easy for His hearers to identify Him with the Son of Man. Moreover, it was for them a conception impossible to realise, since Jesus was a natural, and the Son of Man a supernatural, being; and the eschatological scheme of things had not provided for a man who at the end of the existing era should hint to others that at the great transformation of all things He would be manifested as the Son of Man. This case presented itself only in the course of history, and it created a preparatory stage of eschatology which does not answer to any traditional scheme.
That act of the self-consciousness of Jesus by which He recognised Himself in His earthly existence as the future Messiah is the act in which eschatology supremely affirms itself. At the same time, since it brings, spiritually, that which is to come, into the unaltered present, into the existing era, it is the end of eschatology. For it is its “spiritualisation,” a spiritualisation of which the ultimate consequence was to be that all its “supersensuous” elements were to be realised only spiritually in the present earthly conditions, and all that is affirmed as supersensuous in the transcendental sense was to be regarded as only the ruined remains of an eschatological world-view. The Messianic secret of Jesus is the basis of Christianity, since it involves the de-nationalising and the spiritualisation of Jewish eschatology.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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