Enoch And Son Of Man (2)

We are back to our   discussion of the Book of Enoch   and of  the amazing parallels between this book and the Gospels.  We have seen already that “when we use Enoch as a context for the New Testament, many early Christian ideas come into a much clearer focus, and many of the gaps in the New Testament can be bridged.”[1]. In the previous article on the Book of Enoch, I spoke about the Similitudes (second sub-book of the 1st Enoch) introducing a figure of Son of Man, the divine-human Savior and Redeemer.  In this article, I intend to show that in fact, the  Similitudes provide us with clear evidence that the same concept of the Son of Man that Jesus used in the Gospels,  was present  in other circles in Judaism as well. The parallels are striking indeed!

First of all, we find here the doctrine of the preexistence of the Son of Man. “And at that hour that Son of Man was named in the presence of the Lord of Spirits, and his name before the Head of Days. Even before the sun and the constellations were created, before the stars of heaven were made, his name was named before the Lord of Spirits”[2]

Second, the Son of Man has been given all the heavenly knowledge. Moreover,  not only does the Son of Man receive heavenly knowledge here, but he is also the one who must reveal this knowledge to the righteous. The “Watchers” of the first section (from  the Book of Watchers  that we discussed in our first articles on Enoch)  were not supposed to “reveal eternal secrets” to the people, but did reveal them and thus corrupted the earth: “These are the angels who descended upon the earth and revealed what was hidden to the children of the people, and led the children of the people astray to commit sin.’”[3]. As opposed to them, the Son of Man is precisely the One who is chosen by God to reveal the heavenly knowledge to the elect ones:

“This is the Son of Man, to whom belongs righteousness, and with whom righteousness dwells. And he will open all the hidden storerooms; for the Lord of Spirits has chosen him…[4] And he has revealed the wisdom of the Lord of the Spirits to the righteous and the holy ones…”[5]

A very important component of the eschatological scenario —the salvation of the righteous -is also found in the Similitudes.  It is very important to note that, not only does salvation come here through the Son of Man, but also only to those belonging to him—only those who are able to recognize the Elect One (the Son of Man) –  are saved “through his name. This typical New Testament motif for the first time occurs here,  in the Similitudes.

In those days, there will be a change for the holy and the righteous onesthrough his name they shall be saved.”[6]

“For in his name [the righteous] are saved, and he is the vindicator of their lives.”[7]

All the rest of the traditional eschatological components are also here. The entire Book of Similitudes is dominated not only by the deliverance of the elect, but  by a vision of the Great Judgment as well.  . The motif of the coming judgment and the destruction of the world as a result, is the central message here. It appears constantly in Enoch’s heavenly visions of the Son of Man:

“And all the kings and the mighty and the exalted and those who rule the earth

Shall fall down before him on their faces,

And worship and set their hope upon that Son of Man,

And petition him and supplicate for mercy at his hands.

Nevertheless … He will deliver them to the angels for punishment,

To execute vengeance on them because they have oppressed His children and His elect”.[8]

After the Great Judgment, we find a description of the eternal blessedness of the righteous (this vision closes the third – and the last – parable of the book):

“(Then) there came to them a great joy. And they blessed, glorified and extolled (the Lord) on account of the fact that the name of that (Son of) Man was revealed to them. …Thenceforth nothing that is corruptible shall be found; for that Son of Man has aJpeared and has seated himself upon the throne of his glory; and all evil shall disappear before his face…”[9].

Finally, those readers who remember my “Hidden Messiah” series, will be interested to learn that the text clearly says that this Son of Man has been hidden from the beginning:

“For this purpose, he became a Chosen One; he was concealed in the presence of (the Lord of the Spirits) prior to the creation of the world, and for eternity”.[10]

“For the Son of Man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power; then he revealed him to the holy ones and the elect ones”.[11]

Thus, we can see that it is precisely this  figure – the Son of Man, or the Righteous One, – who becomes the Savior ( the Hidden Savior) in this book.  “It seems quite clear, therefore, that many of the religious ideas that were held about … Jesus were already present in the Judaism from which both the Enoch circle and the circles around Jesus emerged”[12]. And even though there are few places where the Son of Man is called the Anointed One, in general, the book speaks about the heavenly Son of Man and shows little connection with the idea of messiah.

We can now answer the  question that we asked:  Why did Jesus call Himself Son of Man,  and not Messiah? After the book of Enoch, the answer is obvious: He called Himself Son of Man precisely because He came as Son of Man. He didn’t come to fit Jewish expectation of Messiah: many messianic expectations Israel had  were not fulfilled during Jesus’ first coming, because He was not ‘the Messiah’ of Jewish conception. He was, however, “Son of Man” of Jewish conception: He came as a transcendental, eternal and universal Son of Man, and “no term was more fitted both to conceal, yet at the same time to reveal to those who had ears to hear, the Son of Man’s real identity”[13]

Excerpts from my books are included in this article  (and many other posts here), so if you like the  articles on this blog, you might enjoy also my books,  you  can get  them  through my page: ,  https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/julia-blum/   

[1] Margaret Barker, The Lost Prophet, Abingdon Press, 1988, p.3

[2] 1 Enoch, 46:2-3

[3] Ibid., 64.2

[4] Ibid., 46.2

[5] Ibid., 48.7

[6] Ibid., 50:1,3

[7] Ibid. 48.7

[8] Ibid.6.7,8

[9] Ibid.69.26-29

[10] 1 Enoch 48:2,6

[11] 1 Enoch 62:7

[12] Boyarin, Daniel. The Jewish Gospels (Kindle Locations 1303-1307). The New Press. Kindle Edition.

 

[13] Matthew Black, The Son of Man in the teaching of Jesus, Expository Times, lx, pp.32

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Lionel Levoir

    It is interesting to know that at the council of Nicea in 325 ad in Rome, it was decided at that time to keep the Books of Enoch out of all written texts, yet it remained in text in Ethiopia. Some of th events in History would have been different. Consider islams illiterate prophet, self proclaimed. some have even gone so far as to say they also were Christians!

  2. Mondo

    The parallels are quite amazing. Thank you for your research.

    What do you make of Jesus’ proclamation of being the Messiah in John 4:25-26 (also Matt 16:16-17)?

    Thank you.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Mondo, my apologies for the delay, I’ve been out of the country. Jesus’ proclamation in John 4:25-26 only confirms my concept of him being Hidden Messiah for the Jews: the only time in the entire New Testament that He reveals his Messianic identity is in this scene with the Samaritan woman! Just consider it: The only time when He speaks of it, it is not to a Jewish person but to a Samaritan woman, and even then only at the moment when His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food, that is, when there was not a single Jewish person in sight! As for Peter’s confession – I see in it also an additional proof of this theory: since Jesus was the “Hidden Messiah”, only this special revelation from the Father could reveal his messiahship.

  3. Rob

    Very interesting article, thanks for those insights, plenty to ponder.

  4. Nick

    Thanks Julia. Much to think about here! One can reconfigure Paul and see even more confluence with Judaism.
    Nick

  5. Arend

    Julia, thanks again for such a revealing prose. The more I read from you, the more I appreciate you contribution to my education on these the subjects you present ,,

  6. Sylvester W. Smith

    I enjoy the first face of your book Enoch but what I don’t understand is the son of man. Who was you referred to as this son of man. Pls mark it clear to me.
    Thanks Sylvester W Smith

    1. Julia Blum

      In Daniel 7:13 we read about the ‘One like a Son of Man’ who comes with the clouds of heaven in Daniel 7:13. This image gave rise to a different kind of messianic expectation, which emphasized the heavenly character of the future savior. In the following centuries, this kind of transcendent, heavenly deliverer played an increasingly important role in Jewish eschatology. The Similitudes (sub-book of the `1 Enoch) use the term “Son of Man” constantly; like in the Gospels, “Son of Man ” here refers to a divine-human figure of the end-time Savior.