Monday 29 August 2011

Irrelevant exegesis

Darrell Bock, the author of Chapter 29 of Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God, entitled "The Son of Man", was recently a guest on Premier Radio's Unbelievable? programme. On that occasion he was opposite Bart Erhman talking about the latter's book Forged, and the conversation was, for me (as far as I recall), a little technical and mostly irrelevant. That should have been fair warning, for in this chapter — scarcely two pages long — Bock searches for Old and New Testament mentions of the phrase "Son of Man" and attempts to interpret their meanings (which incidentally he maintains are different in different contexts).

Here's an example:
One way is to discuss whether the use of the title comes with a clear use of Daniel 7, an indirect use or no use, since this is the only OT passage that is connected to the title specifically in the NT. Most uses of the title do not make an explicit connection to Daniel 7. In fact, the explicit uses that do come appear in two places: (1) the eschatological discourse where Jesus discusses the return of the Son of Man and (2) at Jesus' examination by the Jewish leadership where he speaks of the Son of Man seated at God's right hand coming on the clouds, a remark that combines Daniel 7 and Psalm 110:1. This means that in most uses in the gospels Jesus used the title but did not give a reference to tie it to as an explanation. Both of the explicit uses come late in Jesus' ministry.
To whom is Bock directing this scrutiny of minutiae? In a book purporting to offer arguments and evidence for God, it seems more than a little premature. Shouldn't we establish the provenance of scripture itself before discussing its apparent subtleties?

Bock's final paragraph is this:
So the Son of Man is a title Jesus used to refer to himself and his authority. He revealed its full import toward the end of his ministry. But the title referred to Jesus as the representative of humanity who also engaged in divine activity. It was a way of saying I am the One sent with divine authority to also be the representative of humanity. In this context, all of Jesus' ministry and work, including his suffering on the cross for sin takes place.
To which I reply, "So what?"