The title of this post may be somewhat misleading, as what I am posting here is actually Professor Davila’s brief response to Mark D. Roberts’ recent blog posts on Christology at  However, although not extensive in length, his comments are insightful and I thought they’d be interesting to post here.  Following Davila’s comments, I provide some of my own brief thoughts on the matter.

The posts by Roberts that Davila is commenting on can be found here:

Echoes of Wisdom and the Divinity of Jesus: Part 1

Echoes of Wisdom and the Divinity of Jesus (Part 2)

Echoes of Wisdom and the Divinity of Jesus: Part 3

Davila addresses Roberts’ thoughts on Jesus as the Son of God:

Jesus as the Son of God

This piece takes the evidence in directions that I don’t think are entirely warranted, notably here:

If Jesus had openly proclaimed himself as Son of God, his contemporaries would not have thought of this as a claim to divinity. They might have understood only that Jesus was touting his own righteousness. More likely, they would have heard a claim to be the promised Messiah, the human being who would lead Israel to throw the Romans out of God’s land once and for all.

There is plenty of evidence that the phrase “son of God” could mean an angel or a divine being (cf. Job 1, Deuteronomy 32:8). And the assertion earlier in the essay that the Israelite kings were not divinized is debatable. Note that Solomon was enthroned on the throne of YHWH as king according to 1 Chronicles 29:23 and that the king is arguably addressed as God or a god in royal rites in Isaiah 9:5 (Evv 9:6) and Psalm 45:7 (evv. 45:6).

Davila’s comments regarding the Son of Man discussion are also very interesting:

Jesus and the Perplexing Son of Man

The Son of Man in the Judaism of Jesus

The treatment of the Son of Man is good, apart from the discussion of “the one like a son of man” in Daniel 7:13:

While still dreaming, Daniel approached one of the divine attendants, asking for the interpretation of the dream. He learned that the four beasts represent four kingdoms that shall dominate the earth. But when the Ancient One finally executes judgment upon the all four beasts, the saints will be exonerated. In fact,

The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them (Dan 7:27).

Therefore, the “one like a son of man” represents the faithful people of God who endure oppression and ultimately share in God’s rule over the earth.

The problem here is that the vision in chapter 7 comes in three parts: the allegorical vision of the four beasts in vv. 1-8 a second vision of the heavenly throne room consisting of God and his angels (who are evidently watching the first vision) in vv. 9-16; and the angel’s interpretation of the allegorical vision in vv. 17-17. The difficulty with Dr. Roberts’s interpretation is that the one like a son of man comes in the second part of the vision. He is a figure in the heavenly throne room, which is “real,” that is, not part of the allegory. The kingdom of God will be given to the Jewish people (“the people of the holy ones of the Most High” in v. 27), but the one like a son of man is not an allegorical representation of them. He is a heavenly figure in his own right, perhaps the angels Michael or Gabriel (who appear elsewhere in Daniel) or – my best guess – the glorified patriarch Enoch.

Daniel 7 is arguably based on Enoch’s ascent vision in the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 14), along with Ezekiel chapter 1. In Enoch’s vision he ascends on the clouds and is brought before the throne of God, and it seems likely to me that Daniel had him in mind here. Confirming this, the Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71) explicitly says in chapter 71 that Enoch is the Danielic Son of Man.

(I am currently teaching a course on the book of Daniel and these matters are near and dear to my heart. For more details on the reading of Daniel 7 given in the previous paragraph, see the magisterial Hermeneia commentary on Daniel by John Collins.)



I would just add my own personal note here regarding Davila’s position on the Son of Man. I find his opinion refreshing and exciting — he asserts that the Son of Man figure should not be seen as representing the collective people of Israel (a common view), but as a specific character in the heavenly court. I totally agree with this. Davila chooses to identify this exalted human figure as the patriarch Enoch, which makes great sense in light of what is found in the Book of Enoch (at least parts of which are dated by scholars to have been written at roughly the same time as Daniel) — including, as Davila notes, the fact that Enoch may even be somehow identified with the Son of Man sitting on the throne.

I would, however, mention that, IMHO, it seems that Enoch only becomes identified with the enthroned figure at a certain point, and that the Son of Man figure is initially separate from Enoch until this “mystical union” is accomplished. But what is happening here is very debatable and seems to be interpreted in different ways in later texts. It seems to me that the “one like a son of man” that is enthroned in heaven is, in early Jewish literature, an ideal figure that was understood to be in heaven, having been seated on God’s throne. It appears that he was thought to be either an angel or an exalted human being (if there’s a difference!), but there wasn’t a consensus on who exactly he was. Throughout the literature (and over time), there are a number of different figures that are “plugged into” this Son of Man slot, including Enoch, Adam, Jacob, and others. Davila’s instincts are probably correct in thinking that Enoch would have been the most likely figure to fill this slot in the minds of many Jews at this time. However, I don’t believe that this imagery starts with the Book of Enoch. I think it goes further back to the time of the royal cult of the pre-exilic monarchy and before. Again, I can’t go into it here, but I think the idea that a human-like figure (Son of Man) could be enthroned on God’s throne as his vice-regent is a very ancient notion.

Continue reading at the original source →