Wright on Daniel 7

by caseybedell

Wright’s understanding of the “one like a son of man” eschews any literal socio-historical connection or ontological speculation (i.e., metaphysical representation.)  He argues that just as the monsters represent (in the literary sense) enemy nations, so the “one like a son of man” should be understood in a literary fashion.  This literary representation is key for Wright’s interpretation.  Following Morna Hooker, Wright notes that this symbol is “pregnant with the meaning of Genesis 2, evoking the idea of the people of God as the true humanity and the pagan nations as the animals.” [1] According to Wright, a first century Jew would have seen in Daniel 7 the human figure representing Israel (son of man/true humanity) who after suffering at the hands of pagans (animals/false humanity) is about to be vindicated.

On the surface then, Daniel 7 shows us that the “son of man” is not trying to denote a transcendent heavenly figure or angel or literal historical figure, but rather as literary representation.

So in the final analysis, the “one like a son of man” is the one who represents the saints of the most high and who is promised vindication.  Son of man is a title loaded with the hope of victory, vindication and dominion.  So when Jesus uses this title to refer to himself he is not announcing that he is divine (though he is), or that he will literally float on a cloud, but rather, he is cryptically announcing that the Ancient of Days will surely vindicate his cause.


[1] New Testament and People of God, Page 296

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