Son of Man - Judaism and Christianity
The first Son of Man, Ezekiel the prophet, met death as a substitute king. He refused to swear to the deathly portents that an eclipse had cast upon the Babylonian ruler unless authorities first released Jews captured during an abortive revolt. The king finally relented, released the prisoners, and beheaded Ezekiel. As the details of Isaiah 53 described, the Suffering Servant’s final days, as well as his death and interment, were those of a substitute king. This made the prophet’s death redemptive. Five hundred years later, Jesus chose the Son of Man title from Ezekiel to exemplify his own redemptive mission, and the gospel writers framed their passion accounts to picture him as a latter-day substitute king. Jesus himself well understood this real-life reenactment. Thus Scripture contains several actual accounts of Sons of Men dying redemptive deaths—Ezekiel in Isaiah 53 and Jesus in the gospels. The book Ezekiel to Jesus builds upon the expert knowledge in Assyriology of Parpola and the biblical work of Kavanagh to describe substitute kingship within Scripture.
But the Old Testament itself contains two portrayals of the Son of Man. One is on the model of Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant; the other is the savior who will return to judge the world like Daniel 7’s Son of Man. In Mark, Jesus favors the Isaiah type of the Son-of-Man by two to one; in Matthew and Luke the emphasis is evenly split. Importantly, the synoptics intentionally (though surreptitiously) designed their gospels to present Jesus as a substitute king. The three gospels borrow heavily from Hebrew Scripture’s substitute king story. “King of the Jews,” royal robes, crown of thorns, scepter, final banquet, eclipse, and “son of man” almost endlessly repeated, all recalled Jesus’s reenactment of the death of Ezekiel. New Testament biblical scholars should familiarize themselves with Ezekiel to Jesus. The excerpted chapters are Jesus the Substitute King and The Assyrian Substitute King.