Son of Man’s Coming

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Son of Man’s Coming describes the cessation of the times of the Gentiles and the ultimate vindication of Israel in terms of the apocalyptic image of “one like a son of man.”

(Matt. 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27)

(Huck 219; Aland 292; Crook 332)[1]

וּבְאוֹתָם הַיָּמִים הַחַמָּה תַּשְׁחִיר כְּשַׂק וְהַלְּבָנָה תַּאֲדִים כְּדָם וּצְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם יִפּוֹל לָאָרֶץ כִּתְאֵנָה שֶׁמְּנוּעֲנַעַת בְּרוּחַ מַשֶּׁרֶת אֶת נוֹבְלוֹתֶיהָ וְהַשָּׁמַיִם יִקָּרְעוּ כְּסֵפֶר נִגְלָל וְיִרְאוּ כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ בָּא בְּעָנָן עִם שִׁלְטוֹן וִיקָר וּגְדוּלָּה [וְהַמַּלְאָכִים יְקַבְּצוּ אֶת שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי⟩ יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וּ⟩מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ]

“When that time finally comes, the sun will turn black as sacking, the moon will turn red as blood, and the starry host of heaven will fall to the ground like windblown figs. And heaven will tear open like a scroll being rolled away. And the Gentiles will see one like a Son of Man coming in a cloud into God’s presence to receive all dominion and honor and majesty. For the angels will gather the twelve tribes of the children of Israel from every direction.[2]

A reproduction of our reconstruction in an ancient Hebrew script. Font, based on the Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa), created by Kris Udd.

Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Son of Man’s Coming click on the link below:

“Destruction and Redemption” complex
Temple’s Destruction Foretold

Tumultuous Times

Yerushalayim Besieged

Son of Man’s Coming

Fig Tree parable

Story Placement

The authors of Luke, Mark and Matthew are in agreement in placing Son of Man’s Coming in an extended discourse that Jesus delivered in response to inquiries about Jesus’ prediction of the Temple’s destruction. In Luke, Son of Man’s Coming (Luke 21:25-27) follows directly after Yerushalayim Besieged (Luke 21:20-24). Between Abomination of Desolation (Mark’s version of Yerushalayim Besieged) and Son of Man’s Coming the author of Mark inserted a version of Like Lightning (Mark 13:21-23) that he took from Luke 17:20-25.[3] He also supplemented these pericopae with sayings concerning the “elect” (Mark 13:20, 22), a term that does not occur anywhere in Luke 21. The author of Matthew expanded Mark’s version of Like Lightning with language taken from the Anthology’s (Anth.’s) version of the same. Following Like Lightning he also inserted his version of Carrion Birds (Matt. 24:28), which in Anth. appeared in the same block of material as Like Lightning.[4] As a result, in Matthew’s Gospel Son of Man’s Coming is removed at an even greater distance from Abomination of Desolation (Yerushalayim Besieged) than in Mark.

Robert Lindsey believed that the First Reconstructor interpolated Son of Man’s Coming, together with several other Son-of-Man-related pericopae, into Jesus’ original prophecy of destruction and redemption.[5] The author of Luke, Lindsey explained, relying on the First Reconstruction’s (FR’s) version of Jesus’ prophecy, passed the embedding of Son of Man’s Coming into Jesus’ prophecy along to Mark, and Mark passed it along to Matthew. Flusser cautiously accepted Lindsey’s view that Son of Man’s Coming is an intrusion in its present context,[6] and more recently Notley has also espoused this view.[7]

The First Reconstructor’s additions to Anth.’s prophecy of Destruction and Redemption.

Lindsey’s opinion regarding the intrusiveness of the Son of Man pericopae in the context of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption was instinctual, but he did not present much evidence to corroborate his theory except for common sense. In our work on the “Destruction and Redemption” complex we have found substantial confirmation of Lindsey’s view in the fact that nearly every pericope Lindsey regarded as interpolated into Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption has either a doublet elsewhere in the Gospel of Luke or a parallel in the Gospel of Matthew outside Matthew’s version of the eschatological discourse. Since these Lukan doublets and Matthean parallels bear the marks of having been copied from Anth., there is every reason to suppose that the duplicates in Luke 21 are indeed FR interpolations as Lindsey supposed. But while we have been able to identify Anth. versions of all the other pericopae Lindsey regarded as extraneous to Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption, there is no such doublet for Son of Man’s Coming. In the absence of evidence that Son of Man’s Coming is an interpolation, it has been necessary for us to re-evaluate Lindsey’s exclusion of Son of Man’s Coming from Jesus’ prophecy.

When we reconsider the arc of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption as Lindsey reconstructed it, there is a perceptible gap. In Temple’s Destruction Foretold Jesus announces to the public that the Temple will be destroyed, and his audience asks him what the signs will be that the catastrophe he has foretold will take place. In Tumultuous Times Jesus describes various portents (war, famine, pestilence, earthquake, etc.) that will signal to the world that the Temple’s destruction is approaching. In Yerushalayim Besieged Jesus warns his audience that when they see the siege closing in, they will know that the time of destruction has arrived. Jesus advises his listeners to flee, for Jerusalem will fall and the period of the Gentiles’ trampling of Jerusalem will begin. During that time of trampling the Gentiles will amass sins, which will eventually provoke God to bring their time to an end. Then, in the Fig Tree parable, Jesus encourages his listeners to take heart. When the fig tree puts forth fruit, one knows that the summer (qayitz) is near. In the same way, when Jesus’ listeners see these things begin to happen, they will know that the time (qētz) of redemption is at hand. What is missing in this prophecy is a description of the judgment meted out to the Gentiles who trampled Jerusalem and the final vindication of Israel, when in response to divine chastisement Israel is reconciled to God.

Mark’s additions to Luke’s Eschatological Discourse.

It is true that judgment of the Gentiles is implied by the allusion to the completion of the times of the Gentiles in Yerushalayim Besieged. Likewise, Israel’s redemption is hinted at in the promise that “when these things begin to happen” the time will be near. But what are the things that begin to happen that imply the nearness of redemption? Certainly not the destruction of Jerusalem, for this marks the beginning of the “times of the Gentiles.” And if the time it took for the sin of the Amorites to reach its full measure is any guide,[8] the “times of the Gentiles” might last for an extended period.[9] Some sort of signal that the “times of the Gentiles” are coming to an end is required.[10] This deficit is admirably met by Son of Man’s Coming, which describes astronomical portents that signify the end of the existing cosmic order.[11] Son of Man’s Coming also provides a succinct description of Israel’s vindication, provided that the allusion to Dan. 7:13—which describes “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds with power and glory—is interpreted not as a reference to Jesus’ descent from heaven but as a symbol of Israel’s elevation above the dominion of the world’s empires.[12] Such an interpretation of the coming of “one like a son of man” is exactly how Daniel’s vision was explained to him in Dan. 7:27.[13] In Daniel’s vision the heavenly enthronement of a human-like figure symbolizes the end of the beastly world empires and the final vindication of Israel. The balance of nature is restored. The tyrannical reign of the beastly empires has been swept away. Once again, as God intended, a Son of Adam rules humanely over the beasts.

The four beasts of Daniel’s vision as depicted in an 11th-century illuminated manuscript known as the Apocalypse of Saint-Sever. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In FR, as evidenced by Luke, the Son of Man symbol is a static image. Unlike the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming, where the Son of Man, having been fully identified with the triumphant returning Jesus, is an animate figure, in Luke’s (and FR’s) version of Son of Man’s Coming the Son of Man neither sends out angels, nor gathers in the dispersed peoples, nor brings them into his kingdom. In Luke and FR the Son of Man does nothing but be seen by the Gentiles. The Gentiles, after witnessing the dissolution of the cosmic order, see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory into God’s presence. As in Daniel, the meaning of the Gentiles’ apocalyptic vision is that their beastly rule of the cosmos is over. Israel has been elevated once more into God’s favor. What the Gentiles see when they behold the coming of “one like a son of man” is Israel’s redemption. Such, we believe, was the original meaning of Son of Man’s Coming.

Matthew’s additions to Mark’s Eschatological Discourse.

Lindsey rightly perceived that a description of the second coming is out of place in Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption. But as a symbol of Israel’s vindication, an allusion to the human-like figure who is elevated above the beasts who trample the earth is entirely in keeping with the theme and scope of Jesus’ prophecy. Lindsey did not recognize the original significance of Jesus’ allusion to Dan. 7:13 as we have explained it above because, like the synoptic evangelists themselves, Lindsey was misled by the First Reconstructor’s subtle reinterpretation of Son of Man’s Coming. The First Reconstructor achieved his reinterpretation of Son of Man’s Coming not so much by changing its wording[14] but by manipulating its context. By adding pericopae to Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption that did describe Jesus’ role as Son of Man and that did discuss Jesus’ eschatological coming, the First Reconstructor created the impression that Son of Man’s Coming described Jesus’ eschatological return.[15] None of the author of Luke’s redactional activity in Luke 21 challenged the First Reconstructor’s interpretation of Son of Man’s Coming. On the other hand, the author of Mark’s quickening of the Son of Man in Mark 13:27, transforming him from a static image into an animate figure who sends angels and chooses the elect, left his readers in no doubt that the Son of Man who came in the clouds was the returning Jesus descending from heaven to summon his elect into his kingdom. The author of Matthew’s unique contributions (the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man, the trumpet blast) further conflated the returning Jesus with the Gentiles’ vision of the heavenly enthronement of a human-like figure. It became nearly impossible for readers to notice that the Son of Man represents something quite different in the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming than he does in Luke’s version. Only Lindsey’s approach to the Synoptic Gospels, with his realization that the chain of transmission went from Luke to Mark to Matthew, permits the observation that whereas in Mark and Matthew the Son of Man is an animate figure with a dynamic personality, in Luke the Son of Man is a static image that does not act but only represents the vindication of Israel as witnessed by the Gentiles.[16]

We conclude, therefore, that Son of Man’s Coming does have a rightful place in the “Destruction and Redemption” complex. That being said, the heavy redaction to which the authors of Luke, Mark and Matthew subjected Son of Man’s Coming means that reconstructing the pre-synoptic versions of this pericope is nothing short of a tall order. We cannot possibly hope to reconstruct Son of Man’s Coming exactly as it appeared in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua or its Greek translation. At best, we can offer a probable sketch of how Son of Man’s Coming might have appeared before the redactors laid their hands on it.

For an overview of the “Destruction and Redemption” complex, click here.

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. __________________________________________________________________

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

As with the other pericopae that make up Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption in Luke 21, the author of Luke depended on the First Reconstruction (FR) for his version of Son of Man’s Coming. Since portions of Luke’s version of Son of Man’s Coming are exceedingly difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew and appear to be pure Greek composition,[17] it is likely that at some stage of its transmission the Lukan version of this pericope was subjected to extensive redaction.

It would have been impossible for us to determine at which stage of the transmission this intensive redaction occurred were it not for the fact that a parallel to the astronomical phenomena described in Son of Man’s Coming appears in the account of the opening of the sixth seal in Rev. 6:12-14. As we discussed in the commentary to Tumultuous Times, the points of contact between the revelator’s vision of the seals and Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption are so strong as to suggest that the author of Revelation made use of a pre-synoptic version of Jesus’ prophecy when composing his vision of the seals. Because the theme of persecution is prominent in the vision of the seals and in FR’s version of Jesus’ prophecy, but was absent in Anth.’s version, we have concluded that FR was the source upon which the revelator relied.[18] Thus, the opening of the sixth seal appears to be an independent witness to FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming.

When we compare Rev. 6:12-14 to the Lukan and Markan versions of Son of Man’s Coming, we find that with respect to the astronomical phenomena,[19] the opening of the sixth seal is much more similar to the Markan version than to Luke’s:

Luke Mark Revelation
And there will be signs But in those days after that trouble
And I looked when he opened the sixth seal.
    And there was a great earthquake,
in the sun, the sun will be darkened, and the sun became black as hair sacking material,
moon and the moon will not give its light, and the full moon became like blood,
and stars, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth like a fig tree casts its summer fruit when shaken by a great wind,
and on the earth the Gentiles will be in perplexity at the roaring and surging of the sea    
while people faint from fear and anticipation of the things coming upon the inhabited world,    
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. and heaven was detached like a scroll rolling up,
    and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

From the table above we can see that Mark and Revelation are alike in preserving the order sun→moon→stars→powers of heaven/heaven.[20] This same sequence is present in Luke’s version, too, but it is interrupted by a description of confusion among Gentiles on earth at the sea’s raging and of people fainting in apprehension of the things to come, which intrudes between “stars” and “powers of heaven.” Mark and Revelation are also in agreement against Luke in describing what will happen to the sun, moon and stars. What each writer says will happen to these heavenly bodies is differently worded, but the general thrust is the same: the sun will go dark or become black, the moon will stop giving its light or turn blood-red, the stars will fall. All of this is missing in Luke. The agreements between Mark and Revelation strongly suggest that it was the author of Luke, not the First Reconstructor, who subjected Son of Man’s Coming to heavy redaction. That is how the revelator (using FR) and the author of Mark (supplementing Luke with Anth.) were able to produce such similar results. From the above comparison it appears especially likely that the intrusive material about the confusion of the Gentiles and the apprehension of the peoples in Luke 21:25b-26a was not present in FR. This material, which is practically impossible to reconstruct in Hebrew and which contains a high concentration of Lukan vocabulary (ὁ/τὸ ἦχος [“roaring”; L14]; προσδοκία [“anticipation”; L18]; ἐπέρχεσθαι [“to come upon”; L19]; οἰκουμένη [“inhabited world”; L20]),[21] must have been composed by the author of Luke.

The author of Matthew made Mark 13:24-27 the basis for his version of Son of Man’s Coming, but into the Markan framework the author of Matthew wove additional material from two different sources. One of these sources was a description of the eschaton which the author of Matthew had in common with the author of the Didache. The other additional source was an early Christian midrash, also known to the author of Revelation, that combined Zech. 12:10 with Dan. 7:13.

As we noted in the Story Placement discussion above, due to the extensive redactional activity to which Son of Man’s Coming was exposed at each stage of its transmission beginning with FR, it is impossible to reconstruct the Hebrew source behind Son of Man’s Coming in “high definition.” While the broad strokes and outlines of this pericope may still be discerned, the details are hazy, and especially particulars of its phrasing can only be guessed at. As a consequence, our Greek and Hebrew reconstructions of Son of Man’s Coming are more tentative and conjectural than usual.

Crucial Issues

  1. How are the signs mentioned in Son of Man’s Coming different from those mentioned in Tumultuous Times?
  2. What was the original meaning of the Son of Man image in this pericope?
  3. What did the author of Matthew mean by “the sign of the Son of Man”?

Comment

L1-24 As we discussed in the Story Placement and Conjectured Stages of Transmission sections above, our reconstruction of the first main section of Son of Man’s Coming (L1-24) is highly tentative, not only because of the great disparity between the Lukan and the Markan-Matthean versions, but especially because of the great difficulty with which Luke’s version reverts to Hebrew.[22] The resistance of Luke 21:25-26 to Hebrew retroversion strongly suggests that Luke’s version is a thoroughly redacted revision of an earlier source. This impression finds further support from the evidence supplied by the vision of the seals in Revelation 6. This vision appears to have been based on the same source, namely FR, upon which the author of Luke relied for his version of Son of Man’s Coming. When, therefore, the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming agree with Revelation 6 against Luke, it is likely that the cause of disagreement is Lukan redaction. As we will see, there is considerable agreement between the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming and Revelation 6 against Luke in L1-24.

It is possible, but by no means more than a conjecture, that in FR, as in Rev. 6:12-14, Son of Man’s Coming contained a series of similes that described the frightening portents that the “times of the Gentiles” were drawing to a close.[23] We can imagine that the author of Luke disliked the similes and therefore decided to rewrite the account of the premonitions of the end, focusing primarily on the human reactions to the frightening portents. The author of Mark, on the other hand, comparing Luke’s version of Son of Man’s Coming to Anth.’s, decided to retain the more detailed descriptions of the astronomical phenomena, but attempted to conform those details to Scripture verses he knew from the Septuagint. The author of Matthew would then simply have followed Mark’s lead. This, in any case, is the scenario we have deemed most probable and which is therefore reflected in our Greek and Hebrew reconstructions. In order to indicate the highly conjectural nature of our reconstructions in L1-24, we have printed them in grey letters. Only those words with regard to which there is greater certainty (like “sun,” “moon” and “stars,” which appear in all three versions as well as in Rev. 6) are printed in black.

L1 καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα (Luke 21:25). Luke states that there will be “signs” in the sun, moon and stars without specifying what those signs would be. Neither Mark nor Rev. 6 use the word “sign,” but σημεῖον (sēmeion, “sign”) does occur in Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming, albeit at a different location (L27). When the author of Matthew wrote in Matt. 24:30 about the appearance of a sign, he relied on a source reflected in Did. 16:6, which does use the noun σημεῖον (see below, Comment to L25-31). It is probable, therefore, that the appearance of the term σημεῖον in both the Lukan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming is merely a coincidence.

ἀλλὰ (Mark 13:24). With the words ἀλλά…μετὰ τὴν θλεῖψιν ἐκείνην (“but…after that trouble”) the author of Mark returned to the Lukan pericope sequence, after having inserted his version of Like Lightning (Mark 13:21-23), which he embellished with a saying about deceiving the elect. Since ἀλλά…μετὰ τὴν θλεῖψιν ἐκείνην was required for the author of Mark to transition back to the Lukan sequence, these words are best regarded as redactional and therefore have been omitted from GR and HR.

Elsewhere we have argued that the material the author of Mark inserted between Abomination of Desolation and Son of Man’s Coming indicates where he saw himself and his audience in the chain of events prophesied in Mark 13.[24] The author of Mark saw himself and his readers as living in the time between the Temple’s destruction and Jesus’ eschatological return. He viewed his time as one in which his community was at risk of being seduced by charismatic figures who made false messianic and prophetic claims. His outlook is sectarian. While not necessarily anti-Jewish, the author of Mark expresses far more concern for those he regards as the “elect,” which is to say members of his community, than for the broader Jewish population.

The author of Mark’s timeline of eschatological events.

εὐθέως δὲ (Matt. 24:29). Just as Mark’s “but…after that trouble” is likely to be redactional, so Matthew’s εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλεῖψιν (“but immediately after the trouble”) is unlikely to reflect the wording of Anth. Whereas the author of Mark had positioned himself in the time between the destruction of the Temple (the great trouble) and Jesus’ eschatological return, by writing “immediately after the trouble” the author of Matthew left no gap between the fallout from the abomination of desolation and Jesus’ eschatological return. Matthew’s timeline reinforces our view that the author of Matthew viewed the abomination of desolation not as a past event but as an event of the eschatological future.[25]

The author of Matthew’s timeline of eschatological events.

Note that, as in Matt. 24:22 (Yerushalayim Besieged, L59), so here in Matt. 24:29 the author of Matthew replaced an ἀλλά (alla, “but”) in Mark with δέ (de, “but”).[26]

L2 ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις (GR1). Since some kind of time marker seems necessary at the opening of Son of Man’s Coming, and since the author of Mark could just as easily have omitted the words ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις (en ekeinais tais hēmerais, “in those days”), it is possible that the author of Mark incorporated this time-marking phrase from his non-Lukan source. In other words, the superfluous phrase ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις in Mark 13:24 may be a verbal relic retained from Anth. It is on the basis of this possibility that we have accepted ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις for GR.

וּבְאוֹתָם הַיָּמִים (HR). On reconstructing ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos, “that”) with אֵת + third-person pronominal suffix, see Calamities in Yerushalayim, Comment to L14.

On reconstructing ἡμέρα (hēmera, “day”) with יוֹם (yōm, “day”), see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L5.

L3-4 μετὰ τὴν θλεῖψιν ἐκείνην (Mark 13:24). As we noted above in Comment to L1, the words “after that trouble” in Mark 13:24 are part of the author of Mark’s redactional transition back to the Lukan pericope sequence. Note that the stacking up of prepositional phrases (“in those days after that trouble”) is typical of Markan style.[27] The term θλῖψις (thlipsis, “trouble”) also happens to be one of the author of Mark’s redactional terms.[28] For these reasons we have omitted a reference to the “trouble” from GR and HR.

μετὰ τὴν θλεῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων (Matt. 24:29). The author of Matthew streamlined Mark’s wording by referring to “the trouble of those days” in place of Mark’s awkward “in those days after that trouble.” Since with this change the author of Matthew was clearly improving Mark’s Greek, there are no grounds for preferring Matthew’s wording over Mark’s for GR.

L5-10 As we noted in the Conjectured Stages of Transmission discussion above, the astronomical phenomena described in Son of Man’s Coming are paralleled in Rev. 6:12-13 in the vision of the seals. It may be that the revelator partly based his vision of the seals on FR’s version of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption,[29] in which case Rev. 6:12-13 may offer us in this section of Son of Man’s Coming a witness to FR’s wording independent of the author of Luke’s redactional activity.

Solar eclipse photographed by Gary Asperschlager.

L5 ὁ ἥλιος ἔσται (GR). Since all three synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming mention the sun, and since the sun is also mentioned in Revelation’s vision of the seals (Rev. 6:12), we may be reasonably sure that the sun was mentioned in FR and (presumably) in its predecessor, Anth.

הַחַמָּה (HR). In LXX ἥλιος (hēlios, “sun”) usually occurs as the translation of שֶׁמֶשׁ (shemesh, “sun”).[30] However, in Mishnaic Hebrew the more usual word for “sun” was חַמָּה (ḥamāh). The noun חַמָּה already occurs with the meaning “sun” in some biblical passages (Isa. 24:23; 30:26; Song 6:10). In the last two instances the LXX translators rendered חַמָּה as ἥλιος.[31] Since we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, we have adopted חַמָּה for HR.

L6 μέλας ὡς σάκκος (GR). Luke gives the bare statement that there will be signs in the sun, Mark and Matthew state that the sun will be darkened, while according to the vision of the seals, the sun is made black as sacking material. Clearly the Markan-Matthean darkening of the sun and the revelator’s blackening of the sun leave the author of Luke as the odd man out. How did the Markan-Matthean versions and the revelator’s parallel get to be so similar? Perhaps the revelator, relying on FR, and the author of Mark, relying on Anth., read in their respective sources about the darkening or blackening of the sun.

Woven goat-hair cloth from Syria ca. 200 C.E. Image courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.

We suspect that, despite relying on FR, the revelator’s wording is closer to Anth.’s than is Mark’s. The author of Mark appears to have attempted to conform the description of the astronomical signs to the language of LXX verses, namely Isa. 13:10 with respect to the sun and moon,[32] and Isa. 34:4 with respect to the stars and the powers of heaven, while the revelator appears to have been content to reproduce a series of similes from his source.[33] For this reason we have modeled GR on the description of the blackening of the sun in Rev. 6:12 which states, καὶ ὁ ἥλιος ἐγένετο μέλας ὡς σάκκος τρίχινος (kai ho hēlios egeneto melas hōs sakkos trichinos, “and the sun became black as hair sacking material”).

תַּשְׁחִיר כְּשַׂק (HR). Our reconstruction with the verb הִשְׁחִיר (hishḥir, “make black,” “become black”) is also in keeping with Mishnaic Hebrew style.[34] The following examples illustrate the intransitive use of הִשְׁחִיר:

הָיוּ לְבָנוֹת וְהִשְׁחִירוּ אַחַת שְׁחוֹרָה וְאַחַת לְבָנָה וְהִשְׁחִירוּ שְׁתֵּיהֶן

If they [i.e., two hairs—DNB and JNT] were white and they became black [וְהִשְׁחִירוּ], one of them being black and one of them being white, or if the two of them became black [וְהִשְׁחִירוּ]…. (m. Neg. 1:5)

אַף בַּת חָמֵשׁ כְּשֵׁירָה זְקֵינָה אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵין מַמְתִּינִים לָהּ שֶׁמֵּא תַשְׁחִיר

Even a five-year-old heifer is acceptable [to be offered as the red heifer—DNB and JNT]. An older one would be too, but they do not wait so long lest it become black [תַשְׁחִיר]. (m. Par. 1:1)

On reconstructing ὡς (hōs, “like,” “as”) with -כְּ (ke, “like,” “as”), see “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” Comment to L50.

The comparison “like/as sacking material” is attested in the following rabbinic source:

דברי שטות ודברי תיפלות נוחין לקנותם וקשין לאבדם כשק

Foolish and indecent words are as easy to make and as hard to destroy as sacking material [כְּשַׂק]. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A §28 [ed. Schechter, 85])

The image of the sun turning black in Son of Man’s Coming probably has its origin in Joel 3:4, which states, “the sun will be turned to darkness.” But it does not appear that a direct allusion to this verse was here intended. Rather, the darkening of the sun had become a stock image of the cosmic collapse that was expected to take place during the eschatological crisis.[35] The failure of the sun, moon and stars described in Son of Man’s Coming represents the reversal of God’s promise to Noah that while the earth yet has days, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will not cease (Gen. 8:22).

The Fourth trumpet, Folio 21v of the Bamberg Apocalypse. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L7 καὶ ἡ σελήνη ἔσται (GR). All three synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming mention the moon, and the moon is mentioned in Rev. 6:12 as well. We may therefore be reasonably certain that the moon was mentioned in FR and Anth., which the First Reconstructor appears to have followed quite closely in Son of Man’s Coming.

וְהַלְּבָנָה (HR). In LXX the noun σελήνη (selēnē, “moon”) usually occurs as the translation of יָרֵחַ (yārēaḥ, “moon”),[36] but in Mishnaic Hebrew לְבָנָה (levānāh) became the more common term for the moon. This term already occurs a few times in the Hebrew Scriptures (Isa. 24:23; 30:26; Song 6:10). In the last two instances the LXX translators rendered לְבָנָה as σελήνη.[37] Since we prefer to reconstruct direct speech in Mishnaic-style Hebrew, we have adopted לְבָנָה for “moon” in HR.

The pairing of לְבָנָה (“moon”) with חַמָּה (“sun”) occurs in all three scriptural verses in which these terms occur (Isa. 24:23; 30:26; Song 6:10). These terms are also regularly coupled in rabbinic literature (cf., e.g., m. Rosh Hash. 2:6; m. Avod. Zar. 3:3; 4:7).

Lunar eclipse photographed by Gary Asperschlager.

L8 πυρρὰ ὡς αἷμα (GR). In Mark and Matthew the moon is said to not give its light, while in Rev. 6:12 the moon is said to become as red as blood. Mark and Matthew sound like Isa. 13:10, which in LXX reads καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φῶς αὐτῆς (kai hē selēnē ou dōsei to fōs avtēs, “and the moon will not give its light”). As we stated above in Comment to L6, we think that the similes in Rev. 6 may be closer to FR’s wording than Mark’s Septuagintalizing descriptions. We have therefore modeled our reconstruction on Rev. 6:12, which states, καὶ ἡ σελήνη ὅλη ἐγένετο ὡς αἷμα (kai hē selēnē holē egeneto hōs haima, “and the full moon became like blood”).

תַּאֲדִים כְּדָם (HR). The verb הֶאֱדִים (he’edim, “make red,” “become red”) occurs in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew. Below are examples of the intransitive use of הֶאֱדִים:

אִם יַאְדִּימוּ כַתּוֹלָע כַּצֶּמֶר יִהְיוּ

If they [i.e., your sins—DNB and JNT] become red [יַאְדִּימוּ] as crimson, they will be like wool. (Isa. 1:18)

הָאוֹג וְהַתּוּתִים מִשֶּׁיַאֲדִּימוּ וְכָל הָאֲדוּמִּים מִשֶּׁיַאֲדִּימוּ

Sumac and mulberries [become liable to tithes—DNB and JNT] from the time that they become red [מִשֶּׁיַאֲדִּימוּ], and all red fruits [become liable to tithes—DNB and JNT] from the time that they become red [מִשֶּׁיַאֲדִּימוּ]. (m. Maas. 1:2)

On reconstructing ὡς (hōs, “like,” “as”) with -כְּ (ke, “like,” “as”), see above, Comment to L6.

On reconstructing αἷμα (haima, “blood”) with דָּם (dām, “blood”), see Calamities in Yerushalayim, Comment to L5.

The comparison “like/as blood” is attested in the following Hebrew sources:

וְהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ זָרְחָה עַל־הַמָּיִם וַיִּרְאוּ מוֹאָב מִנֶּגֶד אֶת־הַמַּיִם אֲדֻמִּים כַּדָּם

…and the sun shone on the water, and Moab saw the water opposite them red as blood [כַּדָּם]. (2 Kgs. 3:22)

καὶ ὁ ἥλιος ἀνέτειλεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα· καὶ εἶδεν Μωαβ ἐξ ἐναντίας τὰ ὕδατα πυρρὰ ὡσεὶ αἷμα

…and the sun rose upon the waters. And Moab saw the waters opposite them red as blood [ὡσεὶ αἷμα]. (4 Kgdms. 3:22)

אֵיזֶה הוּא הָאָדוֹם כְּדַם הַמָּכָּה

Which is meant by “red”? That which is like the blood [כְּדַם] of a wound. (m. Nid. 2:7)

Like the darkening of the sun, the reddening of the moon probably has its origin in Joel 3:4, which states, “and the moon will change to blood.” The darkening or reddening of the moon became a set piece in depictions of the crumbling of the cosmic order during the eschatological crisis.[38]

An artist’s depiction of a meteor shower. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L9 καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔσονται (GR2). Whereas Luke uses the neuter noun ἄστρον (astron, “star,” “constellation”), the term found in Mark and Matthew is ἀστήρ (astēr, “star”). In the vision of the seals the revelator, like the authors of Mark and Matthew, also used ἀστήρ (Rev. 6:13). We may therefore be reasonably certain that ἀστήρ was the noun that occurred in FR. In a section of Acts where the author of Luke’s personal writing style comes to the fore we find ἄστρον paired with ἥλιος (“sun”) (Acts 27:20). Perhaps, therefore, the author of Luke subconsciously changed FR’s wording to conform to his personal preferences.

Unlike Mark and Matthew, Rev. 6:13 qualifies the stars as those “of heaven.” This qualifier is similar to the powers “of the heavens” mentioned in Luke, Mark and Matthew (L21-22). Indeed, it strikes us as odd that in the synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming the heavenly bodies are mentioned twice. Perhaps this repetition was caused by the author of Luke’s editorial activity and the author of Mark’s attempt to reconcile the Lukan and Anth. versions of Son of Man’s Coming. This possibility seems all the more likely when we consider that both the synoptic description of “the powers of the heavens” and Revelation’s description of “the stars of heaven” involve shaking (L11, L23). Since in L22 there is a Lukan-Matthean minor agreement to write τῶν οὐρανῶν (tōn ouranōn, “of the heavens”) against Mark’s αἱ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (hai en tois ouranois, “those in the heavens”), it may be that in L9 the revelator changed the plural τῶν οὐρανῶν (“of the heavens”) to the singular τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (“of heaven”). Thus, for GR2 we have adopted καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες τῶν οὐρανῶν (kai hoi asteres tōn ouranōn, “and the stars of the heavens”).

καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔσονται (GR1). We think it is just possible that Anth. referred to “the powers of heaven” and that the First Reconstructor changed this to “the stars of heaven,” believing that this was what “the powers of heaven” meant (see below).

וּצְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם (HR). In LXX the noun ἀστήρ (astēr, “star”) almost always occurs as the translation of כּוֹכָב (kōchāv, “star”), but on one occasion the LXX translators used οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (hoi asteres tou ouranou, “the stars of the heaven”) to render the phrase צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם (tzevā’ hashāmayim, “the host of heaven”; Dan. 8:10). More often the LXX translators rendered צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם as ἡ δύναμις τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (hē dūnamis tou ouranou, “the [military] force of the heaven”),[39] the phrase we find in L21-22 of the synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming. Thus, the phrases οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Rev. 6:13) and αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν (Matt. 24:29 ∥ Luke 21:26) are equivalent, giving us all the more reason to suspect that the falling of the stars (of heaven) and the shaking of the powers of heaven are redactionally generated duplicates.

On reconstructing οὐρανός (ouranos, “heaven,” “sky”) with שָׁמַיִם (shāmayim, “heaven,” “sky”), see Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comment to L39.

In Daniel 8 the heavenly host is knocked from its place by the horn of a goat, which then tramples on the fallen stars. The goat of Daniel’s vision is an apocalyptic representation of the Hellenistic conquest of the east, and its horn represents Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The heavenly host represents the faithful in Israel (much as in the vision of Daniel 7 the cloud-borne human-like figure represents Israel’s saints). Does this vision in any way inform the imagery employed in Son of Man’s Coming? The cosmic collapse which is here described commences when the times of the Gentiles’ trampling of Jerusalem reaches its completion. Perhaps the falling down of the heavenly hosts is a projection of the trampling of Israel’s faithful onto the astral plain.

Illumination depicting the goat in Daniel’s vision. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L10 πίπτοντες εἰς τὴν γῆν (GR2). The falling of the stars ἐκ/ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (ek/apo tou ouranou, “from heaven”) in Mark and Matthew may be a reminiscence of Anth.’s designation of the stars as being τῶν οὐρανῶν (“of the heavens”; GR L9).

יִפּוֹל לָאָרֶץ (HR). On reconstructing the verb πίπτειν (piptein, “to fall”) with נָפַל (nāfal, “fall”), see Return of the Twelve, Comment to L17.

On reconstructing γῆ (, “land,” “earth”) with אֶרֶץ (’eretz, “land,” “earth”), see Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L118.

The phrase נָפַל לָאָרֶץ (nāfal lā’āretz, “fall to the earth/ground”) is not especially common in the Hebrew Scriptures, but where it does occur the LXX translators rendered it with πίπτειν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν (piptein epi tēn gēn, “to fall upon the earth/ground”):

וְכָל חוֹמָה לָאָרֶץ תִּפּוֹל

…and every wall to the ground will fall. (Ezek. 38:20)

καὶ πᾶν τεῖχος ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν πεσεῖται

…and every wall upon the ground will fall. (Ezek. 38:20)

וְנִגְדְּעוּ קַרְנוֹת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְנָפְלוּ לָאָרֶץ

…and the horns of the altar will be hacked off and fall to the ground. (Amos 3:14)

καὶ κατασκαφήσεται τὰ κέρατα τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ πεσοῦνται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

…and the horns of the altar will be razed and will fall upon the ground. (Amos 3:14)

L11 ὡς συκῆ βάλλει τοὺς ὀλύνθους αὐτῆς ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευομένη (GR2). We suspect that the revelator slightly expanded FR’s wording by adding “big” to “wind,” just as we suspect he added “of hair” to “sacking” in L6 and “full” to “moon” in L7. We also think it is possible that he changed FR’s σαλεύειν (salevein, “to shake”) to σείειν (seiein, “to shake”), perhaps being influenced by the presence of σεισμός (seismos, “earthquake”) in Rev. 6:12.[40] If a participial form of σαλεύειν occurred in FR in L11, this could be the source for Luke’s use of σαλεύειν in L23.

A ripe fig. Adapted from a photo by shlomi kakon, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

ὡς συκῆ ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευομένη βάλλει τοὺς ὀλύνθους αὐτῆς (GR1). It is possible that in L11 the First Reconstructor altered Anth.’s word order. For GR1, therefore, we have adopted a word order that is more in agreement with Hebrew syntax.

כִּתְאֵנָה שֶׁמְּנוּעֲנַעַת בְּרוּחַ מַשֶּׁרֶת אֶת נוֹבְלוֹתֶיהָ (HR). On reconstructing ὡς (hōs, “like,” “as”) with -כְּ (ke, “like,” “as”), see above, Comment to L6.

A Yemenite lulav with plentiful myrtle. Photographed by Itay tayri, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In LXX nearly every instance of συκῆ (sūkē, “fig tree”) occurs as the translation of תְּאֵנָה (te’ēnāh, “fig [fruit],” “fig tree”).[41] Likewise, the LXX translators consistently rendered תְּאֵנָה as either σῦκον (sūkon, “fig [fruit]”) or συκῆ (sūkē, “fig tree”).[42]

The verb נִעֲנֵעַ (ni‘anēa‘, “shake”) belongs to Mishnaic Hebrew, although its root, נ-ו-ע, occurs in Biblical Hebrew, even occurring once with reference to the shaking of trees (Isa. 7:2). This verb for shaking is particularly common in connection with the shaking of the lulav (cf., e.g., m. Suk. 3:1, 9, 15).

On reconstructing ἄνεμος (anemos, “wind”) with רוּחַ (rūaḥ, “wind,” “spirit”), see Yeshua’s Words about Yohanan the Immerser, Comment to L9.

The revelator used the verb βάλλειν (ballein, “to put,” “to throw”) for the casting off of the fig tree’s fruit. In Mishnaic Hebrew the verb for this action was הִשִּׁיר (hishir, “let drop,” “cause to fall off”). Examples of this usage include the following:

והתניא אילן שמשיר פירותיו סוקרו…בסיקרא וטוענו באבנים

And was it not taught [in a baraita], “A tree that drops [שֶׁמַּשִּׁיר] its fruit—he paints it…with siqra [a type of red paint—DNB and JNT] and piles it with stones”? (b. Shab. 67a; cf. b. Hul. 77b)

ר′ יעקב אומר שעתיד הקב″ה להשירו כנובלת הזו שמנשרת מן האילן

Rabbi Yaakov says, “[He is called נָבָלnāvāl, “a fool”; Ps. 14:1⟩] because the Holy One, blessed is he, is going to cause him to drop [לְהַשִּׁירוֹ][43] like this נוֹבֶלֶת [nōvelet, “prematurely cast-off fruit”] that dropped from the tree.” (Midrash Tehillim 14:4 [ed. Buber, 2:113])

The example above also provides an illustration of why we chose to reconstruct ὄλυνθος (olūnthos, “fig”) as נוֹבֶלֶת (nōvelet, “prematurely cast-off fruit”). This term also occurs in the Hebrew text of Isa. 34:4, to which this simile alludes:

וְכָל צְבָאָם יִבּוֹל כִּנְבֹל עָלֶה מִגֶּפֶן וּכְנֹבֶלֶת מִתְּאֵנָה

…and all their host will wither as a leaf withers from the vine and like a cast-off fruit [וּכְנֹבֶלֶת] from a fig tree. (Isa. 34:4)

In rabbinic sources נוֹבֶלֶת is especially associated with date fruits,[44] but נוֹבֶלֶת could also be used with reference to figs, as we see in the verse above and the rabbinic quotation below:

רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומ′ מהוצאת עלין עד הפגין חמשים יום מן הפגים ועד שיתין ונובלות חמשים יום ומשיתין ונובלות עד התאנים חמשים יום

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says, “From putting forth leaves until unripe figs: fifty days. From unripe figs until wild figs and prematurely cast-off fruit: fifty days. And from wild figs and prematurely cast-off fruit [וְנוֹבְלוֹת] until [fully ripe] figs: fifty days.” (t. Shev. 4:20; Vienna MS)

L12-20 As we stated in the Conjectured Stages of Transmission discussion above, the impossibility of reverting Luke’s wording in L12-20 to Hebrew, the Lukan vocabulary present in these lines, and the agreement between Mark, Matthew and Revelation to omit anything corresponding to Luke’s wording in these lines lead us to the unavoidable conclusion that L12-20 is the product of Lukan redaction.[45] Below we comment on individual lines in this section only when they illustrate why the composition is likely to be Lukan or when they demonstrate particular resistance to Hebrew retroversion.[46]

Mirror icon courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L13-14 συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης (Luke 21:25). There may be a Greek wordplay between συνοχή (sūnochē, “distress”) and ἦχος (ēchos, “noise,” “rumbling”) since, apart from the letter ν (nu) present in συνοχή but absent in ἤχους, the two words form a palindrome. The neuter noun τὸ ἦχος does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The masculine synonym ὁ ἦχος never occurs in Matthew or Mark but occurs once in Luke (Luke 4:37) and once in Acts (Acts 2:2).[47] Thus, the likelihood that the presence of ἦχος in Luke 21:25 is due to Lukan redaction is strong.

L15 καὶ σάλου (Luke 21:25). This is the only instance of the noun σάλος (salos, “surge,” “wave”) in the New Testament.[48] It is related to the verb σαλεύειν (salevein, “to shake”), which occurs in Luke 21:26 (∥ Matt. 24:29 ∥ Mark 13:25; L23). Thus, a wordplay may be intended. Since the wordplay only works in Greek, it cannot be traced back to the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, and most likely originated with the author of Luke.

Waves of the Sea at Schoodic Point in Down East Maine. Photograph courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.

L16-17 ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου (Luke 21:26). Since most genitive absolute constructions in Luke’s Gospel are the product of Lukan redaction,[49] it is likely that “while people are fainting” comes from the author of Luke’s pen.[50] Genitive absolute constructions are particularly resistant to Hebrew retroversion. Neither is there a precise Hebrew equivalent to the verb ἀποψύχειν (apopsūchein, “to expire,” “to faint”). This verb only occurs once in LXX, in a Greek-composed book (4 Macc. 15:18).[51] It does not occur elsewhere in NT.[52]

L18 καὶ προσδοκίας (Luke 21:26). Elsewhere in NT the noun προσδοκία (prosdokia, “expectation,” “anticipation,” “apprehension”) occurs only in Acts 12:11.[53] The cognate verb προσδοκᾶν (prosdokan, “to expect,” “to wait”) also occurs with disproportionately high frequency in the writings of Luke compared to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.[54] While Lukan-Matthean agreements to use προσδοκᾶν ensure that this verb did sometimes occur in Anth., other instances of προσδοκᾶν in Luke appear to be redactional.[55] The author of Luke’s redactional tendency to favor the verb προσδοκᾶν lends credence to the suggestion that προσδοκία is likely to be redactional too.

L19 τῶν ἐπερχομένων (Luke 21:26). The verb ἐπέρχεσθαι (eperchesthai, “to come upon”) does not occur at all in the Gospels of Matthew or Mark, but it appears 3xx in Luke (Luke 1:35; 11:22; 21:26) and 4xx in Acts (Acts 1:8; 8:24; 13:40; 14:19).[56] Therefore, it may be that in Luke ἐπέρχεσθαι more often stems from Lukan redaction than from reliance on Anth. or FR.

L20 τῇ οἰκουμένῃ (Luke 21:26). The noun οἰκουμένη (oikoumenē, “inhabited world”) occurs once in Matthew (Matt. 24:14), not at all in Mark, but 3xx in Luke (Luke 2:1; 4:5; 21:26) and 5xx in Acts (Acts 11:28; 17:6, 31; 19:27; 24:5). The preponderance of οἰκουμένη in the second half of Acts, where the author of Luke’s personal writing style comes to the fore, certainly demonstrates that this word belonged to the author of Luke’s preferred vocabulary. While οἰκουμένη may sometimes have occurred in Anth., it is likely that it is the author of Luke’s contribution in Son of Man’s Coming.

L21-23 καὶ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἀποχωρισθήσονται (GR). As we mentioned above in Comment to L9, it strikes us as odd that in the synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming the heavenly bodies are mentioned twice. It may be that the author of Luke merged two of FR’s astronomical phenomena (the falling of the stars of heaven like a wind-shaken fig tree that casts its fruit, and the separating of heaven like the rolling back of a scroll) to produce the shaking of the powers of heaven. The author of Mark may then have accepted Luke’s shaking of the powers of heaven as either equivalent or preferable to Anth.’s rolling back of the heavens. From Mark, the shaking of the heavenly powers would have passed on to Matthew.

Perhaps the revelator’s only alterations of FR’s wording in the description of heaven being rolled back were to convert the plural οἱ οὐρανοί (hoi ouranoi, “the heavens”) to the singular ὁ οὐρανός (ho ouranos, “the heaven”)—the same alteration probably occurred in L9—and to convert the future verb ἀποχωρισθήσονται (apochōristhēsontai, “they will be detached”) to the aorist form ἀπεχωρίσθη (apechōristhē, “he/she/it was detached”).

וְהַשָּׁמַיִם יִקָּרְעוּ (HR). On reconstructing οὐρανός (ouranos, “heaven,” “sky”) with שָׁמַיִם (shāmayim, “heaven,” “sky”), see above, Comment to L9.

The verb ἀποχωρίζειν (apochōrizein, “to detach,” “to separate”) only occurs once in LXX (Ezek. 43:21),[57] and that particular instance is not helpful for the purposes of reconstruction. It appears, however, that the image is that of the heaven being torn open,[58] and for that action the Hebrew verb קָרַע (qāra‘, “tear”) is most appropriate, as the following examples demonstrate:

לוּא קָרַעְתָּ שָׁמַיִם יָרַדְתָּ

If only you would tear open [קָרַעְתָּ] the heavens and descend! (Isa. 63:19)

וביום מתן תורה קרע הקב″ה את השמים והראה לישראל מה שיש למעלן

And on the day of the giving of the Torah the Holy One, blessed be he, tore open [קָרַע] the heavens and showed Israel what is on high. (Deut. Rab., VaEtḥanan [ed. Lieberman, 65])

L24 ὡς βιβλίον ἑλισσόμενον (GR). The comparison of heaven to a scroll rolling up has its origin in Isa. 34:4, but the image in the vision of the seal is not quite the same. According to the revelator, heaven is torn open and the edges roll back like a scroll that someone has let go of.[59] We believe the revelator borrowed this image from FR.

כְּסֵפֶר נִגְלָל (HR). On reconstructing ὡς (hōs, “like,” “as”) with -כְּ (ke, “like,” “as”), see above, Comment to L6.

Most instances of the noun βιβλίον (biblion, “book,” “scroll”) in LXX occur as the translation of סֵפֶר (sēfer, “book,” “scroll”).[60] We also find that the LXX translators more often rendered סֵפֶר as βιβλίον than as any other term, although the synonym βίβλος (biblos, “book,” “scroll”) is also a common translation.[61]

In LXX the verb ἑλίσσειν (helissein, “to roll up”) occurs twice where there is an underlying Hebrew verb (Job 18:8; Isa. 34:4).[62] In Isa. 34:4 ἑλίσσειν occurs as the translation of נִגְלַל (niglal, “be rolled up”). References to rolled-up scrolls also occur in the following examples, which have served as models for our reconstruction:

כל הספרים נגללים מתחלתן לסופן וס″ת נגלל לאמצעיתו

All other books are rolled up from their beginning to their end, but the Torah scroll is rolled up [נִגְלָל] to its midsection. (b. Bab. Bat. 14a)

תניא כשחלה ר’ אליעזר נכנסו ר’ עקיבא וחביריו לבקרו…נטל שתי זרועותיו והניחן על לבו אמר אוי לכם שתי זרועותיי שהן כשתי ספרי תורה שנגללין

It was taught [in a baraita]: When Rabbi Eliezer was sick, Rabbi Akiva and his companions entered to visit him…. He [i.e., Rabbi Eliezer—DNB and JNT] took his arms and set them on his heart. He said, “Woe to you, my two arms! For they are like two scrolls of the Torah that are rolled up [שֶׁנִּגְלָלִין].” (b. Sanh. 68a)

L25-31 Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming contains unique material in L25-31. In L25-29 the author of Matthew describes the manifestation of “the sign of the Son of Man,” which will be visible in the sky. In L30-31 the author of Matthew refers to the mourning of all the tribes of the land. Parallels to this material in other early Christian sources reveal why the author of Matthew inserted this unique material here and also reveal that this unique material was taken from two independent traditions.

The material in L25-29 relating to the sign of the Son of Man was taken from a source that described eschatological signs that would appear prior to Jesus’ triumphant return. The author of the Didache also utilized this source, for in the final chapter of the Didache we read:

καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὰ σημεῖα τῆς ἀληθείας· πρῶτον σημεῖον ἐκπετάσεως ἐν οὐρανῷ, εἶτα σημεῖον φωνῆς σάλπιγγος, καὶ τὸ τρίτον ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν…τότε ὄψεται ὁ κόσμος τὸν κύριον ἐρχόμενον ἐπάνω τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ

And then the signs of the truth will appear: first a sign of a spreading out in heaven, then a sign of a trumpet call, and the third is the resurrection of the dead…. Then the world will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven. (Did. 16:6, 8)

Scholars have shown that it is unlikely that for this description the author of the Didache relied on Matthew’s Gospel.[63] Both the Didache and Matthew’s Gospel probably drew on a common source that was of great importance to the communities for which these early Christian writings were composed.[64] Since the Didache alludes to Dan. 7:13 (“coming on the clouds of heaven”) when describing Jesus’ triumphant return, and since the Didache knew of signs that would precede the advent of the Lord, it is clear why the author of Matthew inserted the reference to “the sign of the Son of Man” in L25-29.[65] The author of Matthew wished to blend the eschatological material reflected in the Didache with Son of Man’s Coming, and the allusion to Dan. 7:13 in Son of Man’s Coming afforded him the perfect opportunity to do so.

The same reason lies behind the author of Matthew’s addition of the mourning of the tribes. A parallel to Matthew’s unique material in L30-31 occurs in the opening chapter of Revelation:

Ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν, καὶ ὄψεται αὐτὸν πᾶς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ οἵτινες αὐτὸν ἐξεκέντησαν, καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς ναί ἀμήν

Behold! He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the land will mourn over him. Yes! Amen! (Rev. 1:7)

In this verse from Revelation the revelator has combined an allusion to Dan. 7:13 with an allusion to Zech. 12:10-12, which refers to gazing upon “the one they pierced” and the people mourning for him tribe by tribe. Direct dependence of Revelation on the Gospel of Matthew or of Matthew on Revelation is unlikely. It is more likely that Matthew and Revelation bear independent witness to an early Christian tradition that linked these two verses to Jesus’ eschatological return.[66] The author of Matthew wove the mourning of the tribes into Son of Man’s Coming because this tradition was important to his community, and the allusion to Dan. 7:13 presented him with an opportunity to work it into his source.

Since the parallels in the Didache and Revelation prove the material in L25-31 to be secondary Matthean insertions, we have omitted these lines from GR and HR. The secondary nature of these insertions also undermines the attempts of certain scholars to trace back to Jesus either “the sign of the Son of Man”[67] or the intertwining of Zech. 12:10 and Dan. 7:13.[68]

L25 καὶ τότε (Matt. 24:30). The adverb τότε (tote, “then”) is typical of Matthean redaction,[69] but here it is likely a reflection of Matthew’s sources. Matthew’s τότε in L25 echoes the τότε Mark and Luke have in L32.[70] The Didache also introduces “the signs of truth” using τότε (Did. 16:6).

L26 φανήσεται (Matt. 24:30). The Didachist also used the verb φαίνειν (fainein, “to appear”) to describe the manifestations of “the signs of truth” (Did. 16:6), so here φαίνειν probably stems from the source the author of Matthew had in common with the Didache. Elsewhere in Matthew φαίνειν is usually the result of Matthean redaction.[71] Note especially Matthew’s use of φαίνειν in Matt. 24:27 (cf. Luke 17:24) in the context of ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (hē parousia tou huiou tou anthrōpou, “the parousia of the Son of Man”).

L27-29 τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν οὐρανῷ (Matt. 24:30). While the author of Matthew tells his readers that there will be a “sign of the Son of Man,” he does not inform them what that sign will be. Scholars who debate the identity of the sign have outlined four main options:

  1. The Son of Man’s appearance is itself the sign of his coming.[72]
  2. The astronomical phenomena described in the earlier part of Son of Man’s Coming are the sign.[73]
  3. The sign of the Son of Man is a banner or military standard.[74]
  4. The sign of the Son of Man is the cross.[75]

The Sign Is the Son of Man’s Appearance: While it is grammatically possible to construe Matthew’s phrase τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (to sēmeion tou huiou tou anthrōpou) as meaning “the sign which is the Son of Man,”[76] the context does not allow for this interpretation.[77] A sign that signifies itself is not a sign. Neither is “the Son of Man’s appearing” an answer to the question “What is the sign of your coming?” which is the question the disciples ask of Jesus in Matt. 24:3.[78] And finally, Matthew’s τότε (“then”) in L30 indicates that there is a sequence: first the sign of the Son of Man appears, then the tribes mourn. It is only after the tribes have begun to mourn that they see the Son of Man’s coming.[79] Moreover, when the Didache’s parallel is taken into account, it is clear that the Son of Man’s/the Lord’s coming is something distinct from the sign(s) that herald(s) his advent.

The Sign Is the Previously Described Astronomical Phenomena: Matthew’s grammar makes the interpretation that the sign of the Son of Man consists of the astronomical phenomena described in the earlier part of Son of Man’s Coming unfeasible.[80] The τότε in Matt. 24:30 indicates that the sign of the Son of Man is something distinct from and sequentially later than the astronomical phenomena described in Matt. 24:29.[81] Moreover, the numerous astronomical phenomena, described in Luke 21:25 as “signs” (plur.), are ill-suited to be the referent of the singular “sign of the Son of Man.”

The Sign Is the Son of Man’s Banner or Standard: The interpretation that the sign of the Son of Man refers to a banner or military standard rests on three main points:

  1. While the noun σημεῖον is usually used in the generic sense of “sign,” σημεῖον can also mean “banner” or “standard.”[82]
  2. In addition to “the sign of the Son of Man” the author of Matthew also added a reference to a trumpet (L40). Banners and trumpets typically belong together as the visible and audible signals for the mustering of troops. Therefore, since in Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming σημεῖον occurs in close proximity to a reference to a trumpet call, σημεῖον should be understood not as “sign” but as “standard” or “banner.”
  3. In Jewish sources the raising of a standard and the sounding of a trumpet are employed as symbols of the eschatological ingathering of Israel. An example of this imagery occurs in the Amidah prayer:

תְּקַע בְּשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל לְחֵרוּתֵנוּ וְשָׂא נֵס לְקַבֵּץ גָּלֻיּוֹתֵינוּ וְקַבְּצֵנוּ יַחַד מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי מְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵי עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל

Blow the great shofar for our freedom and raise the banner for the gathering of our exiles and gather us together from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are you, O LORD, who gathers the dispersed of his people Israel.[83]

Since Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming similarly describes an eschatological ingathering (albeit of the “elect” rather than “Israel”), the interpretation of the σημεῖον of the Son of Man as the Son of Man’s banner or military standard suits its context.

The Sign of the Son of Man as depicted in an illuminated manuscript made in 1262 by T’oros Roslin at the scriptorium of Hromkla, which became the leading artistic center of Armenian Cilicia under the rule of Catholicos Constantine I (1221-1267). The manuscript is a treasure of the Armenian Church. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Sign Is the Cross upon which Jesus Was Crucified: The primary reason for supposing that Matthew’s sign of the Son of Man refers to the manifestation of the cross in the sky ahead of Jesus’ eschatological return is that belief in such a manifestation is attested in patristic sources and other ancient Christian writings.[84] It is even possible that the Didache’s sign of a spreading out in heaven (Did. 16:6) is a reference to the cross.[85]

In our view, the interpretation that Matthew’s sign of the Son of Man refers to a banner or military standard is the most convincing. It is quite possible, however, that the author of Matthew imagined that the Son of Man’s standard was nothing other than the cross.[86] According to Justin Martyr, Roman standards called vexilla were cross-shaped, as he explained in his First Apology:

καὶ τὰ παρ᾽ ὑμῖν δὲ σύμβολα τὴν τοῦ σχήματος τούτου δύναμιν δηλοῖ, λέγω δὲ τὰ τῶν οὐηξίλλων καὶ τῶν τροπαίων, δι᾽ ὧν αἵ πρόοδοι ὑμῶν πανταχοῦ γίνονται, τῆς ἀρχῆς καὶ δυνάμεως τὰ σημεῖα ἐν τούτοις δεικνύντες, εἰ καὶ μὴ νοοῦντες τοῦτο πράττετε.

And the power of this form [i.e., of the cross—DNB and JNT] is shown by your own symbols on what are called “vexilla” [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions [sic—Read “processions”—DNB and JNT] are made, using of these as the insignia [σημεῖα] of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. (Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. 55:6 [ed. Blunt, 83-84])[87]

Bas-relief from the Arch of Marcus Aurelius depicting two vexilla. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Notice that Justin identified the vexillum as a type of σημεῖον (sēmeion). A vexillum consisted of a pole with a perpendicular crosspiece from which an emblazoned cloth hung. Vexilla were thus typically T-shaped, the very form in which crosses were constructed according to pseudo-Barnabas (Ep. Barn. 9:8).[88] Supposing the author of Matthew imagined that the Son of Man used the cross for his banner makes sense in light of his weaving into Son of Man’s Coming the allusion to Zech. 12:10-12, according to which the tribes of the land mourn because of the one they have pierced.[89]

L30-31 καὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς (Matt. 24:30). The author of Matthew’s allusion to Zech. 12:10-12 is not easy to detect unless Matt. 24:30 is compared with Rev. 1:7, where the allusion is more explicit. Even in Rev. 1:7 it is clear that the allusion is not to the LXX text of Zech. 12:10-12, which reads:

καὶ ἐπιβλέψονται πρός με ἀνθ᾿ ὧν κατωρχήσαντο καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν…. καὶ κόψεται ἡ γῆ κατὰ φυλὰς φυλάς….

…and they shall look to me because they have danced triumphantly, and they shall mourn for him…. And the land shall mourn, tribes by tribes…. (Zech. 12:10, 12; NETS)

Revelation, on the other hand, reads:

καὶ ὄψεται αὐτὸν πᾶς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ οἵτινες αὐτὸν ἐξεκέντησαν, καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς

…and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the land will mourn over him. (Rev. 1:7)

Thus, whereas LXX has ἐπιβλέψονται (epiblepsontai, “they will look upon”), Rev. 1:7 has ὄψεται (opsetai, “he/she/it will see”); whereas LXX has με (me, “me”), Rev. 1:7 has αὐτόν (avton, “him”); whereas LXX has κατωρχήσαντο (katōrchēsanto, “they danced”), Rev. 1:7 has ἐξεκέντησαν (exekentēsan, “they pierced”); and whereas LXX has καὶ κόψεται ἡ γῆ κατὰ φυλὰς φυλάς (kai kopsetai hē gē kata fūlas fūlas, “and the land will mourn him tribe by tribe”), Rev. 1:7 has καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς (kai kopsontai ep avton pasai hai fūlai tēs gēs, “and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him”). It is highly likely that the LXX version of Zech. 12:10 reflects a correct, non-Masoretic reading רָקְדוּ (rāqe, “they danced”), while the tradition preserved in Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7 reflects the Masoretic דָּקָרוּ (dāqārū, “they pierced”), which is probably corrupt.[90] That Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7 draw from a common tradition is proved by their agreement on the phrase καὶ κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς (“and all the tribes of the earth will mourn”), which differs from LXX and MT, and the all-important linkage of Zech. 12:10-12 to Dan. 7:13.[91] The fact that Matthew’s allusion to Zech. 12:10-12 is so deeply submerged as to be hardly noticeable until it is compared with Rev. 1:7 indicates that the author of Matthew was secondarily reworking the tradition that combined Zech. 12:10-12 with Dan. 7:13.[92] That the linkage of these verses is based on the wordplay ὄψεται/ὄψονται (“he/she/it will see”/“they will see”) || κόψονται (“they will mourn”)[93] shows that, although the tradition is independent of LXX and is informed by a Masoretic-type text, it was formulated in Greek rather than Hebrew,[94] and thus is highly unlikely to have originated with Jesus, as some scholars have suggested.[95]

Scholars are divided over the interpretation of two aspects of Matthew’s allusion to Zech. 12:10-12. The first concerns the identity of the mourning tribes, and the second concerns whether their mourning is redemptive or incriminating. In Zech. 12:10-12 there can be no doubt as to the identity of the tribes; the tribes are the tribes of Israel. Some scholars, however, think that the author of Matthew had a broader perspective and therefore understood πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς not as “all the tribes of the land [of Israel]” but as “all the tribes of the earth.”[96] Other scholars, noting the interest the author of Matthew displays in the Jewish people in Matt. 24 (e.g., the abomination of desolation in the holy place, the prayer that the flight not take place on the Sabbath), maintain that the author of Matthew had in mind the tribes of Israel.[97] Likewise, while some scholars interpret the mourning of the tribes as an expression of their sincere repentance,[98] others regard the tribes’ mourning as a recognition that their condemnation is at hand.[99]

Bauckham believed he had discovered a definitive answer to these questions when he noted that while the phrase πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς does not occur in Zech. 12:10-12, it does occur in God’s promise to Abraham that in him all the tribes of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:3). For Bauckham, this echoing of the Abrahamic blessing in Rev. 1:7 and Matt. 24:30 was proof that the tribes who mourn include the Gentiles and that their mourning must be an expression of genuine repentance.[100] But questions remain. Even if Bauckham has correctly identified the source of the phrase πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς in the Abrahamic blessing, are we justified in concluding that their mourning must be interpreted in a positive sense? Why not suppose that the allusion to the Abrahamic blessing was intended to signify that the blessing had been revoked? Could not the allusion to Gen. 12:3 signify that until now the Gentiles had been given the opportunity to bless themselves through Abraham and his offspring, but with the appearance of the Son of Man that opportunity had passed? And even if the tradition upon which the author of Matthew and the revelator drew referred to the repentant mourning of the Gentiles, could not the author of Matthew have reinterpreted the tradition to suit his own purposes and to reflect his worldview?

We favor the interpretation that by “all the tribes of the land” the author of Matthew referred to the tribes of Israel and that he believed their mourning was in vain. It is not difficult to believe that the author of Matthew—who elsewhere in his Gospel pinned Jesus’ crucifixion squarely on the Jewish people (Matt. 27:25), and who within the eschatological discourse taunted the Jewish people (Matt. 24:20),[101] gloated over their misfortune (Matt. 24:19), and declared that the Jewish race would be held responsible for all the innocent blood that had ever been spilled on the earth (Matt. 23:35-36)—would imagine that in advance of the Son of Man’s parousia the cross upon which Jesus was crucified would appear in the sky in order to condemn the tribes of Israel for crucifying the Messiah they rejected.[102] While we find the author of Matthew’s attitude toward the Jewish people repugnant in the extreme, we cannot sugarcoat his Gospel for the sake of making his sectarian worldview more palatable to modern readers.

L32 καὶ ὄψονται (GR). Although our omission of τότε (tote, “then”), which occurs in Luke and Mark, agrees with Matthew’s wording in L32, Matthew is too flimsy a reed to lean upon. It is true that the author of Matthew was more wont to add τότε to his Gospel than to omit it from a source, but the author of Matthew had already used τότε in L25 and L30, so even he may have felt that τότε at the beginning of a third sentence in a row was excessive.[103] Rather, it is because we have attributed the presence of τότε to the editorial work of the First Reconstructor elsewhere in Luke’s version of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption (Luke 21:10,[104] 20,[105] 21[106] ) that here too we suspect τότε is redactional.

The antecedent of ὄψονται (opsontai, “they will see”) is different in all three Synoptic Gospels. In Matthew “they will see” describes the mourning tribes, whom we have identified as the tribes of Israel (see previous Comment). In Mark the antecedent is not clear. It may be that for Mark ὄψονται is an impersonal plural (i.e., “people in general will see”),[107] or it may be that the author of Mark thought that the powers in the heavens who had been shaken from their places would be the witnesses to the Son of Man’s coming.[108] In Luke “they will see” more plausibly refers back to the Gentiles whose time of trampling Jerusalem has come to an end. The Gentiles were probably intended in FR and Anth. as well.

וְיִרְאוּ (HR). In LXX the verb ὁρᾶν (horan, “to see”) almost exclusively occurs as the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”).[109] Likewise, the LXX translators rendered רָאָה more often with ὁρᾶν than with any other verb save ἰδεῖν (idein, “to see”).[110]

L33 τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (GR). Since all three Gospels agree on the wording of L33, there is no need for any explanation regarding GR.

כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ (HR). On reconstructing ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (ho huios tou anthrōpou, “the son of the person”) with בַּר אֱנָשׁ (bar ’enāsh, “son of a human being”), see Sign-Seeking Generation, Comment to L42-43. Here in L33 we have no reservations reconstructing ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου as בַּר אֱנָשׁ, for in all three Gospels an allusion to the “one like a son of man” in Dan. 7:13 is unquestionably present. It makes sense, therefore, that Jesus might have used some Aramaic even in a Hebrew sentence in order to make the allusion to Daniel’s Aramaic verse unmistakably clear.

Artistic depiction of the vision of Daniel 7. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Our reservations regarding the reconstruction of ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου with בַּר אֱנָשׁ elsewhere in LOY stem from the fact that nowhere else in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus uses the phrase ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is an allusion to Dan. 7:13 explicit[111] and from our conclusion that in Son of Man’s Coming “son of man” was not originally intended to be self-referential (see the Story Placement discussion above). Now if in Son of Man’s Coming Jesus did not intend the allusion to the Son of Man figure of Dan. 7:13 to be self-referential, then this casts considerable doubt on whether Jesus ever used בַּר אֱנָשׁ self-referentially, since none of Jesus’ self-referential uses of “son of man” is ever explicitly linked to Dan. 7:13 in Luke’s Gospel.[112] It may be that בַּר אֱנָשׁ does stand behind the self-referential instances of ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου as Lindsey supposed,[113] but Luke’s Gospel provides no proof of it. To Tilton it seems just as plausible to suppose that Jesus used the Aramaic phrase בַּר אֱנָשׁ in Son of Man’s Coming in order to differentiate this “son of man” reference from his more frequent self-referential use of “son of man” in Hebrew. Luke’s Gospel offers no proof of this alternative either, but in Tilton’s view, until further proof is forthcoming, reconstructing ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου with בַּר אֱנָשׁ elsewhere in LOY begs the question, since Jesus could not have referred to himself in Hebrew as בַּר אֱנָשׁ without alluding to the apocalyptic figure of Daniel 7.

L34 ἐρχόμενον ἐν νεφέλῃ (GR). We have preferred Luke’s wording in L34 because, of the three versions, Luke’s is the least Septuagintal. In the LXX translation of Dan. 7:13 the “one like a son of man” comes ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (epi tōn nefelōn tou ouranou, “on the clouds of heaven”), which is also Matthew’s wording in L34-35.[114] Mark’s wording, ἐν νεφέλαις (en nefelais, “in clouds [plur.]”), looks like a compromise between Luke’s indefinite ἐν νεφέλῃ (en nefelē, “in a cloud [sing.]”) and the definite ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (“upon the clouds [plur.] of heaven”) of Dan. 7:13. Some scholars have suggested that the author of Luke changed “clouds” to “cloud” in Son of Man’s Coming in order to conform the description to his account of Jesus’ ascension in a cloud (sing.) in Acts 1:9, where the disciples are informed that Jesus will return in the same way he had departed (i.e., in a cloud; Acts 1:11),[115] but we do not find this explanation to be convincing. Would it not make far more sense for the author of Luke to have conformed the description of Jesus’ ascension to Dan. 7:13 and the language of Son of Man’s Coming by writing “clouds” if both had agreed to refer to the clouds in the plural? Rather, it appears the author of Luke referred to a single cloud, despite the disagreement with Dan. 7:13, because this was how the cloud was described in his source.

בָּא בְּעָנָן (HR). On reconstructing ἔρχεσθαι (erchesthai, “to come”) with בָּא (bā’, “come”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L8.

In LXX most instances of νεφέλη (nefelē, “cloud”) occur as the translation of עָנָן (‘ānān, “cloud”).[116] We also find that the LXX translators rendered most instances of עָנָן as νεφέλη.[117] There can be no doubt as to our reconstruction of νεφέλη with עָנָן in Son of Man’s Coming, since the Aramaic cognate עֲנָן (anān, “cloud”) occurs in Dan. 7:13.

L35 τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Matt. 24:30). The author of Matthew’s insertion of the modifier “of heaven” in L35 may be intended to assimilate the wording of Son of Man’s Coming to Dan. 7:13, or to the source behind Did. 16, or both. In any case, it is probably not original to Son of Man’s Coming and has accordingly been omitted from GR.

L36 μετὰ δυνάμεως (GR). Whereas the author of Mark has the adjective πολύς (polūs, “much”) after δύναμις (dūnamis, “power”), the authors of Luke and Matthew agree to place πολύς following δόξα (doxa, “glory”) in L37. Their agreement in the placement of πολύς is a strong indication that they reflect the word order of Anth. We have therefore omitted πολύς from GR in L36.

עִם שִׁלְטוֹן (HR). In the vision of Daniel 7 the “one like a son of man” is given dominion (Aram. שָׁלְטָן [sholṭān]; Gk. ἐξουσία [exousia, “authority”]; Dan. 7:14),[118] so it is probably to this grant of sovereignty that μετὰ δυνάμεως (meta dūnameōs, “with power”) in Son of Man’s Coming alludes. The noun שִׁלְטוֹן (shilṭōn, “ruling power,” “ruler”) entered the Hebrew lexicon via Aramaic. Its earliest attestation is in the late Biblical Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes (Eccl. 8:4, 8), and since שִׁלְטוֹן is also attested in the Mishnah (m. Kid. 3:6 [2xx]), we know this term was current in the first century C.E. If Jesus had wished to allude to Dan. 7:14 while still speaking Hebrew, there could have been no better choice than שִׁלְטוֹן.

L37 καὶ δόξης πολλῆς (GR). As we noted in the previous Comment, the Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark regarding the placement of πολύς guided our decision for GR.

וִיקָר וּגְדוּלָּה (HR). In the vision of Daniel 7 the “one like a son of man” is awarded dominion and glory (Aram. יְקָר).[119] Since the noun יְקָר (yeqār, “preciousness,” “honor”) also existed in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, this would have been the best option for a Hebrew speaker who wished to allude to Dan. 7:14.

In Dan. 7:14 there is nothing corresponding to the πολύς (“much”) we find in Matt. 24:30 ∥ Mark 13:26 ∥ Luke 21:27. However, in Dan. 7:27, where the conferral of dominion and glory upon the “one like a son of man” is interpreted as a bestowal of sovereignty upon Israel, we read that “the kingship and dominion [וְשָׁלְטָנָא] and greatness [וּרְבוּתָא] of the kingdoms under all the heavens will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” It is possible, therefore, that Jesus combined Dan. 7:14 with Dan. 7:27 in order to describe the Son of Man’s coming with dominion, honor and greatness and that the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua rendered this as “with much power and glory.”

Unlike the Aramaic terms שָׁלְטָן (“dominion”) and יְקָר (“honor”), which have cognates in Hebrew, רְבוּ (re, “greatness”) does not have a corresponding word of similar form in Hebrew. We have therefore adopted גְּדוּלָּה (gedūlāh, “greatness”) for HR, noting that the pair יְקָר וּגְדוּלָּה (yeqār ūgedūlāh, “honor and greatness”) occurs in Esth. 6:3 and that six of the twelve instances of גְּדוּלָּה in MT (2 Sam. 7:21, 23; Ps. 71:21; 145:3, 6; Esth. 1:4; 6:3; 10:2; 1 Chr. 17:19 [2xx], 21; 29:11) are rendered as רְבוּ in the targumim (Ps. 71:21; 145:3; Esth. 6:3; 10:2; 1 Chr. 17:19 [first instance]; 29:11). The noun גְּדוּלָּה continued to be used in Mishnaic Hebrew, as the instances in m. Sanh. 4:5 and m. Hor. 3:1, 2 attest.

Jesus, the Son of Man, seated in judgment on a rainbow. From the illuminated Bamberg Apocalypse. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L38-46 The lack of a parallel in Luke’s version of Son of Man’s Coming casts everything reported in Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) into serious doubt, and the sectarian outlook it evinces is foreign to the rest of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption, where he expresses such solidarity with the people of Israel. Nevertheless, having opened ourselves to the possibility that the revelator made use of FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming in his vision of the seven seals, we cannot ignore a certain correspondence that emerges from a comparison of Mark and Matthew’s description of the ingathering of the elect and the events that are said to occur prior to the opening of the seventh seal. Both the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming and Rev. 7:1-8 prominently feature the activity of angels (Rev. 7:1, 2). Both refer to “the four winds” (Rev. 7:1). Mark’s reference to the “end of earth” roughly corresponds to “the four corners of the earth” mentioned in Rev. 7:1. And the ingathering of the elect loosely corresponds to the sealing of members of the twelve tribes of Israel in Rev. 7:4. This last correspondence between Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) and Rev. 7:1-8 is of particular interest, for scholars have noted that the ingathering of the elect in Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) is a reworking of older Jewish traditions concerning the ingathering of the dispersed tribes of Israel.[120]

If the correspondence between Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) and Rev. 7:1-8 cannot be put down to mere coincidence, and if the revelator did not make use of the Gospel of Mark (and elsewhere we have discussed reasons for supposing he did not), then it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the author of Mark (using Anth.) and the revelator (using FR) were both drawing on pre-synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming for this material.

Mark Revelation
But in those days after that trouble And I looked when he opened the sixth seal.
  And there was a great earthquake,
the sun will be darkened, and the sun became black as hair sacking material,
and the moon will not give its light, and the full moon became like blood,
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth like a fig tree casts its summer fruit when shaken by a great wind,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. and heaven was detached like a scroll rolling up,
  and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with much power and glory. And the kings of the earth and the magnates and the commanders and the wealthy and the powerful and all [their] slaves and freedmen hid themselves…from the face of the one sitting on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb….
And then he will send the angels and gather up his elect from the four winds from the end of earth unto the end of heaven. After this I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, grasping the four winds of the earth…. And I saw another angel going up from the rising sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called in a loud voice to the four angels to whom were given [the ability] to harm the land and the sea saying, “Do not harm the land or the sea…until we seal the servants of our God on their foreheads!” And I heard the number of the sealed: one hundred forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.

If Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) via Anth. and Rev. 7:1-8 via FR did draw on a common tradition, then Mark’s ingathering of the elect emerges as a secondary reworking of a text that described the ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel. Such a reworking would be in line with Mark’s sectarian outlook that surfaces elsewhere in his version of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption (cf. Mark 13:20, 22). Another secondary feature in the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming that emerges from the supposition that Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) and Rev. 7:1-8 rely on a common tradition is the commanding role Mark and Matthew assign to the Son of Man. In Rev. 7:1-8 neither the Son of Man nor an equivalent figure (e.g., the Lamb) plays a role in sealing the members of the tribes of Israel. It is difficult to imagine that the revelator, who everywhere exults Jesus, would have taken command of the angels away from Jesus if Jesus (in the guise of the Son of Man) had exercised this authority in his source (FR). As we have discussed above, it is more likely that in the pre-synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming the Son of Man was a static apocalyptic image symbolizing the vindication of Israel than a dynamic eschatological figure.

But why would the author of Luke have omitted a reference to the ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel if it had occurred in FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming? The answer may lie in the author of Luke’s interest in the salvation of the Gentiles. If FR had described the ingathering of Israel’s tribes but not mentioned the salvation of the Gentiles, the author of Luke may have preferred to omit the ingathering of the twelve tribes so as not to exclude the Gentiles.[121] The author of Mark’s solution was in some respects more elegant than Luke’s. By transferring the ingathering from the twelve tribes to the elect, the author of Mark was able to retain material the author of Luke had rejected. And by making the Son of Man send the angels who gather the elect, the author of Mark was able to animate the static apocalyptic image, metamorphosing the Son of Man into an eschatological personality.

L38 καὶ τότε ἀποστελεῖ (Mark 13:27). We regard Mark’s τότε ἀποστελεῖ (tote apostelei, “then he will send”) as an editorial addition designed to bring the Son of Man to life and place him in charge of the angels. In Revelation’s parallel the sealing of the members of Israel’s tribes is wholly conducted by the angels; no figure corresponding to the Son of Man directs them. Likewise, in Luke’s version of Son of Man’s Coming the Son of Man is entirely passive, doing nothing but being seen by the Gentiles. If the Son of Man had played an active role in FR, it is difficult to believe the author of Luke would have taken it away from him.

καὶ ἀποστελεῖ (Matt. 24:31). As in L32, so once more in L38 the author of Matthew uncharacteristically omitted τότε.[122] Undoubtedly this was because he had already exhausted its use earlier in his version of Son of Man’s Coming (L25, L30). Otherwise, Matthew’s wording in L38 is copied straight from Mark 13:27.

[καὶ (GR). Our placement of GR in L38-45 within brackets represents our uncertainty as to whether this material properly belongs to Anth.’s version of Son of Man’s Coming.

L39 οἱ ἄγγελοι (GR). Since we believe the author of Mark made the angels the object rather than the subject of the sentence, in GR we have οἱ ἄγγελοι (hoi angeloi, “the angels”) in the nominative case in place of Mark’s accusative τοὺς ἀγγέλους (tous angelous, “the angels”).

The author of Matthew added the possessive pronoun αὐτοῦ (avtou, “of him”) following τοὺς ἀγγέλους.[123] The Son of Man’s possession of angels is a peculiarity of the Gospel of Matthew that is also attested in Matt. 13:41 and Matt. 16:27.[124]

וְהַמַּלְאָכִים] (HR). On reconstructing ἄγγελος (angelos, “angel,” “messenger”) with מַלְאָךְ (mal’āch, “angel,” “messenger”), see Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L58.

An angel sounding a trumpet, from the illuminated Bamberg Apocalypse. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L40-41 μετὰ σάλπιγγος φωνῆς μεγάλης (Matt. 24:31). The author of Matthew’s addition of a trumpet blast is paralleled in Did. 16:6, so it is probable that here the author of Matthew was combining Mark’s version of Son of Man’s Coming with the eschatological tradition reflected in the Didache.[125] There is a textual variant in Matt. 24:31, with some MSS omitting φωνῆς (fōnēs, “voice,” “sound”) and others, like Codex Vaticanus, including it. In this case Vaticanus’ reading is probably correct,[126] since Did. 16:6 refers to a σημεῖον φωνῆς σάλπιγγος (sēmeion fōnēs salpingos, “sign of a trumpet call”).[127] The reference to the trumpet blast probably reflects the Jewish or Jewish-Christian (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16)[128] origin of this eschatological tradition, since a trumpet call summoning the dispersed people of Israel to Jerusalem is encountered in ancient Jewish sources (see above, Comment to L27-29).

L42 ἐπισυνάξουσιν (GR). Whereas Mark and Matthew refer to an ingathering, Rev. 7:1-8 describes a sealing of the twelve tribes of Israel. In this respect the Gospels of Mark and Matthew are probably closer to the pre-synoptic source(s), for the seal motif dominates the vision of the seven seals in Rev. 6 and 7. In the pre-synoptic version(s) of Son of Man’s Coming the angels were probably the subject of the sentence. The author of Mark wrote ἐπισυνάξει (episūnaxei, “he will gather up”) in order to magnify the Son of Man’s role. The author of Matthew wrote ἐπισυνάξουσιν (episūnaxousin, “they will gather up”), which agrees with our reconstruction, but his change probably owes more to his pedantry than to his reliance on Anth.[129]

יְקַבְּצוּ (HR). Despite not occurring terribly often in LXX, ἐπισυνάγειν (episūnagein, “to gather up”) was used to translate several different Hebrew verbs, but none more often than verbs formed from the ק-ב-צ root.[130] On the other hand, the LXX translators were far more often inclined to render ק-ב-צ verbs with συνάγειν (sūnagein, “to bring together,” “to gather”) than with ἐπισυνάγειν,[131] although, since the two verbs are so closely related, this fact poses no challenge to our reconstruction. Further support for our reconstruction of ἐπισυνάγειν with קִבֵּץ (qibētz, “gather”) is the frequency with which this verb occurs in contexts describing the ingathering of Israel’s dispersed members. Examples of קִבֵּץ in this context include scriptural verses such as:

וְשָׁב יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ וְרִחֲמֶךָ וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל־הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר הֱפִיצְךָ יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁמָּה: אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּמִשָּׁם יִקָּחֶךָ׃

And the LORD will return your captivity and have compassion on you, and he will gather you [וְקִבֶּצְךָ; LXX: συνάξει σε] once more from all the peoples where the LORD your God scattered you. If your exiles be in the ends of the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you [יְקַבֶּצְךָ; LXX: συνάξει σε], and from there he will take you. (Deut. 30:3-4)

וְנָשָׂא נֵס לַגּוֹיִם וְאָסַף נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּנְפֻצוֹת יְהוּדָה יְקַבֵּץ מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ

And he will raise the standard for the Gentiles, and he will assemble the exiles of Israel, and the scattered of Judah he will gather [יְקַבֵּץ; LXX: συνάξει] from the four corners of the earth. (Isa. 11:12)

הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ צָפוֹן וְקִבַּצְתִּים מִיַּרְכְּתֵי אָרֶץ

Behold! I am bringing them from the land of the north, and I will gather them [וְקִבַּצְתִּים; LXX: συνάξω αὐτούς] from the ends of the earth! (Jer. 31:8)

מְזָרֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל יְקַבְּצֶנּוּ וּשְׁמָרוֹ כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ

He who scatters Israel will gather him [יְקַבְּצֶנּוּ; LXX: συνάξει αὐτόν] and guard him like a shepherd does his flock. (Jer. 31:10)

הִנְנִי מְקַבְּצָם מִכָּל־הָאֲרָצוֹת אֲשֶׁר הִדַּחְתִּים שָׁם בְּאַפִּי וּבַחֲמָתִי וּבְקֶצֶף גָּדוֹל וַהֲשִׁבֹתִים אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְהֹשַׁבְתִּים לָבֶטַח

Behold! I am gathering them [מְקַבְּצָם; LXX: συνάγω αὐτούς] from all the lands where I exiled them in my anger and ire and great wrath, and I will bring them back to this place and cause them to dwell in security. (Jer. 32:37)

We also find קִבֵּץ used for the ingathering of dispersed Israel in prayers such as the Amidah, quoted above in Comment to L27-29.

L43 τὰς δώδεκα φυλὰςυἱῶνἸσραήλ (GR). As we noted above, whereas Mark and Matthew refer to the ingathering of the elect, the parallel passage in Revelation refers to the sealing of the twelve tribes. If a common source tradition stands behind these parallels, then it is likely that Revelation is more original in referring to Israel’s twelve tribes. As scholars have noted, the concept of the ingathering of the elect or of the Church in early Christian sources (cf. John 11:52; Did. 9:4; 10:5; 5 Ezra 2:10-13; Justin, Dial. §80, §139) has its roots in the Jewish hope for the ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel.[132] So it would have been easy for the author of Mark to replace a reference to the ingathering of the twelve tribes with a reference to gathering the elect. Such a move would also be in keeping with his sectarian outlook. The author of Matthew, of course, who maintained that the Kingdom of God was being taken away from Israel in order to be given to the Gentiles (Matt. 21:43), happily accepted the author of Mark’s substitution of the twelve tribes with the elect.

The revelator’s phrase “tribes of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 7:4) is rare, but not entirely unattested. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is found in the following examples:

וְהָיוּ לְאֶחָד מִבְּנֵי שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְנָשִׁים

But if they become wives to anyone from the members of the tribes of the sons of Israel [שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; LXX: τῶν φυλῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ]…. (Num. 36:3)

וְכָל בַּת יֹרֶשֶׁת נַחֲלָה מִמַּטּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְאֶחָד מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת מַטֵּה אָבִיהָ תִּהְיֶה לְאִשָּׁה

And every daughter who possesses an inheritance from the tribes of the sons of Israel [מִמַּטּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; LXX: ἐκ τῶν φυλῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ] must become a wife to someone from the family of the tribe of her father…. (Num. 36:8)

וְלֹא תִסֹּב נַחֲלָה מִמַּטֶּה לְמַטֶּה אַחֵר כִּי־אִישׁ בְּנַחֲלָתוֹ יִדְבְּקוּ מַטּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

And an inheritance will not transfer from a tribe to another tribe, for each of the tribes of the sons of Israel [מַטּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; LXX: οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ] will hold on to its inheritance. (Num. 36:9)

וְהָרִימוּ לָכֶם אִישׁ אֶבֶן אַחַת עַל־שִׁכְמוֹ לְמִסְפַּר שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

…and take up for yourselves, each man a single stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel [שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; LXX: τῶν δώδεκα φυλῶν τοῦ Ισραηλ]. (Josh. 4:5)

וַיִּשְׂאוּ שְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה אֲבָנִים מִתּוֹךְ הַיַּרְדֵּן כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יי אֶל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ לְמִסְפַּר שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

And they took up twelve stones from the Jordan, as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel [שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; LXX: τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ]. (Josh. 4:8)

In LXX “tribes of the sons of Israel” occurs in a few additional verses:

καὶ ἑπτακαίδεκα ἔτη ἐβασίλευσεν ἐν Ιερουσαλημ ἐν τῇ πόλει, ᾗ ἐξελέξατο κύριος ἐπονομάσαι τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐκεῖ ἐκ πασῶν φυλῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ

And he [i.e., Rehoboam—DNB and JNT] reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem in the city which the Lord chose to set his name there from all the tribes of the sons of Israel [φυλῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ; MT: שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל]. (2 Chr. 12:13)

Ταῦτα τὰ ὅρια κατακληρονομήσετε τῆς γῆς, ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ

These are the boundaries by which you will divide the land to the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel [φυλαῖς τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ; MT: שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל]. (Ezek. 47:13)

However, we have not found examples of “tribes of the sons of Israel” in DSS or rabbinic sources.

Revelation 7:4 discusses the number of those who are sealed from all the tribes of the sons of Israel, and since two of the above instances refer to “the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel” (Josh. 4:5, 8), it is just possible that the revelator wanted to allude to these verses and therefore changed the more usual phrase “tribes of Israel” to “tribes of the sons of Israel.” But since “tribes of the sons of Israel” also occurs outside of the Jordan-crossing narrative, and since the sealing of the twelve tribes in Rev. 7:1-8 bears no resemblance to the crossing of the Jordan, such an allusion seems unlikely.

We have retained “tribes of the sons of Israel” in our reconstruction (GR and HR), but we have placed “sons” in brackets to indicate our uncertainty.

אֶת שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שִׁבְטֵי ⟨בְנֵי⟩ יִשְׂרָאֵל (HR). On reconstructing δώδεκα (dōdeka, “twelve”) with שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר (shenēm ‘āsār, “twelve”), see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L10-11.

In Biblical Hebrew two words were used synonymously for “tribe,” מַטֶּה (maṭeh) and שֵׁבֶט (shēveṭ), as we saw in the examples cited above. The LXX translators rendered both of these terms as φυλή (fūlē, “tribe”).[133] In Mishnaic Hebrew שֵׁבֶט came to be used almost to the exclusion of מַטֶּה for Israel’s tribes.[134] It is for this reason we have preferred שֵׁבֶט in HR.

On reconstructing υἱός (huios, “son”) with בֵּן (bēn, “son”), see Fathers Give Good Gifts, Comment to L3.

On reconstructing Ἰσραήλ (Israēl, “Israel”) with יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisrā’ēl, “Israel”), see Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road, Comment to L55.

Angels depicted in the illuminated Bamberg Apocalypse. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L44 ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων ἀνέμωντοῦ οὐρανοῦ (GR). As we noted above in Comment to L38-46, the reference to “four winds” in both the Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming and in Revelation’s vision of the seven seals (together with shared references to angels and the correspondence between the elect and the tribes of Israel) convinced us that it is at least possible that Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) is not entirely redactional but may reflect something in Anth.’s version of Son of Man’s Coming. The revelator referred to οἱ τέσσαρες ἄνεμοι τῆς γῆς (hoi tessares anemoi tēs gēs, “the four winds of the earth”; Rev. 7:1), but this is not the usual expression in Jewish sources, where it is more normal to find οἱ τέσσαρες ἄνεμοι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (hoi tessares anemoi tou ouranou, “the four winds of heaven”; Zech. 2:10; 6:5; Dan. 8:8; 11:4). The reference to “the four winds of the earth” is also oddly redundant in Rev. 7:1, which had previously referred to αἱ τέσσαρες γωνίαι τῆς γῆς (hai tessares gōniai tēs gēs, “the four corners of the earth”). Perhaps FR read οἱ τέσσαρες ἄνεμοι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ and the revelator changed “of heaven” to “of earth” for reasons of his own,[135] or perhaps in FR οἱ τέσσαρες ἄνεμοι (“the four winds”) lacked a qualifier. In Mark 13:27 (∥ Matt. 24:31) “the four winds” lack a qualifier, but the verse goes on to mention “the end(s) of heaven.” Indeed, Mark’s “from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” could be a garbled version of “from the four winds of heaven and from the the four corners of the earth.”[136] Nevertheless, due to our uncertainty we have placed τοῦ οὐρανοῦ in the GR column within brackets.

Simply based on the reference to gathering from the four winds, Gundry assumed direct dependence of Matt. 24:31 ∥ Mark 13:27 on Zech. 2:10, which led him to the further conclusion that Matt. 24:31 ∥ Mark 13:27 must be indebted to the LXX version of Zech. 2:10.[137] This is because whereas the Hebrew text states, כְּאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם פֵּרַשְׂתִּי אֶתְכֶם (ke’arba‘ rūḥōt hashāmayim pērasti ’etchem, “I have scattered you like the four winds of heaven”), the Greek text reads, ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων ἀνέμων τοῦ οὐρανοῦ συνάξω ὑμᾶς (ek tōn tessarōn anemōn tou ouranou sūnaxō hūmas, “from the four winds of heaven I will gather you”). However, it is not clear that a direct allusion to Zech. 2:10 is intended in Son of Man’s Coming. The dispersion of Israel to the four winds was a stock phrase in Second Temple Judaism, as the Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan, which was discovered at Qumran, attests. In that prayer we read:

עור קדש על יונתן המלך וכל קהל עמך ישראל אשר בארבע רוחות שמים יהו שלום כלם ועל ממלכתך ויתברך שמך

Arise, O Holy One, on behalf of Yonatan the king and the entire assembly of your people Israel who are in the four winds of heaven [בארבע רוחות שמים]—May they all be at peace—and on behalf of your kingdom. And may your name be blessed. (4Q448 B, 1-9)[138]

Since Israel was widely understood to be scattered to the four winds, it stands to reason that from those four winds they had to be gathered. Thus, in our view, direct dependence of Son of Man’s Coming on Zech. 2:10 cannot be assumed.

⟨הַשָּׁמַיִם⟩ מֵאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת (HR). In LXX the numeral τέσσαρες (tessares, “four”) usually occurs as the translation of אַרְבָּעָה (’arbā‘āh, “four [masc.]”) or אַרְבַּע (’arba‘, “four [fem.]”).[139] In any case, there is no alternative for HR.

On reconstructing ἄνεμος (anemos, “wind”) with רוּחַ (rūaḥ, “wind,” “spirit”), see above, Comment to L11. It is possible that rather than “winds of heaven” we should think in terms of four “quarters of heaven,” for אַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת (’arba‘ rūḥōt) is a Hebrew idiom meaning “four sides.” This idiom is attested in Scripture and also in rabbinic sources, so it was certainly current in Jesus’ time. Below are a few examples of this idiom:

לְאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת יִהְיוּ הַשֹּׁעֲרִים מִזְרָח יָמָּה צָפוֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה

And the gatekeepers were at the four sides [לְאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת]: east, west, north and south. (1 Chr. 9:24)

גִּיפְּפוֹ מֵאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹתָיו טָמֵא נִיפְרַץ מֵרוּחַ אַחַת טָהוֹר

If he pressed it [i.e., a baker’s frame—DNB and JNT] shut on its four sides [מֵאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹתָיו], it is impure. If it was open on one side, it is pure. (m. Kel. 15:2)

On reconstructing οὐρανός (ouranos, “heaven,” “sky”) with שָׁמַיִם (shāmayim, “heaven,” “sky”), see above, Comment to L9.

L45 καὶἀπὸ τῶν τεσσάρων γωνιῶν τῆς γῆς] (GR). The revelator’s reference to “the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 7:1) and the author of Mark’s reference to the “end of earth” may be evidence that FR referred to the ingathering of the twelve tribes from the four corners of the earth.[140] The phrase [αἱ] γωνίαι [τῆς] γῆς ([hai] gōniai [tēs] gēs, “[the] corners of [the] earth”) does not occur in LXX, but the synonymous phrase [αἱ] πτέρυγες [τῆς] γῆς ([hai] pterūges [tēs] gēs, lit., “[the] wings of [the] earth”) does occur, almost always as the translation of כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ (kanfōt hā’āretz, “the corners [lit., wings] of the earth”).[141] If αἱ γωνίαι τῆς γῆς did occur as the translation of כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ in pre-synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming, the Greek translator did not base his translation of this phrase on models from LXX. Or, since the phrase αἱ τέσσαρες γωνίαι τῆς γῆς recurs in Rev. 20:8, perhaps the revelator changed “the wings of the earth” to “the corners of the earth” because he felt this was more idiomatic. Our Greek reconstruction reflects the first possibility. The revelator’s Greek style is hardly refined,[142] and the phrase αἱ τέσσαρες γωνίαι τῆς γῆς in Rev. 20:8 may have been influenced by the earlier occurrence in Rev. 7:1.

מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ⟨וּ⟩] (HR). On reconstructing τέσσαρες (tessares, “four”) with אַרְבָּעָה/אַרְבַּע (’arba‘/’arbā‘āh, “four”), see above, Comment to L44.

In LXX γωνία (gōnia, “corner,” “angle”) does not occur as the translation of כָּנָף (kānāf, “wing,” “corner”),[143] but as we have seen, Hebrew expresses “corner of the earth” as כְּנַף הָאָרֶץ (kenaf hā’āretz; Isa. 11:12; 24:16; Ezek. 7:2; Job 37:3; 38:13). While Hebrew had other expressions for “end(s) of the earth” (e.g., אַפְסֵי הָאָרֶץ [’afsē hā’āretz], יַרְכְּתֵי אָרֶץ [yarketē ’āretz], קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ [qetzēh hā’āretz], קַצְוֵי אֶרֶץ [qatzvē ’eretz]), כְּנַף הָאָרֶץ is the only expression used for the four corners of the earth (Isa. 11:12; Ezek. 7:2). Thus we have no viable alternative for HR.

On reconstructing γῆ (, “land,” “earth”) with אֶרֶץ (’eretz, “land,” “earth”), see above, Comment to L10.

The four corners of the earth are only mentioned twice in the Hebrew Scriptures (Isa. 11:12; Ezek. 7:2). Since the verse in Isaiah refers to the ingathering of the exiled people of Israel, it is likely that if Son of Man’s Coming mentioned the four corners of the earth, then this reference is indebted to Isa. 11:12.

Redaction Analysis

Not one of the extant versions of Son of Man’s Coming escaped heavy redaction at one or more stages of transmission. If Revelation’s vision of the seven seals made use of FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming in Rev. 7:1-8, then it appears the First Reconstructor’s redactional fingerprints were relatively light, for only in this way could the revelator’s use of FR and the author of Mark’s use of Anth. have achieved so many important agreements. The author of Luke extensively edited Son of Man’s Coming with the result that Luke, usually our most reliable witness to the pre-synoptic sources, is of limited usefulness in attempting to reconstruct Anth.’s version of Son of Man’s Coming. The author of Mark, while making use of Anth., introduced many changes of his own in keeping with his style and theological outlook. The author of Matthew blended Mark’s version of Son of Man’s Coming with at least two other sources as well as consulting Anth. The heavy redaction in each version of Son of Man’s Coming has made it impossible to reconstruct with any degree of certainty. Despite our uncertainty regarding how Son of Man’s Coming ought to be reconstructed, we feel considerably less uncertain whether Son of Man’s Coming is integral to Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption. Son of Man’s Coming fills the gap in an otherwise incomplete prophecy of destruction and redemption by describing the judgment of the Gentiles and the vindication of Israel.

Luke’s Version

The author of Luke drastically abbreviated FR’s description of the astronomical phenomena heralding the end of the times of the Gentiles (L1-9); he added a description of the fear and perplexity with which the people on earth would respond to these phenomena (L12-20); he combined the falling of the heavenly host like a fig tree casting off its fruit when shaken in the wind with the rolling up of the heavens like a scroll to produce the shaking of the powers of heaven (L21-23); and following the Gentiles’ apocalyptic vision of the Son of Man (L32-37) it is possible that he omitted the ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel (L38-46) because this description appeared to exclude the salvation of the Gentiles.

Mark’s Version

The author of Mark made four types of changes to Son of Man’s Coming. First, he made changes designed to stitch Jesus’ prophecy back together after having cut an incision between Yerushalayim Besieged and Son of Man’s Coming in order to insert a redacted version of Like Lightning. He thus added to Son of Man’s Coming (L3-4) a reference to the “trouble” which he had last mentioned in Abomination of Desolation (his version of Yerushalayim Besieged). Second, the author of Mark Septuagintalized the descriptions of the astronomical phenomena (L5-10) by eliminating the similes Revelation’s parallel suggests were present in the pre-synoptic versions of Son of Man’s Coming. Third, the author of Mark eliminated Luke’s account of the human response to the astronomical phenomena (L12-20). Fourth, the author of Mark animated the Son of Man by making him send the angels and choose the elect (L38-46). By animating the Son of Man the author of Mark fundamentally altered the original meaning of this pericope. Whereas originally the Son of Man’s coming was an apocalyptic representation of Israel’s exultation into God’s favor, the author of Mark transformed the Son of Man’s coming into Jesus’ eschatological return. Mark’s change, however, only made explicit what the First Reconstructor had already implied when he added pericopae concerning Jesus’ eschatological return to Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption.

Matthew’s Version

For the most part the author of Matthew adhered to Mark’s version of Son of Man’s Coming, occasionally making stylistic improvements to Mark’s wording (L2, L9, L42). Where the author of Matthew made unique contributions to Son of Man’s Coming in L25-29, L30-31 and L40-41, parallels in other early Christian sources reveal that the author of Matthew was weaving originally independent traditions about Jesus’ eschatological return into Son of Man’s Coming. Thus, the reference to “the sign of the Son of Man” in L25-29, as well as his reference to the trumpet blast in L40-41, are derived from a tradition also reflected in the Didache (Did. 16:6-8), while the mourning of the tribes is based on a tradition also reflected in Revelation (Rev. 1:7). The common denominator between Mark’s version of Son of Man’s Coming, the tradition reflected in the Didache, and the tradition reflected in Rev. 1:7 is Dan. 7:13. The author of Matthew, being acquainted with these originally independent traditions relating to Dan. 7:13, fused them together to give a fuller picture of Jesus’ eschatological return as the Son of Man. The author of Matthew’s redactional changes to Son of Man’s Coming only furthered the conflation of the Gentiles’ apocalyptic vision of the Son of Man with Jesus’ eschatological return, a process which had already begun in FR.

Results of This Research

1. How are the signs mentioned in Son of Man’s Coming different from those mentioned in Tumultuous Times? Ancient peoples considered the signs mentioned in Tumultuous Times (war, famine, pestilence and earthquakes) to be bad omens for the future but not portents of the end of history. The extinguishing of the heavenly luminaries and the fall of the starry hosts, on the other hand, spelled the collapse of the entire cosmic order. Whereas the signs mentioned in Tumultuous Times signaled bad times ahead, the signs described in Son of Man’s Coming signal a complete overthrow of the status quo.

We do not believe it is necessary to decide whether the cosmic signs in Son of Man’s Coming were literal or symbolic. Jesus probably intended them to be both. The dissolution of the natural order was simultaneously real and symbolic of the downfall of all unjust and inhumane political systems that capitalize on human suffering and trample on the inherent worth and dignity of human life.

2. What was the original meaning of the Son of Man image in this pericope? In the vision of Daniel 7 the apocalyptic images of the four beasts represent imperialist powers that oppress the righteous, plunder the resources of the poor, and ravage God’s creation. The “one like a son of man” represents the righteous, trampled, poor. When the “one like a son of man” is elevated into God’s presence and given all the power and glory formerly held by the four vicious beasts, his elevation signifies the judgment of the imperialist regimes, which are stripped of their power, and the vindication of the righteous, who are liberated to take part in God’s just and life-giving reign. We believe that in Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption the Son of Man functioned in an analogous manner. The Son of Man’s coming on the clouds into God’s presence symbolized Israel’s reinstatement in God’s favor and the beginning of a new cosmic order in which foreign empires would no longer rule over God’s people.

Early in the process of the transmission of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption, the original significance of the Gentiles’ apocalyptic vision of the Son of Man’s entering heaven was confused with Jesus’ eschatological return. The source of the confusion is easy to understand. Prior to his crucifixion Jesus had spoken of himself as the Son of Man who was a sign of doom to his generation. Following his resurrection Jesus had promised to return as the eschatological judge, a role often fulfilled in apocalyptic literature by the Son of Man. It is logical to surmise that the vindication of Israel symbolized by the Son of Man’s elevation to heaven in Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption would be achieved when Jesus, the Son of Man, returned. The original distinction between the apocalyptic image and the eschatological figure was difficult for early believers to maintain.

The First Reconstructor began the process of merging the apocalyptic image with the eschatological figure by adding to Jesus’ prophecy originally unrelated sayings about Jesus’ eschatological return. Thus, by changing its surrounding rather than its wording, the First Reconstruction subtly implied that Son of Man’s Coming described Jesus’ eschatological return. None of the editorial changes the author of Luke made to Son of Man’s Coming altered the new spin the First Reconstructor had placed on this pericope. The author of Mark furthered the process of conflation by bringing the Son of Man image to life. By making the Son of Man dispatch the angels and choose the elect, the author of Mark turned the static Son of Man image into a dynamic figure. The author of Matthew enhanced the Son of Man’s dynamic role by weaving into his version of Son of Man’s Coming additional traditions that described Jesus’ eschatological return in terms of Dan. 7:13.

3. What did the author of Matthew mean by “the sign of the Son of Man”? The author of Matthew added to Son of Man’s Coming a statement that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and that when they see it the tribes of the land will mourn. Whatever the author of Matthew thought the sign was, he believed it would strike fear in the hearts of those who saw it. By comparing Matthew to the Didache, it seems the author of Matthew was drawing on a tradition that described the appearance of a military standard and the sounding of a war horn that would summon together the dispersed people of God (probably originally understood as Israel) when Jesus returned. Ancient military standards were often “T”-shaped poles from which a cloth banner or other device was suspended. By comparing Matt. 24:30 to Rev. 1:7, it emerges that the author of Matthew drew on an early Christian interpretation of Zech. 12:10-12, according to which Israel would see the one they had pierced (i.e., Jesus) coming like the Son of Man on the clouds and would mourn for what they had done to him. Since in the tradition from which the author of Matthew drew Zech. 12:10-12 was interpreted as a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion, it is likely that the author of Matthew thought the sign of the Son of Man which causes the tribes to mourn is related to the crucifixion too. Since crosses and military standards were formed in the shape of a “T,” it may be that the author of Matthew thought the cross on which Jesus was crucified would serve as the military standard that would herald his return. The author of Matthew believed the appearance of this cross-standard would terrify the tribes because he blamed the entire Jewish race for Jesus’ crucifixion. The appearance of this sign of the Son of Man and its function of finally condemning Israel after the flesh was so important to the author of Matthew that he added it to his version of Son of Man’s Coming and paved the way for this addition by changing the disciples’ question in Temple’s Destruction Foretold in order to make the disciples inquire about the sign of Jesus’ parousia.

Conclusion

Due to intense redactional activity on the part of all three synoptic evangelists, Son of Man’s Coming is practically impossible to reconstruct in its earliest forms. We have proposed a possible reconstruction here in order to give an impression of what Son of Man’s Coming might originally have looked like. Our reason for doing so is our belief that the extant versions of Son of Man’s Coming are descended, however remotely, from a section of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction and redemption in which he describes the cessation of the times of the Gentiles and the ultimate vindication of Israel in terms of the apocalyptic image of “one like a son of man.”


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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] On the Markan and Matthean insertions into the framework of the prophecy preserved in Luke 21, see the introduction to the “Destruction and Redemption” complex.
  • [4] On the Anth. block of Son of Man material preserved in Luke 17, see Days of the Son of Man, under the “Story Placement” subheading.
  • [5] See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “An Examination of the Editorial Activity of the First Reconstructor”; idem, JRL, 167-169; idem, TJS, 72-75.
  • [6] See David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem,” under the subheading “Lindsey’s Hypothesis and Jesus’ Prophecy”; idem, “Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem” (Flusser, Jesus, 235-250, esp. 240 n. 9); idem, “Jerusalem in Second Temple Literature” (Flusser, JSTP2, 44-75, esp. 71-72).
  • [7] See R. Steven Notley, “The Season of Redemption”; idem, “Learn the Lesson of the Fig Tree” (JS2, 107-120, esp. 111).
  • [8] On the relationship between the “times of the Gentiles” and the filling up of the Amorites’ sin in Gen. 15:16, see Yerushalayim Besieged, Comment to L47.
  • [9] Flusser (“Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem,” 245) believed Jesus implied that the completion of the times of the Gentiles would not take place until the distant future.
  • [10] According to Flusser (“Jerusalem in Second Temple Literature,” 72 n. 58; “Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem,” 240 n. 9), the phrase “when these things begin to take place” (Luke 21:28) refers to the completion of the “times of the Gentiles.” But how, apart from the astronomical signs described in Luke 21:25-26, were observers to ascertain that the times of the Gentiles were drawing to a close?
  • [11] Wolter (2:428) noted that there is no temporal distance between the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) and the appearance of the astronomical signs that frighten the Gentiles (Luke 21:25).
  • [12] Manson (Sayings, 332) observed that “If we apply the Danielic interpretation [i.e., that the ‘one like a son of man’ represents Israel’s faithful—DNB and JNT] to the Danielic figure in its new context [i.e., Jesus’ prophecy—DNB and JNT], the coming of the ‘Son of Man’ with power and great glory ought to mean the triumphant vindication of the faithful disciples.” Similarly, according to N. T. Wright, “The ‘coming of the son of man’ is…good first-century metaphorical language for two things: the defeat of the enemies of the true people of god, and the vindication of the true people themselves” (Jesus and the Victory of God [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996], 362). However, we heartily disagree with Wright’s conclusion that the destruction of the Temple is the vindication of the people of God reconstituted in the person of Jesus. Such an inverted conception of vindication is as perverse and preposterous as the insistence of the wicked ape Shift in C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia that Aslan is Tash. (For readers unacquainted with The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is a typological representation of Christ, while Tash is a typological representation of Satan.) This perverse view of vindication as the Temple’s destruction is also espoused by Gill (7:295), Gould (251) and France (Mark, 530-535; cf. Matt., 924).
  • [13] See George W. E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism and Early Christianity (rev. ed.; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006), 283.
  • [14] We believe the First Reconstructor’s adaptation of Anth.’s version of Son of Man’s Coming was minimal.
  • [15] It is not necessary to suppose that the First Reconstructor was conscious that by his redactional activity he was reinterpreting Son of Man’s Coming. It is just as likely that his (mis)interpretation of Son of Man’s Coming motivated his redactional insertions of Son-of-Man-related pericopae into Jesus’ prophecy, which had the effect of reinforcing his (mis)interpretation. Neither was the First Reconstructor unique in reading Dan. 7:13 as a prophecy concerning Jesus’ eschatological return. Daniel 7:13 is also applied to Jesus in Rev. 1:7 and Did. 16:8.
  • [16] That Lindsey himself did not make this observation simply attests to the overwhelming success of the First Reconstructor’s reinterpretation of Son of Man’s Coming.
  • [17] Cf. Flusser’s judgment (“Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem,” 240 n. 9) that “Luke 21:25-26 [sic, read: 27]…is purely Greek and does not betray any traces of Hebraisms (or even pseudo-Hebraisms).”
  • [18] On the revelator’s dependence in Rev. 6 on FR’s version of Tumultuous Times, see the “Conjectured Stages of Transmission” discussion in the commentary to Tumultuous Times.
  • [19] Here we exclude Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming from the discussion because it is so similar to Mark’s, upon which it is based.
  • [20] The reference to an earthquake in Rev. 6:12, which is absent in the Lukan, Markan and Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming, is due to the revelator’s merging of the portents described in FR’s version of Tumultuous Times with the astronomical phenomena described in FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming. See Tumultuous Times, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [21] Cf. Nolland, Luke, 3:1005; Bovon, 3:117 n. 92, 93, 94.
  • [22] If Luke 21:25-26 had reverted easily to Hebrew, we would have attributed the disparity between Luke’s version and the Markan-Matthean versions of Son of Man’s Coming to the author of Mark’s editorial activity and the author of Matthew’s reliance on Mark.
  • [23] Reasons for suspecting that, like Rev. 6, FR (and Anth. before it) had a series of similes describing the frightening portents include 1) the revelator’s probable dependence on FR’s version of Son of Man’s Coming, 2) the relative ease with which the similes in Rev. 6 revert to Hebrew, and 3) the attestation of most of these similes in Hebrew sources.
  • [24] See Yerushalayim Besieged, under the “Story Placement” subheading, and LOY Excursus: The Dates of the Synoptic Gospels.
  • [25] Cf. Davies-Allison, 3:357.
  • [26] See Gundry, Matt., 487.
  • [27] On the stacking up of prepositional phrases as typical of Markan redaction, see LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style, under the subheading “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.”
  • [28] On θλῖψις as a redactional term in Mark, see Four Soils interpretation, Comment to L46-48.
  • [29] See Tumultuous Times, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [30] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:606-607.
  • [31] In Codex Sinaiticus ἥλιος also occurs as the translation of חַמָּה in Isa. 24:23.
  • [32] Mark’s phrase ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται (ho hēlios skotisthēsetai, “the sun will be darkened”) is almost identical to the phrase καὶ σκοτισθήσεται τοῦ ἡλίου ἀνατέλλοντος (kai skotisthēsetai tou hēliou anatellontos, “and the sun will be darkened as it rises”) in Isa. 13:10. The author of Matthew accepted Mark’s wording.
  • [33] Since some of the similes in Rev. 6:12-14 are based on Isa. 34:4, the author of Mark’s editorial changes are comprehensible.
  • [34] The verb שָׁחַר (shāḥar, “be black”) in the qal stem occurs only once in MT (Job 30:30).
  • [35] Cf. As. Mos. 10:5; L.A.B. 19:3.
  • [36] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1262.
  • [37] In Codex Sinaiticus σελήνη also occurs as the translation of לְבָנָה in Isa. 24:23.
  • [38] Cf. As. Mos. 10:5; L.A.B. 19:3.
  • [39] In LXX [ἡ] δύναμις τοῦ οὐρανοῦ occurs as the translation of צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם in 4 Kgdms. 17:16; 21:3, 5; 23:4, 5; 2 Chr. 18:18.
  • [40] The verb σείειν is not strongly rooted in the synoptic tradition, being attested only in Matthew’s Gospel three times (Matt. 21:10; 27:51; 28:4). The verb σαλεύειν, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the synoptic tradition, being attested by both Luke and Matthew in Yeshua’s Words about Yohanan the Immerser, L9 (Matt. 11:7 ∥ Luke 7:24).
  • [41] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1301.
  • [42] See Dos Santos, 218.
  • [43] Here we read לְהַשִּׁירוֹ in accordance with Jastrow (942), as opposed to להסירו in Buber’s edition.
  • [44] See Jastrow, 883.
  • [45] Cf. Bultmann, 123.
  • [46] For more on Luke’s insertion in L12-20, see Be Ready for the Son of Man, under the subheading “Redaction Analysis: Luke’s Version,” Comment to L9.
  • [47] Cf. Moulton-Geden, 434.
  • [48] See Moulton-Geden, 885.
  • [49] On the insertion of genitives absolute as a feature of Lukan redaction, see LOY Excursus: The Genitive Absolute in the Synoptic Gospels, under the subheading “The Genitive Absolute in Luke.”
  • [50] Cf. Fitzmyer, 2:1349.
  • [51] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:150.
  • [52] See Moulton-Geden, 103.
  • [53] See Moulton-Geden, 861; Bovon, Luke, 3:117 n. 92.
  • [54] See Bovon, Luke, 3:117 n. 92. The verb προσδοκᾶν occurs 2xx in Matthew (Matt. 11:3; 24:50), 0xx in Mark, 6xx in Luke (Luke 1:21; 3:15; 7:19, 20; 8:40; 12:46) and 5xx in Acts (Acts 3:5; 10:24; 27:33; 28:6 [2xx]). See Moulton-Geden, 861.
  • [55] See Yohanan the Immerser’s Eschatological Discourse, Comment to L1.
  • [56] See Moulton-Geden, 353-354.
  • [57] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:150.
  • [58] See Charles, Revelation, 1:181.
  • [59] Cf. Charles, Revelation, 1:181.
  • [60] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:218-219.
  • [61] See Dos Santos, 144.
  • [62] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:453.
  • [63] See John S. Kloppenborg, “Didache 16 6-8 and Special Matthean Tradition,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 70.1-2 (1979): 54-67; Jonathan A. Draper, “The Development of ‘The Sign of the Son of Man’ in the Jesus Tradition,” New Testament Studies 39.1 (1993): 1-21, esp. 15; Kurt Niederwimmer, The Didache: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998), 223; Sandt-Flusser, 39. Cf. Davies-Allison, 3:359.
  • [64] Earlier in Matthew 24, in his version of Betrayal of Friends (Matt. 24:9b-12), the author of Matthew had incorporated material from this source parallel to Did. 16:3-5.
  • [65] Hagner (2:710) wrote that the author of Matthew “created the reference to ‘the sign of the Son of Man’ to correspond to the question of v. 3,” but the Didache’s parallel to Matt. 24:30 surely demonstrates that it was the other way around. The author of Matthew crafted the disciples’ question in Matt. 24:3 (“What is the sign of your parousia?”) in order to prepare for the reference to “the sign of the Son of Man,” which he added to Son of Man’s Coming.
  • [66] See Allen, 259; Krister Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew and its Use of the Old Testament (2d ed.; Lund: CWK Gleerup, 1968), 213; Craig R. Koester, Revelation (AB 38a; New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), 218; Davies-Allison, 3:360; Nolland, Matt., 984.
  • [67] Cf., e.g., Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “σημεῖον,” TDNT, 7:200-261, esp. 237-238 n. 264; Carsten Colpe, “ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου,” TDNT, 8:400-477, esp. 437.
  • [68] Cf. Keener, 586.
  • [69] On τότε as an indicator of Matthean redaction, see Jesus and a Canaanite Woman, Comment to L22.
  • [70] Cf. Allen, 259; Gundry, Use, 53.
  • [71] Cf. Gundry, Matt., 488. On φαίνειν as an indicator of Matthean redaction, see Darnel Among the Wheat, Comment to L12.
  • [72] For this interpretation, see Gill, 7:294; John P. Meier, Matthew (New Testament Message; Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1980), 287; Gundry, Matt., 488; Luz, 3:202. Cf. Nolland, Matt., 983.
  • [73] For this interpretation, see Nolland, Matt., 983; Witherington, 452.
  • [74] For this interpretation, see Thomas Francis Glasson, “The Ensign of the Son of Man (Matt. xxiv. 30),” Journal of Theological Studies 15.2 (1964): 299-300; Jeremias, Theology, 264; Schweizer, 456; Colpe, “ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου,” 437.
  • [75] See A. J. B. Higgins, “The Sign of the Son of Man (Matt. xxiv. 30),” New Testament Studies 9.4 (1963): 380-382.
  • [76] See Beare, Matt., 471.
  • [77] See Rengstorf, “σημεῖον,” 238.
  • [78] Cf. Allen, 258.
  • [79] Cf. Higgins, “The Sign of the Son of Man (Matt. xxiv. 30),” 381; Schweizer, 455; Hagner, 2:713.
  • [80] See McNeile, 352.
  • [81] See Hagner, 2:713.
  • [82] See LSJ, 1593.
  • [83] Text according to Joseph H. Hertz, The Authorized Daily Prayer Book (rev. ed.; New York: Bloch, 1975), 282.
  • [84] Cf., e.g,. Didascalia 49:8; Apocalypse of Peter §1; Epistola Apostolorum 16 (27); Apocalypse of Elijah 32:4-5; John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew 76:4.
  • [85] See Niederwimmer, The Didache: A Commentary, 223; Sandt-Flusser, 36, 39.
  • [86] Cf. Draper, “The Development of ‘The Sign of the Son of Man’ in the Jesus Tradition,” 14; Davies-Allison, 3:360.
  • [87] Translation according to The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols.; ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and Allan Menzies; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980-1986), 1:181-182.
  • [88] The staurogram, written ⳨, combines the Greek letters τ (tav) and ρ (rho) to depict the crucified Jesus. The τ depicts the cross, while the ρ depicts the head and torso of Jesus. On the staurogram, see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L21-22.
  • [89] See Higgins, “The Sign of the Son of Man (Matt. xxiv. 30),” 382.
  • [90] On the variant readings in Zech. 12:10, see David Flusser, “Hystaspes and John of Patmos” (Flusser, JOC, 390-453, esp. 423).
  • [91] See Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew and Its Use of the Old Testament, 213. Torrey believed that the allusion to Zech. 12:10-12 in Matt. 24:30 is an interpolation from Rev. 1:7 made by a later copyist of Matthew’s Gospel. See Charles Cutler Torrey, Documents of the Primitive Church (New York: Harper & Bros., 1941), 83. However, there is almost no manuscript evidence to support Torrey’s theory. Cf. Gundry, Use, 53. Moreover, the author of Matthew displayed particular interest in the book of Zechariah, alluding to or quoting Zechariah in Matt. 21:5 (cf. Mark 11:3; Luke 19:31); 23:35 (= Luke 11:51); 26:31 (= Mark 14:27); 27:9 (unparalleled). The author of Matthew’s familiarity with the book of Zechariah means that he was perfectly capable of making the allusion to Zech. 12:10-12 on his own.
  • [92] The revelator may have been more faithful to the common tradition in placing the allusion to Dan. 7:13 ahead of the Zech. 12:10-12 allusion, for the author of Matthew was constrained by his desire to make the tribes mourn at the sign (perhaps envisioned as the cross) rather than the parousia itself. The revelator was certainly more faithful to the earlier tradition by including the reference to the one who was pierced. While the sign (of the cross) reminded the author of Matthew of this common tradition, he was once again constrained by his desire to make the tribes react not to the parousia itself but to the sign that the parousia was imminent. On the other hand, Matt. 24:30 may be closer to the earlier tradition in using the third person plural ὄψονται (opsontai, “they will see”) as opposed to the revelator’s use of ὄψεται (opsetai, “he/she/it will see”) in Rev. 1:7, since Matthew’s ὄψονται makes a better wordplay with κόψονται (kopsontai, “they will mourn”). Note, too, that in John 19:37, where there is a non-Septuagintal quotation of Zech. 12:10, the verb for seeing is ὄψονται (“they will see”). John’s Gospel does not link Zech. 12:10 to Dan. 7:13, but this does not mean that he was unfamiliar with the tradition known to the author of Matthew and the revelator. The account of the crucifixion was hardly the place for the author of John to refer to the Son of Man’s coming.
  • [93] Gundry (Matt., 488), Hagner (2:710) and Davies and Allison (Davies-Allison, 3:359) note the wordplay.
  • [94] See Marc Turnage, “Jesus and Caiaphas: An Intertextual-Literary Evaluation” (JS1, 139-168, esp. 146-147 n. 25).
  • [95] Pace Keener, 586.
  • [96] See McNeile, 352-353; Meier, Matthew, 287; Gundry, Matt., 488; Hagner, 2:714; Keener, 586; Nolland, Matt., 984. Cf. Luz, 3:202.
  • [97] See Gundry, Use, 234; France, Matt., 925.
  • [98] See Gundry, Use, 234.
  • [99] See Gundry, Matt., 488; Hagner, 2:714; Nolland, Matt., 984.
  • [100] See Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993), 318-322.
  • [101] See, for instance, Yerushalayim Besieged, Comment to L36.
  • [102] Cf. Draper, “The Development of ‘The Sign of the Son of Man’ in the Jesus Tradition,” 16, 17.
  • [103] Cf. Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic in Semitized Greek Texts, with an Application for the Gospels and Pseudepigrapha” (JS2, 247-319, esp. 302).
  • [104] On the τότε in Luke 21:10, see Tumultuous Times, Comment to L1.
  • [105] On the τότε in Luke 21:20, see Yerushalayim Besieged, Comment to L5.
  • [106] On the τότε in Luke 21:21, see Yerushalayim Besieged, Comment to L11-12.
  • [107] See Taylor, 518.
  • [108] Marcus, 2:908.
  • [109] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1005-1007.
  • [110] See Dos Santos, 188.
  • [111] Flusser made this point in his essay “Jewish Messianism Reflected in the Early Church” (Flusser, JSTP2, 258-288, esp. 267 n. 21), but it was unfortunately obscured by poor translation. Flusser’s statement, corrected from the Hebrew version of his article, should have read as follows: “There is only one place where all three Synoptic Gospels attribute to Jesus a reference to Daniel 7:13: the apocalyptic vision at Luke 21:27 (and parallels). Even this may not be an authentic saying of Jesus. But even if we assume it is, it is a remarkable fact that Jesus does not allude to Dan. 7:13 in the rest of his Son of Man references, even though he was undoubtedly familiar with the Book of Daniel.” On this and numerous other errors of translation in the posthumously published two-volume collection of Flusser’s essays entitled Judaism of the Second Temple Period, see the JP blog post “Corrections and Emendations to Flusser’s Judaism of the Second Temple Period.”
  • [112] Dalman (257) based his view that Jesus derived his self-designation as the Son of Man from Dan. 7:13 on Jesus’ “apocalyptic discourse” (Matt. 24:30 ∥ Mark 13:26 ∥ Luke 21:27) and on Jesus’ testimony “before the Sanhedrin” (Matt. 26:64 ∥ Mark 14:62 ∥ Luke 22:69). But we do not view either of these instances as a solid basis for Dalman’s conclusion. As we have seen, Jesus’ allusion to Dan. 7:13 in Son of Man’s Coming was probably not self-referential. The apocalyptic image of the Son of Man coming on the clouds probably represented the vindication and exultation of Israel after the long period of Jerusalem’s trampling by the Gentiles.

    With regard to Jesus’ testimony before Caiaphas, it is true that in the Markan and Matthean versions of the pericope an allusion to Dan. 7:13 is undeniably present, but if Lindsey’s hypothesis that the order of transmission was from Luke to Mark to Matthew is correct, then it is likely that the Dan. 7:13 allusion is secondary. In Luke 22:69 Jesus does not refer to the Son of Man’s coming on the clouds of heaven as he does in Mark 14:62 and Matt. 26:64. (Indeed, there is a logical contradiction between the images of a stationary Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power and a mobile Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. See Turnage, “Jesus and Caiaphas: An Intertextual-Literary Evaluation,” 146-147.) All that Jesus says in Luke 22:69 is “From now on the Son of Man will be sitting at the right hand of the power of God.” Jesus’ answer, as it is given in Luke 22:69, appears to be a combination of Ps. 8:5-7 (“What is…the son of man [בֶּן אָדָם] that you care for him? …you have placed [שַׁתָּה] everything under his feet [תַחַת רַגְלָיו]”) and Ps. 110:1 (“Sit at my right hand [לִימִינִי] until I place [אָשִׁית] your enemies as a footstool for your feet [לְרַגְלֶיךָ]”). (It may be that Ps. 80:18, which states, “Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand [יְמִינֶךָ], upon the Son of Man [בֶּן אָדָם] whom you have strengthened for yourself,” played a role in fusing Ps. 8:5-7 and Ps. 110:1. See Turnage, “Jesus and Caiaphas: An Intertextual-Literary Evaluation,” 149.) No allusion to Dan. 7:13 is necessary in order for Jesus’ response in Luke 22:69 to make sense. This does not mean that there could not have been such an allusion, but Occam’s razor certainly places the burden of proof on those who claim that there was. It is not sufficient simply to assume that whenever Jesus referred to himself as Son of Man he alluded to the “one like a son of man” in the vision of Daniel 7. That assumption has to be justified on other rational and verifiable grounds.
  • [113] See Robert L. Lindsey, “The Hebrew Life of Jesus,” under the subheading “Jesus’ Interrogation by the Chief Priests.” See also Randall Buth, “‘Son of Man’: Jesus’ Most Important Title”; idem, “A More Complete Semitic Background for בר־אנשא, ‘Son of Man,’” in The Function of Scripture in Early Jewish and Christian Tradition (ed. Craig A. Evans and James A. Sanders; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), 176-189.
  • [114] It is not clear whether by writing ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ the author of Matthew was attempting to conform to LXX (so Allen, 259; Gundry, Use, 53; Hagner, 2:710) or to the source behind Did. 16 (so Kloppenborg, “Didache 16 6-8 and Special Matthean Tradition,” 62-63), since both refer to a coming on the clouds of heaven (LXX: ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ; Did. 16:8: ἐπάνω τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).
  • [115] See Conzelmann, 183 n. 1; Gundry, Use, 54.
  • [116] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:943.
  • [117] See Dos Santos, 158.
  • [118] Cf. Dan. 7:27, where dominion [שָׁלְטָנָא] and greatness [רְבוּתָא] are conferred on the saints of the Most High.
  • [119] The LXX translation of Dan. 7:14 diverges from the Aramaic, so there is no exact equivalent to יְקָר, although it probably inspired καὶ πᾶσα δόξα (kai pasa doxa, “and all glory”) in Dan. 7:14 LXX.
  • [120] See Comment to L43.
  • [121] Conzelmann’s explanation (130-131, 183 n. 1) that the author of Luke omitted the ingathering of the elect from Son of Man’s Coming because he did not approve of the subordination of the angels to Jesus is feeble. While it may explain Luke’s omission of the angels, it does not explain his omission of the ingathering of the elect from the four winds. If the author of Luke had been troubled by the subordination of the angels to Jesus, he could have written καὶ ἐπισυνάξει τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ. (“and he will gather his elect,” etc.), thereby omitting the angels, or he could have written καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι ἐπισυνάξουσιν τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς κ.τ.λ. (“and the angels will gather the elect,” etc.), thereby omitting the Son of Man’s commanding role. In either case the author of Luke could have eliminated the subordination of the angels to Jesus without discarding all of Mark 13:27. Therefore, something other (or at least something more) than the angels’ subordination to Jesus caused the author of Luke to omit the ingathering from Son of Man’s Coming.
  • [122] See Gundry, Matt., 489; Davies-Allison, 3:363.
  • [123] See Davies-Allison, 3:363.
  • [124] See Darnel Among the Wheat, Comment to L57.
  • [125] Note, however, that Rev. 7:2 has an angel call φωνῇ μεγάλῃ (fōnē megalē, “with a loud voice”). Nevertheless, Rev. 7:2 makes no reference to a trumpet, and the angel’s cry has a different function than the summons of a trumpet blast, so it seems unlikely that a trumpet call was featured in FR or Anth.
  • [126] Pace Metzger, 61.
  • [127] Cf. Kloppenborg, “Didache 16 6-8 and Special Matthean Tradition,” 63-65.
  • [128] In 1 Cor. 15:52, 1 Thess. 4:16 and Did. 16:6 the trumpet call is associated with the resurrection of the dead rather than the ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel. But the resurrection and the ingathering of the twelve tribes are not widely separated categories, since the majority of the tribes had become extinct by the first century. Thus, resurrection was a prerequisite for the twelve tribes of Israel to be restored. See Choosing the Twelve, under the subheading “Results of This Research.”
  • [129] Cf. Davies-Allison, 3:364; Nolland, Matt., 985.
  • [130] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:534.
  • [131] See Dos Santos, 180.
  • [132] See Flusser, “Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem,” 247-249; Sandt-Flusser, 326. Cf. Taylor, 518-519; Davies-Allison, 3:364; Luz, 3:203; Nolland, Matt., 986; Collins, 615.
  • [133] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1444-1446; Dos Santos, 110 (מַטֶּה), 203 (שֵׁבֶט).
  • [134] See Jastrow, 765 (מַטֶּה), 1513 (שֵׁבֶט). By way of example, the noun מַטֶּה occurs twice in the Mishnah: once in the sense of “staff” (m. Avot 5:6) and once in the sense of “tribe,” but in a Scripture quotation (m. Men. 11:5). The noun שֵׁבֶט, by contrast, occurs 24xx in the Mishnah: 18xx in the sense of “tribe” (m. Taan. 4:5; m. Sot. 7:5 [2xx]; m. Sanh. 1:5 [2xx]; 10:3, 4; m. Hor. 1:5 [11xx]) and 6xx in the sense of “staff” (m. Naz. 5:3 [2xx]; m. Sot. 1:8 [2xx]; m. Bech. 9:7 [2xx]).
  • [135] The “four winds” are mentioned in similar contexts without “of heaven” in Jer. 49:36 [LXX: 25:16] and Did. 10:5.
  • [136] Taylor (519) noted that the combination “from the end of earth to the end of heaven” in Mark 13:27 is peculiar.
  • [137] Gundry, Use, 55.
  • [138] On the Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan, see David Flusser, “A Comment on a Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan” (Flusser, JSTP1, 170-174); Hanan Eshel, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 101-115.
  • [139] In the Pentateuch alone, τέσσαρες occurs as the translation of אַרְבָּעָה/אַרְבַּע in Gen. 2:10; 11:16; 14:9; 31:41; 47:24; Exod. 21:37; 25:12 (2xx), 26 (2xx), 34; 26:2, 8, 32 (2xx); 27:2, 4 (2xx), 16 (2xx); 37:2, 4 (2xx), 17 (2xx); 38:3; Lev. 11:20, 21, 23, 27, 42; Num. 1:25, 27; 2:4, 6; 7:7, 8, 88; 17:14; 25:9; 26:21, 47; 29:13, 15, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32; Deut. 3:11; 22:12.
  • [140] Matthew’s version of Son of Man’s Coming refers to “ends of heaven” in place of Mark’s “end of earth” (L45), but we regard this as a secondary change introduced by the author of Matthew.
  • [141] The phrase [αἱ] πτέρυγες [τῆς] γῆς occurs as the translation of כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ in Job 37:3; 38:13; Isa. 11:12; Ezek. 7:2. Cf. Isa. 24:16.
  • [142] On the revelator’s Greek style, see Jan Joosten, “Varieties of Greek in the Septuagint and the New Testament,” in The New Cambridge History of the Bible (ed. James Carleton Paget, Joachim Schaper et al.; 4 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013-2015), 1:22-45, esp. 43-44.
  • [143] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:283.

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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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