Geza Vermes Reviews Mogens Müller’s The Expression ‘Son of Man’ and the Development of Christology: A History of Interpretation

In the most recent issue of the Journal of Jewish Studies, Vermes writes

Professor Mogens Müller, a Danish expert from Copenhagen, has enriched New Testament scholarship with a splendid specimen of Forschungsgeschichte, an over 400 page long encyclopedic survey of the Son of Man problem. It is unquestionably the most thorough treatment of a hotly debated issue, which indirectly amounts also to a full history of Christology. Covering the subject from the earliest church fathers to contemporary authors, Müller has examined the contribution of over 1,000 writers ranging from the important to the ephemeral and, instead of being just a recorder of opinions, had the courage to formulate his own assessments and thus offer guidance to newcomers to this overworked but still fascinating subject.

He also notes

Müller’s specific personal contribution consists in putting into relief that the doctrinal significance of the Son of Man idiom is essentially the work of the evangelists and that its roots go back to an Aramaic circumlocution. To quote the author, the phrase Son of Man ‘never turns up in the Gospels in confessional sayings, much as it is never employed in a predicative way. The interpretation of the Son of man in the New Testament Gospels is in free fall until it is recognized that the expression does not have any specific meaning before it receives it through its concrete context in the respective Gospels’ (p. 419).

It’s a glowing review- and rightly. The volume is epoch-making.