Son of Man in the Gospel of John: a Critical Overview of Some Contemporary Perspectives




Son of Man, Ascend, Lifting up, Messiah, Title, Son of God, John


In this paper, different theologian’s opinion will be viewed concerning the title “Son of Man” in John. It is believed that Jesus didn’t introduce this title, its roots are found in the OT. Passages like in Dan.7, Ezek., 1 Enoch 37-71 mention “the Son of Man” term, so these passages where probably the source for Jesus to use “the Son of Man” title and probably the Christian community used this title for Jesus. The supporters of alternative position believe that Jesus mentioned the Son of Man as somebody else. All these views will be analyzed to find out if Jesus used the OT title for Himself or He introduced it. The meaning of the title will be found in the article. John’s Gospel gives an important role to the question of Jesus’ “lifting up”. Another question will be discussed – did John spoke about the ascend - descend of the Son of Man, about the exaltation of the Son of Man or about Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Another issue is that several titles merge in the Forth Gospel to show Jesus Messianic origin, to show that He as the Son of Man is also the Son of God. In the beginning of each section, the argument will be offered, than the opinions of some theologians will be given. At the end of the section the author’s position will be offered.

Author Biography

Viktor KIRIANOV, Viktor Kirianov holds a ministry at local churches as a preacher, a Christian interpreter, a teacher.

Viktor Michaylovich Kirianov, MTh (IBTS, Prague, Czech Republic), BTh (Odessa Theological Seminary, Odessa, Ukraine). At the present time he lives in Odessa, Ukraine and holds a ministry at local churches as a preacher, a Christian interpreter, a teacher. He is an author of several articles in theological journals.


Anderson Charles C. The Historical Jesus: A Continuing Quest. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Aulen Gustaf. Jesus in Contemporary Historical Research. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Boff Leonardo. Jesus Christ Liberator, A Critical Christology for Our Time. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1979.

Bornkamm Gǘnter. Jesus of Nazareth. Harper and Row, 1960.

Bowman John. Which Jesus. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976.

Bultmann Rudolf. The Theology of the New Testament, 2 vol., Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955.

Burkett Delbert. “The Son of Man in the Gospel of John”, Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Sheffield Academy Press, 1991.

Conzelmann Hans. Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973.

Cullmann Oscar. The Christology of the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1959.

Dodd C.H. The Founder of Christianity. NY: Macmillan, 1970.

Dodd C.H. The Interpretation of the Forth Gospel. Cambridge: University Press, 1970.

Dunn James D.G. Christology in the Making. London: SCM Press LTD, 1989.

Fuller Reginald H. The Mission and Achievement of Jesus. London: SCM Press, 1954.

Hunter Archibald M. The Work and Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1950.

Käsemann Ernst. The Testament of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978.

Köstenberger Andreas J. The Missions of Jesus and the Disciples according to the Forth Gospel. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Kuschel Karl-Josef. Born Before All time? The Dispute over Christ’s Origin. SCM Press LTD, 1992.

Longenecker Richard N. The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity. SCM Press LTD, 1970.

Marshall I. H. “Son of Man” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green. Downers Grove: Illinois Intervarsity Press, 1992.

Matera Frank J. New Testament Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.

McDonald H.D. Jesus – Human and Divine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975.

Metzger Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994.

Michel O. “the Son of Man”, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, v.3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.

Mlakuzhyil George. The Christocentric Literary Structure of the Forth Gospel. Rome: Analecta Biblica 117, 1987.

Murray J.O. Jesus According to St. John. London: Longmans, 1936.

Pannenberg Wolfhart. Jesus- God and Man. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press

Schleiermacher Friedrich. The Life of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.

Schweizer Eduard. Jesus. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1971.

Smith, T.S. “The Christology of the Forth Gospel”, Review and Expositor 71.1 (1974): 19-30.

Tuckett Christopher M. Christology and the New Testament. Edinburg: University Press, 2001.

Vawter Bruce. This Man Jesus. NY: Doubleday and Company, 1973.

Vermes Geza. Jesus the Jew. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981.

Witherington III Ben. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

Ziesler J.A. The Jesus Question. Guildford and London: Lutterworth Press, 1980.