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The Targum of Ezekiel (The Aramaic Bible, Volume 13) [Hardcover]

2 Ratings: 3.5
A book by Samson H. Levey

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Author: Samson H. Levey
Publisher: Michael Glazier Books
1 review about The Targum of Ezekiel (The Aramaic Bible,...

Does the phrase "son of man" mean a mortal or someone who is divine?

  • Jul 25, 2010

My reviews of the two volumes Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis offer details about this 19 volume series presenting an English translation of the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible. These are translators who not only rendered the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the language spoken when the translation was composed, they also frequently deviated from a literal rendering and inserted their own ideas. This is volume 13, which translates the Aramaic version of Ezekiel.  There are many interesting items in this volume. The following is one of them.


      The phrase “son of man” occurs 87 times in the Hebrew of this book. It is also in Daniel 8:17, a passage which Levey explains is based on this book. The phrase is significant because it reappears in the New Testament as a designation of Jesus. Many theologians read “son of man” contrary to its literal wording as indicating that Jesus is more than a human.


      Interestingly, Levey points out that all the ancient Bible translations, including the earlier Greek translation called the Septuagint, prepared before the onset of Christianity, and the Christian Latin Vulgate render the phrase “son of man” with no special significance. Medieval Bible commentators say that the Bible is making certain that Ezekiel and his readers do not think that he is an angel because he receives a prophecy or even special in any way; therefore the Bible repeatedly reminds him that he is only human, a son of man.


            However, curiously, our Aramaic translator renders the phrase “son of Adam.” Levey cites the famous biblical commentator Kimchi who states that the Aramaic translator used the name Adam, as indicated above, to emphasize that Ezekiel is human, a descendant of Adam. Thus, the usage of “son of man” in Ezekiel shows that the designation does not suggest a super-human being.

Does the phrase

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