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From Son of Man to Son of Adam—the Prophet Ezekiel in Targum Jonathan

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image of Aramaic Studies

The ubiquitous vocative expression ‮בן־אדם‬‎ (literally ‘son of man’) in the Book of Ezekiel seems to underscore the prophet’s status as a mere mortal. In contrast to the other ancient versions, Targum Jonathan to the Prophets interprets the word ‮אדם‬‎ as a proper noun, and renders the phrase accordingly as ‮בר אדם‬‎ ‘son of Adam’. This translation runs counter to the Targum’s conventional practice of rendering ‮בן־אדם‬‎ with ‮בר אנש(א)‬‎. In the absence of a satisfactory grammatical explanation for the divergent rendering, this article examines the possibility that the Targumist’s eschewal of ‮בר אנשא‬‎ was motivated by doctrinal concerns. On the strength of the findings it is argued that ‮בר אדם‬‎ was a clever and subtle alternative for ‮בר אנשא‬‎ because, depending on the context, the latter phrase could evoke associations with the Danielic Son of Man figure and the Son of Man Christology.

Affiliations: 1: Leo Baeck College


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