The Puritan Exegesis Project: Thomas Manton on Daniel 7:13, â€˜The Son of Manâ€™
Rudolph Bultmann famously asked, â€œIs exegesis without presuppositions possible?â€ Many Biblical scholars since have made clean distinctions between exegesis and eisegesis, sometimes for good reason. Aichele and Phillips (Semenia vols. 69-70) contrast Bultmannâ€™s statement with the discipline of intertextuality: they maintain that the distinction between exegesis/eisegesis is too sharp, incapacitating scholars and ministers who rely on religious texts to express meaning and identify with their authors.
In a sermon on Hebrews 11:5 Thomas Manton (1620-1677) makes a one-to-one correspondence with Enochâ€™s translation and Christâ€™s ascension. â€œIn Adam God would give the world a pledge of the fruit of sin, which is death; and in Enoch God would give a pledge of the fruit of holiness; and that is immortality and eternal life.â€ The proof is Christâ€™s taking human nature to heaven in the ascension, and leaving us with His Spirit in pledge of the promise (John 8:51). The interpretive question here is: can Manton readÂ his NT doctrine of the ascension onto the OT texts, Gen. 5:24 and Dan. 7:13?
To prove that heaven will perfect human nature and communion with God Manton cites Dan. 7:13: â€œOne like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days and they brought him near before him.â€ Aben Ezra and many rabbinic interpreters take â€˜son of manâ€™ to be Israel. But others, both Jewish and Christian alike, take the phrase to represent the Messiah based on extensive OT and NT references, and R. Ezraâ€™s supporting text (vs. 27 cf. 24) is not compelling. Â On the other hand it can refer to a â€˜congregationâ€™ of human-like figures opposed to the animal-like figures used elsewhere in the apocalyptic text.
Mantonâ€™s reading of Dan. 7:13 is striking and unique. With the reference to the Messiah on one hand and the congregation of the faithful on the other, Manton organizes a cluster of NT texts around Dan. 7:13 to cement the ascension of Christ as fact and promise to the believerâ€™s transmission to heaven.
â€œAs soon as the soul departs out of the body you shall be carried by the angels in triumph to Christ. Believerâ€™s have the same entertainment which Christ had. Christ was welcomed to heaven with acclamations (Dan. 7:13). He was â€˜broughtâ€™ that is, by a train of angels, and there conducted and welcomed [him] to heaven with a Well done, and well suffered for the souls of men! So shall your souls be carried by angels into Abrahamâ€™s bosom, Luke 16:22. Why into Abrahamâ€™s bosom? Christ himself was not yet ascended â€¦ but you shall be carried into Christâ€™s bosom. Look, as God did as it were take Christ by the hand when he ascended, therefore it is said, Acts 2:33, â€˜Being by the right hand of God exalted.â€™ It principally notes the power of the divine majesty: but it is an allusion to the entertainment we give to a friend or guest we would welcome â€¦ so will Christ entertain you.â€
What’s up with the Barth quote on the last post and Bultmann on this one? Is there some sort of neo-orthodox transition going on here?
It’s almost a ‘mad-scientist’ experiment to juxtapose those names together. Before this article I didn’t think as highly of Manton as I should have. He seems to get lost in his scripture references too often, but here he really hits home for me.