Augsburg Fortress

The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man

The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man

A thorny historical issue handled with artistry and imagination

The epithet "the son of the man" (or "the Human Being") in the Gospels has been a highly debated topic. Wink uses this phrase to explore not only early Christology but the anthropology articulated in the Gospels. Jesus apparently avoided designations such as Messiah, Son of God, or God, though these titles were given by his disciples after his death and resurrection. But Jesus is repeatedly depicted as using the obscure expression "the Human Being" as virtually his only form of self- reference.

Wink explores how Jesus' self-referential phrase came to be universalized as the "Human Being" or "Truly Human One." The Human Being is a catalytic agent for transformation, providing the form and lure and hunger to become who we were meant to be, or more properly perhaps, to become who we truly are.
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800632625
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 384
  • Publication Date November 8, 2001


MINNEAPOLIS (September 29, 2003)-The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) recently awarded Walter Wink's The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man the 2003 Award for Best Book Relating to the New Testament.


"An impressive book. Brilliant and passionate, powerful and provocative, a remarkable integration of religion, psychology, politics, the quest for Jesus, and our yearning for 'The Human Being' that we see in Jesus. Wink fills us with a passion for becoming truly human."
— Marcus Borg, Author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time

"Conjoining rigorous historical-critical analysis of the 'Son of Man' traditions with informed reflections on philosophy, psychology, and mysticism, Wink not only gives us new insights into such texts as Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Gospels, he offers a new understanding of Jesus within his own first-century context. More remarkable still, through his recovery of the 'Human Being' he provides a lens through which all readers—regardless of religious identification or theological suasion—can discover what it means to be human. This is engaged, honest scholarship at its best."
— Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

"Walter Wink's The Human Being is at once brilliant, innovative, provocative and challenging. Displaying rigorous historical-critical scholarship while being attuned to recent developments in literary and sociological methods, the volume is nonetheless thoroughly readable, even also inspirational. Interpreting the phrase 'the son of man'-an expression found both in Hebrew sources and on the lips of Jesus-as referring to a human being, Wink explores what it means in Jewish and Christian texts to 'become more human.' Wink weaves together an impressive mix of textual analysis, politics, psychology and ethics. His volume is an essential contribution to studies of Paul, John, Gnosticism and even Jewish mysticism."
— Biblical Archaeology Society