General Statements on Jesus' Son of Man and Enoch's Son of Man
There is a literary connection. Brad Young (a scholar who seeks to illuminate the words of the New Testament by their parallels in rabbinic and intertestamental literature) includes a section on Enoch's use of the Son of Man in his work Jesus the Jewish Theologian.1 In 1 Enoch 46, we read:
1 And there I saw one who had a 'Head of Days' and his head was white like wool. And with him there was another whose face had the appearance of a man and his face was full of grace like one of the Holy Angels. 2 And I asked one of the Holy Angels, who went with me and showed me all the secrets, about that Son of Man, who he was, and from where he was, and why he went with the Head of Days. 3 And he answered me, and said to me: "This is the Son of Man who has righteousness and with whom righteousness dwells. He will reveal all the treasures of that which is secret, for the Lord of Spirits has chosen him, and through uprightness his lot has surpassed all others, in front of the Lord of Spirits, forever. 4 And this Son of Man, who you have seen, will rouse the kings and the powerful from their resting places, and the strong from their thrones, and will loose the reins of the strong, and will break the teeth of the sinners.
While this imagery can all be found in the Old Testament, that Jesus (who was obviously aware of 1 Enoch both because He was God and because the book was popular in His day) was drawing from it to connect with his audience is more likely than Jesus piecing things together from the Old Testament. First of all, once Jesus uses the imagery that He does in His own Son of Man statements, the minds of the audience are going to go to 1 Enoch since the imagery there is so similar. If Jesus intended to not reference 1 Enoch, He would have chosen imagery that didn't match up with 1 Enoch.
The first thing to note is that the Son of Man is more than a mere man (as the Hebrew idiom can mean) and is more than a prophet (as Ezekiel uses the term). He stands next to God (the Chief of Days being the same as Daniel's Ancient of Days). The Son of Man is more than human. When Jesus used the term "Son of Man," His listeners wouldn't think only of Daniel, but they would have gone to the apocalyptic writings which use the term, e.g. 1 Enoch. This was the most powerful expression Jesus could use for the future deliverer.
Early Church Fathers, not having access to the Intertestamental writings, concluded that Jesus was referring to His humanity when he called himself "the Son of Man." However, they were unaware of the rich usage in the Jewish writings. Jesus is drawing together both aspects of His identity in this term.2 He is a man and a son of man, but more than that, He is the coming deliverer!
Similarities Between 1 Enoch and Jesus' Parable of the Son of Man Judging
Leslie W. Walck has written a book on this subject showing how the similarities in style and vocabulary demonstrate that Matthew was familiar with this section of Enoch (Parables of Enoch). He also presents evidence (summarizing the work of John J. Collins in The Apocalyptic Imagination, 153) that the section identifying Enoch with the Son of Man in 71:14 was a later addition. Though he also summarizes arguments for the authenticity of 1 Enoch 71.
As Walck points out, at the very least, the two stem from a common (Jewish) tradition. However, the similarities are striking. The Son of Man statements in Matthew and Parables of Enoch both share:
- The Son of Man sits on his throne in glory
- And judges the mighty of the world
- The mighty are judged according to how they treated the poor
- Both judges send out angels and reverse the fortunes of the judged (the poor are elevated, the mighty are cast down)
- The mighty do not recognize the judge
- No mercy is given and they are sent to a place of punishment
One may argue that since all the items can be found in the Old Testament, there is no reason to believe that Jesus was referring to Enoch. However, when so many of the elements are the same, the connection becomes much more probable. Indeed, the authors of the New Testament quote uninspired texts and use them in sermons on multiple occasions.
When there are so many similarities between the parable from Jesus and the well-known similitude of Enoch, the likelihood of literary influence becomes much higher.
Non Canonical Quotations in the New Testament
1 Enoch was a popular work, though not seen as inspired. It was never listed in any Jewish list of canon (for example Josephus specifies 22 books that line up with the modern, Jewish canon. The Qumranites never write commentary on it and in one of their letters state they recognize only the mainstream, Jewish canon). However, I know of no one who can make a decent case that Jude (the half-brother of Jesus) doesn't quote 1 Enoch in question in Jude 1:14-15.
Jude 1:14 Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, "Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, 1:15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Compare 1 Enoch 1:9
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Such arguments against Jude quoting 1 Enoch 1:9 come down to "Jude doesn't specifically say he's quoting from 1 Enoch, so even though it's as close as close can be, we'll just say it can't be concluded" or "Jude is drawing from the same source as the author of 1 Enoch, so of course they wind up similar" or "could be oral tradition from the real Enoch."
Jude also quotes from the Assumption of Moses:
Jude 1:9 But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, "May the Lord rebuke you!"
Some argue that this is not a quote from Assumption (about a third of which is lost) but might be a combination of The Apocalypse of Moses (that Michael digs graves for the just), Zechariah 3, and 1 Enoch (an argument between Michael and Azazel). Either way, the pieces are there and the simplest answer is that Jude quoted these books. That does not make the sources inspired by any means.
The Apostle Paul even quotes Greek writers:
Acts 17:28 'For in him we live and move and have our being,' as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.' [NIV]
First, he cites Epimenides of Crete (ca. 600 BC), "For in You do we live and move and have our being" (preserved in Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies 18.104.22.168-2). Next, he cites a famous poem of Aratus of Cilicia (c. 330 BC and friend of Zeno, founder of the Stoics, possibly from Tarsus), "All the ways are full of Zeus, and all the market-places of human beings. The sea is full of him; so are the harbors. In every way we have all to do with Zeus, for we are truly his offspring" (Phaenomena, line 5, emphasis added).
Titus 1:12 A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
That is a quotation of Epimenides Paradox. It was originally stated by Epimenides of Knossos circa 600 BC.
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.
— Epimenides, *Cretica*
Similarly, Jesus refers to the Essenic work War Between the Sons of Light and Sons of Darkness in John 12:36.
John 12:36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become sons of light."
The term "sons of light" appears in two bodies of work: Christian writings and the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will not find the term in the Hebrew Scriptures. Since the DSS predate Jesus' ministry (the last new material from Qumran dates to approximately the same time as Jesus, and everything written after that is copies of earlier material). War Scroll is dated to either the second century BC or the early decades of the first century AD. Logically, Jesus is referring to the concepts from War Scroll.
He also quotes pharisaic tradition in Matthew 15:5-6. While He doesn't approve of how they have nullified Scripture, He shows He is familiar with it. It should be noted that Jesus argues using sources that His audience accepts. For example, when the Sadducees challenge Him regarding Levirate marriage in Matthew 22:23ff, Jesus sticks to Torah for his response because they accepted only the five books of Moses as authoritative. However, when He spoke with Pharisees, Jesus quoted from anywhere in the Tanak as well as their oral tradition (sometimes called "traditions of the fathers"). Many of Jesus' parables even share much in common with Pharisaical parables.
One of the most influential Pharisees prior to Jesus was Hillel the Elder. That Jesus was familiar with the teachings of the most famous teacher of the prior generation (and grandfather of Rabban Gamaliel the Edler, the most famous of Jesus' generation) cannot be questioned.3
Hillel said, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; Go now and study the commentary." BT Shabbat 31a
In Matthew 7:12, "Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets." Jesus reverses the first part. However, "That is the whole of Torah" would be the same as "This is the meaning of the [Tanak]."
Some Christians find these quotes from noncanonical sources unsettling, especially when they are quoted with approval. However, in all cases, the speaker/writer is using the traditions that the audience is familiar with to lead them to a deeper walk with God (in some cases, such as Acts 17, this first involves bringing them to repentance).
However, these works can be quoted and alluded to without the whole work being therefore seen as authoritative. None of the references include the common introduction to an inspired work "it is written."
Jesus' Disagreement with First Enoch
Those quotes mean the writer/speaker got that part right (even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally). Truth does not have to be original to be true. In this case, Jesus is saying that the pictures of how the Son of Man comes in glory are correct, but the identity of the Son of Man with Enoch is not correct (similar to when he quotes the traditions of the fathers and then turns them around such as "You have heard it said..., but I say to you"). This can be seen in how Jesus describes himself as the Son of Man.
Of the many uses of Son of Man as a self reference:
Matthew 20:17-19 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve aside privately and said to them on the way, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. They will condemn him to death, and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Yet on the third day, he will be raised.”
Mark 10:32-34 They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was going ahead of them, and they were amazed, but those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and experts in the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him severely, and kill him. Yet after three days, he will rise again.”
Luke 18:31-34 Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; he will be mocked, mistreated, and spat on. They will flog him severely and kill him. Yet on the third day he will rise again.”
These predictions of the death (and resurrection) of the Son of Man would have been anathema to the writer of Enoch who identified the Son of Man as ever triumphant.
1Brad Young. Jesus the Jewish Theologian.
3There were two divisions of Pharisees in Jesus' day: Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai. As shown consistently in the Talmud, Hillel is merciful and lenient while Shammai is rigid and strict. Jesus usually sides with Hillel but on matters of morality, Jesus sides with Shammai (e.g. Hillel's teaching easy divorce while Shammai was strict in when he allowed it).