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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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And you know, I can not see at all how the fact that the Son of Man came on the clouds to be presented before the Ancient of Days and receive dominion, etc, precludes Him being God from eternity past.

The question here is whether Daniel meant this figure in human form to be understood as divine. In the symbolic drama that takes place in chapter 7 he is interpreted by the angel as representative of the “people of the saints of the Most High”, against whom Antiochus Epiphanes made war. In contrast to the beast-like empires which emerged from the sea and which are judged before the throne of God, Israel will become an everlasting kingdom, which will be served by the other nations.

My argument (developed in The Coming of the Son of Man) is that Jesus deliberately identifies himself with this symbolic figure in this narrative in order to make the point that at a much more serious time of crisis both he and those who suffer for his sake will be vindicated and will be given kingdom amidst the nations.

In other words, Jesus as Son of Man is faithful persecuted Israel. Not a pre-existent divine figure.

I might agree with you about the ascension, by the way. I think probably we need to differentiate between a coming on the clouds which is the vindication of Jesus in the first place, and a coming on the clouds when Jesus comes in power and glory to deliver his persecuted followers from their enemies.