Kraeling’s treatment of the ancient figure known as the "Anthropos” remains a challenging read even after several decades. Surveying Hellenistic, Gnostic, Manichean, Mandean, and Jewish sources, the author suggests a ubiquitous character known as the Anthropos was used in the New Testament to characterize aspects of Christ.
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Still challenging decades after it was written, Kraeling’s treatment of the "Son of Man" theme in the cultural world of the New Testament is essential reading for those interested in the conception of Christ in the Hellenistic world. Drawing on Gnostic, Manichean, and Mandean materials, Kraeling is able to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian figure of the "Son of Man" corresponds to a figure known throughout the oriental world as the "Anthropos". This field of study leads Kraeling into a consideration of oriental syncretism where religions mingle and borrow, a process from which not even the New Testament is exempt. Defining the Anthropos, Kraeling then examines the cultures in which he appears, from the Manichean primal man through the Jewish conceptions of the Anthropos. The origin of this figure is explored in detail and finally he is compared with the New Testament Son of Man. Readers curious about the interaction of ancient religions and the possible origins of some New Testament theology will find this work a timeless contribution to the field.
Carl H. Kraeling (1897-1966) held a number of distinctive offices during his career. Among his notable positions were a professorship at Yale University and a period as the President of the American Schools of Oriental Research.