The Christian theology of Son of Man and the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has engaged the minds of scholars for a long time. There are a lot of unexplained aspects in this theology.
What does the phrase “Son of Man” mean? We can make out what “Son of God” means, but what does “Son of Man” mean? Why are the two phrases “Son of Man” and “Son of God” used interchangeably in the scriptures? The explanation generally given is that Jesus wanted to show himself as both human and divine, so both these phrases were used by him. However, the phrase “Son of Man” is clearly used in Bible in divine context, to refer to Jesus as divine. Several phrases like “Son of Man will send out his angels,” “Son of Man seated at the right hand of God,” “Do you believe in Son of Man?” – these phrases tell us that the phrase Son of Man is being used to refer to Jesus as divine rather than as human. Some scholars tried to explain it by saying that “Son of Man” means “Sun of Man;” As per them, it is related to Sun worship, and all these crucified gods around the world are actually Sun Gods. Admitting this, I would say that even the phrase “Sun of Man” or “Sun of God” does not look convincing enough. Why would anyone call a Sun God as Sun of Man or Sun of God? This phrase is even more odd; I would rather vote for the earlier explanation that “Son of Man” was used in reference to Jesus’ humanity Elohim.
Even as we try to come out of this perplexity, we have another puzzle staring at us on why God is divided into a Father, a Son, and Holy Ghost. God having a spirit that is distinct from him is not easily and readily intuitive; and the concept of anything being one and three at the same time is quite difficult to understand. Other scholars have gone and researched the crucified savior legends all over the world and have come up with the conclusion that this division of three emerged from the supposedly pagan cults, like that of the Horus,Orisis,Isis of Egypt. This only throws up another question on why Egyptians or others found it necessary to divide their God into three from the doctrinal perspective.
The questions have been quite daunting. It has been recognized by a large number of scholars by now that the concepts of Christianity did not originate with Jesus but have existed much before Jesus’ time, as attested by the large number of crucified savior legends and figures that existed across the world since ancient times. Kersey Graves, in his 1875 book, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors, has recognized sixteen crucified saviors around the world. Since then, researchers have been coming up with more and more crucified saviors from the nook and corners of our globe. There must be one central root figure in all of these, from where the Christ concepts actually originated from. If we can get at this root figure and the root theology, we can probably better answer the above puzzles related to the Christ concept.
The key to the whole question lies in the observation that the terms Man and God are being used interchangeably. When the terms “Son of Man” and “Son of God” are being used interchangeably, it means that Man is being considered same as God and is being used interchangeably with God. And there lies our answer. The only place where Man is considered as God since ages and continues to be so is India.
The supreme God of Indian religion is called Purusha, meaning Man. Their holiest scriptures are Vedas. And the most important hymn in their Vedas is the Purusha Sukta, termed as the essence of all Vedas by Vyasa, the central and revered figure of most Hindu traditions. It is a hymn addressed to Purusha, the Cosmic Man. It is related to Indian theology, which views God as a Universal Cosmic Man, who pervades and fills this universe.
So the original Christ concept probably originated from the Cosmic Man theology of India, which is why the phrases Son of Man and Son of God are used interchangeably. We have solved one piece of the puzzle. We have answered why Man is being used interchangeably with God. We next come to the second missing piece of the puzzle on why God has to be divided into three. Since we have nailed down the connection to the Cosmic Man theology, we need to ask ourselves on whether there is any other theology in India that is related to the theology of Cosmic Man. And the answer we would get is yes – there is an old and almost forgotten Vaishnavite concept in India called Nara-Narayan. You want to know the meaning of the word Narayan? As per Monier-Williams English-Sanskrit Dictionary, Narayan means Son of Man! And you want to know the meaning of the word Nara? It means the eternal holy spirit!
Even though researchers have been going all around the world in search of the original crucified savior figure or trinity, I do not think they would find another trinity that so closely matches the Christian trinity, right to the very meanings of the words. For example, does Horus mean “Son of Man?” Do Egyptian dictionaries tell you that the meaning of the word Osiris is Man or God, or that Isis means holy spirit? The Christian trinity originated from the Purusha-Narayan-Nara trinity of the Vaishnavite religion of India – an old and almost forgotten concept in India. The minute anyone gets down to research into trinity in India, he or she immediately latches on to the popular Indian trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and compares the Christian trinity with it. And since the two theologies do not match up, the argument always remains unconvincing. As a result, this Nara-Narayan concept is completely overlooked, leaving a big gap in Christological studies.
The Nara-Narayan theology was quite popular among the masses of India at the time of Mahabharat war, a famous and legendary war in Indian history. Krishna, the Godly figure of Indians, played a prominent role in this war. The reason for the popularity of this theology at that time was that Krishna was believed to be the Narayan, and Arjun, Krishna’s friend and devotee, was considered to be the Nar. The theology took hold of the imagination of the people because of the influence of Krishna. Wikipedia says:
“According to Bhandarkar, the gods Nara-Narayana must be very famous at the time of the composition of the Mahabharata, since in the opening stanzas of different books obeisance is made to these two gods. In Vanaparvan, Krishna says to Arjuna,”O invincible one, you are Nara and I am Hari Narayana, and we, the sages Nara-Narayana, have come to this world at proper time..”