Mark and Divine Christology?

Michael Bird posted the following summary regarding the Jesus of Mark's Gospel:

The Marcan Jesus participates in the kyricentricity of Israel’s God. He is identified as a pre-existent heavenly figure who has come to earth, who carries divine authority, who embodies royal and priestly roles; and in his person, words, and deeds he manifests the holy presence, the redemptive purposes, and the cosmic power of the Lord of Israel.

Is this an accurate summary for Mark's description of Jesus? I think not. Preexistence as a former or incarnate "heavenly divine figure" is reliant upon interpretations regarding Daniel's son of man in Mark. Here are some excerpts from J.R.D. Kirk on the subject from his paper Mark's use of Son of Man and Paul's second Adam Christology:

"In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is depicted throughout as an idealized human being...Mark’s idealized human Christology is both signaled and captured, in part, through the self-designation 'Son of Man' on the lips of Mark’s Jesus. Such a high, human Christology is best explained as an Adam Christology refracted through the lenses of both Daniel 7 and the earliest narratives about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. As idealized human figure, Mark’s Jesus has authority to rule the world on God’s behalf, suffers and dies, is raised from the dead, rules at God’s right hand, and returns in heavenly glory. 170

In the story of Mark, the identity of Jesus as suffering and vindicated Son of Man and the identity of the Son of Man who comes in the eschaton as an active agent within the final judgment scene are inseparable, and thus are to be interpreted jointly as facets of the same reality. 172

Consideration of the first two Son of Man sayings will highlight the problematic nature of the claim that Jesus as 'Son of Man' is divine. First, Mark’s Jesus uses the Son of Man locution in two controversy stories, and in each he claims unique authority for himself. In the first, he is claiming authority, as Son of Man, even to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Inasmuch as this is responding to the scribes’ question, 'Who can forgive sins but God alone?' (Mark 2:7), the story is ripe for a divine Son of Man interpretation. And yet, such an interpretation is not without its problems, and an authoritative, human representative is a better reading of the passage’s Christology. One problem with the divine Christ interpretation is that the scribes, as opponents of Jesus in the narrative, are not trustworthy interpreters of Jesus’ identity. Another point of caution is raised by Matthew’s Gospel, which points the reader in a different direction by concluding that the crowds celebrate God giving such authority either 'to' or 'among' people (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, Matt 9:8). The authority in view may be a delegated authority, even in Mark. 175

...Son of Man is not, for Mark, a signifier for divinity. While this saying has garnered a great deal of attention as pointing toward an aphoristic use of 'Son of Man,' such an interpretation is not how the phrase works in Mark’s gospel. 176

Mark 2:28 decisively undermines the notion that Mark’s Son of Man is a divine figure, signaling to the reader that the original meaning of “the human being” continues to flavor the connotations of the phrase in Mark’s story. 177

Jesus rules and returns not because he is preexistent divinity, but because he has been faithful son of God on earth and is therefore exalted to God’s right hand. The authority that Jesus exercised upon the earth, and over all things created for the sake of humanity, because he was 'the human one,' he then holds in exalted fashion as this same, but glorified, 'human one.' The Son of Man is enthroned at God’s right hand as the crucified human Jesus who was then raised from the dead." 178-9

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