The aim of the article is to show that Jesus used the expression “son of man” generically, meaning “humankind”. This generic use developed into a “titular” usage in which his followers identified Jesus with the apocalyptic son of man. It is argued that Jesus’ use of the expression “son of man” should be understood in the context of his subversive wisdom and the “little tradition” of peasants. His followers reinterpreted this usage in terms of the “great tradition” of scribes. This development is demonstrated by means of a Jesus wisdom saying about a comparison between the fate of beasts and the son of man who has nowhere to lay his head (Q 9:58).