"That man's father is my father's son"

OK, so we know who the chap in the picture is - but what’s the implication of that? Is the guy in the dock the king, and thus expects clemency? The answer, it seems, poses yet more questions…

I can’t see any picture at all, today, but, since it’s a short column, it’s probably the usual answer in such cases: the original printed column in The Chicago Reader combined two (or more) short items, and the cartoon made reference to both (or all) of them.

There was no picture in the column. awmperry was referring to the actual question, which contained an incorrect version of the riddle:

So, the unanswered question is, what is the man in court for, and what is the implication that the man in the picture on the courtroom wall is the man’s son (or nephew)? Is he a judge in a more superior court? Is he the Prersident, or King, or some other high-ranking official? Can he pardon the man, or somehow commute his sentence?

Of course, that’s probably a moot question, since the correct riddle is:

The answer of course is I am that man’s father, since I am my father’s only son. So the man is also my son.

Yeah, I was wondering about that variant of the riddle, too. I’ve always heard it that an upper-class Brit Gentlemen gives a visitor a tour through his ancestral home, pointing out the pictures on the walls, and finally points to one picture and says the riddle.

Why bring in a court?

couldn’t he also be referring to a picture of Jesus?

No. Jesus could hardly be the man’s son.

I think you need to read more carefully. People often refer to God as their father, so we get “Jesus’ father is God’s only Son,” or “God is Jesus.” Throw in the concept of the Trinity, where Jesus is 100% God, and the statement is correct.

The bigger problem is–how do you get a picture of Jesus?

The man in the court room is the father (or possibly uncle) of the man in the picture. If you say the man in the picture is Jesus, then the man in the courtroom is God, which would be highly improbable. The only instances I can recall of God actually being physically present in a court are in the book and the movie “Oh, God!”

Also, if you say, “Jesus’ father is God’s only Son,” then you’re saying that Jesus is his own father, which doesn’t make any sense.

As BigT pointed out, yes, it does make sense in the context of Trinitarian doctrine. (Not that that makes much sense, but most Christians accept it nonetheless.)
Powers &8^]

This riddle reminds me of another, popular in the 70s.

A man is brought into the accident department of a hospital, terribly injured from an auto wreck. He’s rushed straight to an operating room, where the surgeon takes one look at him and exclaims, “I can’t operate on this man! He’s my son!” The surgeon, however, is not the man’s father.

The interesting thing is, of course, that this isn’t a riddle now, the answer is obvious. But in the 70s, when words like surgeon were connected with males, it’s surprising just how many people were stumped by it, coming up with all sorts of elaborate explanations other than the correct one. (I remember it got me when I first heard it back then.)

I recall this one from an episode of All In the Family in which Gloria tells the riddle and Archie flatly refuses to accept Gloria’s explanation of the answer and that women can be professionals in what had traditionally been a male-dominated field of practice. Or that women even had a place working outside of the home.

So… is it a religious icon, then? I can’t think of any anglophone jurisdiction that has depictions of god in courtrooms…