The person of Jesus: Messiah

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The person of Jesus: Messiah
The term `Messiah' comes from the Hebrew ` mashiah' meaning `anointed one', and is
translated into Greek as Christ.
Kings, prophets and high priests were all anointed, but the term is particularly
associated with a warriorking who would defeat the enemies of God and herald the
arrival of God's Kingdom on earth.
In many respects, finding Jesus' selfunderstanding is a difficult, if not impossible, task.
The gospels are the result of decades of theological speculation and their aim is not to
present the historical Jesus, but the figure in whom they believed.
Old Testament background
Looking for Messianic ideas in early Jewish thought is difficult. Some scholars think
there is a `messianic vacuum' in most Old Testament texts as wherever they are found
it is difficult to discern what exactly was expected.
In spite of these difficulties, William Horbury (Professor of Jewish and Early Christian
Studies at Cambridge) says `a rich but largely consistent messianism grew up in
preexilic and later Israel'.
The term `Messiah' ( hamashiah ), used, early on, to refer to the king (1 Sam 24:6, etc.),
then developed to refer to the high priests and prophets (1 Kings 19:16, Isaiah 61:1)
and by the time of Daniel (second century BCE) it is used, without qualification, to
refer to a future coming figure, probably human, who would establish God's Kingdom
on earth.
The Isaiah passages
Isaiah 9 Isaiah 11 Isaiah 7
`For unto us a son is `A shoot shall come out `A young girl is with child
born...wonderful from the stump of and shall bear a son and
counsellor, mighty God, Jesse...the spirit of the shall name him
everlasting Father, Prince Lord shall rest on him...but Immanuel.'
of Peace....for the throne with righteousness he
of David and his kingdom. shall judge the poor... the
He will establish it and lion shall lay down with
uphold it with justice and the lamb...'
Although it is not certain whether these passages refer to the king or a Messianic figure ­ the
forthcoming birth of a child in chapters 9 and 11 is thought to refer to a royal heir, they have,
nevertheless, been taken to be classic Messianic passages. They show the `Messiah' would be:
A human figure.
A kingly figure of Davidic descent.
He will establish a reign of peace.
Special concern will be given to the poor.
Psalms of Solomon 17:25ff
The Psalms, probably more or less contemporary with Jesus, show:
A Davidic, kingly Messiah.
A mighty warrior.
He will gather together an elect.

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Gentiles will serve him.
He will be invincible.
He will be a frighteningly authoritative speaker.
The Dead Sea Scrolls ­ the beliefs of the Essene community
A dual Messiahship ­ Aaron, a priestly figure and Israel, the traditional warrior
messiah. Aaron, in later texts, is said to take precedence.
A Davidic Messiah.
A dying, suffering Messiah, though the text is corrupt (it has literally too many holes in
it) and its meaning is therefore terribly suspect.…read more

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Luke 24:25ff.
Is this postCrucifixion reflection?
A priestly Jesus seems to disregard purity laws ­ unpriestly!
Messiah Mark 11:15­17 ­ an assault on the Temple as an institution. Craig
Evans (Professor at Acadia Divinity School, Nova Scotia) says Jesus
was criticising the priests for impurity.
Matthew 17 shows slight resistance to paying the Temple tax ­ all
of God's sons should be exempt.
The one who The Last Supper.
hosts the Feeding of five thousand.…read more


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