Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why “Christ” and not “Messiah”?

Similar to the foregoing component of Sun-worship which had been adopted into the Church, we have yet another proof of the adoption of a pagan word or name, although less convincing of its absolute solar origin. However, we can clearly see that, with the Greeks using both the Greek words Messias (a transliteration) and Christos (a translation) for the Hebrew Mashiach (Anointed), the word Christos was far more acceptable to the pagans who were worshipping Chreston, Chrestos, and perhaps also those worshipping Krista. But we will come to that later.

The Hebrew word Mashiach has been translated in the Old Testament of the King James Version as “Anointed” in most places, but as “Messiah” in two places, namely Dan 9:25 and 26. This word is a title, although it was used as an appellative (name) later on. Thus, this word was faithfully translated as “Anointed” in the Old Testament and only in Dan 9:25 and 26 was its Hebrew character retained in the transliterated “Messiah.”

Likewise, we find that the Greeks also admitted their transliterated form Messias in the Greek New Testament in John 1:41 and John 4:25. Why then did they introduce or use the Greek word Christos in the rest of the Greek New Testament? Even if they had preferred Christos to Messias, why did our translators transliterate the word as “Christ”? Why did they not transliterate the word , as was done in Dan 9:25 and 26, as “Messiah,” seeing that the Greeks had also accepted their transliteration of the word, namely Messias in John 1:41 and John 4:25?

Ferrar Fenton’s translation, The Complete Bible in Modern English, uses “Messiah” instead of “Christ” in most places where the word is used alone, except when used as the combination “Jesus Christ.” In a similar way the New English Bible has used “Messiah” in its New Testament in many places. The Good News Bible has restored the word “Messiah” in no less than 70 places in its New Testament. The New International Version gives the alternative “Messiah” in almost all places, by means of a footnote. Dr Bullinger in The Companion Bible, appendix 98 IX, says, “Hense, the Noun [Christos] is used of and for the Messiah, and in the Gospels should always be translated ‘Messiah’.” Also, Benjamin Wilson in his Emphatic Diaglott has restored the words “Anointed” and “Messiah” in many places.

Our Saviour Himself said in John 4:22, “For salvation is from the Jews” (NASB). Not only was our Messiah born from a Hebrew maiden, but also all of His Saving Message, the teachings, “the root and fatness” (Romans 11:17), the Glad Tidings, “spiritual things” (Romans 15:27), “the citizenship of Israel” (Ephesians  2:12), “covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12), “the spiritual blessings” (Romans 15:27, NIV and TEV) – are all from the Jews! The Good News Bible, in its rendering of Romans 9:4-5 added the word “True” to the word “Worship” to make it clearer. Speaking of literal Israel, it reads, “They are Elohim’s people; He made them His sons and revealed His esteem to them; He made His covenants with them and gave them the Law; they have the True Worship; they have received Elohim’s promises; they are descended from the famous Hebrew ancestors; and Messiah, as a human Being, belongs to the race.” Read this passage in the NIV and NEB too.

These New Testament texts irrefutably prove the Jewishness of the Messianic Belief and the Jewishness of our Messiah. That well-known scholar of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, Prof Julius Wellhausen, who in all his works expressed his hatred towards Pharisaical Judaism, nevertheless wrote the following bold words, “Jesus… was a Jew. He proclaimed no new faith, but He taught that the Will of God must be done. The Will of God stands for Him, as for the Jews, in the Law, and in the other holy Scriptures that are classed with it.”

Our Saviour could not have been known as Christos among His people. His title was known as Mashiach in Hebrew, and Mesiha in Aramaic – to those who accepted Him as such (Matthew 16:16, John 6:69 etc). This title is easily transliterated as “Messiah,” and is generally accepted, and has been accepted, just like the Greek Messias. Why then have they not persisted with it? Even if they wanted to translate it, why have they not translated it as “Anointed,” as was done in the English translation of the King James Version’s Old Testament?

Our research into this matter has produced some revealing similarities between Christos and certain pagan names and titles. F.D. Gearly, writing in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol 1,pp 571-572, says, “the word Christos… was easily confused with the common Greek proper name Chrestos, meaning ‘good’.” He also quotes a French theological dictionary which says, “It is absolutely beyond doubt that Christus and Chrestus, Christiani and Chrestiani, were used indifferently by the profane and Christian authors of the first two centuries of our era.” He continues, “in Greek, ‘e’ and ‘i’ were similarly pronounced and often confused, the original spelling of the word could be determined only if we could fix its provenance [origin]… The problem is further complicated by the fact that the word Christianos is a Latinism… and was contributed neither by Jews nor by the Christians themselves.” He quotes various scholars to support his proposition that the word Christianos was introduced from one of three origins: (a) The Roman police (b) The Roman populace (c) Unspecified pagan providence [origin].

Gearly then proceeds, “The three occurrences of ‘Christian’ in the NT suggests that the term was at this time primarily used as a pagan designation. Its infrequent use in the NT indicates not so much lateness of origin as pagan provenance [origin].”

This almost sensational admission as to the confusion and uncertainty between Christos and Chrestos, Christus and Chrestus, Christiani and Chrestiani, as well as by the Early Fathers: Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius and others.

This confusion and uncertainty can only encourage and exhort us to return to the only Source of Truth, the Word, the Scriptures, before it was translated into the languages of the pagans. Only then can we find peace in the truth of our Saviour being the Messiah, the Anointed, the One promised to Israel.

Who was this Chrestos or Chreston with which Christos became confused with?

we have already seen that Chrestos was a common Greek proper name, meaning “good.” Further, we see in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopaedie, under “Chrestos,” that the inscription Chrestos is to be seen on a Mithras relief in the Vatican. We also read in J.M. Robertson, Christianity and Mythology, pg 331, that Osiris, the Sun-deity of Egypt, was reverenced as Chrestos. We also read of the heretic Gnostics who used the name Chreistos.

The confusion, and syncretism, is further evidenced by the oldest Christian building known, the Synagogue of the Marcionites on Mt. Hermon, built in the 3rd century, where the Messiah’s title or appellation is spelt Chrestos. Justin Martyr (about 150 C.E.) said that Christians were Chrestoi or “good.” Tertullian and Lactantius inform us that “the common people usually called Christ Chrestos.” Clement of Alexandria, in the same age, said, “all who believe in Christ are called Chrestoi, that is ‘good men.’”

The word Christos could even have been more acceptable to the Krishna-worshippers, because the name of Krishna was pronounced, and still is to the present day, as Krista, in many parts of India. Thus, we can readily see that the word Christos was easier to convert the pagans with, than with the word “Messiah,” especially because of the anti-Judaism that prevailed among the pagans.

The syncretism between Christos and Chrestos (the Sun-deity Osiris), is further elucidated by the fact of Emperor Hadrian’s report, who wrote, “There are there (in Egypt) Christians who worship Serapis; and devoted to Serapis, are those who call themselves ‘Bishops of Christ’.” Serapis was another Sun-deity who superseded Osiris in Alexandria.

Once again, we must not falter nor stumble over this confusion among the Gentiles. Rather, we must seek the truth, primarily from the faithfully preserved Old Testament Scriptures – see 2 Tim 3:16, John 17:17, Psalm 119:105, Isaiah 40:8. We must worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, as well as His Son, Yehoshua the Messiah, who is sitting at His right hand. We do accept the entire message of the New Testament, but we truly desire to return to the original Messianic Scriptures, as far back as we possibly can.

As previously mentioned, the Greeks changed Ěliyahu (Elijah) into Helias in the Greek New Testament, and the Helios-worshipers must have been overjoyed because of their Sun-deity being assimilated to the Ěliyahu (Elijah) of the Scriptures. To avoid the confusion between Helias and Helios, we should abide by the Hebrew “Ěliyahu (Elijah).” Likewise, to avoid confusion between Christos and Chrestos, we should abide by the word Messiah, or Anointed – remembering that Osiris the Sun-deity, amongst others, was called Chrestos. Mithras too, was possibly called Chrestos (see above).