Christ (title)

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The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator - Saint Catherine's Monastery. The halo is a representation of the divine Logos of Christ, and the two different facial expressions on either side emphasize Christ's dual nature as both divine and human. Spas vsederzhitel sinay.jpg
The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator Saint Catherine's Monastery. The halo is a representation of the divine Logos of Christ, and the two different facial expressions on either side emphasize Christ's dual nature as both divine and human.

The concept of the Christ [note 1] in Christianity originated from the concept of the messiah in Judaism. Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Although the conceptions of the messiah in each religion are similar, for the most part they are distinct from one another due to the split of early Christianity and Judaism in the 1st century.

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Christ, used by Christians as both a name and a title, is synonymous with Jesus. [5] [6] [7] It is also used as a title, in the reciprocal use "Christ Jesus", meaning "the Messiah Jesus", and independently as "the Christ". [8] The Pauline epistles, the earliest texts of the New Testament, [9] often refer to Jesus as "Christ Jesus" or "Christ". [10]

Although the original followers of Jesus believed Jesus to be the Jewish messiah, e.g. in the Confession of Peter, Jesus was usually referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth" or "Jesus, son of Joseph". [11] Jesus came to be called "Jesus Christ" (meaning "Jesus the Khristós", i.e. "Jesus the Messiah" or "Jesus the Anointed") by later Christians, who believe that his crucifixion and resurrection fulfill the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

Etymology

Christ comes from the Greek word χριστός (chrīstós), meaning "anointed one". [12] The word is derived from the Greek verb χρίω (chrī́ō), meaning "to anoint." [12] In the Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ, messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed". [13]

In the Old Testament, anointing was reserved to the Kings of Israel [14] , to the High Priest of Israel (Exodus 29:7, Leviticus 4:3–16 [15] ), and to the prophets (1 Kings 19:16). [16]

According to the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, in the singular case of Jesus, the word Christ has a twofold meaning, which stands for "both the Godhead anointing and the manhood anointed". It derives from the twofold human-divine nature of Christ (dyophysitism): the Son of man is anointed in consequence of His incarnated flesh, as well as the Son of God is anointing in consequence of the "Godhead which He has with the Father" (ST III, q. 16, a. 5). [17]

Usage

The Mocking of Christ by the Cavalier d'Arpino (1568-1640) Cavalier d'Arpino - The Mocking of Christ - WGA04701.jpg
The Mocking of Christ by the Cavalier d'Arpino (1568–1640)

The word Christ (and similar spellings) appears in English and in most European languages. English-speakers now often use "Christ" as if it were a name, one part of the name "Jesus Christ", though it was originally a title ("the Messiah"). Its usage in "Christ Jesus" emphasizes its nature as a title. [8] [18] Compare the usage "the Christ".

The spelling Christ in English became standardized in the 18th century, when, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, the spelling of certain words changed to fit their Greek or Latin origins. Prior to this, scribes writing in Old and Middle English usually used the spelling Crist - the i being pronounced either as // , preserved in the names of churches such as St Katherine Cree, or as a short /ɪ/ , preserved in the modern pronunciation of "Christmas". The spelling "Christ" in English is attested from the 14th century. [19]

In modern and ancient usage, even in secular terminology, "Christ" usually refers to Jesus, based on the centuries-old tradition of such usage. Since the Apostolic Age, the

[...] use of the definite article before the word Christ and its gradual development into a proper name show the Christians identified the bearer with the promised Messias of the Jews. [20]

In the Ancient Greek text of the deuterocanonical books, the term "Christ" (Χριστός, translit. Christós) is found in 2 Maccabees 1:10 [21] [22] (referring to the anointed High Priest of Israel) and in the Book of Sirach 46:19 [23] [24] , in relation to Samuel, prophet and institutor of the kingdom under Saul.

Background and New Testament references

First page of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak (14th century): "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". Sargis Pitsak.jpg
First page of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak (14th century): "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God".

At the time of Jesus, there was no single form of Second Temple Judaism, and there were significant political, social, and religious differences among the various Jewish groups. [25] However, for centuries the Jews had used the term moshiach ("anointed") to refer to their expected deliverer. [20] The New Testament states that the long-awaited messiah had come and describes this savior as "the Christ". In Matt 16:16, the apostle Peter said, in what has become a famous proclamation of faith among Christians since the first century, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [25]

Mark 1:1 ("The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God") identifies Jesus as both Christ and the Son of God. Matthew 1:1 uses Christ as a name and Matthew 1:16 explains it again with: "Jesus, who is called Christ". The use of the definite article before the word "Christ" and its gradual development into a proper name show that the Christians identified Jesus with the promised messiah of the Jews who fulfilled all the messianic predictions in a fuller and a higher sense than had been given them by the rabbis. [20]

The Gospels of Mark and Matthew begin by calling Jesus both Christ and the Son of God, but these are two distinct attributions. They develop in the New Testament along separate paths and have distinct theological implications. At the time in Roman Judaea, the Jews had been awaiting the "Messiah", and many people were wondering who it would be. When John the Baptist appeared and began preaching, he attracted disciples who assumed that he would be announced as the messiah, or "the one" that they had been awaiting.

In John 11:27 Martha told Jesus, "you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world", signifying that both titles were generally accepted (yet considered distinct) among the followers of Jesus before the raising of Lazarus. [26]

In the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, it might appear from the narratives of Matthew and Luke that Jesus at first refused a direct reply to the high priest's question: "Art thou the Christ?", where his answer is given merely as "su eipas" ("thou hast said it"). The Gospel of Mark, however, states the answer as "ego eimi" ("I am"), and there are instances from Jewish literature in which the expression "thou hast said it" is equivalent to "you are right". [27] The Messianic claim was less significant than the claim to divinity, which caused the high priest's horrified accusation of blasphemy and the subsequent call for the death sentence. Before Pilate, on the other hand, it was merely the assertion of his royal dignity which gave grounds for his condemnation. [27]

The word "Christ" is closely associated with Jesus in the Pauline epistles, which suggests that there was no need for the early Christians to claim that Jesus is Christ because it was considered widely accepted among them. Hence Paul can use the term Khristós with no confusion as to whom it refers, and he can use expressions such as "in Christ" to refer to the followers of Jesus, as in 1 Corinthians 4:15 and Romans 12:5 . [28] Paul proclaimed him as the Last Adam, who restored through obedience what Adam lost through disobedience. [29] The Pauline epistles are a source of some key Christological connections; e.g., Ephesians 3:17–19 relates the love of Christ to the knowledge of Christ, and considers the love of Christ as a necessity for knowing him. [30]

There are also implicit claims to him being the Christ in the words and actions of Jesus. [27] Episodes in the life of Jesus and statements about what he accomplished during his public ministry are found throughout the New Testament.

Christology

Christology, literally "the understanding of Christ," [31] is the study of the nature (person) and work (role in salvation) of Jesus in Christianity. [32] [33] [34] [35] It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; [36] and the role he plays in salvation.

The earliest Christian writings gave several titles to Jesus, such as Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, and Kyrios, which were all derived from the Hebrew scriptures. These terms centered around two themes, namely "Jesus as a preexistent figure who becomes human and then returns to God," and "Jesus as a creature elected and 'adopted' by God."

From the second to the fifth centuries, the relation of the human and divine nature of Christ was a major focus of debates in the early church and at the first seven ecumenical councils. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 issued a formulation of the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, one human and one divine, "united with neither confusion nor division". [37] Most of the major branches of Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy subscribe to this formulation, [37] while many branches of Oriental Orthodox Churches reject it, [38] [39] [40] subscribing to miaphysitism.

Symbols

The Chi-Rho Simple Labarum2.svg
The Chi-Rho

The use of "Χ", derived from Chi, the Greek alphabet initial, as an abbreviation for Christ (most commonly in the abbreviation "Χmas") is often misinterpreted as a modern secularization of the term. Thus understood, the centuries-old English word Χmas, is actually a shortened form of CHmas, which is, itself, a shortened form for Christmas. Christians are sometimes referred to as "Xians", with the 'X' replacing 'Christ. [41]

A very early Christogram is the Chi Rho symbol formed by superimposing the first two Greek letters in Christ ("Χριστός"), chi = ch and rho = r, to produce . [42]

See also

Notes

  1. Pronounced /krst/ . From Latin: Christus, via Greek: χριστός; calqued from Aramaic: משיחא, romanized: məšīḥā or Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ, romanized: māšîaḥ, lit.  '; messiah ', from Aramaic: משח, romanized: məšaḥ or Hebrew: מָשַׁח, romanized: māšaḥ, lit.  'to anoint'. [3] [4] Alternatively (Messiah or Messias): Latin: messias, from Greek: μεσσίας (alternative to χριστός), from the same Semitic word.

Related Research Articles

Adoptionism Holds that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection, or his ascension.

Adoptionism, also called dynamic monarchianism, is a Christian nontrinitarian theological doctrine which holds that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection, or his ascension.

Christology Study of Jesus Christ in Christian theology

Christology, translated literally from Greek as "the word of Christ", is a branch of theology that centers around the study of the nature (person) and work of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two natures; and the role he plays in salvation.

Gospel of Mark Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Mark is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret, concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.

Gospel Books which describe the life and teachings of Jesus

Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John comprise the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible and were probably written between AD 66 and 110. All four were anonymous, almost certainly none were by eyewitnesses, and all are the end-products of long oral and written transmission. They are a subset of the genre of ancient biography, but ancient biographies should not be confused with modern ones, and often included propaganda and kerygma (preaching); yet while there is no guarantee that the events which they describe are historically accurate, in the quest for the historical Jesus, scholars believe that it is possible to differentiate Jesus' own views from those of his later followers. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four canonical gospels, and like them advocating the particular theological views of their various authors.

Messiah Saviour or liberator of a group of people, most commonly in the Abrahamic religions

In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of moshiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible; a moshiach (messiah) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of Christian Bibles is the New Testament, originally written in the Koine Greek language.

Resurrection of Jesus Christian belief that God raised Jesus after his crucifixion

The resurrection of Jesus, or anastasis is the Christian belief that God raised Jesus after his crucifixion as first of the dead, starting his exalted life as Christ and Lord. In Christian theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events, a foundation of the Christian faith, and commemorated by Easter. His resurrection is the guarantee that all the Christian dead will be resurrected at Christ's second coming. For the Christian tradition, the bodily resurrection was the restoration to life of a transformed body powered by spirit, as described by Paul and the Gospels, that led to the establishment of Christianity.

Messiah in Judaism A savior and liberator of the Jewish people.

The Messiah in Judaism is a savior and liberator figure in Jewish eschatology, who is believed to be the future redeemer of the Jewish people. The concept of messianism originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible a messiah is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. However, messiahs were not exclusively Jewish, as the Hebrew Bible refers to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.

Jesus in Christianity Jesus in Christianity

In Christianity, Jesus is believed to be the Son of God and in many mainstream Christian denominations, he is also believed to be the second Person in the Trinity. Christians believe that through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, God offered humans salvation and eternal life. He is believed to be the Jewish messiah who is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, which is called the Old Testament in Christianity. These teachings emphasize that as the Lamb of God, Jesus chose to suffer on the cross at Calvary as a sign of his obedience to the will of God, as an "agent and servant of God". Jesus died to atone for sin to make humanity right with God. Jesus' choice positions him as a man of obedience, in contrast to Adam's disobedience.

Jewish Christian Members of the Jewish movement that later became Christianity

Jewish Christians were the followers of a Jewish religious sect that emerged in Judea during the late Second Temple period (first-century). The sect integrated the belief of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah and his teachings into the Jewish faith, including the observance of the Jewish law. Jewish Christianity is the foundation of Early Christianity, which later developed into Christianity. Christianity started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and it developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and the post-crucifixion experiences of his followers.

Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament Designations for Jesus used in the New Testament

Two names and a variety of titles are used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament. In Christianity, the two names Jesus and Emmanuel that refer to Jesus in the New Testament have salvific attributes. After the crucifixion of Jesus the early Church did not simply repeat his messages, but focused on him, proclaimed him, and tried to understand and explain his message. One element of the process of understanding and proclaiming Jesus was the attribution of titles to him. Some of the titles that were gradually used in the early Church and then appeared in the New Testament were adopted from the Jewish context of the age, while others were selected to refer to, and underscore the message, mission and teachings of Jesus. In time, some of these titles gathered significant Christological significance.

Substitutionary atonement Doctrine in Christianity

Substitutionary atonement, also called vicarious atonement, is the idea that Jesus died "for us," as propagated by the classic and objective paradigms of atonement in Christianity, which regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, 'instead of' them.

Christ myth theory View that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology

The Christ myth theory is the view that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no substantial claims to historical fact. Alternatively, in terms given by Bart Ehrman paraphrasing Earl Doherty, "the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity."

Threefold office Christian doctrine about Christ

The threefold office of Jesus Christ is a Christian doctrine based upon the teachings of the Old Testament of which Christians hold different views. It was described by Eusebius and more fully developed by John Calvin.

Mark 1 Gospel according to Mark, chapter 1

Mark 1 is the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

Matthew 16 Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 16

Matthew 16 is the sixteenth chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament section of the Christian Bible. Jesus starts his final journey to Jerusalem ministering through Judea. The narrative can be divided into the following subsections:

Confession of Peter An episode in the New Testament in which the Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ

In Christianity, the Confession of Peter refers to an episode in the New Testament in which the Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ. The proclamation is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20. Specifically, Peter declares, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

This is a glossary of terms used in Christianity.

Christianity in the 1st century Christianity-related events during the 1st century

Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity, from the start of the ministry of Jesus to the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles.

Hebrews 1 Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 1

Hebrews 1 is the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The author is anonymous, although the internal reference to "our brother Timothy" causes a traditional attribution to Paul, but this attribution has been disputed since the second century and there is no decisive evidence for the authorship. This chapter contains the introduction ('exordium') about God's final revelation ('word') through his son and how the son is superior to angels.

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  14. Judges 9:8–15; 2 Samuel 5:3; 1 Kings 1:39; Psalms 89:20, and who were given the title ‘the Lord’s anointed’ (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 12:3; 2 Samuel 23:1; Psalms 2:2; Psalms 20:6; Psalms 132:17; Lamentations 4:20
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