What’s In A Name? Part 2

So in Part 1, we learned how the Hebrew name of Yeshua changed over the centuries to “Jesus,” the name used today in Christian circles for the itinerant preacher who wandered through the hills of Palestine some 2000-plus years ago.

But where did the added name of Christ come from?

Many are aware that way back in biblical days, God promised the Jewish people a mashiach (also spelled moshiach) — a deliverer, a liberator. While this word translates in English to “messiah” and is considered by many to mean “savior” …

The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word “messiah” that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept. (http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm)

 The Jewish people saw the mashiach as a future human leader, physically descended from the paternal Davidic line through King David and King Solomon, and often referred to him as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David).

They visualized this individual as a charismatic leader, well-versed in Jewish laws and traditions, an anointed judge who would make righteous decisions, and a militaristic leader who would win battles for Israel. He was expected to unify the tribes of Israel and usher in a “Messianic Age” (Olam Ha-Ba), a time of peaceful co-existence of all people and a time when the whole world would recognize the Jewish G-d as the only true god, and the Jewish religion as the only true religion.

So the question then becomes … was Yeshua the expected mashiach? Some of the Hebrew people living at the time believed he was. Paul, in particular, was certain he was, and began a crusade to convince not only the non-believing Jews but also the gentiles, the people he believed he had been called upon to reach.

However, since the gentiles had no need for a messiah (deliverer, liberator), they saw Yeshua as nothing more than a Jewish spiritual leader. They could see no reason to acknowledge or worship him above any of their own gods. This meant that Paul had to come up with a way to present him as someone special.

To identify with his mostly Greek audience, Paul removed the Hebrew title of mashiach and began using the Greek word christos (“anointed one”) when referring to Iesous (see Part I). This new title, which translates to the English word Christ, was much more familiar to his intended converts and eliminated any reference to Iesous’s  “Jewishness.”

Paul also knew the gentiles referred to their deities as kurios (“lord” in Greek), so he further assisted his cause by frequently using this title when he talked about Iesous.

As pointed out in Part I, throughout the years as language evolved and changed, Yeshua eventually became known as Jesus. And now, with Paul’s help, he is also referred to as Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Addendum: There is still a division of thought among Jews and Christians as to the true identity of Yeshua. The former still await their mashiach while the latter are certain Jesus was/is the one who will usher in that magical world of peace and tranquility. 

28 thoughts on “What’s In A Name? Part 2

  1. Very informative piece. And here I always thought Thomas Jefferson gave Jesus Christ his name when they were writing the Constitution together: “Jesus! For Christ’s sake already! I said I DO NOT want milk in my tea. Take this back and bring me another. We’ve tons of bible quotes to add to this constitution and we”re gonna be up all night doing it. I need black, strong tea. Now, get to it!”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Wow. It seems the saying “the more we know, the more free we are” is very correct. Thank you for taking the time to look all this up and share it with us. I never knew how the parts came together to make the whole. I suspect most don’t . How many can believe after seeing clearly the manipulation of the facts, the names, the data…? More importantly if they did not get to indoctrinate the kids, would any adult accept it? Lots of questions. Now how do we move forward compassionately to help those who don’t know. Not the ones who won’t hear…. The colorstorms or the godsmanforever .. but those who still think and simply don’t have the facts. How do we help? Thanks for everything you have done to help. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • And thank YOU, Scottie, for your great input. I’ve been very impressed with your comments on various blogs. You really put a lot of thought into what you say and it nearly always resonates with my own perspective.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the “learning experience.” 😉 And yes, let’s hope something I wrote reaches the hearts and minds of those who may be struggling with doubts.

      Hugs back. {{{}}}

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh good friends, To Nan , to learn is to grow, to grow, is to become more than we are…. That is the state I am in…. those that show us that journey are to be honored, those that let us question that journey are to be honored even more. To be honest I have so many thousand questions of life ( most not religious I admit ), but so few I can express with the information I have. The greatest thing is blogs like yours. You give the information clearly, without insult, and such that it is something others can repeat knowing they actually understand what they are repeating. I am not there yet, but may soon be. What draws me to your blog is you are not insulting to those that don’t have your knowledge, but instead you present the facts for everyone. thanks and many hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul it seems by all account was a very severe man, and none too Jesus like. Sort of like a fundamentalist. It also seems clearly why the Jews never thought Jesus was the messiah. He simply didn’t fit the description.

    Great research Nan, and great post!

    Liked by 4 people

    • I definitely have my opinion of Paul (outlined extensively in my book)!

      I don’t think he’s “sort of like a fundamentalist” … I think he’s the Father of Fundamentalism.

      Thanks for the compliment. I try. 😉

      (P.S. I’ve been working on getting my “creative” blog ready for viewing. Still a ways to go, but soon.)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Nan,

    Apologies for my very late arrival. Life. You KNOW this subject is my cup-o-tea and I/we “discuss” it all too often round these parts, or at least I listen to theological proclamations poorly examined (Ugh)! 😮 But alas, I am here now!

    You have summed up the historical context and background of Jewish Messianism quiet well. Bravo Ma’am! Bravo! Many ultra-conservative Xians would not even bother investigating, much less ponder, critical questions about the ancient stories, inconsistencies, and myths which they base their entire world-view upon! Here, you introduce some basic questions opening cans of worms that leave an honest logical thinker with no doubts their religion is… well, dubious at best.

    Very very few Xian believers or ministers/priests, let alone secularists, are even aware of the compelling origins and backgrounds of Nazarene, or Nazorean, or Nasara of which Yeshua (Jesus) was VERY closely associated via Ezra-Issa Messianic traditions!

    In fact, due to several exiles and enslavements of the Hebrews, or Judean and Israeli tribes, the resultant Diaspora, and hence later 2nd century CE fragmentation of Jewish Messianism around Jerusalem… Jesus’ Arabian background was not only intentionally distorted in the Synoptic gospels, but totally overhauled by Saul of Tarsus’ (Paul’s) letters/epistles after his return from 3-years in Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18 and Acts 9). Arabian-Nasara Messianism conflicted in significant ways to doctrines & rituals of the Pharisees and Sadducees (two more fragmented sects in the region) who controlled Jerusalem’s Temple and spiritual activities and its theology. Thorough examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls — an invaluable resource of 1st century CE Jerusalem/Jewish context in which Yeshua/Jesus was heavily embroiled — records the severe schisms within Judaism that most definitely included the Nazarene, or Nazorean, or “Nasari Messiah.” Oh! And it is no small coincidence that of all the Jewish sects of 1st century Jerusalem and the surrounding region, the Pharisees are the ones who believed most vehemently in angels, demons, miracles, resurrection, and — like the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls — in the coming Messiah… Paul’s exact Jewish sect and background!

    Foods for thought. 😉

    Wonderful post Nan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • As usual, you are far more versed on these subjects than I am! Enjoy your “lessons” except for one thing … they force me to do more research (!).

      Thanks for stopping by and providing information from your vast library of knowledge. (And for the compliments.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha! Well, that’s what 3.5 years of seminary and about 10-years of daily/weekly church ministries (Fundamental mind you) does for one’s intellect and vision. It TRULY opens your eyes and brain to the Swiss-cheese of it all!!! 😛

        And also, only do “more research” Nan if it pleases you. Otherwise, most average people on the streets — moderate Xians included — could care LESS about this sort of stuff or the historical context and origins of Abrahamic “faiths.” Who likes riding in and weathering unstable rocking boats when you can create your own little tranquil pond with other obese toads? 😉 Rib-it!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post (as usual) Nan.

    I remember my great grandmother, she was an old school marm in a one room school house way out in the Iowan countryside many years ago. She had gray hair down to her knees and sat in her rocker doing grandma stuff all day long. She would from time to time tell me the stories of our immigrant families coming over on ships, and about the hardships and death that were part of the trip (she was a child at the time and was on the ship). I wish now I had written all of that stuff down, all lost to history.

    She would also go on a rant from time to time about Paul (she was an old school x-ian apparently) She despised Paul, I didn’t really understand then. But I’m getting a handle on it now 🙂

    She would also talk badly about some woman she knew that couldn’t make gravy without corn starch. It is funny the things that stick with you… It is a shame I had not the vision to record her history, which as a kid bored the shit out of me…

    Liked by 2 people

    • She despised Paul Smart woman! Plus, she sounds like a great great-grandmother.

      It’s interesting how we retain some memories and not others. (I’m sure the psychologists and such could offer their considered opinion on this.) As for writing it all down … of course, it would be nice, but who thinks of such things when you’re a kid?

      Glad you enjoyed the post.


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