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Messiah

Messiah

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For other uses, see Messiah (disambiguation).

In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ Standard Hebrew Mašíaḥ Arabic: Al-Masih, المسيح), Tiberian Hebrew Māšîªḥ, Aramaic משיחא) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. In English today, in religious contexts, it is used in two major contexts: the anticipated saviour of the Jews, which has to come in the future to bring ultimate peace on earth. And secondly, the one who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a saviour or liberator. Jews, however, do not generally use the word "saviour" in reference to the messiah, primarily because of the Christian connotation of the word "saviour," and the sense in which that word is used by Christianity.

In the first century, Jews interpreted the prophecies of the Tanakh to refer more specifically to someone appointed by God to lead the Jewish people in the face of their tribulations with the Romans. Christians believe that these prophecies actually referred to a spiritual savior, and consider Jesus to be that messiah. The word Christ (Greek Χριστός, Christos, "the anointed one") is a literal translation of "mashiach" used in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and derived from the Greek verb χριω "rub, anoint with scented unguents or oil, as was done after bathing", "anoint in token of consecration" (Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lexicon).

In Islam, Jesus (Isa) is also called the Masih (Arabic for Messiah).

Some speculate that the Jewish concept of the Messiah did not arise as depicted in the Hebrew Scriptures, but rather originates in the Zoroastrian idea of Saoshyant. For similar figures in other religions, refer to the "See also" section in this article. [citation needed]

The Septuagint, an ancient Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Greek, translates all thirty-nine instances of the word messiah as Christos. The New Testament records the Greek form Μεσσίας, Messias, only twice, in John 1:41 and 4:25.

Contents

[edit] In the Hebrew Bible

Main article: Jewish Messiah

The concept of the messiah is neither common nor unified in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew Bible, Israelite priests, prophets, and kings were anointed with oil in consecration to their respective offices.

The Hebrew Bible contains a number (the number is debated) of prophecies concerning a future descendant of King David who will be anointed as the Jewish people's new leader (moshiach).

The prophet Daniel received an indication of when the Messiah the king “mashiyach nagiyd” would come in the Tanakh, Kethuvim 9:25 also called Daniel 9:25.

The prophecies regarding this person refer to him as a descendant of King David who will rebuild the nation of Israel, bring world peace by restoring the Davidic Kingdom, destroy the wicked, and ultimately judge the whole world.

The mainstream Jewish understanding of mashiach (the messiah) has little, if anything, in common with the Christian understanding of Jesus as Christ (messiah). This subject is covered in more detail in the entry on Jewish eschatology.

[edit] Traditional and contemporary Judaism

The concept of the messiah varies in traditional and contemporary Judaism. The view of the messiah in talmudic literature is that there are two messiahs, Moshiach ben Yossef (Messiah son of Joseph) and Moshiach ben David (Messiah son of David). [1] The Hebrew ben can mean either son or descendant. In this sense it can also mean "in the manner of", i.e., there will be a "suffering servant" messiah in the manner of Joseph son of Israel/Jacob and a different messiah in the manner of King David.

A common rabbinic interpretation is that there is a potential messiah in every generation. The Talmud tells of a highly respected rabbi who found the Messiah at the gates of Rome and asked him "When will you finally come?" He was quite surprised when he was told, "Today." Overjoyed and full of anticipation, the man waited all day. The next day he returned, disappointed and puzzled, and asked, "You said messiah would come 'today' but he didn't come! What happened?" The Messiah replied, 'Scripture says, "Today, if you will but hearken to His voice . . ." (Psalm 95:7)

Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism believe in a future physical messiah who will bring peace to the world.

Ashlagian Kabbalah explains the Messiah as an eternal spiritual power who saves the soul from an egoistic state.

Reform Judaism teaches there will be a time of peace, etc., but that it will be the result of tikkun olam ("repair of the world") through human efforts toward social justice, not the actions of one man.

"Choice is the underlying reason the Reform Movement gave up the need for and belief in a messiah who would one day bring judgment, and perhaps salvation, to the world. The fact that God imbues us with free choice mitigates the need for a messianic figure." (Schwartzman, 2004)

[edit] Christian view

Christianity emerged in the first century C.E. as a movement among Jews (and their Gentile associates and converts) who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah; the very name of 'Christian' refers to the Greek word for 'Messiah' (χριστος Khristos). Although Christians commonly refer to Jesus as the "Christ" instead of "Messiah", in Christian theology the two words are synonymous.

Christianity claims that Jesus is the Messiah that Jews were expecting. John 1:41-42 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. However, the Christian concept of the Christ/Messiah is fundamentally different from the Jewish and Muslim (Shafaat, 2003) concepts because many Christians believe Jesus claimed to be God (cf. John 10:37-38; 14:7-11; 17:5; 17:11 and the following):

John 10:30 (NIV) I and the Father are one.
John 10:33 (NIV) "...you, a mere man, claim to be God..."
John 14:9b (NIV) "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."

In Christian theology, the Christ/Messiah serves four main functions (Ankerberg & Weldon, pp. 218-223):

  • He suffers and dies to make atonement before God for the sins of all humanity, because God's justice requires that sins be punished. See, e.g., Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22, which Christianity interprets as referring to Jesus.
  • He serves as a living example of how God expects people to act.
  • He will establish peace and rule the world for a long time. See Nicene Creeds of 325 and 381 C.E.; Revelation 20:4-6: (NIV) "… They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 6 … they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." (see Millennialism).
  • He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and he came to earth as a human. John 1:1-2,14a: 1. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2. He was with God in the beginning. 14a The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

In the New Testament, Jesus often referred to himself as 'Son of Man' (Mark 14:61b-62; Luke 22:66-70), which Christianity interprets as a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV):

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Because Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that he claimed to be the Son of Man referred to by Daniel, Christianity interprets Daniel 7:13-14 as a statement of the Messiah's authority and that the Messiah will have an everlasting kingdom. Jesus' use of this title is seen as a direct claim to be the Messiah.

Jesus offered no denial when others identified him as the Messiah and successor of King David (Mark 8:27-30, 10:47-48, 11:7-10); his opponents accused him of such a claim (Luke 23:2), and he is recorded at least twice as asserting it himself directly (Mark 14:60-62, John 4:25-26).

Christianity interprets a wide range of biblical passages in the Old Testament (Hebrew scripture) as predicting the coming of the Messiah (see Christianity and Biblical prophecy for examples), and believes that they are following Jesus' own explicit teaching:

  • He said to them..."Did not the Christ/Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24: 25-27, NIV)
  • Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45-47, NIV).
  • The book of Matthew repeatedly says, "This was to fulfill the prophecy …". See (the concept of) Messianic prophecy.

Christianity believes many of the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and seeks to spread throughout the world its interpretation that the Messiah is the only Saviour, and that Jesus will return in the Second Coming to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy.

(The role of Jesus in Christian theology goes far beyond identification as the Messiah described in the Hebrew Bible.)

Section references: Ankerberg & Weldon, 1997; McDowell, 1999

[edit] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that the Jews will be redeemed at the coming of the Messiah, but that the Jewish Messiah is Jesus Christ. They believe that Christ came initially and was rejected, and was called to remain with God until the time of the Jews' redemption has come. They believe that King David referred to this waiting period in the following quote from Psalms:

THE LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
Psalms 110:1-7

They further believe that in the Latter-days, all of the nations of the world shall be gathered against the Jews, and that the Messiah will return and stand on the Mount of Olives, causing it to split to allow the residue of the Jews to flee out of Jerusalem:

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
Zechariah 14:1-7

It is there, after their flight from the city that Christ will present himself to the Jews so that they can see the wounds of his crucifixion, and they will realize that he was their Messiah:

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Zechariah 13:6

[edit] In other Muslims: Jesus to return

Most Muslims believe that Jesus is alive in Heaven, and will return to Earth to defeat the Antichrist.

A hadith in Abu Dawud (Sunnan Abu Dawud 37:4310 ) says:

"Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descent (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. God will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray behind him."

After Jesus slays al-Masīh al-Dajjāl (literally "the Deceiving Messiah," loosely the Antichrist; often referred to simply as "Dajjāl") at the Gate of Ludd in Palestine, Muslims believe he will marry, die, and be buried in the Masjid al Nabawi. During his life, he will have revealed that Islam is the true word of God.

A hadith in Sahih Bukhari (4:55:658) says:

"How will you be when the son of Mary descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Qur'an and not by the law of the Gospel."

A very few Islamic scholars reject all the quotes attributed to Muhammad (Hadith) that mention the second return of Jesus, the Dajjal and Imam Mahdi, believing that they have no Qur'anic basis. These scholars believe that the verb “mutavafika” in verse 3:55 implies that God caused the bodily death of Jesus, thus (3:55) should read as “O Jesus, I terminate your life, raise you to Me.” Others disagree with the implication of termination of Jesus’ life (for example Yusuf Ali’s translation reads: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself”). Verses 4:157-158 imply that Jesus was not killed; Verse 19:33 implies that Jesus will die someday. The majority of Muslims believe that the bodily death of Jesus will happen after his second coming. Many classical commentators such as Ibn Kathir, At-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, Suyuti, al-Undlusi (Bahr al-Muhit), Abu al-Fadl al-Alusi (Ruh al-Maani) and many others clearly mention that verse 43:61 of the Qur'an refers to the descent of Jesus before the Day of Resurrection, indicating that Jesus would be the Sign that the Hour is close.

"And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour)..." (43:61)

The scholars that reject the second coming of Jesus argue that the knowledge of the Hour is only with God, and that the Hour will come suddenly. They maintain that if the second coming of Jesus were true, whenever it happens, billions of people would then be certain the Hour is about to come.

Another relevant verse from the Qur'an:

"And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death" (4:159)

As an example of a Qur'anic verse that is considered to refer to the end time events:

"Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth." (21:105)

[edit] Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'ís believe in the essential unity of all the Prophets, as Manifestations of the same God. As such each Prophet is a return of the last prophet, the same spirit and message, and the only difference is in the non-essential teachings related to the exigencies of the day and age.

Bahá'ís believe that in the past literal interpretations of the signs related to the Messiah, the Second Coming, or the Mahdi have blinded people's eyes towards the message of God:

Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of Divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face—the face of God Himself…. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

An example of this belief that literal interpretation cannot be held is the following series of quotations:

...Meditate then upon the utterance of one of the Prophets as He intimated to the souls of men, through veiled allusions and hidden symbols, the glad-tidings of the One Who was to come after Him, that thou mayest know of a certainty that their words are inscrutable to all save those who are endued with an understanding heart. He saith: “His eyes were as a flame of fire”, and “brass-like were His feet”, and “out of His mouth goeth a two-edged sword”. How could these words be literally interpreted? Were anyone to appear with all these signs, he would assuredly not be human. And how could any soul seek his company? Nay, should he appear in one city, even the inhabitants of the next would flee from him, nor would any soul dare approach him! Yet, shouldst thou reflect upon these statements, thou wouldst find them to be of such surpassing eloquence and clarity as to mark the loftiest heights of utterance and the epitome of wisdom. Methinks it is from them that the suns of eloquence have appeared and the stars of clarity have dawned forth and shone resplendent.
Know then that He who uttered these words in the realms of glory meant to describe the attributes of the One Who is to come in such veiled and enigmatic terms as to elude the understanding of the people of error. Now, when He saith: “His eyes were as a flame of fire”, He alludeth but to the keenness of sight and acuteness of vision of the Promised One, Who with His eyes burneth away every veil and covering, maketh known the eternal mysteries in the contingent world, and distinguisheth the faces that are obscured with the dust of hell from those that shine with the light of paradise....
As to the words “brass-like were His feet”, by this is meant His constancy upon hearing the call of God that commandeth Him: “Be thou steadfast as thou hast been bidden.” He shall so persevere in the Cause of God, and evince such firmness in the path of His might, that even if all the powers of earth and heaven were to deny Him, He would not waver in the proclamation of His Cause, nor flee from His command in the promulgation of His Laws....
And further He saith: “Out of his mouth goeth a two-edged sword.” Know thou that since the sword is an instrument that divideth and cleaveth asunder, and since there proceedeth from the mouth of the Prophets and the Chosen Ones of God that which separateth the believer from the infidel and the lover from the beloved, this term hath been so employed, and apart from this dividing and separating no other meaning is intended.... Gems of Divine Mysteries, paragraphs 72-77

[edit] Other Messiahs

See Jewish Messiah claimants for an overview of such claimants and links to more detailed articles.

In Stregheria, Jesus Christ is believed to have been a sort of "evil messiah" or false messiah, while Aradia de Toscano is seen as the true saviour who came to free the poor and the oppressed from the bondages of Christianity.

Adherents to the Unification Movement consider Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Shakers believed that Jesus was the male Messiah and Mother Ann Lee, the female Messiah.

For the Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the messiah.

The Ahmadi/Ahmadiyya religion, considered deviated by mainstream Islam, believes that the Messiah and Mahdi have come in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835-1908).

[edit] Messianic figure

A messianic figure is a person who is viewed as having a number of the characteristics of the Messiah in the eyes of a particular group. These usually include that the person is charismatic, influential, develops a power base, is appealing to a large group that views itself as oppressed in some way, and appears to offer a way to overthrow that oppression. Examples of messianic figures include St. Joan of Arc, said to have visions to deliver France from English domination near the end of the Hundred Years' War and Adolf Hitler who claimed he would deliver post-World War I Germany from economic oppression caused by reparations and protect Germany from Communists. George Washington and Boris Yeltsin could be viewed as messianic figures of a sort[citation needed].

[edit] Notes

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[edit] References

[edit] Books

  • Evangelical Christian:
  • Ankerberg, John, Weldon, John [1997]. “Chap. 11. Biblical Prophecy-Part One”, Ready With an Answer for the Tough Questions About God (paperback) (in English), Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 1-56507-618-4.
  • McDowell, Josh [October 22, 1999]. New Evidence that Demands a Verdict—Fully Updated to Answer the Questions Challenging Christians Today, The (hardcover), 1st Ed. (in English), Nelson Reference. ISBN 0-7852-4363-1.

[edit] On-line

Judaism

Christianity

Islam

  • Shaukat Ali: Millenarian and Messianic Tendencies In Islamic Thought: Lahore: Publishers United: 1993
  • Timothy Furnish: Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Jihads and Osama Bin Laden: Westport: Praeger: 2005: ISBN 02759833838
  • Abdulaziz Abdulhassan Sachedina: Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism: Albany: State University of New York Press: 1981: ISBN 0-87395-458-0

Non-specific religious

General

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Non-specific religious

Jewish

Christian

Islam/Muslim

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ar:مسيح ca:Messies de:Messias es:Mesías eo:Mesio fa:مسیح fr:Messie ko:메시아 id:Mesias it:Messia he:משיח lt:Mesijas nl:Messias ja:メシア no:Messias pl:Mesjasz pt:Messias (Judaísmo) ru:Мессия simple:Messiah sk:Mesiáš sv:Messias

Messiah

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