Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bible Study Challenge #1

Who was the first Messiah?

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Blogger lkn4truth said...

This is s trick question. First, Messiah is an English word that has come to mean something much different than the Hebrew word it is based off of. The Hebrew original would have meant something like "anointed one" and the first may have been Aaron or Moses, certainly David was anointed, etc. Outside the Bible I'm sure historical figures were anointed long before that. If you mean the Greek understanding of "savior" (one who dies for the sins of his people, etc) then many pre-date "Jesus" such as Tammuz/Dammuz who died and resurrected three days later to save his people thousands of years before Jesus as well as Baccus, Dionysius, etc, etc all predating "Jesus"

12:11 PM, November 10, 2007  
Blogger fencekicker said...

Lkn4truth :)

Which definition do you think should be used? Does 'Messiah' equal 'Savior' in Greek thought, or is Savior a separate title for the same person? Using your definition, give me a convincing argument to support your answer to who the first Messiah was.


9:33 AM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger Dr. Claude Mariottini said...

Dear Fencekicker,

Lkn4truth is correct: the question is not a good one because the word “messiah” just means “one who is anointed.” In the Ancient Near east both priests and kings were anointed. This means that there were hundreds of messiahs because there were many people who were anointed.

As for Lkn4truth’s view that Tammuz was a savior who died and resurrected three days later, this view is not correct. If Lkn4truth has an opportunity, then Lkn4truth should read Lowell K. Handy’s article “Tammuz” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 6, p. 318.

I am waiting for a better question.

Claude Mariottini

4:59 PM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger lkn4truth said...

Dr. Mariottini, it would be a little difficult for me to quickly look up the reference you cite above as I don't have the Anchor Bible Dictionary myself, however, I would be curious to read it if you're willing to post here. Understanding of course that Wikipedia is not a reliable source I did find a list of a half a dozen savior stories of a dying and resurrecting savior prior to the writings of the New Testament. I have also read several sites supposedly documenting the Tammuz story. Lastly, the Bible itself references the death and resurrection story of Tammuz in the book of Ezekiel I believe when "greater abominations" are shown to the prophet. One of the greater abominations is that women would be in the house of the LORD weeping for Tammuz. I remember reading at least one Bible Commentary (Zondervan study bible notes?) on this that confirmed the reference of "weeping for Tammuz" is to the dying savior Tammuz who died and resurrected for the sins of the people. His death was "remembered" by 40 days of weeping up to his death followed by a celebration of his resurrection. My research seemed to confirm this in many places but again, I cannot say that my source is more accurate than yours.

5:14 PM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger fencekicker said...

Dr. Mariottini,

Questions aren't good or bad. They are what we make of them.

So, there have been many messiahs throughout history and in many cultures. But, was there a first? And, if so, can his/her identity be determined? Did the title appear at a time of change in political or religious ideas? Was the title limited to to kings and priests or do judges and prophets also qualify? Are there still messiahs today?

It may seem that the answer to my question doesn't matter. However, some people may not know that there is more than one messiah, let alone thousands. Also tracing the origin of the title and any changes in its usage can teach us about historical people and their beliefs.

6:54 PM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger fencekicker said...

Lkn4truth and Dr. Mariottini,

I think the question about the legends of Tammuz/Damuzi is a tangent off of the main question. If you would like to continue the discussion on Tammuz, I can start a new post with the question: Are there any accounts of a dying and resurrected savior that predate the birth of Jesus?

Let me know.

7:08 PM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger lkn4truth said...

fencekicker, I think you have answered most of your own question. Have there been other "messiahs"? In both senses of the word (a Hebraic understanding or a Greek understanding) the answer is resoundingly yes. To answer the other half of the question, who was the very first, I think you also gave a rhetorical answer that works. Does it matter? The point is, as you say, that many do not realize there have been many "messiahs" and many "saviors" and that "Jesus" was not the first nor is he the only in recorded history. I have not felt compelled to trace back to the very first recorded instance of either the Hebraic or Greek understanding of the term simply because I do not believe it will reveal some deeper understanding of the word. If someone knows who the first is and can explain to me why it changes anything I will gladly consider the evidence but I don't feel there is anything there worth examining. I feel fairly confident in what the terms mean and there are enough examples of both understandings that the term for me, is not unique to the Biblical figure known as Jesus and that is the key to this question.

8:46 AM, November 13, 2007  
Anonymous Milan said...

Here we have an example of semantics. Does it really matter whether someone or something else is/was called Messiah or died for others sins. The Bible says, "There is no other name given under heaven by which we might be saved" Acts 4:12. If you or others want to call upon someone/something else you are free to do so but I want to call on Someone who has a track record.

5:02 AM, August 06, 2011  

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