2012-07-08

Christ among the Messiahs — Part 4

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by Neil Godfrey

Continuing the series on Matthew Novenson’s Christ among the Messiahs . . . .

Before addressing some of the passages in Paul’s letters in order to demonstrate, by reference to earlier posts in this series, that Paul’s concept of Messiah/Christ fell within the framework of the common Jewish understanding of the term, I cover here some well-known phrases Paul uses for Christ — “in Christ”, and his habit of switching the order of its use as in Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ. Novenson examines these common phrases to see if they throw light on what Paul meant by the term “Christ”.

We will see that For Paul, as for his fellow Jews, the “Messiah/Christ” was an anointed, conquering and liberating Israelite king. What was striking about Paul’s concept was the means by which the Messiah would conquer. I think this has implications for the traditional model of Christian origins that argues the earliest Christians turned the concept of Messiah on its head. Followed through, I also think the question has implications for the question of Christian origins itself, but none of that is touched by Novenson, of course, and I am sure Novenson is far more deeply embedded in the conventional wisdoms of Christian origins than I am.

Here is an outline of Novenson’s discussion of what may or may not be gleaned of Paul’s meaning from some short phrases. It is very much an outline only since I avoid the details of the grammatical arguments here.

Paul’s variant terms for Jesus

Paul speaks of “Jesus”, of “Christ”, of “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus”. Scholars have debated the significance of these variations and many have concluded that the “Christ” is simply another name, like “Jesus”, without any particular messianic import that would be recognized by his fellow Jews. Novenson disagrees. Without going into the details of the arguments, there is one memorable analogy Novenson offers that would seem to clinch the argument against Christ and Jesus both being mere names. Julius Caesar was always Julius Caesar, never Caesar Julius. But Jesus Christ could quite comfortably also be Christ Jesus.

The fact that the order of the two terms is interchangeable strongly suggests that it is not a true double name but rather a combination of personal name plus honorific. (p. 134)

“In Christ”

Most scholarship concerning this phrase, Novenson informs us, has been concerned with exploring

just what sort of “in” relationship is meant. (p. 120)

Novenson cautions:

A.J.M. Wedderburn catalogs the many types of [“in . . . “] relationships that have been suggested, citing eight discrete uses culled from several standard New Testament Greek grammars. Classical Greek grammars, though, do not distinguish so many or such exotic categories. Wedderburn rightly worries, “When it is argued that their sense is, for instance, ‘historical,’ then this decision is likely to have been reached on the basis of an overall interpretation of Paul’s theology, into which the interpretation of these [“in”] phrases is then fitted.

In reality, this is not the way prepositions work in ancient Greek or in other languages, for that matter. There is no authoritative list of discrete uses according to which every instance of a form must, or can, be classified. That interpreters are endlessly coining new uses is evidence that this is the case. . . . (pp. 120-121)

To seriously simplify Novenson’s historical interpretation argument:

Schweitzer held that Paul’s “in Christ” spoke of

the preordained union of those who are elect to the Messianic Kingdom with one another and with the Messiah which is called the community of Saints. (p. 122)

W.D. Davies agrees that the messiahship of Jesus is fundamental to Paul but that this is not the case whenever he uses the phrase “in Christ”. Davies rejects Schweitzer’s explanation of this phrase and argues that it means

“in Israel” or, better, “in the new Israel.” Accordingly, he draws an extensive analogy with the Passover liturgy . . . wherein, on the model of Ex 13:8, the festival celebrants ritually narrate the events of the exodus as having happened to themselves. (pp. 122-123)

Novenson concedes that Davies’ view is “not impossible” but thinks that N.T. Wright offers a more plausible explanation. Wright points to the expressions “in David” and “in the king” in both the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Jewish scriptures, as in 2 Sam 19:42-43. But being “in David” or “in the king” is not always a positive thing, as we see from those who would reject David or the king entirely: 2 Sam 20:1 and 1 Kings 12:16.

People identify themselves as “in” or “not in” the king. In Wright’s words, “Their membership in David’s people is expressed graphically by the incorporative idiom.” Most important, the phrases “in David” and “in the king,” in the logic of Samuel-Kings, are conceptually very close to “in the anointed one.” (pp. 123-124)

This sounds like just what we are looking for as a precursor to Paul’s “in Christ” until Novenson reminds us of a few details:

  1. we are still lacking a pre-Pauline precedent for “in Christ/Messiah” itself
  2. Samuel-Kings passages strictly refer to having a “share” or “part” or “inheritance” in the king — not simply “in the king.”
  3. the Samuel-Kings idiom “in the king/in David” is not found across the wider literary spectrum

A.J.M. Wedderburn proposes another set of comparable phrases that avoid the above objections: in Paul’s understanding Abraham and Christ are analogous representative figures through whom God acts toward the human race:

Galatians 3:8 — in you all the nations will be blessed / ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη

Galatians 3:14 — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations / ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

Galatians 3:16 referring to Genesis 22:18: In your seed all the nations will be blessed / ενευλογηθησονται εν τω σπερματι σου παντα τα εθνη της γης

Wright has the closer semantic parallel and Wedderburn the closer syntactical one, writes Novenson.

Paul’s “in Abraham” phrases are structurally closer to his “in Christ” phrases than anything else is. . .

In Abraham’s seed — that is, by means of or through the agency of Abraham’s seed — all the Gentiles will be blessed. Most instances of ἐν χριστῷ in Paul likely ought to be read along the same lines. (p. 126)

I take note of little qualifications like this (i.e. “most”, “likely”). They could well be keyholes to another interpretation entirely. But let’s continue with Novenson’s study.

“Those who are Christ’s” and “The faith of Christ”

Novenson examines the discussion of phrases like these as they have been discussed in the literature. In the case of the former (“those who are Christ’s”, “the people of Christ”, “fellow-heirs of Christ”, “I am Christ’s”) Novenson examines in detail N.T. Wright’s analyses in The Climax of the Covenant and his dissertation, The Messiah and the People of God. Novenson shows readers that there is no single rule consistently applied that would point to any single clear idea of what “Christ” meant to Paul in such phrases.

The difficulty with the second phrase, “the faith of Christ” and its variants, is that it can be understood as either “faith in Christ” or “the faithfulness of the one called Christ”. Novenson believes it is best to leave this phrase out of the debate because of its range of possible meanings.

But Novenson does introduce a new and particularly interesting observation of his own.

[The Septuagint] has passed on a verbal association between the roots πίστις [pistis/faith] and χριστός [christ], an association susceptible of reuse by later readers of the Greek scriptures. (p. 133)

And the passages in question refer to “the anointed” clearly as a Davidic-messianic figure. While the specific Septuagint passages are not quoted by Paul, a nearby passage is [2 Kings 22:50 / 2 Samuel 22:50] suggesting the possibility that Paul was aware of them.

In that scriptural context χριστός is specifically Davidic, and πίστις has the sense of “faithful.” If Paul’s usage reflects familiarity with this language, then it tends to lend some additional weight to the suggestion that πίστις χριστοῦ be read as “the faithfulness of the [Davidic-like] messiah. (p. 133, my bolding and parenthetical addition)

Here are the passages in the LXX:

2 Kings/Samuel 23:1

And these are the last words of David.

Faithful is David the son of Jessae, and faithful the man whom the Lord raised up to be the anointed of the God of Jacob, and beautiful are the psalms of Israel.

και ουτοι οι λογοι δαυιδ οι εσχατο

πιστος δαυιδ υιος ιεσσαι και πιστος ανηρ ον ανεστησεν κυριος επι χριστον θεου ιακωβ και ευπρεπεις ψαλμοι ισραηλ

Compare an earlier passage where the anointed one is Saul though the knowledge of David being the messiah-designate is never lost:

1 Kings 26:23/1 Samuel 26:23

And the Lord shall recompense each according to his righteousness and his faithfulness, since the Lord delivered thee this day into my hands, and I would not lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.

και κυριος επιστρεψει εκαστω τας δικαιοσυνας αυτου και την πιστιν αυτου ως παρεδωκεν σε κυριος σημερον εις χειρας μου και ουκ ηθελησα επενεγκειν χειρα μου επι χριστον κυριου

Compare 1 Kings 2:35

And I will raise up to myself a faithful priest, who shall do all that is in my heart and in my soul; and I will build him a faithful house, and he shall walk before my Christ for ever.

και αναστησω εμαυτω ιερεα πιστον ος παντα τα εν τη καρδια μου και τα εν τη ψυχη μου ποιησει και οικοδομησω αυτω οικον πιστον και διελευσεται ενωπιον χριστου μου πασας τας ημερας

Some other passages that associate faithfulness with David. Novenson cites these passages for their relevance to a more technical argument to illustrate the mechanics of how the LXX morphed “utterance” in the MT into “faithful”.

1 Kings 22:14 / 1 Samuel 22:14

And he answered the king, and said, And who is there among all thy servants faithful as David, and he is a son-in-law of the king, and he is executor of all thy commands, and is honourable in thy house?

1 Kings 25:28 /1 Samuel 25:28

Remove, I pray thee, the trespass of thy servant; for the Lord will surely make for my lord a faithful house, for the Lord fights the battles of my lord, and there shall no evil be ever found in thee.

3 Kings 11:38 / 1 Kings 11:38

And it shall come to pass, if thou wilt keep all the commandments that I shall give thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that which is right before me, to keep my ordinances and my commandments, as David my servant did, that I will be with thee, and will build thee a faithful house, as I built to David.

Conclusion

After surveying the syntactical and semantic arguments Novenson concludes that these sorts of studies cannot finally determine the Paul’s meaning of the word Christ.

This is the case because linguistic communication actually takes place not at the level of letters and words but at the level of sentences and paragraphs. . . . The question of meaning, then, “has to be settled at the sentence level, that is, by the things the writers say, and not by the words they say them with” (Barr, Semantics of Biblical Language, 270). This procedural rule, however, is too little followed in the secondary literature on our question. (p. 135)

The studies into what the word Christ meant to Paul lead us to a paradox. If close grammatical scrutiny of every use of “Christ” by Paul leads to the conclusion that the word had no particular meaning, least of all “messiah” or “anointed” in the traditional sense (as Werner Kramer concludes), Novenson is left wondering why Paul bothered to use the word at all:

To paraphrase John Collins, if [Paul’s] 270 uses of the Greek word for “messiah” are not evidence that Paul means “messiah,” then what would we accept as evidence? (p. 135)

This leads Novenson into detailed discussions of the larger passages in Paul using “Christ” and I will launch into some of these in the next post in this series.

. . . to be continued

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28 thoughts on “Christ among the Messiahs — Part 4”

  1. Here’s most of my take on this question of what “Christ” meant.

    1) Probably the term “christ” in common use, referred to almost any and every new Jewish king; almost every new Jewish king would be typically anointed or “christen”ed with oil, as part of a typical inauguration or enthronement ceremony. So that almost every duly and officially recognized Jewish king or even heir, would be a “christ.” Or Christened one.

    2) No doubt to be sure, as history unrolled, Jews hoped that each successive, newly christened or anointed king – or Christ – would be moreover a particularly great Christ, as promised of many leaders; a special Christ who would finally save Israel from invaders, foreign nations, and internal moral decay. As often promised in ancient and repeated prophesies. And yet History would soon tell everyone that few if any Christs, christened or formally anointed Jewish kings, ever quite entirely fulfilled that grand promise.

    3) Indeed, Jesus was likely thought by many to be a christ of SOME sort; and it was hoped that he would be a special, fuller Christ that would at last save Jerusalem for example, from evil foreign occupiers and nations. But it is not certain that every (or any?) application of “Christ” to Jesus, definitively asserts this special status for Jesus.

    4) Particularly, Wrede’s “Messianic Secret” notes that Jesus himself, typically did not plainly declare that he was the Christ. Rather Jesus only asked others “who do you say I am,” etc.; or asked others who they said he was; or indeed, Jesus even flatly told his followers not to “tell” or “say” he was the Christ.

    5) So that? There is a great deal of – I would suggest, even studied and deliberate – literary, linguistic ambiguity in the New Testament, about this question: whether Jesus was the a) particularly great “Christ” that was promised; or b) an everyday Christ, or christened leader. Or c) even less than that. Perhaps even d) merely another “false Christ.”

    Jesus himself seemed not to want to definitively say. As his character is ultimately portrayed in the text, I’d say he seemed to want to leave it to events, to History, to finally determine which “christ,” if any, he was. The “proof would be in the pudding” as they say. While most scholars today agree that Jesus did not quite succeed in delivering the full earthly “kingdom” that a great Christ should deliver (Isa. 65-6; Rev. 21).

  2. The most known Christ of the era was, of course, James the Just. He was the one who was sacred already in the womb, he was a teacher of wisdom, he led the greatest jewish sect of the first century, he urged his followers to be patient and turn the other cheek until Israels second God, the archangel Michael, would lead the heavenly forces in a holy war against the Romans, he baptized people from their sins and led them to follow the Law unto the last letter to be able to obtain salvation. He was accused of heresy by the jewish high priest in the 60s modern time, he was stoned and buried in the sand which later led to the jewish war against the Romans and the failed attempt by his followers, the early christians, to burn Rome.

    Jesus, aka the samaritan prophet, was executed, most likely beheaded on mount Gerizim by the troops of Pilate, and that death was by some followers probably seen as an atoning death. No early follower of the samaritan prophet ever claimed him to have resurrected from the dead since everyone at that time knew that the resurrected Christ was James the Just.

  3. The idea of Christ as the Anointed of God is from Egypt. And the idea of “in Christ” goes back to the Pyramid Text: “Horus, who is in Osiris” http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/pyt/pyt05.htm

    Jesus Christ is a title. Jesus means Savior, while Christ means Anointed, so Christ Jesus means Anointed Savior. This is a mythical idea with clear roots in Egyptian belief from thousands of years before Christ, well explained in the book Christ in Egypt by DM Murdock.

    WR Cooper says that the Egyptians called Horus the ‘Beloved Son of the Father’ and ‘Word of the Father Osiris’ (p309). Perhaps this will give a shiver of deja vu for anyone familiar with the Christmas Carol O Come All Ye Faithful, whose concepts almost all seem to have been written in stone in Egypt long before the Gospel era, as Murdock observes in long lists of titles for Horus and other Gods (p320 and 329).

    As Murdock states, “many people remain unaware of these facts regarding the worship and religiosity of prior so called Pagan cultures… such an attitude has allowed for the massive and tragic destruction of cultures around the world.” (p309-10)

    Horus, Osiris and Ra were routinely understood as good shepherd and saviour. Murdock notes the interesting comment from Egyptologist Gerald Massey that the Egyptian term for mummy is krst, so “Christ the anointed is none other than the Osiris-karast” (p313). Murdock checked Massey’s assertion in Dictionaries of Hieroglyphics, since such research is taboo for Christian theologians, and found that “Massey is correct in his contentions and did not innovate his transliteration and definition of the Egyptian words karas … krst etc…” (p316). Such findings are routinely passed over in embarrassed silence by mainstream academia, due to their cowardly fear of the church.

    Further, we find that the Egyptian krst links to the Christian idea of embalming or anointing with oil, as in the Christian motif of the 23rd Psalm, which is redolent with Egyptian resonance, as are the gifts of the three kings to the baby Jesus.

    In fact, Murdock points out that the title ‘Christos’ is used 40 times in the Greek Old Testament, applied to David, Solomon and Samuel, signifying God’s anointed one. The Egyptian link appears again, with Murdock noting that this ‘Christing’ or anointing, also appears with the term ‘masu’, equivalent to messiah, so that “Osiris and Horus were Christs and Messiahs” (p319).

    The famous Egyptologist EA Wallis Budge notes that Horus and Thoth are equated to the Word (p321) in ancient Egypt, an idea that carried over into early Christian belief, before the origins of Christian myth in Egypt was banned from discussion. So it is unsurprising that early Christian amulets showed belief in both the old Egyptian deities and the new faith of Christ (p321).

    1. Robert Tulip: “Such findings are routinely passed over in embarrassed silence by mainstream academia, due to their cowardly fear of the church.”

      That sounds like conspiracy theory to me. Why would non-Christian scholars like Ehrman pass over such findings?

      Robert Tulip: “Murdock notes the interesting comment from Egyptologist Gerald Massey that the Egyptian term for mummy is krst, so “Christ the anointed is none other than the Osiris-karast””

      Did Massey propose any actual connection (e.g. etymological) between the words “karast” and “Christ”, or is it just an interesting coincidence?

    2. Robert, ignore GDon. He’s only using the conspiracy theory thing as a substitute for the issues. He sees conspiracy theories everywhere because he is wearing his “conspiracy theory world” glasses. A general fear is not a conspiracy but his glasses make him see it as one.

      But I think there are points to be addressed in your post. You do attribute motives overmuch. So while “cowardly fear of the church” is not a conspiracy, it does strike me as a careless generalization. I don’t believe anyone can verify that this is their motive. If we make unsupportable or unverifiable claims then we undermine our whole argument. It is important to stick to what we know are facts. Nothing will be lost by doing this.

      I think some of the details Murdock notes have been pointed out in the past are of interest and worth investigation. But we can’t assume connections between one culture and another across time. We need to have reasons for making the connections. And we need to balance them against other explanations, too. I think there are many questions that we will never have answers for simply because of the state of the remaining evidence. I am happy to live with not knowing such things, or shelving many such things until we do have more evidence or understanding to know what to make of it all.

    3. This doesn’t make sense since the word “christ” originally meant ointment, not anointed one. You can see from the link that in non-Christian texts, the word “christ” is meant as some sort of medical salve; i.e. cocoa butter would be the “christ”, not the person to whom the cocoa butter was applied. Jews seemed to have had an idiosyncratic use of the word. So if ancient Egyptians were using it to mean “anointed” then they necessarily would have gotten it from Jews, not the other way around (this, also, is another reason why Josephus’ two uses of “christ” are suspect).

      1. J.Quinton, several parts of your comment here look wrong.

        Why do you suggest the specific Greek meaning of Christ that you cite is the earliest one? Your suggestion is rather like asserting that the word ‘wheel’ is only a verb and its use a a noun is ‘idiosyncratic’. The Egyptian source, which comes from a tradition far older than Greece, suggests that to Christ the mummy of the king is to anoint it fit for eternal life. Your comment suggests that Christ refers only to the anointing and never the anointed. That looks implausible, given the later Christian and Greek use of Christ to mean anointed, firstly in the Septuagint and then in the title Christ Jesus or Anointed Saviour.

        Your next leap of logic is even bolder. You say the term Christ would “necessarily” only have come from Jews, even though Jews never used that word until the Greek translation of the Septuagint, and the Egyptians had close cultural links to Greece dating to Mycenaen times. The old Egyptian hieroglyphic shows krst meaning anointing the mummy. To say this old usage came from Jews bears comparison to the impudent Christian assertions that pagans got their religious ideas from Christianity, despite the far greater antiquity and presence of the pagan traditions.

  4. Neil: “So while “cowardly fear of the church” is not a conspiracy, it does strike me as a careless generalization.”

    To Robert Tulip: Regardless of whether it is conspiracy or careless generalization: Why would non-Christian scholars (like say Ehrman) pass over such findings as “Osiris the karast or krst”? It doesn’t make sense.

    1. Don, we’ve been through all this before. You’re repeating yourself. People who have dedicated their careers to a certain model would never have an issue discovering everything they did was based on a faulty assumption?

      Part of the answer is within this comment: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/quixie-on-mythicism-1-idea-non-grata/#comment-14993

      What doesn’t make sense is your assumption that everyone is a completely autonomous mind without any other influences upon them apart from a simple desire to open-mindedly explore wherever the evidence may lead.

    2. The neglect of Egyptian roots of Christianity is a matter of intellectual fashion. The nineteenth century discovery of Egyptian antecedents of Christianity following Champollion’s decoding of the hieroglyphics was the object of a massive reaction by the church, who saw this material as an easy target in the context of their inability to refute Darwin and modern science more generally. Thechurch sought to intimidate and exclude scholars who challenged orthodoxy, leading to the frequent timidity of archaeologists when it comes to material that touches on religious faith. But science proved no friend of comparative religion and mythology, a topic that has proven something of an intellectual orphan.

      The Egyptian term KRST means ‘anoint’, the same term and same meaning as the forty references to Christ in the Septuagint, but long predating it. The KRST process is used to convey the provision of eternal life for the mummified dead king, much as Jesus was thought to bring eternal life in his role as anointed Christ. This identity of pronunciation and meaning for Christ as a central religious idea, eternal life through anointing, is strong prima facie evidence for the connection between the longstanding neighbouring religions of Israel and Egypt.

      Why then are the links between Egyptian religion and Christianity neglected in academic scholarship? Again, this touches on deeply felt prejudices. The association between Egyptian religion and magic, the fragmentary nature of the evidence, Biblical aspersions on Egypt as a land of indolent fleshpots and tyranny, the complete suppression of Egyptian writing for more than a millennium, and the whole context of mythicism as an atheistic critique of supernatural faith, have helped make assertions of Egyptian origins of Christian myth repugnant to both Christians and rational moderns. Nineteenth century scholars such as Gerald Massey who investigated this material were easily calumnated, and allowed to fall into obscurity, regardless of the merit of their work.

      At http://www.booktalk.org/post96651.html#p96651 Murdock comments as follows, summarising her contention in Christ In Egypt. I have edited for length, readers can consult the link and book for more detail.

      “The Christ-KRST comparison is one of the controversial contentions made by mythicists. On pp. 313-9 of CIE, I go into a detailed discussion of the Egyptian word transliterated as “krst,” providing the Egyptian hieroglyphs. As “lord of the tomb,” Osiris was called “Christ,” since one Egyptian term for tomb, funeral, corpse or mummy is krst.

      “The work of Gerald Massey was peer-reviewed by renowned Egyptologists and archaeologists of his day. Says Massey: “Christ the anointed is the Osiris-karast, and the karast mummy risen to its feet as Osiris-sahu was the prototypal Christ. The Egyptian word for mummy is ges, which signifies to wrap up in bandages…. [The word] ges or kes, to embalm the corpse or make the mummy, is a reduced or abraded form of an earlier word, karas. The original word written in hieroglyphics is krst, whence kas, to embalm, to bandage, to knot, to make the mummy or karast (Birch, Dictionary of the Hieroglyphics; Champollion, Gram. Egyptienne). The mummy was the Osirian Corpus Christi, prepared for burial as the laid-out dead, the karast by name. The process of making the mummy was to karas, the place in which it was laid is the karas, and the product was the krst, whose image is the upright mummy=the risen Christ. Hence, the name of the Christ, for the anointed, was derived from the Egyptian word krst.”

      http://truthbeknown.com/images/krstchampollion80.jpg shows the hieroglyph signifying KRST or Mummy from Champollion, Grammaire Egyptienne.
      http://truthbeknown.com/images/krstbirch416.jpg shows the term karst meaning embalmment or mummy from Birch, Dictionary of Hieroglyphics.”

      1. Robert Tulip: “The church sought to intimidate and exclude scholars who challenged orthodoxy, leading to the frequent timidity of archaeologists when it comes to material that touches on religious faith.”

        I see. But you wrote “Such findings are routinely passed over in embarrassed silence by mainstream academia, due to their cowardly fear of the church”. So is this still happening today? And why doesn’t Richard Carrier see this? He is hardly likely to have a fear of the church!

        Robert Tulip: “The Egyptian term KRST means ‘anoint’, the same term and same meaning as the forty references to Christ in the Septuagint, but long predating it. The KRST process is used to convey the provision of eternal life for the mummified dead king, much as Jesus was thought to bring eternal life in his role as anointed Christ.”

        I don’t see the connection. Did Jews take the Egyptian word KRST to create the Greek word “Christos”, and — hundreds of years before Christianity — imbue it with a meaning of “eternal life”? Because the Septuagint “Christos” appears to be a translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”, which is nothing like KRST.

        How do you see it going from “KRST” to “Messiah” to “Christos”?

        1. GD: is this still happening today? And why doesn’t Richard Carrier see this? He is hardly likely to have a fear of the church!

          RT: You may have seen Carrier’s recent vituperative attack on DM Murdock accusing her of “parallelomania” for her analysis of Egyptian antecedents of Christian myths. These parallels are actually abundant, such as Seth and Horus as types for Jesus v Satan in the wilderness, Osiris, Isis and Nephthys as types for Lazarus, Mary and Martha, etc. Carrier deprecates the entire hypothesis of Egyptian sourcing and perplexingly ignores non Judeo-Greek sources of Biblical myth.

          I can only speculate that Carrier’s motive may be a fear of association with astrology and other irrational folk cults of Egypt, because he wants to present as a rational scientist in order to serve his concept of academic credibility, and sees all linking between Egypt and Christian myth as harmful for this agenda. Carrier is not scared of ridicule by the church but by historians and scientists. Fear of church shunning and slander tends to be seen more within religious studies and theology.

          GD: Did Jews take the Egyptian word KRST to create the Greek word “Christos”, and — hundreds of years before Christianity — imbue it with a meaning of “eternal life”? Because the Septuagint “Christos” appears to be a translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”, which is nothing like KRST. How do you see it going from “KRST” to “Messiah” to “Christos”?

          RT: It appears most likely that the term Christos came from the Egyptian word for anointing the mummy directly to Greek, and not through the Hebrew term Messiah, and that the Egyptians already thought of anointing the mummy in terms of eternal life.

          As a comparable example, Black Athena by Martin Bernal of Cornell University argues that Athena derives from the Egyptian Goddess Neith, and that the direct influence from Egypt on Greece was immense, but has been systematically neglected and denied by academia due to the racist assumptions within the field of classics. Egyptian influence is cited by Plato.

          1. Robert Tulip: “I can only speculate that Carrier’s motive may be a fear of association with astrology and other irrational folk cults of Egypt, because he wants to present as a rational scientist in order to serve his concept of academic credibility, and sees all linking between Egypt and Christian myth as harmful for this agenda. Carrier is not scared of ridicule by the church but by historians and scientists.”

            Lots of things I disagree with Carrier on, but the idea that he is scared of ridicule by other historians on specific points like these is as incredible as him being scared of the church.

            Robert Tulip: “It appears most likely that the term Christos came from the Egyptian word for anointing the mummy directly to Greek, and not through the Hebrew term Messiah, and that the Egyptians already thought of anointing the mummy in terms of eternal life.”

            What about other figures in the Septuagint who are referred to as “Christos”, but without the implication of “eternal life”? How does that fit in? It seems to me that you need to have the meaning without that nuance originally within Judaism, but then the nuance popping up when Christianity came along.

      2. Even if I accept all the points you enumerate, I still stumble at your final sentence where you say “Hence, the name of the Christ, for the anointed, was derived from the Egyptian word krst.” I do not understand the logic of that “hence”. How does one get from the Egyptian krst to the Jesus Christ we see in the NT evidence? I am not saying that there was no link. I cannot say that. But I don’t know of any evidence or reason to make that link.

        I can read all of your points, but then when I look at the NT evidence I see much more direct and simple explanation for the Christian “Christ”. That is, it is the Greek word for one anointed. Is that not a much simpler explanation of the word?

        Further, even though KRST looks like it could be pronounced much like our Christ, do we really know that it did have a similar pronunciation? How many syllables were there? How many vowel sounds in between those consonants? How do we know if there was a similarity to the pronunciation of the Greek word Christ in the first century?

        Now there may be links of some sort, but I don’t know how to explain them or how to support any argument for them. Who knows what went on in the reliigious discussions in Alexandria? We only have speculation.

        Maybe some day there can be a rigorous cultural-mythical-anthropological study that can provide a strong theoretical basis for establishing links to Christianity. I think we will need either something like that or new evidence or a new way of understanding our evidence to be able to explain the exact relationships you are suggesting here.

        1. Neil: How does one get from the Egyptian krst to the Jesus Christ we see in the NT evidence? I am not saying that there was no link. I cannot say that. But I don’t know of any evidence or reason to make that link.

          RT: This is where I consider Murdock is an important pioneer, for the detailed arguments she presents in Christ in Egypt indicating the range and depth of links. With the KRST-Christ example, the prima facie evidence is that both words have the same consonants and meaning relating to anointing of the holy king, and that Gnostic thought involved a deep interpenetration between Egyptian and Greek culture, including through the Serapis cult. So crossover of core concepts is to be expected.

          The alphabetical consonants of Egyptian hieroglyphics are well established from the decoding of the Rosetta Stone.

          Neil: When I look at the NT evidence I see much more direct and simple explanation for the Christian “Christ”. That is, it is the Greek word for one anointed. Is that not a much simpler explanation of the word?

          RT: No, Greek isolationism is not simpler. The Egyptians had a word KRST for anointed, so parsimony says the Greeks probably got their word Christ from Egypt, since the consonants and meaning are the same. Ignoring the links between Greek and Egyptian is a widespread academic prejudice with roots in Victorian times. As I mentioned in my reply to Don, these links are widespread but have been systematically denied in modern academia with its colonial imperial racist roots that see Greek as the cradle of civilization, despite the abundant evidence of transmission of earlier civilization from Phoenicia and Egypt rather than the old fashioned northern Aryan hypothesis.

          Neil: even though KRST looks like it could be pronounced much like our Christ, do we really know that it did have a similar pronunciation? How many syllables were there? How many vowel sounds in between those consonants? How do we know if there was a similarity to the pronunciation of the Greek word Christ in the first century?

          RT: As I mentioned, the Rosetta stone indicates the Egyptian consonants. We do not know the vowels, but having the same consonants and meaning of such a core religious term presents a strong hypothesis.

          Neil: Who knows what went on in the religious discussions in Alexandria? We only have speculation. Maybe some day there can be a rigorous cultural-mythical-anthropological study that can provide a strong theoretical basis for establishing links to Christianity. I think we will need either something like that or new evidence or a new way of understanding our evidence to be able to explain the exact relationships you are suggesting here.

          RT: Yes, these are sound points, although I think that there is existing historical analysis which is stronger than mere speculation. This analysis has not broken through into academic debate for similar reasons to why mythicism is a public taboo.

          My view is that the evidentiary basis of the mythological sources of Christian ideas in Egypt is emerging, but is subject to strong resistance by the old paradigms, especially Christ historicism. For example, the concept of astrotheology meets visceral reactions of denial, ridicule and suppression, indicating how it touches on cultural debates that people find difficult.

    3. > Why would non-Christian scholars (like say Ehrman)

      Because they maybe arent completely non-Christian even though they claim it?

      In an NPR interview about DJE?, Ehrman said:

      “Jesus’ teachings of love, and mercy and forgiveness, I think, really should dominate our lives. On the personal level, I agree with many of the ethical teachings of Jesus and I try to model my life on them, even though I don’t agree with the apocalyptic framework in which they were put.” [1]

      I think that he still is a so called “cultural christian” and maybe fears that accepting that there never was a single founder would maybe endanger the long-term existence of the cultural framework that he is fond of. His supernatural beliefs may be gone, but there obvious still is an emotional attachment to “baby Jesus”. Compare to how many non-religious Jews emotionally protect the ritual genital surgery on male children even though they do not believe any more that it is a “covenant with the god of Abraham”. You do not have to be religious to be biased, any emotional attachment suffices, and Bart very obviously _is_ emotionally attached to a person named Jesus he grew up with.

      [1] http://m.npr.org/news/front/149462376?singlePage=true

      1. All may be true, but why would Ehrman care whether Osiris was known as “KRST”? Ehrman doesn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, regardless of how the word originated. Or take Richard Carrier. Why would he “pass over such findings as “Osiris the karast or krst””? It doesn’t make sense.

        1. The present discussion on KRST is fascinating – and I’d say, rather compelling. Why wouldn’t Carrier mention or stress it? As a sometimes- Cross-Cultural Mythologist, I’d like to note that cross-cultural Mytholography is an enormously complex undertaking; trying to summarize and then cross-reference thousands of ancient texts, written in thousands of obscure languages … is as complex as it gets. No single human being is up to the task: Mythography probably won’t fully come into its own until things are fully computerized, and we are given quality time on something like the new Sequoia supercomputer, with 20 Petaflops per second. In the meantime though? Someone here should probably say, drop Carrier a line, with a link to the present discussion?

          1. There are lots of intriguing coincidences in the sounds of various words between languages, most of which have no significance. Also, the sounds K and KH (CH) in Greek are quite different sounds.
            LSJ (a detailed dictionary of Ancient Greek) gives an early use of χριστός (as an adjective meaning “for anointing”) in Prometheus Bound of Aeschylus, and derives it from the verb χρίω “anoint” which is used often in Homer. Also, there are apparently Indo-European cognates found in Latin and Greek.

              1. [Some VERY quick and jumbled thoughts: 1) “Out of Egypt I will call my son” (Mat. 2.15): there’s loads and loads of evidence of Egyptian influence on Judaism, from 2) the exile in Egypt. 3) For example “Moses” is part of an Egyptian name or title (Tut-moses etc.). And 4) both Hebrew, Aramaic, Egyptian and Arabic, are related “Hamito-Semetic” languages. An 5) hypothecized etymological relation between many Hebrew and Egyptian/Arabic words – given similarity in meaning and pronunciation TOO – seems quite likely. Though? 6) In the OT, “Messiah” is said by some to be the original Hebrew – and “Christ” only the Greek. So here we need to find ties between the languages of Egypt, and Greece. Still, 7) perhaps the Egyptian borrows from the Greek. Or vice-versa. (Not unheard of in Coptic times?). Or possibly all come from a common Sanscritic root. 8) The OT Hebrew here, Messiah might seem irrelevant; but seems to mean to “RUB,” or anoint; the Greek “Christ” reflects that exactly it is said. And the Latin “friction” fits too. So the meaning of the Egyptian and Greek and Latin here, seem to be related…. But all this needs more research. It might be existing literature doesn’t resolve this; but a competent lexicographer could resolve this with some original research? Or someone with deep knowledge of both Greek, and various Egyptian languages]

              2. I have no knowledge of Egyptian, so all I can say is that the origin of the term Christ is sufficiently explained as coming from an ordinary word χρίω found in some of the oldest materials we have in the Greek language. This word has no “st” in it (that just comes from a common process of nominal derivation in Greek) so that part of the seeming correspondence between Christ and KRST seems unimportant. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if there were late borrowings into Coptic from Greek, but I would be very surprised to find such borrowings in the “Dictionaries of Hieroglyphics” mentioned above. Glancing through the discussion in Massey’s book I can find no serious philological discussion of any of these words, so his conclusion that “there is no other origin for Christ the anointed than for Horus the karast or anointed son of god the father” is ridiculous.
                (The etymological connection I mentioned above with “friction” and “friable” is apparently not accepted now. But one interesting cognate to χρίω suggested in Pokorny’s dictionary is English “grime”)

              3. Sorry, I should have said “adjectival derivation”. Just as an example of adjectives derived with -στος, I find γελάω “laugh” giving καταγελάστος “laughable”.

              4. Robert Tulip and Eric: In spite of some objections, this thesis is well worth additional research. There are LOTS of mutual borrowings in ANE culture and language (cf. alphabets), even well before Coptic period. If you’re a diffusionist, they’re inevitable. By the way, Massey’s KRST Osiris thesis might stand, even without etymological proof; simply on the basis of other thematic similarities, amid strong evidence of other cross-cultural influences, even before 300 BC. Granted, some additional work would be required here. By someone VERY familiar with relevant languages. The broader “semantic field” as semanticists and lexicographers call it, that would unite “rub”bed ointments, and “grime,” would probably be rubbed-on things. Possibly the Sh or Ch sound is even onomatopoeic with that. I wouldn’t dismiss this one, without much more careful research from fully competent, professional authority with full expertise in the relevant languages. Maybe my famous Facebook friend Dr. Christopher Rollston at Johns Hopkins could recommend someone? Robert: tell him Dr. Brettongarcia sent you. Pop etymology is extremely popular these days; be sure to check genuinely and fully qualified professional sources.

              5. Eric, Your use of the term “ridiculous” is unjustified, and implies that nothing could convince you of an Egyptian source for the name of Christ. Even though you say you have just glanced through one book that discusses it, you appear to have made up your mind that KRST is not Christ, even though both refer to anointing of the king and have the same consonants. You might have said “unproven” or “not clear”, but instead you jump to an impetuous conclusion.

                The complete separation between Ch and K in Greek would mean that Kronos has nothing to do with Chronology, even though Kronos is a god of time.

              6. Robert, I’m sorry that I didn’t express myself clearly enough. I meant his conclusion expressed in such absolute terms: “there is no other origin for Christ the anointed than for Horus the karast or anointed son of god the father”. To make such a claim without any consideration or acknowledgement of the formation of an ordinary Greek word does strike me as ridiculous.
                I’ll grant you that K and KH are somewhat similar, and it’s true that Kronos and Chronos were sometimes conflated. I just wanted to point out that there is an adequate explanation for χριστός as a purely Greek word form.
                I don’t have my “mind made up that KRST is not Christ”; I think it would be fascinating if such a thing could be proved, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing what the “fully qualified professional sources” have to say.

  5. I’ll learn to check my comments better before posting, I hope! That’s καταγέλαστος “ridiculous, absurd”, derived from καταγελάω “laugh/jeer/mock at”.

    1. Robert Tulip: you are absolutely right. There has been a very, very strong bias among Christian scholars and laypersons. Particularly recently, against finding anything but 1) Jewish influence in Christianity. Even countless scholarly examples of 2) Hellenistic, Platonistic, Greco-Roman influence on Christianity, are today regularly dismissed with pseudo-scholarly derivision. In large part, this virulent antagonism comes from the partially-mistaken theological notion that the Bible demands that all legitimate influence come only from the Old Testament god, and no other gods; and from the mistaken idea that the New Testament figures obeyed that injunction. Following these partially-mistaken ideas, for many Christian scholars, only Jewish roots can be acknowledged. Then too, aside from religious/theoloical committments and biases, 3) as a practical matter, cross-cultural, cross-linguistic investigations are extremely difficult. For a single person to begin tracing inter-cultural influences through a) thousands of b) already-vague myths, in c) hundreds of extremely obscure languages, is quite a feat. Though to be sure there have already long been scholars, who are adept in two or more common languages like Egyptian and Greek. Who have begun to give us hints of what amazing things will be found as such cross-cultural comparisons develop in the future. So keep up the good fight. There’s lots of derision and bias out there; while even the most professional authorites can fail us in these immensely deep waters. Still, I am absolutely sure that this kind of cross-cultural approach is right in its basic orientations. And is the wave of the future.

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