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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Messiah

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See Christ, Christology.

MESSIAH is the English word based on the Greek representation of the original Hebrew or Aramaic. The Gr. reproduction assumes the varied forms ?es?a?, ?ess?a?, and ?ese?a?, corresponding to the Hebrew ???????? and the Aramaic ?????????. The Heb. is the normal katŒl form, meaning ‘anointed,ì which is translation  into Greek in the term which has become so familiar, ???st??, the agnomen of our Lord. The Heb. ???????? was a term applied pre-eminently to the king, who was designated to office by the ceremony of anointing (1Sa_9:16; 1Sa_10:1, 2Ki_9:2-3; 2Ki_9:6). Priests were consecrated to office in like manner (Lev_8:12; cf. Lev_4:3; cf. Lev_4:16).

i. Anointing of Kings.—The custom of anointing the king, from which his designation as ‘messiah’ arose, is connected with magical usages of hoary antiquity, based on the conception that the smearing or pouring of the unguent on the body endows the human subject with certain qualities. Thus the Arabs of Eastern Africa believe that an unguent of lion’s fat inspires a man with boldness, and makes the wild beasts flee in terror from him. Other illustrations may be found in Frazer’s Golden Bough2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , ii. 364 ff. The Tell el-Amarna inscriptions show that this custom of anointing the king with oil prevailed in Western Asia at least as far back as b.c. 1450. The passage to which we refer occurs in a letter from a certain Rammân-nirâri of Nuhašši in Northern Syria addressed to the king of Egypt, in which it is stated that a former king of Egypt [Thothmes iii.] had ‘poured oil on the head’ of Rammân-nirâri’s grandfather and established him as king of Nuhašši.* [Note: Winckler, Thontafeln von Tell el-Amarna (vol. v. in Schrader’s KIB), Letter 37 (p. 98).] Frazer’s great work has rendered us familiar with the supernatural endowments of a king who was regarded as a quasi-deity.† [Note: Golden Bough2, i. 137–156; cf. also his Lectures on the Early History of the Kingship (1905).] That ancient Israel also believed that the royal dignity involved supernatural Divine powers, and that the oil poured upon the king conveyed these powers (like the ‘laying on of hands’), can hardly admit of doubt. The oil, like the sprinkled blood in a covenant-rite‡ [Note: According to Westermarck, the blood shed possesses a magical power of conveying a curse (‘Magic and Social Relations’ in Sociological Papers, vol. ii. p. 160). In the case of a covenant the curse falls if the covenant be not fulfilled.] (Exodus 24:6 ff.), possessed a magical virtue.§ [Note: Thus shields were smeared with oil to render them or their owners immune (2 Samuel 1:21, cf. Isaiah 21:5. Saul’s shield was un-anointed, and so its owner perished).]

Like the priest, the king was regarded as a Divine intermediary, and assumed the supreme ritual functions of a priest in his own person. Among the ancient Semites, especially the Babylonians and Assyrians, the earthly ruler or king was considered to be the supreme God’s representative or viceroy. Sometimes he declares himself the ‘son of the deity’ (e.g. in the opening line of Ashurbanipal’s cylinder-inscription he calls himself binutu Ashûr u Bêlit, ‘offspring of Ashur and Beltis’; cf. the language of Psalms 2:7), or ‘favourite of the deity’ (cf. the name of the Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] monarch Naram-Sin, ‘beloved of SIN. [Note: Sinaitic.] ’ Sargon calls himself in the opening of his Nimrûd insc. ‘the favourite of Anu and Bel’). Further parallels in the case of Nebuchadrezzar may be found in Schrader, COT [Note: OT Cuneiform Inscriptions and the OT.] ii. 105 ff. See also Tiele, Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] —Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] Gesch. 491 ff. Tiglath-pileser i. (b.c. 1100) calls himself iššakku (PA-TE-SI) of the God Ashur (Prism-Insc. col. vii. 62. 63), i.e. Ashur’s plenipotentiary. That in this sacred function priestly office was involved may be readily inferred. Thus Ashurbanipal (like Sargon) calls himself not only the šaknu or vicegerent of Bêl, but also the šangu or priest of Ashur. Similarly the Homeric kings offer sacrifice on behalf of the people. As Robertson Smith remarks (‘Priest’ in EBr [Note: Br Encyclopaedia Britannica.] 9 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ), the king in both Greece and Rome was the acting head of the State-religion. So also in ancient pre-exilian Israel, David and Solomon offered sacrifices (2 Samuel 6:17 ff., 1 Kings 8:63) in accordance with the tradition of the age.

ii. Unique position of David in Hebrew thought.—Among the Hebrew anointed kings or messiahs, David came in course of time to have a special significance. His importance was enhanced by the history of the three centuries that followed his reign. No Israelite or Jew living in the year b.c. 730 could have failed to note the striking contrast between the unbroken continuity of monarchs of the seed of David sitting on the throne of Jerusalem and the succession of brief dynasties and usurping kings who followed one another on the throne of Samaria. The swiftly passing series of short reigns terminated by violence which filled the space of 15 years in Northern Israel from the close of the dynasty of Jehu (which lasted nearly a century) to the accession of Hoshea, Assyria’s nominee, to the dismembered kingdom, deeply impressed the prophet of Ephraim, who exclaims:—

‘They have appointed kings, but not from me (i.e. Jahweh);

Have made princes, but I knew them not’ (Hosea 8:4).

It is not surprising, amid the rapid changes of rulers and the disasters wrought by foreign invasion, that Hosea should have prophesied the discipline of exile for his faithless countrymen, and as its final issue that they should return and seek Jahweh their God and ‘David their king.’* [Note: There is not a shred of evidence to show that this clause is not genuine in Hosea 3:5. It is difficult to see why, if the idea ‘had its roots in Isaiah’s time’ and not in that out or which Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24 f. Ezekiel 45:8-9 and Jeremiah 30:9 arose (Harper, ad loc.), we should follow Wellhausen in rejecting the clause. Nowack rejects the entire verse.] For amid all the vicissitudes of the last three centuries the seed of David had survived every peril. The ‘sure mercies of David’ to which the Jews still clung, though with feeble hope, in the dark days of exile (Isaiah 55:3), began in the age of Isaiah to take root in the national imagination. Though Judah was destined to suffer terrible chastisements, yet as a result of the disciplinary trial ‘a remnant would return’ (i.e. be converted) to Jahweh, and Jerusalem would be preserved from the onslaughts of the Assyrian foe. The Immanuel prophecy, which contained the assurance of God’s presence among His people, delivered to the doubting Ahaz and his unbelieving court during the dark days of b.c. 735, became the germ of a great series of Messianic passages which are found in Isaiah 9:1-6 [English 2–7], which was probably composed soon after b.c. 701, in Isaiah 11:1-9, and, lastly, in Isaiah 32:1-3. In the first the Messiah is portrayed as a military conquering hero, ‘breaking in pieces the oppressor’s mace’; in the second, the sounds of discord cease, and He, sprung from Jesse’s stock, is the ruler of justice and peace in God’s ‘holy mountain’ of Zion, where even the powers of violence and injustice are turned into submission to a Divine authority. In the last He is again the King who shall reign in righteousness, ‘a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest.’

All these passages, as well as Is 2:2–4, are regarded by Duhm as Isaianic. On the other hand, Cheyne, Hackmann, and Marti hold that they are post-exilic,* [Note: Recently Prof. R. 11. Kennett has discussed Is 9:1–7 in JThSt (April 1906), and would assign it to the Maccabaean period. The epithets are referred to Simon the Maccabee.] but on what the present writer considers to be insufficient grounds. The subject is discussed by Cheyne in his Introd. to Isaiah, pp. 44 ff., 57 ff., and 173–176; also by Hackmann, Die Zukunftserwartung des Jesaia, pp. 126–156, and by Marti in his Commentary on the above passages: cf. also his Gesch. der Isr. [Note: Israelite.] Religion4 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 191 footn., 255 ff. On the other side, see the Commentaries of Duhm and Dillmann-Kittel (1898) on these passages, and the Century Bible, Com. on ‘Isaiah’ by the present writer. Kautzsch, in his elaborate art. ‘Religion of Israel’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (Extra Vol. p. 696a), admits the reasonableness of the view here advocated.

After the gleams of hope awakened by Hezekiah and the deliverance of Jerusalem, and after the glowing anticipations of an ideal Messianic King clothed with Divine powers, to which Isaiah in the early years of the 7th cent. gave expression, there followed a time of reaction when these high hopes suffered temporary eclipse. Men’s hearts became sick of waiting. The long reign of Manasseh, followed by the brief reign of Amon, was a period of religious as well as political decline. On the other hand, the reign of Josiah reawakened the hopes of the faithful adherents of Jahweh, and it is significant that Messianic expectation revives in the oracles of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 23:5-8 (cf. Jeremiah 30:9) he foretells the coming days when a righteous branch or shoot shall be raised unto David, who shall reign prudently and execute judgment and justice. In his days Judah shall be saved and Israel dwell secure, and the name by which he shall be called is ‘Jahweh is our righteousness’ This fragment probably belongs to the earlier utterances of Jeremiah, and upon it Zechariah in the opening years of the post-exilic period bases his well-known prophecies (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12), in which Joshua and his comrades are addressed as tokens of the coming of Jahweh’s servant ‘the branch’ (Zechariah 3:8). In Zechariah 6:12 it is made clear that Zerubbabel of the seed of David is meant, who is destined to complete the building of the Temple.† [Note: Duhm deals very arbitrarily with these passages. Jeremiah 23:5-8 was not the genuine utterance of Jeremiah, but a post-exilic addition. Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12 are badly corrupted, and later editors have sought to eliminate the name of Zerubbabel from the original oracle, because Zechariah’s prophecies with respect to him were not fulfilled.

Probably Micah 5:1-8, like Jeremiah 23:5-8, may be assigned to the earlier years of the reign of Josiah, when the religious and political outlook of Judah appeared more hopeful, and the overthrow of Assyria seemed as probable as it did to Isaiah after b.c. 701 (Isaiah 9:3-4 [Heb.]). We may assign Nahum 2:2 to Nahum 3:19 to the same period.] With the passage in Jeremiah 23:5-8 cf. also Jeremiah 30:9, Jeremiah 33:15 as well as Ezekiel 21:32; Ezekiel 34:23-31; Ezekiel 37:24. In Jeremiah less stress is laid on the personal and material features, more emphasis placed on the ethical. Also it appears from several passages that Jeremiah thought rather of a succession of rulers of Davidic descent than of a single ruler. But in determining this question the utmost critical caution is required. Thus Jeremiah 33:14-24 is regarded by most critics as a later addition to the oracles of Jeremiah (see, e.g., Giesebrecht’s Com., and Cornill in SBOT [Note: BOT Sacred Books of Old Test.] ). Certainly after the time of Jeremiah the personal features in Messianic prophecy became fainter. ‘There shall not be cut off from David one that sits upon the throne of the house of Israel’ (Jeremiah 33:17), points to a succession of rulers at a time when the hopes of Israel still clung to the ‘sure mercies of David.’ But this utterance, as we have already seen, belongs to a later time than that of Jeremiah. Zephaniah and Obadiah make no reference to the Messianic King. When we consider their historic environment, this is not surprising. For royalty in Judah was rapidly declining in power and prestige. The last kings of Judah became mere puppets in the hands of foreign princes, who pulled the strings from the banks of the Nile or of the Euphrates. Under these circumstances the ideal of a Davidic ruler ceased to appeal as powerfully as it did a century earlier, and ultimately gave place to another. It is marvellous that it continued to survive after the rude shocks of a hundred years.

Its survival is probably due to Ezekiel, the priest-prophet, herald of restoration, of hope and of reconstructive effort. This prophet was an earnest student of Israel’s past, and read its records and its oracles. The influence not only of his great elder contemporary Jeremiah, but also of the earlier prophets Hosea and Isaiah, is unmistakable. The influence of the first and the last is clear in Ezekiel 34:23-31 ‘And I will set over them a shepherd, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; … and I the Lord will be a God unto them, and my servant David a prince in their midst.’ Here, as in the case of Jeremiah 23:5-8, David represents a succession of Davidic descendants sitting on his throne. When we turn to Ezekiel’s ideal scheme of the restored Jewish theocracy (chs. 40–48), we find that the secular prince of Davidic lineage falls into the background, and his functions are subordinated to the ecclesiastical routine. The same fate in the early post-exilic period befalls the somewhat shadowy, if stately, figure of Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4, 6 (cf. Haggai 2:22), who was soon destined to subside into the background in the presence of Joshua the high priest, the natural and legitimate head of the newly constituted Church-nation. In truth, the Messianic King rapidly becomes a vanished ideal of prophecy. In the closing verses (14–20) of Zephaniah (obviously an addition belonging to the late-exilic or early post-exilic period) it is Jahweh who is Israel’s King in the midst of His people, their mighty Hero who wards off the nation’s foes (Haggai 2:15-19).

When we turn to the Deutero-Isaiah (40–55), we find that an entirely new ideal, to which reference has already been made, had displaced the earlier and older one created by Isaiah. In place of the national-Messianic King we have the national-prophetic ideal of the Suffering Servant of Jahweh, through whose humiliation and sorrow the sinning nation shall find peace. God’s anointed king, who is not of Davidic descent at all, but the Persian Cyrus, is the chosen instrument for accomplishing the Divine purposes with respect to His servant Jacob (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-4). We shall have to note how profoundly the Deutero-Isaianic portraiture of the Suffering Servant came in later times to modify the Hebrew ideal of the Messiah, and to constitute an entirely new conception which the Hebrew race only partially and very slowly assimilated, and whose leaven worked powerfully in the Messianic ideal of the ‘Son of Man’ in the consciousness of Christ and His immediate followers.

When we pass to the Trito-Isaiah (56–66), which probably arose in the years that immediately preceded the advent of Nehemiah, we find that the old ideal of the Davidic Messiah, which Ezekiel and Haggai attempted with poor success to revive, has altogether disappeared. Not even in the lyrical collection (60–62) is the faintest note to be heard of a Messianic Jewish King. The prophecies of Malachi are equally silent. We have to wait for centuries—perhaps as late as the declining days of the Hasmonaeans—before the Davidic Messianic King definitely and clearly reappears.

Before we pass to the Greek period (b.c. 300 and later), it is necessary to refer briefly to a series of OT passages of a Messianic or reputed Messianic character. (1) Genesis 3:15 (belonging to the earlier Jahwistic document, J 1) can only by a strained interpretation be regarded as Messianic at all. The seed of the woman and the serpent (representing the power of evil) are to be engaged in prolonged conflict, in which both suffer injury. In this struggle it is not expressly stated which side will triumph (so Dillmann). (2) Genesis 49:10 is exceedingly obscure. The rendering, ‘as long as one comes to Shiloh’ (Hitzig, Tuch), is doubtful in point of Hebrew usage, and difficult to sustain historically. The Greek versions attribute to the phrase an obscure Messianic reference, but interpret שלה as a late Hebrew compound form with a relative, which can be accepted only after making violent assumptions.* [Note: LXX τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῶ, ‘that which is reserved for him.’ The LXX in some variants has ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ὧ ἀπόκειται, ‘till there comes he to whom it (? the sceptre) belongs,’ which is the rendering of the Targ. of Onkelos and also of Jerusalem. This most clumsy and almost impossible construction is apparently due to the influence of Ezekiel 21:32, where, however, we have a subject for the relative clause, viz. הַמִּשִׁפָּם.] Giesebrecht ingeniously proposed to read in place of שלה the form משְׁלֹה ‘his ruler.’ He rightly argues that to read שֶׁלּה as the LXX Septuagint presupposes, immediately followed by וְלוֹ, constitutes a very awkward and intolerable combination.† [Note: Beiträge zur Jesaiakritik, p. 29, footnote. It is difficult to understand the acquiescence of Gunkel in the construction pre-supposed in the alternative rendering of the LXX variant (cited in the previous footnote).] If we accept this emendation, the passage may be regarded as Messianic. But it is most probably an insertion moulded on Ezekiel 21:32, for it stands in no immediate relation to the verses that precede or follow.‡ [Note: See Driver in Expositor, July 1885; EBi, art. ‘Shiloh’; and Bennett’s ‘Genesis’ (Century Bible), ad loc.] (3) 2 Samuel 7:4-17. Here 2 Samuel 7:15-16 are the expression, placed in the mouth of the prophet Nathan, of the sentiment of reverence to the House of David, which took its rise in the latter part of the 8th century. Budde refers this speech of Nathan and the following prayer of David to a later period than the other more primitive sections of the historical narrative, and we may reasonably follow him in ascribing this passage to the 7th cent.—not improbably the same period as that in which Jeremiah 23:5-8; Jeremiah 30:9 arose.§ [Note: Budde’s Com. on the Books of Samuel (J. C. B. Mohr), p. 233; cf. also his Richter u. Samuel, pp. 244, 247.] (4) Numbers 24:17 ‘A star hath marched (? gleamed) out of Jacob, and a sceptre hath arisen out of Israel, and hath broken in pieces the sides (temples) of Moab, and hath destroyed all the sons of Seth’ (?). The text is here difficult, and many points are uncertain. The entire series of Balaam’s oracles are brought together by the redactor of the J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] documents, and the reference of the lyric passage just cited may be either to David (2 Samuel 8:2) or to Omri (cf. insc. of Mesha, lines 4–8, and art. ‘Omri’ in Hastings’ DB. [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] || [Note: | The Com. of Dr. Buchanan Gray (ICC) should be consulted.] Its Messianic interpretation by early Christian writers (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus), as well as by Rabbi Akiba, who referred it to Bar Cochba in the days of Hadrian (cf. also the Targums of Onkelos and Jon.), need not detain us. (5) Deuteronomy 18:15 ‘A prophet shall Jahweh thy God raise up unto thee from thy midst from thy brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken.’ This passage is quoted in Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37 as having an individual Messianic reference. But the context (cf. the verses that immediately precede) clearly proves that the reference is general, and not individual. The Israelites are not to pay heed to the magician or soothsayer, but to God’s true prophet, like Moses, whom He will raise up in Israel from time to time (see Driver’s Com. in ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] ). (6) Lastly, we have a series of Psalm passages. Psalms 2 (esp. Psalms 2:5 ff.). 72, 89, 110 may be taken as the most conspicuous examples of the revived Messianic expectation. They all belong to the Greek period. Psalms 2, like Psalms 1 (both without superscription), was evidently placed by the redactors at the head of the Psalm collection, and belongs to a late period. Psalms 2, like Psalms 110, originates from the Maccabaean days, when the old conception of the national deliverer from foreign enemies, which was created by Isaiah after Judah’s emergence from a desperate crisis, once more revived.

Before we come to deal with the later phases of Messianic expectation, we would here note the historic evolution of three distinct lines of anticipation respecting the human agency whereby Israel’s salvation and the establishment of a Divine and righteous rule would be effected. (1) The righteous Messianic warrior-king of Davidic descent. (2) The prophetic sufferer portrayed in Isaiah 40-55, and esp. in Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12—a conception which may also underlie the obscure passage Zechariah 12:10-11. (3) The prophetic ideal, based mainly on Deuteronomy 18:15, which came to be identified with the heraldic prophet of ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord,’ the Elijah of Malachi 4:4 f. [Heb. 3:22 f.], or was identified with the Messiah Himself (Acts 3:22 f.). Cf. Mark 6:15; Mark 8:28, John 1:21; John 6:14; John 7:40, and Wendt’s Teaching of Jesus, i. p. 67 f.

iii. Transformation of the Messianic ideal through Apocalyptic.—The kingdom of righteousness and the fear of the Lord, or what is expressed in the Biblical phrase the Kingdom of God, was not to be attained without a struggle against opposing forces political and moral, or without the instrumentality of a personal leader, sometimes an anointed king of Davidic descent, through whom the victory was to be won for Israel. For throughout we find that Israel, or a purified remnant, stands at the centre of the whole movement towards righteousness, and becomes more or less identified with it. Accordingly, the closest connexion subsisted between the national Messiah and that future state of blessedness, a restored theocracy, which became the steadfast expectation of the Jewish race since the destruction of Solomon’s temple in b.c. 587. At first it was believed that the desired consummation would not long be delayed. The existing generation and the earthly scene in which the prophet lived would behold the great day of the Lord and the advent of the salvation foretold. But ever since the days of Amos, and still more after the discipline of the Exile, the horizons of time and space expanded.

1. After the Exile and the return of the Gôlah (exiled Jews), the advent of the fulfilled hopes of a Divine kingdom of righteousness was still delayed, and the Messianic age seemed as far off as ever, even after Nehemiah and Ezra had worked at their task of reform. As time went on, the disappointed expectations of post-exilic Judaism bred among the spiritual leaders a spirit of hopelessness as to the political outlook, and this is echoed in their religious hymns: ‘Does Jahweh cast off in abhorrence for ever; will he no more be gracious? Is there an end to his kindness for evermore’ (Psalms 77:8-9 [Heb.]); cf. Psalms 22, 37, etc. Trust in Jahweh still survived, and His faithful followers clung to the Tôrah (Psalms 19:8-12 [Heb.] and 119 passim), but Messianic expectation languished. The outlook of the present time was hopeless. But amid the enlarged horizons of time as well as space to which we have referred, the thoughts of some of the most spiritual minds in Judaism were directed to the transcendental and ultimate. In that world God would finally vindicate Himself and His ways to the expectant faith of Israel. A distinction began to be established between the present and the future age or aeon. The former is corrupt, and hopelessly delivered over to Satan and the powers of darkness. Victory will come in the latter. As we approach the time of Christ, the distinction between the present age (עוֹלָם הַוָּה or αἰὼν οὗτος) and the age to come (עוֹלָם הַבָּא or αἰὼν μέλλων) becomes sharply contrasted, and the transcendental features and colouring which invest the latter, and the final conflict with the heathen or demonic powers (Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38, 39, attributed by some recent critics to a later hand than Ezekiel) characterize the new and later phase of Messianic expectation. This final agony or conflict, called in later times the ‘Messianic sufferings or pangs’ (חָבֽלֵי הַמָּשִׁיחַ), which was to usher in the new age, was no longer confined to earth. It was universal and cosmic. These apocalyptic features (which first meet us clearly in that latest addendum to the Isaianic oracles, Isaiah 24-27) now impress themselves on Messianic expectation, though by no means always; cf. Mark 13:6-37, John 16:11; John 16:20-22.

2. Another feature of equal importance, which begins to emerge in apocalyptic literature, left its impress on Messianic expectation, viz. the belief in the resurrection of the dead. The first clear intimations of this faith are to be found in Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2. In the older apocrypha (Sirach, Judith, Tobit, 1 Mac.) it is absent. In the later (2 Maccabees 7:9; 2 Maccabees 7:14; 2 Maccabees 7:23; 2 Maccabees 7:29; 2 Maccabees 7:36; 2 Maccabees 12:43-44) it is obviously present. In the Wisdom of Solomon it takes the form of a happy life after death for the just (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Wisdom of Solomon 4:7; Wisdom of Solomon 5:16; Wisdom of Solomon 6:20).* [Note: Schürer, GJV3 ii. 508.] It is hardly necessary to emphasize how profoundly this belief in the resurrection of the righteous (the most primitive form of the doctrine limited the resurrection to them) moulded the Christology of St. Paul. For to St. Paul, Christ is the Second Adam, endowed with the πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν (1 Corinthians 15:45), in whom all His faithful followers are made alive (v. 22); cf. Romans 6:3-11. See Volz, Jüd. Eschatologie, pp. 237–248.

3. The pre-mundane existence of the Messiah was another mode of the larger transcendental mould of thought which apocalyptic reveals. Belief in the ante-natal existence of the Messiah was only part of a general tendency of Jewish speculation. The new Jerusalem, the Temple, and Paradise existed before the creation of the world (Apocalypse, Apocalyptic Bar 4:3, 59:4, Assumpt. Mosis 1:14, 17). The Midrash on Proverbs 8:9 even goes beyond this, and expressly mentions the Messiah among the seven things created before the creation of the world, viz. the Throne of Glory, Messiah the King, the Tôrah, ideal Israel, Repentance, and Gehenna.* [Note: Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, i. p. 175.] The pre-mundane existence of the Messiah is also certified in the Targ. [Note: Targum.] on Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:2. In these metaphysical conceptions, stimulated, as we may with considerable probability believe, through the Platonic doctrine of archetypal ideas which passed in the great stream of Hellenic influence over the Jewish Diaspora, we clearly discern what Charles aptly calls a Semitic philosophy of religion.† [Note: Book of Enoch, Introd.1 p. 23, in his description of Apocalyptic generally. It is quite possible that we have a trace of it in that profoundly speculative Psalms , 139 (note vv. 15, 16). With reference to the pre-existence of the Messiah (not His name only, as Volz seems to assume in Jüd. Eschatologie, p. 217), see Enoch 48:2–6, and cf. Charles’ notes (and 62:7). ‘Name’ here connotes existence as in the Babyl. Creation tablet (lines 1, 2). On the other side, as against the Jewish belief in Messianic pre-existence, see Dalman, Worte Jesu, p. 245.] By this doctrine of pre-mundane existence the things of God were lifted above the universal lot of change and decay, and brought into the realm of adamantine permanence. As Baldensperger acutely remarks, it became, in the minds of reflective and pious Jews, a guarantee against loss.‡ [Note: Selbstbewusstsein Jesu2, p. 89; Volz, Jüd. Eschatologie, p. 218.] We need not labour to set forth how profoundly it affects NT thought, especially Pauline and Johannine (2 Corinthians 8:9, Philippians 2:7; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:5, Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 2:10, John 1:1-3).

4. Messianic titles.

(a) Among the most signiheant for students of the NT is that of ‘Restorer,’ which is probably involved in the epithet Ta’eb, which occurs in the apocalypse of the Samaritan liturgy for the Day of Atonement. In the day of Ta’eb it was believed that the sacred vessels of the Temple would reappear which had been concealed on Mount Gerizim,§ [Note: Bousset, Religion des Judentums2, pp. 258, 267, 274.] and it has been conjectured that this same idea of Restorer underlies the epithet Taxo (Greek τάξων) in Assumpt. Mosis 9:1. In the literature of the time of Christ we frequently meet with this conception of the Messiah. Thus in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Test. Levi, 18), which may have originated about a century before Christ’s birth, the Messiah is regarded as the coming restorer of the Paradise lost by Adam’s transgression. In Acts 3:21 the καιροὶ ἀποκαταστάσεως clearly reflect this tradition. This function of ‘restorer’ was evidently ascribed to the Messiah and not to God’s messenger Elias, referred to in Malachi 3:1-18 f. [Heb.]

(b) Other significant epithets, as ‘Son of a woman,’ prob. in allusion to Isaiah 7:14, appear, if the text be sound, in the Book of Enoch (Similitudes) 62:5, 69:29.|| [Note: | Here, however, it should be noted, in both passages Charles adopts the reading ‘Son of Man.’] This is of interest when we compare the Pauline ‘son of a woman’ (Galatians 4:4). On the other hand, the designation ‘horned,’ or ‘two-horned’ (Berçshîth Rabbâ, 99), based apparently on Deuteronomy 33:17, belongs to Jewish literature subsequent to the 1st cent. and need not detain us here. Far more significant is the title which plays so large a part in the Synoptic Gospels, viz.:

(c) ‘Son of Man.’—The employment of this phrase as a Messianic title dates from the Maccabaean period, and in this specific sense meets us for the first time in Daniel 7:13. Its earlier occurrence in the OT requires no exposition here. At the time when the Book of Daniel was written, Jewish apocalyptic was directed to the conception of a great final Divine judgment at the close of the present age, whereby the coming age was to be ushered in. We no longer see the figure of a Messianic King of Davidic descent. His place is taken by a mysterious symbolic portraiture which, as Volz correctly argues,* [Note: Eschatologie, p. 10 f.] is not angelic. It stands contrasted with the four animal symbolical shapes previously described, and especially with the last beast with the ten horns, ‘dreadful and exceedingly strong,’ which had ‘great iron teeth that devoured and brake in pieces.’ In sharp distinction from these monstrous and bestial world-powers which are finally to be destroyed, we have a mysterious figure in human shape.† [Note: On the element of mystery attaching to the use of the preposition כִּ (in כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ), see Volz, ib.] In v. 27 its significance is explained. It represents ‘the people of the saints of the Most High.’ As H. J. Holtzmann correctly observes, it is intended to express ‘a world-empire which is human and not brutal, which is ethical and noble and not immoral, which is like man, stamped with the likeness of God’ (Genesis 1:26). That this human and humane world-empire was to be Jewish and not Gentile, is obvious to the reader of Daniel’s apocalypse.

The ‘Son of Man’ has a yet more definite and distinguished rôle in the Similitudes of the Book of Enoch (chs. 37–71), written probably after b.c. 100. Here He is obviously a supernatural personality and not a symbolic figure, or indefinitely expressed as ‘like a son of man.’ The Son of Man is not mere man. This is clearly shown in ch. 39, where a cloud and whirlwind carry Enoch away and set him down at the end of the heavens. There he sees the mansions of the holy, and among these latter ‘the Elect One of righteousness and faith,’ which is another name for the ‘Son of Man’ (v. 6). Moreover, He sits on God’s throne (51:3), which is also His own throne (69:27, 29), possesses universal dominion (62:6), and all judgment is committed to Him (69:27). Various alternative titles are given to Him, viz. ‘the Righteous One’ (38:2, 3, 53:6), and ‘the Elect One’ (39:6, 40:5, 45:3f). We note meanwhile that the Son of Man is also Judge.

Accordingly, we conclude that while the term in Daniel is symbolical of the human rule of God’s people Israel, in Enoch it is the designation of a supernatural personality, who holds universal empire and wields the office of Judge.

When we pass from this apocalyptic use of the title ‘Son of Man’ to its employment in the Synoptic Gospels, we observe a great change. It was without question Christ’s favourite designation of Himself. It is noteworthy that in the Synoptics the term relatively occurs twice as often as it does in the Fourth Gospel. It occurs 30 times in Matthew , 14 times in Mark, and 25 times in Luke. In John it is found only 12 times.

Christ’s employment of the term is by no means uniform. Consequently we are in danger, as Bousset points out, of giving a one-sided interpretation to the expression, either by taking it predominantly in the eschatological sense of Daniel or the Book of Enoch, or as signifying ideal typical man (as Schleiermacher assumes).* [Note: Jesu Predigt in ihrem Gegensatze zum Judenthum, p. 112 f.] Probably Charles is on the right path when he interprets the Synoptic use of the phrase as involving a combination of two contrasted ideas—the transcendent conception of apocalyptic and the Deutero-Isaianic ideal of Jahweh’s Suffering Servant.† [Note: Book of Enoch, Appendix B, p. 315 ff.; cf. also Bartlet, Expositor, Dec. 1892.] It is certainly possible that the latter was the prevailing conception in Christ’s personal consciousness rather than the former or eschatological use of the phrase; while the former was the interpretation of the title which dominated the thought of the Synoptic writers, and came to be impressed on the utterances of Jesus. This view seems to be sustained by the fact that in Aramaic the term ‘Son of Man’ (ܒܱܪ ܢܳܫܳܐ) means simply ‘man.’ On the other hand, it is difficult to believe that Jesus could have employed so colourless and vague a designation of Himself; and Bousset is probably right in his contention, as against Wellhausen, that such a term, employed in Aramaic, could easily come to acquire a special eschatological significance.‡ [Note: Religion des Judentums2, p. 305, footnote.] In all probability, Jesus on certain momentous occasions so used it. How far it was weighted with the significance that the phrase conveys in the Book of Enoch, when the expression was actually employed by Jesus, it is difficult to say. It is hardly necessary to believe that in the personal consciousness of Jesus the superadded notion of pre-mundane existence was attached to the term, though John 8:58 (‘Before Abraham was, I am’) would fairly point in this direction. We certainly have no clear right to infer it from Mark 12:6. Moreover, there is some weight in the suggestion which a few scholars, including Bousset, have put forth, that the term ‘Son of Man’ has been placed in the mouth of Jesus in many cases when He simply used the first personal pronoun.§ [Note: Bousset’s Jesus (Eng. ed.), p. 188. Bousset thinks that it was not till the closing months of His ministry that this title was assumed; ‘in face of the threatening doom of final failure … only briefly and sparingly did He adopt the name’ (p. 192f.). Some colour is given to this view, that the Synoptic writers have frequently supplied the phrase in Christ’s discourses, by comparing ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ in Matthew 5:10 with the parallel ἕνεκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in Luke 6:22. But in the extremely severe limitation imposed by Bousset on Christ’s employment of the term we are unable to concur.] That He did, however, employ the phrase in an eschatological sense of Himself, and with a full consciousness of the sublime dignity which it conferred, cannot be denied. Thus, in answer to Pilate’s question (Mark 14:62; cf. Matthew 26:64, Luke 22:69), He quotes the well-known Daniel passage (Daniel 7:13), declaring that men would see Him, the Son of Man, sitting at the right hand of power (i.e. of God), and coming in the clouds of heaven. This utterance is certified by the three Synoptic Gospels; and all three agree in giving it a decisive influence in the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. This testimony, however, carries us one step further. It is hardly possible to dissociate in the consciousness of Jesus the assumption of this high eschatological dignity without including in it the judicial function. The Oriental king was also judge. As King or Messiah, Jesus had, with full consent from Himself, been already acclaimed (Mark 11:7-11), and, with the title of ‘King of the Jews’ placed on the cross by the Roman governor, He was crucified (Mark 15:26; cf. Mark 15:12; cf. Mark 15:18; cf. Mark 15:32). Moreover, His preaching of the Kingdom of God was closely bound up with the conception of impending judgment. ‘Just as He could not dispense with the ideas of the kingdom and the judgment, if He wished to make Himself intelligible to His countrymen, so He could not dispense with the Messianic idea if He wished to be intelligible to Himself’ (Bousset).* [Note: Jesus, p. 178. Bousset, however, refuses to include in Christ’s conception of the title ‘Son of Man’ the idea of His own judgeship (p. 194).] It is easy to draw the necessary corollary. In the designation ‘Son of Man’ applied by Jesus to Himself in an eschatological sense, there was involved the other conception which meets us in the Similitudes of the Book of Enoch, that of universal judge.† [Note: Mark 13:26-27, Matthew 25:31-32, 2 Corinthians 5:10. See also Friedländer. Die religiösen Bewegungen innerhalb des Judentums im Zeitalter Jesu, p. 325.]

But the eschatological side is not the only, nor is it the most important, aspect of the conception of ‘Son of Man’ in the mind of Jesus and the Synoptic writers. Far greater, viewed from the ethical standpoint, was the human aspect of the lowly Suffering Servant suggested by the Deutero-Isaiah. This certainly could never have been invented by the Synoptic writers. It is of the very essence of Christ’s thought respecting Himself. It is nevertheless remarkable that the locus classicus of the NT writers who reflected on the mystery of the Messiah’s crucifixion, viz. Isaiah 53, was never, so far as we can gather from the Synoptic writers, quoted by Jesus Himself, with the doubtful exception of Luke 22:37. That this prophecy, however, must have been in His mind, seems fairly clear from Mark 10:45; Mark 12:6-10; cf. John 13:12-17 and Luke 24:25-26. Accordingly, the title ‘Son of Man’ had a twofold significance. It is employed when Christ’s claims to power and authority are asserted, both now and in His future Kingdom and glory. The ‘Son of Man’ has power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). He is Lord over the Sabbath Matthew 12:8). He will appear clothed in power at the last day (Mark 14:62). But the title is also used in immediate connexion with His human nature, lowliness, poverty, suffering, and death. ‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking’ (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34); ‘the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58); ‘is betrayed’ (Mark 14:21); ‘came not to be ministered unto but to minister’ (Mark 10:45); suffers and is condemned (Mark 8:31). The paradox of this twofold antithetic significance is solved by the positive truth which underlies it. The peculiar and special function of dignity and privilege which belongs to the ‘Son of Man’ rests on an ethical basis. He that has come to serve, suffer, and give His life a ransom for many, will pass through agony and death to His place of exaltation in the clouds of heaven (cf. Acts 3:18; Acts 8:32; Acts 17:3; Acts 26:23). Upon this basis St. Paul and his successors have built. We also are to suffer with Him, that we may share in His glory (Romans 8:17). The Kenotic doctrine of Philippians 2:6-7 is reared on this foundation of the teachings of Jesus respecting Himself as ‘Son of Man,’ whereby we learn that He was ‘made perfect through sufferings,’ and became ‘the leader of our salvation’ (Hebrews 2:9-10).

(d) ‘Son of God’ is a designation frequently applied to Jesus in the Gospels, and is applied by Jesus to Himself as the expression of His vivid consciousness of God’s presence in His life, and the intimate bond that united Him to the Father (Matthew 11:27). In His native Aramaic, Abbâ was the mode of address in prayer that came most naturally to His lips, and became a tradition in the worship of the early Christian Church (Romans 8:15). That the relation claimed by Jesus was a special one, is indicated by His use of the expression ‘my Father in Matthew 11:27; Matthew 18:35; Matthew 20:23, whereas in Matthew 6:32; Matthew 10:29 God is spoken of to the audience before Jesus as ‘your Father.’ More significant still is the designation of Himself as ‘beloved Son’ in the parable of the Vineyard let out to Husbandmen (Mark 12:6), and also by the voice which spoke to Him from heaven at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22). Upon this unquestionable basis of language employed by Jesus respecting Himself, the frequent application of this designation ‘Son of God’ to Christ in the Pauline Epistles, and of the same phrase with the epithet μονογενής in the Johannine writings, was obviously founded. In the memorable scene at Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus questioned His disciples as to their belief respecting Himself, Peter, according to the Matthew tradition, replied, ‘Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16). This would seem to imply that the expression ‘Son of God’ was a Messianic title. But in this connexion two things should be noted: (1) Mark 8:29 gives Peter’s reply in the briefer form ‘Thou art the Messiah.’ (2) There is scarcely any evidence in later Jewish literature to indicate that the phrase ‘Son of God’ was used as a Messianic title.* [Note: The passages where the term ‘Son’ occurs in 2 Esdras (7:28, 13:32, 37, 52, 14:9) as well as in Enoch (105:2) are all extremely doubtful. The Aramaic original is lost; and it is held by many scholars, including Drummond, Spitta (Zur Gesch. und Lit. des Urchristentums, ii. 9), as well as Charles, that Christian hands have worked over these texts and have inserted the expression ‘Son.’ See Volz, Jüd. Eschatologie, p. 213, who regards Drummond’s conjecture as probable, that the phrase ‘Son’ of God may sometimes have arisen from the Gr. rendering ταῖς for ‘servant’ (עֶבֶד). See also N. Schmidt’s art. ‘Son of God’ in EBi, col. 4694.] This is the more remarkable when we remember Psalms 2:7 ‘Jahweh hath said unto me, Thou art my son, this day I have begotten thee,’ and the old Semitic conceptions of divinity which attached to kingship, reflected in Assyrian inscriptions (see above, p. 171). Probably the stern monotheism of later post-exilic Judaism tended to suppress language which seemed to attribute Divinity to an earthly human personality.

(e) ‘Son of David’ is the most characteristic, as it is the most traditional and historic, designation of the Jewish Messiah. It expresses the most representative type of Messianic expectation, if we understand by that term an anointed Jewish king who was to be the national deliverer. This conception, as we have already seen, had its roots in the days of Isaiah of Jerusalem, and revived in the age of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and even survived in attenuated form to the early days of post-exilic Judaism. But in later Jewish literature belonging to the Greek period we notice a remarkable absence of any allusion to a Messianic king of Davidic descent who at the end of the ages will erect his throne. That the expectation still survived, and at times found expression, especially as we approach the period of the Maccabaean struggle, seems fairly clear from


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Messiah'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/m/messiah.html. 1906-1918.

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