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The Grammar of MessianismAn Ancient Jewish Political Idiom and Its Users$
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Matthew V. Novenson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190255022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190255022.001.0001

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The Grammar of Messianism

The Grammar of Messianism

(p.263) 8 The Grammar of Messianism
The Grammar of Messianism

Matthew V. Novenson

Oxford University Press

In this concluding, synthetic chapter the findings of the previous chapters are brought together to illustrate a new, alternative research program for the study of ancient messiah texts. In a detailed comparison with the idiomatic use of the fasces (“bundles” of rods) in Roman imperial literature and art, it is proposed that the idiomatic use of “anointing” discourse among ancient Jews and Christians is a similarly influential and similarly parochial symbol of political authority. On this alternative account, the future of the study of messianism lies not in vain attempts to measure the vigor of the phenomenon, nor in pedantic quarrels over the definition of “messiah,” nor in lightly revised taxonomies of redeemer figures, but rather in fresh expeditions into the primary sources to trace the grammar of messianism.

Keywords:   anointing, fasces, grammar, haggadah, messianism, oil, political symbol

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