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Christ among the MessiahsChrist Language in Paul and Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism$
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Matthew V. Novenson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844579.001.0001

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Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism

Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism

(p.34) 2 Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism
Christ among the Messiahs

Matthew V. Novenson

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question what the word “messiah” meant in early Jewish texts, and more importantly, how it meant what it meant. Modern scholarship on early Jewish messianism has typically operated under an idealist account of religious language, according to which particular texts are all instantiations of a reified “messianic idea.” In recent research, this theory has been subjected to justified criticism, but no compelling alternative has been proposed in its place. This chapter articulates a social-linguistic account of messiah language, according to which early Jewish authors used the scriptural linguistic resources at their disposal to respond creatively to their respective social, political, and religious situations. Messiah language worked in Jewish antiquity because there existed a common pool of linguistic resources and a competent community of language users.

Keywords:   jewish scriptures, meaning, messiah language, messianic idea, social linguistics

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