Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism

Matthew V. Novenson

in Christ among the Messiahs

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844579
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933075 | DOI:
Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism

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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

Chapter.  15364 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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