Messiahs and Their Messengers
Paul's frequent self-designation apostolos christou Iesou is one of those phrases we take for granted by transliterating, "apostle of Christ Jesus." But christos, of course, means messiah, and apostolos is an old Greek political term meaning envoy or emissary. Paul styles himself an emissary for the messiah, which is in fact a kind of social type in the history of Judaism: the contemporary partisan of a messiah who interprets and propagandizes for him in literary form. Like Zechariah with Zerubbabel, Nicolaus of Damascus with Herod the Great, R. Akiba (according to legend) with Shimon bar Kosiba, and Nathan of Gaza with Sabbetai Zevi, Paul made his mark as a literary surrogate for a man whom he regarded as the messiah. This article examines the social role of the emissary for a messiah in the history of Judaism from antiquity to the early modern period.
Copyright (c) 2019 Matthew V. Novenson
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