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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 Fate of Messiah Christology in Early Christianity

The Fate of Messiah Christology in Early Christianity

Chapter:
(p.217) 7 The Fate of Messiah Christology in Early Christianity
Source:
The Grammar of Messianism
Author(s):

Matthew V. Novenson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190255022.003.0007

According to a standard narrative both in Jewish studies and in early Christian studies, ancient Christian writers redefined “messiah” or “Christ” immediately and entirely, so that early Christian Christology ceased to have anything at all to do with Jewish messianism. In this chapter it is argued that this standard narrative is wrong, that there are numerous strands of early Christian Christology, orthodox as well as heterodox, in which the “Christness” of Christ—the notion of his being anointed with some unguent, by some agent, for some purpose—persisted as a puzzle to be solved and an opportunity to be exploited. The fate of messiah Christology in early Christianity is, in fact, a complicated affair. It did not remain what it had been at the beginning, but neither did it vanish altogether. The ghost of the messianic movement surrounding Jesus of Nazareth haunted early Christian Christology for centuries to follow.

Keywords:   adversus Iudaeos, Christology, contra Iudaeos, gnosticism, heresy, Jewish Christianity, Nag Hammadi, orthodoxy, parting of the ways

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