I've been doing a little digging and a lot of pondering. It seems we have one word, with a basic meaning of "the anointed" that all can agree upon,
but it takes on added shades of meaning depending on the culture of the individual applying it. It's a matter of what they expect the messiah to do,
what the office entails, where the cultural and religious differences enter.
From what I can tell, the Jews were looking for a political messiah, an "anointed one" to lead them (in a revolt) and save them physically - at the
time of Christ from the Romans. Jesus did not do that, he did not lead the expected sort of political, physical, revolt, and so the Jews said "no,
that's can't be the messiah we're waiting for", so they voted to save Bar Abbas instead when the choice was given them. Bar Abbas WAS fighting against
Romans, but they did not recognize him as being a "leader", an "anointed one", the messiah.
I'm still trying to get a grasp on what Muslims expect of the messiah. From what I can tell, they expect him to be a war leader, too, and to fight in
support of the Mahdi against the Dajjal. Then, they expect him to convert everyone to Islam, most especially the Christians (i.e. to "break the
cross"), and then he is to be a "king" - of what isn't yet clear to me - and die after a 40 year rule. That is what I have been able to gather of the
Islamic concept of messiah.
The Christians, in contrast, think of the messiah as a spiritual leader, someone who will save them spiritually, not so much physically. They believe
that has already been done, while the messiah walked the Earth and by his death and resurrection. When they hear "Nah, he never died on that cross.
Nah, he was never resurrected. Nah, he didn't say what you read that he said", well, they automatically interpret that to mean "He wasn't the messiah,
because he didn't do messianic stuff", and consider it an attack on the very basis of their religion. Then, when a Muslim says "but he WAS the
messiah." question marks pop up all over a Christian's head, dancing around it like stars in a cartoon. They're thinking "how can you claim he's the
messiah when you don't believe he did anything messianic?" In the same way, the Jews look at Christians and think "How can you claim he was the
messiah, when you don't believe he did anything messianic?" because expectations of what a messiah is to do are culturally and religiously colored, in
spite of all of them sharing the same basic definition.
Everyone believes in "The Messiah", but no one agrees on what it is he's supposed to do, or whether he has already done it or not.
A word with similar problems is "scripture". It really just means "writings", "things that were scribed". Melville's "Moby Dick" and Tolstoy's "War
and Peace", as well as the daily newspaper, are ALL "scripture" at the most basic level. To a Jew, I imagine "scripture" carries the meaning of Torah
and other canonical Jewish writings, but does not include the new testament. To a Christian, "scripture" means the Bible - old and new testaments, but
does not include the Qur'an. To a Muslim, it includes all of them, but with the caveat that the Jewish and Christian writings have been corrupted,
such that they believe in the concepts of those writings, but not in the writings we have now. They believe in the Bible without believing in the
Bible, which is an odd concept to me.
So they believe that the real Injeel will be brought back at some other time, meaning that man has thwarted God in it's delivery to man for the
moment, and so it had to be replaced with the Qur'an, which strangely draws some of it's material from the same "corrupted" writings we have now, with
additions that never made it into the canon of the other religions, such as Adam being made from a blood clot instead of Earth, and Jesus speaking in
his infancy, just a day or two after birth.
This is one of the problems I've always had with Christians. They seem to have their own language, co-opted words with different meanings. I always
called it "the Christian Jargon". It's unfathomable to me. Another example is "purposed". What the hell does that mean? Proposed? Intended?
Accomplished? What the hell does it mean, and why isn't plain English sufficient?
I had an English teacher, long ago, who made the flat-out statement that language is for communication. if you aren't using words that can be
understood by the hearer, you aren't communicating, you're just expelling air at body temperature. She didn't like big words much, because not all
minds can grasp them, and she stressed the importance of speaking to people on a level they can understand.
Christians don't generally do that, and I have no idea how they ever get their points across.
This is why I tried to pin down the concept of "messiah" as viewed by others... so that we could all be on the same page in understanding what the
others meant by it.
edit on 2012/6/1 by nenothtu because: (no reason given)