Just a few quick comments (I've got papers to grade too!) based on
recollections of some of the postings on this thread:
1. The idea of THE eschatological "Messiah" is not developed in Jewish
scriptures, but can and was easily read back into various passages both by
pre-Christian Jews and by Christian Jews and Gentiles.
2. Some pre-Christian Jews already spoke of at least two complimentary
"Messiahs," one of a military-royal sort (Davidic Messiah) and another of
a priestly-cultic sort (Messiah of Aaron) -- see the Dead Sea Scrolls. It
would not surprise me if there were other such messianic personages in
some Jewish expectations (e.g. a Moses-type messiah [see the Samaritan
Taheb expectation], a suffering servant Messiah [some hints in the Dead
Sea Scrolls and elsewhere]). And such expectations easily and quickly made
their way into the ways in which Jesus' early followers saw him.
3. It may be that the coalescence of messianic ideas into one person
(Joshua/Jesus) actually was a major factor in creating the image of a
single Messiah, at least in Christian circles but perhaps also in Jewish
(Krister Stendahl has raised this sort of possibility, difficult though it
would be to document with any precision).
4. Hippolytus (early 3rd century) on Daniel and/or on the Antichrist (not
easy to find in English, since only fragments are in ANF) already lays the
basis for a Jewish messianic figure being the Antichrist. Here are two
excerpts from the online ANF (ccel.org) fragments (search for
"antichrist") -- Hippolytus ends up at Rome, but possibly represents
more easterly Mediterranean traditions (in Greek):
As Daniel says, "I considered the beast; and, lo, (there were) ten horns
behind, among which shall come up another little horn springing from them;
"by which none other is meant than the antichrist that is to rise; and he
shall set up the kingdom of Judah.
Thus, then, does the prophet set forth these things concerning the
Antichrist, who shall be shameless, a war-maker, and despot, who, exalting
himself above all kings and above every god, shall build the city of
Jerusalem, and restore the sanctuary. Him the impious will worship as God,
and will bend to him the knee, thinking him to be the Christ.
5. For claims about interpretation of "prophetic" [sic!] passages from
Jewish scriptures, and possible Jewish understandings of those passages,
one can cull the "adversus Ioudaios" literature, from Justin' mild
discussions with Trypho (mid 2nd CE) onward. Whether any Jewish exegetes
actually read the passages as the Christians claimed is open to
discussion, but it is another way to try to get at the issues.
Enough for now. I also wondered what the evidence is for the first revolt
against Rome (66-73 CE) being "Messianic" in nature, as Richard seemed to
claim in passing. The second revolt (132-135 CE) is more clearly so.
Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
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