Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Judaic Messianism

Judaic Messianism - Resources from a university course on the subject includes information on failed messiahs, the messianic idea, what the Jewish concept of a messiah is and why the site author believes that Jesus does not fulfill Judaism's criteria for messianism.

Most of the sections are short but they do offer some good content on the concept of the Jewish messiah and failed messiahs (although Christians may get annoyed by the constant references to Jesus as a failure.)

The site was created in support of a Religious Studies course at Connecticut College.

From the site:

Although not drastically, the conception of the Messiah has changed throughout history. It finds its roots in its original meaning of "anointed one." At first, it was used to mean anyone who was anointed with oil. The term came to its present use as it was used for people of importance meaning chosen. King David himself was "chosen" and anointed with oil as is shown above in a wall painting from the ancient Jewish community at Dura-Europos. Because of the associations with David and the chosen descendant of him at the end of time, the term achieved its present meaning as the savior or redeemer.

During the period of the Second Temple, there came to be more messianic figures. For example, Zechariah makes mention of a high priest and a messianic king and the Dead Sea Scrolls add a third figure-a prophet of the Last Days. This prophet is presumably Elijah, who announces the coming of the Messiah by blowing his shofar, or ram's horn from the top of Mount Carmel. These three figures, the king, priest and prophet go along with the anticipated characteristics of the kingdom to come at the end of days-kingdom, priesthood and prophecy. Elijah, who is sometimes also referred to a high priest, is an important figure in regard to the Messiah because of his duties before the actual coming. It is his job to end all the disputes of mankind and bring closure to all of the questions and religious doubts that exist. Perhaps his most important job, though, is to restore three things to Israel: a flask of manna, which will provide the food for Israel, a flask of water for purification, and a flask of oil, which with Elijah will anoint the Messiah when he comes.

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