Posted: Jul 20, 2013 1:16 am
by spin
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:

What's a "messianist"?

A believer in a messiah. In Jewish thought the messiah was usually still coming, as in the view of John the Baptist and his proselytes.


So Jews did not as a whole believe in such a messiah? This belief was distinctive enough to be the mark of certain assemblies among the Jews?

Probably all Jews knew of the notion of the messiah, but it didn't impact on most of their lives. The messianism of John is quite different and staunchly anti-established religion. To be ready for the eschaton and the appearance of the messiah you had to receive baptism, a rite that had nothing to do with the temple or the synagogue.

neilgodfrey wrote:I do know of literary evidence for notions of a messiah to come and especially of messiahs that had been in the history of Israel, but I don't know of any evidence that such ideas were discussed and occupied the minds of the general populace of Judea until the time of the first Jewish War.

I think that those individuals who caused people to go out into the wilderness, as mentioned in Josephus, were either messianic contenders or prophets of a coming messiah. It would be hard not to have heard the notion before the war.

neilgodfrey wrote:(John the Baptist as a foreteller of a Messiah can be explained as a literary patch-work creation of miscellaneous OT passages, just the way Psalm 22 etc were worked to create a dramatic declaration on the cross. Josephus who appears to have less of a theological agenda for his account of John the Baptist places him after Christ and associates no messianist view to him.)

He might be able to be explained that way, but christianity certainly had to accept his existence. It certainly had to accept baptism as well, though baptism has nothing to do with christian salvation. Given that John's beliefs were imminently apocalyptic, christianity's acceptance of him required a lot of dancing. Christianity provides a testimony for John when taken with Josephus gives him a historical foundation. The foretelling of the messiah as part of his non-christian eschatological message is reasonable, though perhaps not comfortable for Josephus to tell the Romans. The gospels inadvertently tell us interesting things about John and his followers. Why did John's followers fast when those of Jesus didn't need to? Why did he have to send to find out if Jesus was the messiah? Don't these show some of the contention between the two sets of belief? Followers of John's religion didn't know that Jesus was the messiah. This makes one think of the Apollos story in Acts 18:24ff. Apollos, the Johannine believer, had to be taken aside and told about Jesus, presumably of his coming and more specific teachings.