Messianism

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Messianism[Notes 1] is the belief and doctrine that is centered on the advent of the messiah, who acts as the chosen savior and leader of humanity by God. Messianism originated from the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament), in which a messiah is a Jewish monarch or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil.[1] The concept of messianism has developed over time, with different interpretations of scripture constituting different prophecies and portraits of the messiah within Judaism and the Abrahamic religions. In Judaism, Mashiach (the messiah) will be a future Jewish king from the line of David and redeemer of the Jewish people and humanity.[2]

In Christianity and Islam, Jesus is the messiah who is called the Christ,[Notes 2] the savior and redeemer.

Other religions have a messianism-related concept, including the Buddhist Maitreya, the Hindu Kalki, the Zoroastrian Saoshyant and He whom God shall make manifest in Bábism.

Abrahamic religions[edit]

Judaism[edit]

Messiah (Hebrew: משיח‎; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, ("anointed [one]") is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed. For example, Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia, is referred to as "God's anointed" (Messiah) in the Bible.

In Jewish messianic tradition and eschatology, the term came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Standard Hebrew, the messiah is often referred to as Melech Hamashiach (מלך המשיח‎, Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ in the Tiberian vocalization pronounced Méleḵ hamMāšîªḥ), or simply, Mashiach, literally meaning "the Anointed King."

Traditional Rabbinic teachings and current Orthodox thought hold that the messiah will be an anointed one (messiah), descended from his father through the Davidic line of King David, who will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel and usher in an era of peace.

Orthodox Jewish messianic movements have occasionally emerged throughout the centuries among Jewish communities worldwide, these surround various messiah claimants. However, the claimants failed to deliver the promises of redemption, and generally remained with only a handful of followers, the most popular messiah claimants were Simon Bar Kokhba in 2nd century Judea, Nehemiah ben Hushiel in the 7th century Sasanian Empire, Sabbatai Zevi in the 17th century Ottoman Empire (precursor to Sabbateans), Jacob Frank in 18th century Europe, Shukr Kuhayl I and Judah ben Shalom in 19th century Ottoman Yemen. There are those who currently identify the 20th century Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) as the Mashiach).

Other denominations, such as Reform Judaism, believe in a Messianic Age when the world will be at peace, but do not agree that there will be a messiah as the leader of this era.

The Jewish messiah concept was the source of the development of later, similar messianic concepts in Christianity (originally a Jewish sect) and Islam.

Christianity[edit]

In Christianity, the Messiah is called the Christ (/krst/; Greek: Χριστός, translit. Khristós, lit. 'Anointed One'; Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ‎, translit. Māšîah, lit. 'Mashiach'), the saviour and redeemer who would bring salvation to the Jewish people and mankind. "Christ" is the Greek translation of "Messiah", meaning "Anointed one". The role of the Christ, the Messiah in Christianity, originated from the concept of the messiah in Judaism. Though the conceptions of the messiah in each religion are similar, for the most part they are distinct from one another due to the split of early Christianity and Judaism in the 1st century. Christians believe Jesus to be the Jewish messiah (Christ) of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament.

Christians believe that the messianic prophecies were fulfilled in his mission, death, resurrection, and ascension to his Session on the heavenly throne, where "he sat down at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet" (Heb 10:12-13 NET, quoting the Davidic royal Psalm 110:1). Christians believe that the rest of the messianic prophecies will be fulfilled in the Second coming of Christ. One prophecy, distinctive in both the Jewish and Christian concept of the messiah, is that a Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil, will be king of God's kingdom on earth, and rule the Jewish people and mankind during the Messianic Age and World to come.

One distinguishing characteristic of the Christian Messiah, is that his 2nd coming is preceded by the arrival of a false messiah, the Anti-Christ, or "Alternate-Christ", who enjoys universal reign for 3-1/2 years or 7 years (depending on the interpretation); in the Book of Revelation, the end of the present age culminates in man-made and natural catastrophes, through which divine judgment concludes with the arrival of the Messianic Kingdom expected by both Jews and Christians.[citation needed]

Islam[edit]

In Islam, Isa Ibn Mariam, al-Masih ("Jesus son of Mary, the Messiah") is believed to have been anointed from birth by Allah with the specific task of being a prophet and a king. In Islam, the Mahdi is believed to hold the task of establishing the truth and fighting against divisions of Islam, uniting all sects before the return of Jesus who will kill the false messiah Masih ad-Dajjal (similar to the Antichrist in Christianity), who will emerge shortly before him in human form in the end of the times, claiming that he is the messiah.[5][6] Then Jesus will pray for the death of Gog and Magog (Yajuj Majuj) who are an ancient tribe sealed away from humanity who will rise to cause destruction, after he has destroyed al-Dajjal, Mahdi's final task will be to become a just king and to re-establish justice. After the death of Mahdi, Jesus' reign of the messianic King will begin bringing eternal peace and monotheism in the world ending all religions besides Islam.

Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:43:656: Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (Mariam) (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts)."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community believes that the prophecies regarding the advent of the Messiah and Mahdi have been fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, he claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.[7]

Other religions[edit]

Buddhism[edit]

Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor of the historic Śākyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, the prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Theravāda, Mahāyāna, Vajrayāna) and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an actual event that will take place in the distant future.

Though Maitreya Buddha appears in the canonical literature shared by many sects of Buddhism, Buddhists in different historical contexts have conceived of Maitreya Buddha in different ways; in early medieval Chinese Buddhism, for example, Taoist and Buddhist ideas combined to produce a particular emphasis on the messianic role of a Bodhisattva called "Prince Moonlight."[8] Furthermore, the Chinese Maitreyan traditions were themselves marked by considerable diversity. Erik Zurcher has argued that a certain "canonical" Maitreyan cult from the fourth to sixth centuries believed Maitreya to inhabit the Tusita heaven where Buddhists might be reborn in the very distant future. Another rival tradition, however, believed that Maitreya would appear in the imminent future in this world to provide salvation during a time of misery and decline,[9] this latter form of Maitreyan belief was generally censored and condemned as heretical to the point that few manuscripts survive written by Buddhists sympathetic to this tradition.[10]

Maitreya Buddha continued to be an important figure in millenarian rebellions throughout Chinese history such as in the rebellions associated with the so-called White Lotus Society.

Taoism[edit]

Around the 3rd century CE, religious Taoism developed eschatological ideas. A number of scriptures[which?] predict the end of the world cycle, the deluge, epidemics, and coming of the saviour Li Hong 李弘 (not to be confused with the Tang personalities).

Hinduism[edit]

In Hinduism, Kalki (Devanagari: कल्कि; also rendered by some as Kalkin and Kalaki) is the tenth and final Maha Avatara (great incarnation) of Vishnu who will come to end the present age of darkness and destruction known as Kali Yuga. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for eternity or time, the origins of the name probably lie in the Sanskrit word "kalka" which refers to dirt, filth, or foulness and hence denotes the "destroyer of foulness," "destroyer of confusion," "destroyer of darkness," or "annihilator of ignorance."[11]

Zoroastrianism[edit]

According to Zoroastrian philosophy, redacted in the Zand-i Vohuman Yasht, "at the end of thy tenth hundredth winter [...] the sun is more unseen and more spotted; the year, month, and day are shorter; and the earth is more barren; and the crop will not yield the seed; and men [...] become more deceitful and more given to vile practices. They have no gratitude.

Honorable wealth will all proceed to those of perverted faith [...] and a dark cloud makes the whole sky night [...] and it will rain more noxious creatures than winter."

Saoshyant, the Man of Peace, battles the forces of evil.[citation needed] The events of the final renovation are described in the Bundahishn (30.1ff): "In the final battle with evil, the yazatas Airyaman and Atar will 'melt the metal in the hills and mountains, and it will be upon the earth like a river' (Bundahishn 34.18), but the righteous (ashavan) will not be harmed."

Eventually, Ahura Mazda will triumph, and his agent Saoshyant will resurrect the dead, whose bodies will be restored to eternal perfection, and whose souls will be cleansed and reunited with God. Time will then end, and truth/righteousness (asha) and immortality will thereafter be everlasting.

Rastafarianism[edit]

Rastafarians believe that Emperor Haile Selassie was not killed by the Derg in Ethiopia's civil war, but will return to save Earth, and in particular, people of African descent. This is a particularly interesting case, as Selassie is identified as the Second Coming of Jesus, so the Rastafarian prophecy is effectively a second coming of the second coming.

John Frum[edit]

Some cargo cults believe in a messiah figure called John Frum. When David Attenborough asked one of its adherents if it was rational for them to be still waiting for Frum to re-appear after 50 years, he was told that Christianity had been waiting 2,000 years, so waiting for Frum was much more rational.

Russian and Slavic messianism[edit]

Romantic Slavic messianism held that the Slavs, especially the Russians, suffer in order that other European nations, and eventually all of humanity, may be redeemed.[12] This theme had a profound impact in the development of Pan-Slavism and Russian and Soviet imperialism; it also appears in works by the Polish Romantic poets Zygmunt Krasiński and Adam Mickiewicz, including the latter's familiar expression, "Polska Chrystusem narodów" ("Poland is the Christ of the nations").[13] Messianic ideas appear in the "Books of the Genesis of the Ukrainian People" (Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius Manifesto),[14] in which universal equality and democracy in the Zaporizhian Sich, recognized as a revival of human society initially planned by God. Extermination of Ukraine by Poland[citation needed] and Russia, and faith in its future revival, associated with faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. Reborned Ukraine will expand universal freedom and faith in all Slavic countries and thus designed by God ideal society will be restored.[15]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From Biblical Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ /məsə/ (Latinized as Māšîăḥ), meaning "the anointed one [of God]", with the Ancient Greek suffix -ism (-ισμός, Latinized to -ismos).
  2. ^ Pronounced /krst/. From Latin: Christus, via Greek: χριστός, translit. khristós, lit. 'the anointed one [of God]'; calqued from Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ‎, translit. māšîaḥ, lit. messiah or messias.[3][4] Alternatively (Messiah or Messias): Latin: messias, from Greek: μεσσίας, translit. messías, lit. messias or messiah (alternative to χριστός), via Aramaic: משיחא‎, translit. məšīḥā, ultimately from the same Hebrew.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lanternari, Vittorio (1962). "Messianism: Its Historical Origin and Morphology". History of Religions (2 ed.). pp. 52–72. 
  2. ^ Ginsburgh, Rabbi Yitzchak (2001). Awakening the Spark Within - Five Dynamics of Leadership That Can Change the World. Gal Einai. pp. 18–19. 
  3. ^ Zanzig, Thomas (2000). Jesus of history, Christ of faith. p. 314. ISBN 0-88489-530-0. 
  4. ^ "Etymology Online: messiah". Etymonline.com. Retrieved November 19, 2010. 
  5. ^ Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
  6. ^ Ali, Mohammed Ali Ibn Zubair. "Who is the evil Dajjal (the "anti-Christ")?". Islam.tc. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  7. ^ "The Promised Messiah". alislam.org. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  8. ^ Zürcher, E. (1982). ""Prince Moonlight": Messianism and Eschatology in Early Medieval Chinese Buddhism". T'oung Pao. 68: 2. 
  9. ^ Zürcher, E. (1982). ""Prince Moonlight": Messianism and Eschatology in Early Medieval Chinese Buddhism". T'oung Pao. 68: 13. 
  10. ^ Zürcher, E. (1982). ""Prince Moonlight": Messianism and Eschatology in Early Medieval Chinese Buddhism". T'oung Pao. 68: 16. 
  11. ^ The Kalki Parana
  12. ^ Russian Messianism: Third Rome, Revolution, Communism and After, Peter J. S. Duncan, London, Routledge, 2000
  13. ^ THE SUFFERING, CHOSENNESS AND MISSION OF THE POLISH NATION, Waldemar Chrostowski, Religion in Eastern Europe, George Fox University
  14. ^ Kostomarov, Mykola at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  15. ^ Between The Philosophy of History and Messianism (The Books of the Genesis of the Ukrainian People) S.Kozak

Bibliography[edit]

  • Millenarianism and Messianism in Early Modern Culture, (4 voll.), Dordrecht: Kluwer.
    • Vol. 1: Goldish, Matt and Popkin, Richard H. (eds.). Jewish Messianism in the Early Modern World, 2001.
    • Vol. 2: Kottmnan, Karl (eds.). Catholic Millenarianism: From Savonarola to the Abbè Grégoire, 2001.
    • Vol. 3: Force, James E. and Popkin, Richard H. (eds.). The Millenarian Turn: Millenarian Contexts of Science, Politics and Everyday Anglo-American Life in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, 2001.
    • Vol. 4: Laursen, John Christian and Popkin, Richard H. (eds.). Continental Millenarians: Protestants, Catholics, Heretics, 2001.
  • Bockmuehl, Markus and Paget, James Carleton Paget (eds.), Redemption and Resistance. The Messianic Hopes of Jews and Christians in Antiquity London, New York: T & T Clark, 2009.
  • Desroche, Henri, Dieux d'hommes. Dictionnaire des messianismes et millénarismes de l'ère chrétienne, The Hague: Mouton, 1969.
  • Idel, Moshe, Messianic Mystics, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Kavka, Martin, Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Saperstein, Marc (ed.), Essential Papers on Messianic Movements and Personalities in Jewish History, NY: New York University Press, 1992.