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Featured Should χριστός be translated Messiah?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by rlvaughn, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Should χριστός be translated Messiah?

    This new thread spins off from David Taylor’s CSB 2020 Update thread. I thought it better to concentrate on this in a specific thread rather than take his completely off in that direction.

    In their update “Improvements to the Christian Standard Bible,” the CSB website relates:
    There is no further information on just which verses were changed, but we might guess – because of the involvement of Strauss, Vice-Chair of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation – that this may correspond to verses translated that way in the NIV 2011.
    In another place Strauss tells us:
    The apparent argument (at least from Strauss) for translating χριστός as Messiah is for recognizing its “titular sense” – that is, used as a title, relating to or denoted by a title.
    An example of the difference can be found in Matthew 16:16.
    • CSB Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
    • NIV Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
    • NASB Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
    • KJV And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    Some have described this as deciding whether to translate or transliterate, but I believe that this is an inaccurate way of stating the problem. Both “Christ” and “Messiah” are transliterations that have been brought over into English. Although Christ is a more direct transliteration of the word most commonly used in the Greek manuscripts, Messiah is also a transliteration of a word used at least twice in the Greek manuscripts. (I suppose I also question continuing to call words that have been in our language a thousand years or more transliterations.)

    This idea may have originated with the NASB Bible, which in four places in Matthew translates χριστός as Messiah (Matthew 1:1; 1:16; 1:17; 2:4). Others may have done it before, but I have not noticed it.

    David Bivin of Jerusalem Perspective writes:
    Do you see an advantage in translating χριστός as “Messiah” rather than “Christ” (both of which mean “anointed” or “anointed one”), considering God inspired the New Testament writers to use χριστός instead of μεσσίας (μεσσίας and χριστός are used in John 1:41 and John 4:25). If there is an advantage, what is it and why?

    Thanks.
     
  2. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Apparently this was the translation philosophy of the HCSB.
    The CSB cut back significantly the use of “Messiah” in the New Testament -- only 55 times compared to 112 times in the HCSB.
     
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  3. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    OK, some thoughts:

    Yes, why not translate it? But how best? Jesus the Anointed. Jesus the Anointed One. Jesus Anointed. Jesus Anointed One. Anointed Jesus. Anointed. The Anointed. Hmmm.

    Going from Greek to English, but transliterating from the Greek is not really translating. It is avoiding translating.

    Choosing one transliteration over another should have no bearing, other than how meaningful it will be to those reading the target language.

    A native speaker, or one truly bilingual, reading in the original might experience a different impact depending on which one was used originally.

    On the other hand, the Latin uses Christus, evidently a transliteration from the Greek. It could be thought of as a link between the Orthodox and Catholic traditions. Using Christ would maintain that.

    Or perhaps it would be better to use Messiah as a distinctive for “Protestants.” Kind of like using the Hebrew for translating the OT.

    Wait. Does the Vulgate use a transliteration for Messiah also, e.g., Messia?

    My preference would be to use whichever sounds better in context, whether in Scripture, or in a song or poem, etc. Gotta leave it as choice to avoid legalism.

    Whoever is reading, preaching, or teaching might get to decide. Much as they might prefer otherwise, translators don’t have the final word. (But don’t tell JoJ!)
     
  4. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for your thoughts and comments. Interesting stuff.
    I guess I look at this a little differently from most folks. When we talk and write about the "egg" we don't talk about it being a transliteration of the Old Norse egg. It is just the English word for the round white thing that comes out of a bird. Should we approach this differently with names, titles, theological terms? Though "Christ" and "Messiah" are originally transliterations, seems that being part of the language for over a thousand years makes them English words by now. Perhaps I am out on a limb by myself thinking this way?
    Yes, in John 1:41 and John 4:25 where the Greek has it.
    Dicit ei mulier: Scio quia Messias venit (qui dicitur Christus): cum ergo venerit ille, nobis annuntiabit omnia.
    Invenit hic primum fratrem suum Simonem, et dicit ei: Invenimus Messiam (quod est interpretatum Christus).

    However, it does not seem to have Messiah in the Old Testament (e.g., it is christum and christus in Daniel 9:25-26 and christum in Psalm 2:2). I haven't checked all possibilities. Did Jerome translate from the Septuagint, or the Hebrew? I'm not up to speed on that.
    I won't. We'll try to keep it quiet. :)

    Not sure if we are on the same page here, but this is one area where it seems to me that translators don't trust it to be taught or preached correctly, so they go the extra mile to work something into the translation. Seems to me that is sort of what the HCSB was doing -- i.e., when they tried to use Christ in the Gentile context and Messiah in the Jewish context. Yet the original writers seemed fine with Christos either context. Another argument I read this afternoon for using Messiah is that many people have come to think of "Christ" as Jesus's second name. I don't doubt there are people who think that way -- and perhaps we as teachers have failed to make the distinction. But will translating Christos as "Messiah" really fix that? I seriously doubt it, if there are not teachers teaching a better way.
     
    #4 rlvaughn, Feb 7, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  5. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Active Member
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    Ive often wondered about setting the context something like this

    .... (the Messiah), Jesus the Christ

    Or

    Jesus Christ ( the Messiah)

    Or

    ?????
     
  6. Ziggy

    Ziggy Active Member
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    When the intended audience is Gentile, the obscure Hebrew term Messiah would have little or no meaning to them. Jews on the other hand would understand both Messiah and Christ —the latter since Greek was the lingua franca of that day.

    Given that both NT occurrences of Messiah are also immediately interpreted for the reader, I see no reason not to retain Christ everywhere else.

    Notably, the Septuagint never uses Μεσσίας, even though translated by Jews.
     
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  7. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Keep in mind those were thoughts on it, not necessarily my beliefs or opinions. Bottom line, I think translators are not meant to be the final word, but those mentioned in Ephesians 4:11—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
    I concur that the words Messiah and Christ are part of the language, but this does not mean they are or will be automatically properly understood, which is the problem. It will be up to those with right understanding to explain. Translators can put a footnote. Publishers can provide study Bibles and commentaries. Those making disciples and mentoring can provide the proper guidance.

    BTW, hasn't the transliteration 'baptism,' now part of English, lost significant meaning from the original as understood by those of NT times?
    That's likely a big part of it, and if cults are abusing the opportunity, perhaps they should vary it up. But also adding a footnote might be wise.
     
    #7 RighteousnessTemperance&, Feb 8, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  8. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Messiah to me conveys the idea of being tied directly into the Jewish promised coming messiah, while Christ would be more used for a formal term used to reach out to non Jewish audiences. Almost as use referring to a King.
     
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  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Ziggy nailed it!
     
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  10. davidtaylorjr

    davidtaylorjr Well-Known Member

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    I see no purpose in translating it as Messiah. What is the purpose? (I understand the "purpose" I am talking about the need when I say that.)
     
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  11. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Christ is a transliteration of χριστός. And χριστός is the Greek translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁ֖יחַ Messiah. Now Messiah is an English transliteration for the Hebrew. Now "Anointed One" would be an English translation.
     
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  12. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Because people buy what they accepted in the past, we are stuck with Jesus rather than Yeshua when a good rule would be to translate names phonetically. And titles or designations should be translated literally thus Messiah and Christ should be translated "the Anointed."
     
  13. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Just in case some have not discerned this truth, Jesus was equipped for service by being "anointed" with the Holy Spirit and Power at His water baptism. Subsequently He performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. So when you see "Christ" or "Jesus Christ" or "Christ Jesus" picture God (Second Person of the Trinity) within Jesus, and surrounded (anointed) with the Holy Spirit and Power. Awesome. This is our LORD
     
  14. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    Jerome translated from the Hebrew, not a popular move among some of the churchmen, such as Augustine. If the Septuagint was good enough for Paul, why change it? In fact Jerome's Psalms were for many years ignored in favor of the Psalms translated from the Greek. (Just as Coverdale's Psalms are still a part of the Book of Common Prayer, even though the KJV supplanted the earlier versions for the rest of the Bible.)

    It should be no surprise that Jerome used Christ, given that it was the usual transliteration from the Greek, following the Septuagint. Just as the KJV and Geneva translators stuck with Jesus (Iesus) instead of transliterating anew.

    That could be. Yet it seems to me that in the current state of biblical illiteracy neither Christ nor Messiah means much to many other than being "religious" words. I don't advocate a literal translation necessarily. Teaching is indeed the answer, but will they pay attention?
     
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  15. alexander284

    alexander284 Active Member

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    I prefer "Christ" in every instance.
     
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  16. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Some people buy what was accepted in the past, and some people latch on to new fads because they are popular -- neither of which should be the determining factor.
    On what is the translation/transliteration/spelling "Yeshua" based?
    Thanks. For some reason I was thinking he might have used both to some extent.
     
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  17. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    I am under the impression it is based on a phonic rendering of the Greek found in the NT. Thus more likely to be the sound Mary made when she called her eldest Son.
    Here is a link
    Yeshua - Wikipedia
     
    #17 Van, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    If Mary was speaking Greek, she would have called Him Iesous, with the "e" being long.

    Unfortunately, the Japanese Protestant transliteration is simply Iesu, which sounds like the Japanese transliteration of the English "yes." one day I was on a train in Tokyo which had the windows fogged up. Standing next to a woman and her little girl, I wrote on the window, "Believe in Jesus Christ." In Japanese syntax, that becomes "Jesus Christ in believe." The little girl had studied some English, so misreading it she said, "Mom, it says, 'Yes, believe on Christ.'" Mom shushed her, but a unique type of evangelism had occurred.
     
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  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Active Member
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    One downside if one were to insist on "Yeshua" — why not then do the same for all other Hebrew names? This includes Moshe, Shlomo, Eliyahu, etc.
     
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  20. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I see this in the Wikipedia link you give, and agree -- probably pronounced. I think we are out on a limb if we get dogmatic about old pronunciations such as this.
    When is χριστός not used in the titular sense? How else is it used?
     
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