When an MP accused the leaders of a certain party of “messianic claims”, he was invoking an idea much older than Christianity.
European dictionaries have the chauvinistic habit of tracing all such superstructural terms no further in place-time than classical Greece, Rome or Israel — their religio-cultural pedestals.
Thus Collins claims that Messiah refers to “…the awaited king of the Jews who will be sent by God to free them…” But awaited is the only correct word in that statement.
For the Jews curtly reject Jesus as the messiah and affirm that their messiah is still to come.
In The Messianic Legacy, Michael Baigent and others show that Jewry’s messianic expectation is most acute during foreign oppressions — such as the Babylonian captivity (from 586 BC), the Macedonian overlordship (from around 330 BC), the Roman tyranny (from 63 BC) and the recent Khazari holocaust in Europe.
But the Jews were descendants only of Judah — only one of “twelve sons” of a legendary patriarch called Jacob. Before Judah’s expulsion from the Israelite confederation soon after King Solomon’s death in the 10th century BC, the chieftain of each of the clans, collectively known as Israel ever since Egypt, was called a messiah.
Notable had been the Shoftim (mistranslated into English as “Judges”), beginning with Jasher — the Edomite sabaot (military commander) about whom the Jews are strangely reticent — and including Gideon, Samson and even a couple of Midianite-Edomite women (Jael and Jasher’s own daughter Deborah).
The shoftdom (clan chieftainship) ended only when Samuel appointed the Benjamite Saul as king of a new union of those tribes, followed by the legendary Judahite called David — the two first messiahs of united Israel.
But David became surrounded with such mystiques that, on idealising the messiah’s office, it was stipulated that the coming one must be of David’s blood.
This was what threw the Orthodox-Literalist ideologists into the theological conundrum of having to model Jesus both on the very human Davidic messiah and yet on the Son of God of the Nilotic pagans, all complete with a virgin mother.
But, historically, it is quite incorrect to confine both the concept and the word messiah to the Judaeo-Christians.
American scholar Joseph Campbell and other objective historians of mythology and religion trace both the concept and word messiah to the Coptic (Nilo-Egyptian) word messeh, a crocodile.
Because crocodile oil was what was used to anoint a new pharaoh, messeh also became an epithet of the king.
It was in this way that the word messeh acquired its royal-military meaning — the conqueror, the redeemer. Thus, by smearing the pharaoh with crocodile oil, he became “The Anointed One”.
As we know, the Israelite nation was born and slaved in the African country for 430 years.
Messeh went into Hebrew as mashiach, to be conferred upon Israel’s post-Exodus shoftim and kings. The Greeks already had their own word khristos, which entered Latin as christus and into English as Christ. Greek, nevertheless, borrowed messiah either directly from messeh or indirectly from mashiach.