The book has made a big contribution to the study of Christology in the earliest years of the Jesus movement. Though it has been out ten years, it is worth sharing with a new audience.
Who is Matthew Novenson?
Matthew is originally from Tennessee. He now serves as the Professor of Biblical Criticism and Biblical Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh.
Christ among the Messiahs
For many years some scholars have regarded the word “Christ” as just another name for Jesus in the earliest writings of the New Testament, namely, the letters of Paul. But Matthew makes a convincing case that the word “Christ” in Paul means “Messiah.”
This may seem to some only natural, but it is a momentous thing. It involves a whole new reassessment of Paul’s language and his Jewishness.
We find messiah language in various places like the Old Testament, Paul’s letters, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other second temple Jewish texts.
Novenson often employs the word “honorific” as a noun to discuss Paul’s use of “Christ” in his letters. It comes from the discipline of “classics,” namely, the study of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
Honorifics are like titles in a way but they were intended to magnify the name of the person. The most famous is Caesar “Augustus.”
The idea that “Christos” as it referred to Jesus is not limited to name or title. There is a third way, an honorific.
Novenson has done a great deal to shape the field of New Testament studies with this and other books.
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