His Presence and Representation in Cyclical and Linear Settings- With the Assistance of Robert T. Coote
3 Messianic Expectations and Beliefs before the Common Era 34
34 Chapter 3 Messianic Expectations and Beliefs before the Common Era he belief in Christ, the Messiah, is rooted ultimately in the ancient Oriental ideas of the divine king.”1 This statement is typical of scholars who connect messianism with civilizations preceding and contemporary with ancient Israel. Other scholars, however, maintain that the terms “Messiah,” “messianic,” and “messianism” are uniquely rooted in the Hebrew Bible and should be applied only in the context of the history of the people of Israel. While the present au- thor accepts the view that messianism, theologically speaking, is specific to Israel, he also recognizes that ancient religions and civilizations other than Israel expressed belief in messiah-like figures. This chapter considers both of these perspectives, beginning with a survey of non-Jewish messianism in the centuries before the Common Era. Although messianism in the Hebrew Bible2 has been exhaustively investigated, particular- ly since the early twentieth century,3 there are relatively few studies of ancient non-Jewish messianism. After giving attention to those scholars who speak of messianism among ancient non-Jewish peoples, a thorough analysis will be 1 Helmer Ringgren, The Messiah in the Old Testament (London: SCM Press, 1967): “If we take our belief in God as the Master of history seriously, there is nothing offensive in the statement that this God could make use of non-Israelitic ideas of a divine king, when He wanted to build up the messianic hope in his people, or in other words, that the belief in Christ, the Messiah, is...
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