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Lateef Terrell Warnick

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Evolution of the word Christ Part I
by Lateef Terrell Warnick   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, June 14, 2013
Posted: Wednesday, September 01, 2010

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How did the word "Christ" come about?


As the holidays near, it is important to remind ourselves of what we are really celebrating.  Christmas day is symbolically the birthday of Jesus Christ, who according to the Christian Faith, died for our sins to be forgiven.  Jesus is an important figure today regardless of what faith you may follow.  However, aside from his crucifixion, many don’t know much about the meaning of word “Christ.”


In order to know the origin of a word, it is important to study its etymology and gradual cultural changes in meaning and pronunciation.  For example, the word “dis” is shortened slang for disrespect.  I’ve even seen news reporters now using the word.  However, if someone simply heard the word without knowing it was short for disrespect then they would have a difficult time making sense of the slang.  First, we must remind ourselves that Jesus Christ was not actually his name or surname.  Christ is actually a title.  So it should be rendered as “Jesus the Christ” similar to “Obama the President” or its reciprocal which was actually commonly used historically as “Christ Jesus;” the same way as you might say “President Obama” or “Dr. King.”  


Let us also be reminded that none of these biblical figures actually spoke English. Jesus spoke Aramaic, a Semitic language belonging to the Afroasiatic language family, which includes about 375 living languages from Africa to the Middle East.  The Semitic language is a subset and includes the Canaanite languages of Hebrew, Phoenician and Arabic. The word Christ in its original context doesn’t directly have anything to do with “Savior.”  Christ most directly comes from the Greek word “Khristos” or in Latin “Christus” which both essentially mean, “covered in oil.”  In the Septuagint, the early version of the Hebrew Bible, Khristos replaced the word Messiah, which means, “anointed.”  In the Hebrew rituals followers were anointed with holy oil. 


Some may stop here and be satisfied with this explanation for the word Christ.  But let’s ask ourselves, if Jesus had the title “Christ,” supposedly as a honorific title of distinction to separate himself from ordinary mankind, then how is it the word existed prior to him? If he were meant to carry a special designation that the rest of humanity is unable to obtain shouldn’t there have been another word created after his birth or death to signify him as an exception?  Clearly there must have been others given the title of Christ before him in order for the word to even have existed.  For example, if an alien landed on our planet and had never seen water before chances are they wouldn’t have a word for it.  They would have to either adopt our word for it or make up their own.  And yet because we do have water we have many ways to not only describe it in its many forms but to even describe how it flows as witnessed on any garden hose nozzle – “mist, spray, shower, jet, stream, soak” etc but it is difficult to see how you get the word “Khristos” from the word “Messiah.”


To get the answer we must dig a little deeper into the etymology of these words.  The word messiah also comes rendered in several other versions such as mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, which literally means "anointed one."  Hamashiach means “king anointed.” They were terms used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings who were traditionally anointed with the holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25. Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as another example, although not a Hebrew, is referred to as "God's anointed" (Messiah) in the Bible. From the word “Masiah” we derive various words such as “Sah” which means “radiant.”  And also “Ah” means “fire pot.” The word “Hat” means “shining ones” and “Isseh” means “offering made by fire.”


The word Chrism, mostly used by early Christian Gnostics & Catholic Romans, also means “holy oil.”  The word Gnostic comes from the word Gnosis which means “knowledge,” but in particular a mystic knowledge that comes from within.  Many of the Gnostic texts say that in order to be called worthy of the title 'Christian' one must also be anointed with Holy oil and that the water baptism alone is incomplete.  From the book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” author Mary Baker Eddy writes “The invisible Christ was imperceptible to the so-called personal senses, whereas Jesus appeared as a bodily existence. This dual personality of the unseen and the seen, the spiritual and material, the eternal Christ and the corporeal Jesus manifest in flesh, continued until the Master's ascension, when the human, material concept, or Jesus, disappeared, while the spiritual self, or Christ, continues to exist in the eternal order of divine Science, taking away the sins of the world, as the Christ has always done, even before the human Jesus was incarnate to mortal eyes.”


Thus the Chrism is the holy oil and the Messiah was one who was anointed with the oil.  Now if we go back to the Bible, we know from Luke 3:16 and Matthew 3:11 that John the Baptist stated “saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”  Now we should be asking ourselves what does all this anointing, holy oil, fire, water, messiah & chrism have to do with each other and what is its spiritual significance?  As with most ceremonies the rites are typically symbolic of something.  But where did this anointing ritual originate?  Did the Hebrews just make it up?  Well, I’m glad you asked…


The answer lies much further away, in the East, in the lands of India influenced by the Vedic culture.  The Vedas are the oldest Holy Scriptures to be discovered to this day.  You may have heard of the “Aryans” which means “Noble.”  The present day word for “Iran” comes from this root.  This is the same word that the Germans used during the holocaust to try and distinguish the “Aryans/Arians” as supposedly a superior or pure race of beings.  You may have also heard of an “Aryan invasion” which supposedly was by Westerners who moved eastward into the Harrapan areas, but there are many who will attest this never happened and in fact the Vedic followers moved westward influencing all areas in between.  Essentially all evidence supports the idea that the word “Aryan” originated in the East.  This is fairly consistent with the story of Abraham, spiritual personage favored by God, who traveled from the East to new lands promised to him in Canaan. 

The Vedas, according to legend were written thousands of years ago in the language known as Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word véda “knowledge, wisdom” is derived from the root vid – “to know.” This is reconstructed as being derived from the Proto-Indo-European or Proto-Indo-Aryan root *u?eid-, meaning “see” or “know.”  According to this same legend, before they were ever written down on palm leaves they were passed from one person to another orally, completely from memory.  That may be heard to believe considering the Vedas are some of the longest written texts known.  These early individuals were supposedly unlike the modern man of today.  They were known as rishis (seers) who are supposed to be “liberated souls.”  In essence, they are divine personages free from karmic sin, apparently with perfect memories able to retain incredible amounts of information, who manifest on Earth simply to serve as ideal human models for the inspiration of mankind. 




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