Although the concept of “messiah” is important both in Judaism and Christianity, the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (ma·SHI·aḥ, messiah) was not often used in Jesus’ day. Jesus and his contemporaries rarely spoke of the messiah by that name, but preferred to use other more oblique terms.
In the New Testament, ma·SHI·aḥ almost always appears in its Greek translation: χριστός (christos, “anointed with oil”; “Christ”). The Greek transliteration μεσσίας (messias) appears only twice, in John 1:41 and 4:25.
Many Christians seem to think that “Christ” was Jesus’ surname, while non-Christians often use it as a swearword. “Christ” is an English transliteration of a Greek translation of a Hebrew word, a good example of the inﬂuence of Greek language and culture on our culture. “Christ” also is an example of the Church’s loss of its Hebraic and Jewish roots.
For the transliteration system used in this series, click here.