Shouldn’t the word “Christ” be translated “Messiah” in our English Bibles?

Blog, Other Questions 1 Comment

Question received from E. V. May, Jr. (Livingston, Texas, U.S.A.) that was published in the “Readers’ Perspective” column of Jerusalem Perspective 31 (March-April 1991): 12.

Strong’s Analytical Concordance shows that the word “Christ” appears 570 times in the New Testament. Why can’t this transliterated word be given its translated form, “Messiah,” in our Bibles instead of the transliteration? Since most English-speaking people are not thinkers in Greek, wouldn’t it help to better communicate Jesus’ role and mission with the use of “Messiah?” What is read is what is said, what is said is what is thought, what is thought is what is emphasized. In order to change the emphasis, the word that is written needs to be changed from “Christ” to “Messiah.”

David Bivin responds:

I wholly agree with you. Partly because I live in Israel in a Hebrew-speaking environment, I find the use of “Christ” somewhat irritating, especially when it is used as if it were a proper name: “Jesus Christ.” I think “Messiah” more accurately conveys in English what the Greek authors of the New Testament meant to convey with the Greek “christos.” See my article, “Messiah” (Jerusalem Perspective 26 [May/June 1990]: 6). See also my “Messianic Claims” (Jerusalem Perspective 27 [July/August 1990]: 11), where I wrote: “Many Christians seem to think that ‘Christ’ was Jesus’ surname, while non-Christians often use it as a swear word. ‘Christ’ is an English transliteration of a Greek translation of an original Hebrew word—a good example of the influence of Greek language and culture on our culture. It also is an example of the Church’s loss of its Hebraic and Jewish roots.”

This article originally appeared in issue 31 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

Comments 1

  1. I so agree about the use of the word Christ. I’m a Jewish believer in Yeshua, and I have a really difficult time swallowing the word Christ. Every time I see Christ in Scripture, I have to translate to Messiah so my Jewish heart can receive it. I find it so hurtful that the translators of the Bible used Christ instead of Messiah. I agree: using Christ, instead of Messiah, negates the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.

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