[quote author=“Skipshot”]Thanks, Publius. So did the Christians get the messiah concept wrong when they gave Jesus divinty? That sort of blows their whole religion out of the water. Can you support your explanations of the messiah?
Here is what I think happened. Christianity is essentially a Jewish Mystery cult. The mysteries came out of Egypt and then spread around the Mediterranean region. The mysteries would take a minor deity from the pantheon of each culture, and endow it with the character of the Mythic Hero of antiquity—like Dionysus in Greece. The liberal Jews of the first century CE were exposed to the mysteries. They fashioned their own, Jewish, version of the mysteries. But Judaism, being monotheistic, does not have minor deities. So what the founders of Christianity did was take the figure of the Messiah, the Jewish Hero, and then endowed it with the attributes of the Mythic Hero of the mysteries—born of a virgin, fathered by a god, raised the dead, healed the sick, crucified, resurrected, ascended, etc…
The idea that the messiah was divine is, of course, very un-Jewish. It comes straight out of the mysteries, where the central deity was a demigod, the son of a god and an earthly mother, a virgin.
Furthermore, I think there is a psychological reason as to why the Christian messiah is not a mere mortal. The Jewish-Roman War of 66-70 CE was a catastrophic event in Jewish history. A million Jews were killed and 100,000 were sold into slavery. The Temple was destroyed. The business of “I’ll take care of you if you worship me” was clearly not working. God did not send his liberator, the messiah, to save his children, not even at the moment when the Jews needed him the most! So, the founders of the Christian religion decided that the messiah was not just some warrior who would liberate the Jews from oppression, but a *spiritual* savior, who was going to liberate ALL people from their eternal oppressor—the Devil. Matters on earth were clearly not going well, what with the Jewish nation being totally shattered by the war. So God’s justice would reign in the afterlife!
So, it is not as if the Christians got the concept of the messiah wrong. This was not a misunderstanding. It was a deliberate alteration. They deliberately fashioned the Jewish messiah to conform to the Archetype of the Mythic Hero. Rather, they needed a Jewish character to take on the role of the Mythic Hero at the center of this new Jewish version of the Mysteries, and they decided to use the character of the Messiah, the liberator, whose job now was to liberate mankind from sin.