The Messianic Perspective
There is no such thing as a christology without presuppositions; and its historical presupposition is the messianic promise of the Old Testament, and the Jewish hope which is founded on the Hebrew Bible. We can only truly and authentically understand Jesus if we perceive him and his history in the light of the Old Testament promises and the history of hope of Israel today. What does christology mean except messianology? ‘The Christ’ is Israel’s messiah. Israel’s messiah is ‘Yahweh’s anointed one’, and to think of him means hoping for him and his redeeming rule. Of course Christian messianology takes its impress from the unique figure of Jesus, his message and his special divine history. But we must always have in mind the Old Testament and Israel’s history, in which Jesus lived and which is the source of his theological significance as ‘the Christ’. Here, therefore, we shall not think of ‘Christ’ as a proper name (although the early Hellenistic congregations of course already did so). We shall see it as the title for his function – his function for the men and women who are to be redeemed and his function for the coming God. This means that we shall continually have to translate the name ‘Christ’ back into the title ‘messiah’, so that we can take in what it originally meant: Jesus is the messiah; the church is the messianic community; being a Christian means being human in the messianic sense. The name Christian is not the designation of a party.
It is a promise. It is what is messianic. In this chapter we shall ask what the word ‘messianic’ meant for Judaism. What were the Jewish categories? From these we shall be able to develop the categories for the special christology of Jesus in the context of fundamental theology. Here the term messianic is