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- === Prophet, Healer, and Messiah (Slrubenstein's proposal) ===
- The Gospel accounts of Jesus suggest that he combined many roles that were otherwise distinct and separate during the Second Temple period. One was that of “prophet” – a person who, in the tradition of Isaiah and Jeremiah, claimed to speak with and for God. Another was that of faith-healer and miracle worker, in the tradition of Elisha. Another was “messiah.”
- The Hebrew word “messiah” means “anointed one” and was used to refer to High Priests and kings, who were elevated to office by being anointed with oil. The Mishnah, edited in 200 CE, uses the term mainly to refer to the High Priest. Many Jews also used the term to refer to a descendent of King David who would restore God’s kingdom. Thus, not all kings were considered messianic – the Hasmonean kings (162 BCE - 56 BCE) were not descended from David, and did not claim to have established God’s Kingdom. After the Roman occupation and the fall of the Hasmoneans, many Jews hoped that the Romans would be replaced by a Jewish king. However, Jews were divided over how this might occur. Some, especially the Sicarii and the Zealots, believed that the kingdom should be restored immediately, through violent human action. Most Jews however believed that their history was governed by God, meaning that even the conquest of Judea by the Romans was a divine act. Therefore the Romans would be replaced by a Jewish king only through divine intervention; thus, the majority of Jews accepted Roman rule.
- There is no record of an organized violent uprising against the Romans during the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence that many yearned for a messiah. John the Baptist is one example (in the second century, a Gnostic group called Mandeans suggested that he was the messiah). The hint in Matthew and Luke that Jesus was descended from David, that he was the “son of God” (a phrase which was used to signify a righteous person, and which had been applied to King David), and his preaching about the kingdom of God, suggests that Jesus or his followers believed him to be the Messiah.