Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

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Jair
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Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by Jair »

Now I don’t really know any Greek so… bear with me on that. But I’ve read a lot on these forums about discrepancies between Chrestianity and Christianity. There seem to be a lot of theories about this being more than just a spelling discrepancy, and one that shows up even in the NT.

But all of it is beyond me. How did these theories come about? What exactly are the theories? Is Chrestianity theorized to be an earlier gnostic movement? I know Rene Salm from his blogs theorizes an earlier gnostic movement but he theorizes that this was a Jesus movement, but not a Christ (messianic) movement, and he never even mentioned Chrestos in that blog, iirc.

So I’m a little bit lost as to what people mean when they talk about when it was Chrestianity before Christianity. What does that mean?
lclapshaw
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by lclapshaw »

Really the issue at hand is the fact that the early XC's used an abbreviation system that is now referred to as Nomina Sacra. Abbreviations such as IC, XC, KC, etc were used in place of what the abbreviated noun (name, title etc) actually was. Therefore we, from our distance in time from them, have no way of knowing what these abbreviations actually were and while it is assumed by some that IC=Iesous or that XC=Christos or KC=Kyrios that all is just guess work and in no way a slamdunk. Further, examples of Chrestos seem more prevalent than examples of Christos in the ancient literature, XCian and pagan, leading some to suppose that Chrestos was the original term used.

This thread looks into the issue a bit viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8881
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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

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lclapshaw wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:19 pm Really the issue at hand is the fact that the early XC's used an abbreviation system that is now referred to as Nomina Sacra.
That's not the only issue at hand. It is an issue, but it may not be the main one.

eta: I'll retract that - the predominant use of nomina sacra in early Christian texts may well have been an issue in the vagaries of what was meant or what may have been understood to have been meant

This is a fair brief summary about nomina sacra -
lclapshaw wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:19 pm Abbreviations such as IC, XC, KC, etc were used [as an] abbreviated noun (name, title etc) actually was. Therefore we, from our distance in time from them, have no way of knowing what these abbreviations actually were and while it is assumed by some that IC=Iesous or that XC=Christos or KC=Kyrios that all is just guess work and in no way a slamdunk. Further, examples of Chrestos seem more prevalent than examples of Christos in the ancient literature, XCian and pagan, leading some to suppose that Chrestos was the original term used.
I will elaborate on question/s posed in the OP in a subsequent post
Last edited by MrMacSon on Tue Mar 29, 2022 2:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by MrMacSon »

Jair wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 12:05 pm
... I’ve read a lot on these forums about discrepancies between Chrestianity and Christianity. There seem to be a lot of theories about this being more than just a spelling discrepancy, and one that shows up even in the NT.

But all of it is beyond me. How did these theories come about? What exactly are the theories? Is Chrestianity theorized to be an earlier gnostic movement? I know Rene Salm from his blogs theorizes an earlier gnostic movement but he theorizes that this was a Jesus movement, but not a Christ (messianic) movement, and he never even mentioned Chrestos in that blog, iirc.

So I’m a little bit lost as to what people mean when they talk about when it was Chrestianity before Christianity. What does that mean?

Primary facts are (I will edit this eg. for the Greek)

1. Chrestianity is the spelling in the 1st or one of the 1st bibles, Codex Sinaiticus (Vaticanus may be 1st, & may also use it ie. I need to check)
2. Chrestian[os] is the spelling in the extant Annals 15.44 of Tacitus (but not Chrestus for Christ) [in Latin?]
3. Chrestus is the spelling in the extant Claudius 35 of Suetonius, but his Nero 16 has, afaik, Christian [?language]

(so we have discrepancies b/w what's in those works attributed to Tacitus and Suetonius)

Christ - Χριστός - or versions of it
  • is/are the transliteration of Hebrew/Aramaic 'Massiah' [sp?] / Messiah in English
  • essentially primarily means anointed [one] or to anoint
Chrestus - χρηστός - often meant 'good' or 'useful' (among a few other things) and was apparently often applied as an adjective to slaves in early to mid antiquity and even as a name/noun

Why we have the use of Chrestus vs Christos and Chrestianity/Chrestianos vs Christianity/Christianos may not be fully clear (despite much speculation), and may reflect changing language as a result of changing pronunciation and spelling in late antiquity as much as anything ie. moves from predominant use of η (eta) and ε (epsilon) to ι (iota) - through use of ει together eg. 'Chrειstianos', etc., - to eventual main use of ι

= a phenomenon called itacism

There may be other factors at play eg. plays on words or, as indicated previously in this post, the initial meaning of the words in or before the first century AD/CE
Last edited by MrMacSon on Tue Mar 29, 2022 7:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by MrMacSon »

MrMacSon wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:44 pm There may be other factors at play eg. plays on words [wordplay]
Caulley TS ((2011)) 'The Chrestos/Christos pun (1 Pet 2:3) in P72 and P125' Novum Testamentum 53: 376-87

Abstract

In both P72 (P.Bodm. VIII) and P125 (P.Oxy. 4934), the quotation of LXX Ps 33:9 at 1 Pet 2:3 creates a wordplay between Chrestos ([χρηστός] good) and Christos [Χριστός] . In these two papyri, our oldest witnesses to 1 Peter, the Psalm quote—“taste and see that the Lord is good”—is turned into the confession, “Christ is Lord,” both times written as nomina sacra. This article explores the function of LXX Ps 33:9 in 1 Peter, and analyzes the relevant text of 1 Peter in both P72 and P125. The P72 reading is discussed in the larger context of the Bodmer miscellaneous codex. This variant is very early and becomes widespread, although the texts of the two papyri under discussion are not closely related.

https://www.academia.edu/6603340/Chrest ... _NovT_2011
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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by MrMacSon »

MrMacSon wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:25 pm
lclapshaw wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:19 pm Really the issue at hand is the fact that the early XC's used an abbreviation system that is now referred to as Nomina Sacra.
That's not the only issue at hand. It is an issue, but it may not be the main one.
I'll retract that - the predominant use of nomina sacra in early Christian texts may well have been an issue in the vagaries of what was meant or what may have been understood to have been meant

Caulley TS ((2011)) 'The Chrestos/Christos pun (1 Pet 2:3) in P72 and P125' Novum Testamentum 53: 376-87

Abstract

In both P72 (P.Bodm. VIII) and P125 (P.Oxy. 4934), the quotation of LXX Ps 33:9 at 1 Pet 2:3 creates a wordplay between Chrestos ([χρηστός] good) and Christos [Χριστός] . In these two papyri, our oldest witnesses to 1 Peter, the Psalm quote—“taste and see that the Lord is good”—is turned into the confession, “Christ is Lord,” both times written as nomina sacra. This article explores the function of LXX Ps 33:9 in 1 Peter, and analyzes the relevant text of 1 Peter in both P72 and P125. The P72 reading is discussed in the larger context of the Bodmer miscellaneous codex. This variant is very early and becomes widespread, although the texts of the two papyri under discussion are not closely related.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by MrMacSon »

Justin Martyr’s First Apology 4


For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust. Again, if any of the accused deny the name, and say that he is not a Christian, you acquit him, as having no evidence against him as a wrong-doer; but if any one acknowledge that he is a Christian, you punish him on account of this acknowledgment. Justice requires that you inquire into the life both of him who confesses and of him who denies, that by his deeds it may be apparent what kind of man each is. For as some who have been taught by the Master, Christ, not to deny Him, give encouragement to others when they are put to the question, so in all probability do those who lead wicked lives give occasion to those who, without consideration, take upon them to accuse all the Christians of impiety and wickedness. https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

Χριστιανοὶ γὰρ εἶναι κατηγορούμεθα· τὸ δὲ χρηστὸν μισεῖσθαι οὐ δίκαιον. Καὶ πάλιν ἐὰν μέν τις τῶν κατηγορουμένων ἔξαρνος γένηται τῇ φωνῇ μὴ εἶναι φήσας, ἀφίετε αὐτὸν ὡς μηδὲν ἐλέγχειν ἔχοντες ἁμαρτάνοντα, ἐὰν δέ τις ὁμολογήσῃ εἶναι, διὰ τὴν ὁμολογίαν κολάζετε· δέον καὶ τὸν τοῦ ὁμολογοῦντος βίον εὐθύνειν καὶ τὸν τοῦ ἀρνουμένου, ὅπως διὰ τῶν πράξεων ὁποῖός ἐστιν ἕκαστος φαίνηται. Ὃν γὰρ τρόπον παραλαβόντες τινὲς παρὰ τοῦ διδασκάλου Χριστοῦ μὴ ἀρνεῖσθαι ἐξεταζόμενοι παρακελεύονται, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον κακῶς ζῶντες ἴσως ἀφορμὰς παρέχουσι τοῖς ἄλλως καταλέγειν τῶν πάντων Χριστιανῶν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαναἱρουμένοις.

The Apologies of Justin Martyr, to Which Is Appended the Epistle to Diognetus, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1877.



Tertullian Ad Nationes

Christianos, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned, is derived from 'anointing'. Even when by a faulty pronunciation you call us Chrestianoi (for you are not certain about even the sound of this noted name), it comes from /goodness'. You do not even know the proper name of that which you hate.

Lactantius Divine Institutes IV.7.4-5

Christos is not a proper name, but a title of power and dominion; for by this the Jews were accustomed to call their kings. But the meaning of this name must be set forth, on account of the error of the ignorant, who by the change of a letter are accustomed to call him Chrestus.

lclapshaw
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by lclapshaw »

MrMacSon wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 2:02 pm
MrMacSon wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:25 pm
lclapshaw wrote: Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:19 pm Really the issue at hand is the fact that the early XC's used an abbreviation system that is now referred to as Nomina Sacra.
That's not the only issue at hand. It is an issue, but it may not be the main one.
I'll retract that - the predominant use of nomina sacra in early Christian texts may well have been an issue in the vagaries of what was meant or what may have been understood to have been meant

Caulley TS ((2011)) 'The Chrestos/Christos pun (1 Pet 2:3) in P72 and P125' Novum Testamentum 53: 376-87

Abstract

In both P72 (P.Bodm. VIII) and P125 (P.Oxy. 4934), the quotation of LXX Ps 33:9 at 1 Pet 2:3 creates a wordplay between Chrestos ([χρηστός] good) and Christos [Χριστός] . In these two papyri, our oldest witnesses to 1 Peter, the Psalm quote—“taste and see that the Lord is good”—is turned into the confession, “Christ is Lord,” both times written as nomina sacra. This article explores the function of LXX Ps 33:9 in 1 Peter, and analyzes the relevant text of 1 Peter in both P72 and P125. The P72 reading is discussed in the larger context of the Bodmer miscellaneous codex. This variant is very early and becomes widespread, although the texts of the two papyri under discussion are not closely related.

:cheers:
Jair
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by Jair »

Always impressive how well you guys cite scholarly stuff here.

I see now, with Chrestus having the meaning of “good”, how that could lead to theories of the original movement being hijacked by a later messianic movement. I imagine that’s a common theory that comes up.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Chrest vs Christ: What does it mean?

Post by MrMacSon »

The mention of messianic movements raises the prospect of other issues that may have been a factor.

There's 'talk' that Simon the Samarian/of Samaria, who is said to have flourished 35-70 AD/CE, was referred to as Simon the Christ. Whether Simon the Samarian was a Samaritan, however, is not clear. And this Simon may not have been messianic. What we predominantly know about him - or at least the movement in his name, the Simonians - is from the Refutation of All Heresies' account - Ref. 6:14-18 - of a document called the Great Declaration Commentary, the heart of which is a 'gnostic'-like allegorical reading on Genesis 1-3 (and Deuteronomy, and a few other Jewish works).

Justin Martyr wrote that all Samarians and some other ethnicities worshipped Simon as "the primal God" who - like Christ - is "above every principality, authority and power" (1 Apol 26.3; Dial. 120.6) and that the followers of Simon were called Christians: 1 Apology 26.6.

While Justin's reference to Simon as "the primal God" would place him above other deified humans in Greco-Roman culture such as Romulus, Heracles, and even Jesus, it's likely to have been done to ridicule Simon, as such a description would have placed him as equal or almost equal to the Roman high God, Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

Irenaeus portrayed Simon as the father of Christian heresies and denied he became a Christian, Adv Haers. I.23.1-2, 27.4, based on a polemic portrait of him in Acts 8:9-24, and that portrayal has been the lightening rod for the portrayal of this Simon every since. The tag 'Magus' is a heresiological one (and the term 'simony' - the practice of buying or selling spiritual gifts - arises from it and Acts 8).

Origen said that the only people who honoured Simon were Christians (Contra Celsus 1.57). Epiphanius said Simon's followers "do not believe in Christ's name in a right or lawful way" (Pan 21.1.1, 2.1, 7.2)

Justin Martyr and the author of Refutation of all Heresies both attacked Simon as a man who deified himself but the Declaration Commentary undermines that because therein Simon is never said to have referred to himself as "God" or "the Great Power" though that was/is part of later Simonian theology.

There's also 'talk' that followers of the Egyptian deity Serapis/Sarapis were referred to as Christians and their priests were called 'bishops of Christ' (largely from a letter the emperor Hadrian is said to have written from Egypt. The letter allegedly has provenance).
Last edited by MrMacSon on Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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