The words “Jesus Christ Son of God” are known globally. Therefore, of all the words in the New Testament, “Christ” one word people around the world immediately recognize. If there is any word Christians (Christ + ians) should have an accurate understanding of, shouldn’t it be the word Christ?
I have heard the words “Jesus Christ” all of my life. I guess I subconsciously thought “Christ” was the last name of Jesus. Jim Myers is my name, so wasn’t he Jesus Christ. Interestingly, I never thought of his mother as “Mary Christ.”
The word “Christ” is an English word. The English language did not exist at the time Jesus lived and led his movement. Therefore, Jesus did not speak English. In my previous emails, I discussed how we know that Jesus spoke Hebrew. But the most ancient manuscripts of the books of the New Testament which contain his words were written in Greek. In order to understand how the Hebrew words of Jesus became Greek words and ended up in our English Bibles, we must discover the origins of the Greek manuscripts and become aware of how translators made their English translations.
1. Most of the time they translated Greek words. Translate means "transport the meaning of the Greek word over into the English language."
2. Some of the time they transliterated Greek words. Transliterate means “reproduce the letters of a Greek word in the closest corresponding letters of the English language.”
3. Some of the time they ignored Greek words and did nothing.
4. Some of the time they inserted English words in their transitions for which there were no Greek words in the manuscript.
Look at the Greek word in the graphic above and you will see the word the translators saw when they worked on their translations. Now look at “root word” part of the transliteration. It is “Christ.”
You now know that the word “Christ” is a transliteration – translators chose to reproduce the letters of the Greek word in the closest corresponding letters of the English language. The translators chose not to translate it -- “instead they transported the meaning of the Greek word over into the English language.”
Unless there are footnotes, readers do not know they are reading a transliteration. So, what does the Greek word behind that transliteration mean? That will be the subject of my next email.