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Christian Biblical Studies

 

 

F.F. BRUCE ON THE EARLY CHRISTIANS IN ANTIOCH

 

F.F. Bruce, New Testament History

(New York: Anchor Books; 1972), pp. 267, 268.

 

‘According to Luke, it was in Antioch that “the disciples” – i.e. the followers of Jesus – first received the designation “Christians”. This is what we should expect; the designation was one which could originate only in a Gentile environment. It is formed from the title Christos by the addition of the colloquial suffix -ianos (the naturalized Greek form of the Latin suffix -ianus). The suffix was used among other things to denote a man’s slaves and other members of his household; Caesariani, for example, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek phrase in Phil. 4: 22, translated “those of Caesar’s household”. . .

 

‘But they would not have been given this name [“Christians”] in a Jewish setting, not even among Greek-speaking Jews, for that would have implied on the part of the Jews an admission of the disciples’ claim that Jesus was the Messiah. To Jews they remained “the party of the Nazarenes”. In Gentile ears, however, Christos was not so much a religious title as a rather odd second personal name borne by Jesus – so odd, indeed, that it was naturally confused with its homophone Chrestos, which meant “useful” and was in wide currency as a slave-name.’

 

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