English readers of the Bible see it over and over again: Jesus Christ. While most know that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name, new readers to the Bible could be forgiven if they get that impression.
This is the problem, according to Chris Gorton, in his book The Problem with Christ. I have had the pleasure of meeting Chris on Goodreads and he gave me a free copy of his book for purpose of review. It is a great little book, and I look forward to reading more from Chris. He argues here that by taking the Greek title “christos” and transliterating it into English as “Christ” rather than translating it the term becomes devoid of its power. Chris’ book argues, convincingly, that the title “the Christ” means “the king”. This is not controversial as anyone with even a minimal study knows that Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Most recognize it is a title: Messiah, anointed one, KING. Chris’ argument goes that if this is what the word means, it ought to be translated that way.
By leaving the word as just “Christ”, English Bibles take the claws off the eagle, so to say. The person of Jesus loses a bit of his power. This leads to a weakened Christianity where most followers of Jesus see him as merely a spiritual savior and not the one to whom we owe our allegiance above any other king or kingdom, power or principality, nation or president.
I do have some minor qualms with the book. Some are questions which I do not find Chris’ answers satisfying, such as his assertion that two Greek words (basileus and christos) both be translated king. Surely if there are two Greek words, they carry slightly different meanings and something would be lost in translating them the same? I am also skeptical as to whether simply changing Christ to King in English Bibles would solve many problems or lead to a revival. I doubt Chris thinks it would, though in reading it is easy to see this issue as a sort of silver bullet – the bad translation is a demonic conspiracy and if we can fix it then we’ll really see God work.
Such issues aside, this is great study. Thanks Chris