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Most of the Christian religious texts and prayers in English owe their origin to Latin which follows a distinct protocol in so far as grammatical construction of sentences is concerned. English has the Definitive Article 'the' which is absent in Latin. For instance, the name 'Jesus, the Saviour' implies that he is the only Saviour. But we universally use the term 'Jesus Christ' including in the Creed. The word 'Christ' derived from the Greek root literally meaning ' anointed' . So, if we replace ' Christ' with the actual English translation, we should say 'Jesus, the Anointed' , so as to reflect the uniqueness. But prefixing of the attribute to the name, takes away the necessity of the use of definitive article 'the'to a great extent. For instance, we say 'Ted,the Musician' or 'Musician Ted' .My question therefore, is: Which phrase is grammatically more appropriate: 'Jesus Christ' OR 'Christ Jesus' ?

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  • This is not a question about the text of scripture but about the English vernacular. It would better be asked on SE-English Language & Usage.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2023 at 6:39
  • If the question is asked of the Greek text then, yes, there is a difference in emphasis of person and title, or title and person. This emphasis will change according to context. But the OP has supplied no context so no analysis can be made.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2023 at 11:23
  • @Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan There is a related question on this site: "What is the difference in meaning between the phrases Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ?" [It also puts in Greek which I have not learned how to type].
    – C. Stroud
    Dec 11, 2023 at 12:15
  • @C.Stroud This is a link to one of several online Greek keyboards -----> Exilogos.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 12, 2023 at 11:56

2 Answers 2

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Both are used in the Greek NT, eg

"Jesus Christ"

  • Gal 2:16, Jude 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, etc

"Christ Jesus"

  • 1 Tim 1:1, Phil 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1, Eph 1:1, etc

To this list we could add others such as:

"Lord Jesus Christ"

  • 1 Peter 1:3, 1 Cor 1:2, Eph 1:3, etc
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  • Thanks, Dottard.The problem is that NT was not written in English ! Dec 11, 2023 at 5:23
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan - those selections re3eflect the Greek. Both are used.
    – Dottard
    Dec 11, 2023 at 6:22
  • Up-voted +1. This is not a question about the text of scripture but about the English vernacular. It would better be asked on SE-English Language & Usage.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2023 at 6:40
  • Dottard, in my understanding Latin demands that both the Noun ( Jesus) and the Adjective ( Christ meaning Anointed') are written in the same case eg Vocative Case, Possessive Case etc. The Case is inbuilt in the word itself in Latin, say Dominus Benedictus, Domine Benedicte ...Thus following of the Noun by the Adjective makes no difference there. But in English the general rule is that Adjective precedes the Noun it qualifies. Dec 11, 2023 at 7:47
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan - that is correct, generally. However, even in English, we have both forms. In the Greek, Jesus is a noun and the name of the person; Christ is a title and the order does not matter - both appear regularly in the Greek text, as in English. Since both are nouns, neither is an adjective so, even in English, the order does not matter.
    – Dottard
    Dec 11, 2023 at 7:53
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Because "Jesus Christ" is the normal convention, this is no longer a grammatical issue, but a question of usage. In other words "Jesus Christ" has evolved to become a proper noun, and it is perfectly grammatical to use it that way. But there are some interesting questions here beyond the rules of grammar:

  • Should we understand "Christ" to mean "the messiah" and/or "the anointed - and which of these might be preferred to "Christ" in referring to him?
  • Should we avoid the implication that Christ was Jesus' last name rather than his title?

Referring to Jesus as "the anointed" is useful for acquainting readers with the Hebrew meaning of the word as well as to the background of the English words "messiah" and "christ." However, to adopt this as a consistent convention is off-putting and could even be offensive to some Christians. The same applies to the referring to him as the Messiah, since the Christian idea of the messiah's role is very different from the Jewish concept.

Regarding 'Christ Jesus' vs. 'Jesus Christ,' since both are used in the NT, translators should follow the text.

Conclusion: Generally, the normal convention "Jesus Christ" is fine. It is grammatically correct because it has evolved into a proper noun, as if Christ is Jesus' last name even though it is a title. "Jesus the Christ" is technically more grammatical.

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  • Thanks, Dan Fefferman for catching my point. We also have the Statue of Christ the Redeemer ! Dec 12, 2023 at 0:00
  • Isn't "Christ" an epithet-surname, in the manner of the pagan Greek religion (that was presumably popularised when a bunch of pagan Greeks converted to Christianity)? In the Hellenistic pagan religion, it was common for worshippers to specify what aspect of the god they're worshipping (e.g. Zeus the rain bringer vs Zeus the protector of guests). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiclesis
    – nick012000
    Dec 12, 2023 at 10:08

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