Friday, December 02, 2011

Birth names and regal names

This Advent, I'm reading through Raymond Brown's monumental The Birth of the Messiah. I his commentary on Matthew's genealogy of Jesus, he noted something of which I was unaware. The kings of Israel often (perhaps always) had both a birth name and then a new name bestowed at their coronation. In his list, Matthew chose a birth name (Jeconiah) in one instance and a regal name (Uzziah) in another.

That got me wondering if there is a Christian parallel. In the resurrection, Christians are to receive new names. St John records Jesus' promise, "To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it" (Revelation 2:17). Since we are to be joint-heirs with the Son in the kingdom of God, perhaps this is analogous to a regal name.

Jesus is also said to have a new name; perhaps this indicates a regal name. Again, St John records Jesus' promise, "The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name" (Revelation 3:12).

What is this new name? St Peter gives us an indication in his speech on Pentecost. He says, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). These new titles of "Lord" and "Christ" are bestowed by God the Father in virtue of Jesus' resurrection, which serves as a kind of coronation (by analogy), giving us the regal names "Lord and Christ"--names which are above every name.

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