Chrestes as Oracle
by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
In our analysis of the word chresto or chrestos, we discover that members of brotherhoods, priesthoods and
religious schools such as priests and prophets were called chrestes in Greek antiquity, as were
soothsayers and those who "give or expound oracles" or consult with gods (see image at right).
Interestingly, a form of this word, χρηματίζω or chrematizo, is used in the New
Testament in reference to being "warned of God" (Mt 2:12, 2:22; Lk 3:26; Heb 8:5, 11:7), meaning (Strong's G5537):
...2) to give a response to those consulting an oracle, to give a divine command or
admonition, to teach from heaven
a) to be divinely commanded, admonished, instructed
b) to be the mouthpiece of divine revelations, to promulgate the commands of God
Here we find the New Testament god associated with a term used to describe oracular divination
and revelation, just as the author of the biblical book of Revelation claimed to be doing.
It is interesting to note that the word χρηματίζω chrēmatizō also means:
do business; transact state business; negotiate, debate, consult, answer; bear a name
or title; mid negotiate; make money, transact business (Pocket Oxford Classical
In this regard, the use of chrematizo at Acts 11:26 is odd, in that it describes the naming of the "Christians" first at Antioch:
...χρηματίσαι τε πρώτως ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τοὺς μαθητὰς Χριστιανούς...
The following are different English translations of this passage:
KJV: And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
RSV: in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
YLT: the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.
Young's Literal Translation includes "divinely," to reflect the oracular meaning of chrematizo.
Here is the relevant definition in Strong's for this usage:
3) to assume or take to one's self a name from one's public business
a) to receive a name or title, be called
One could suggest that the name "Christian" was a DBA or "doing business as," therefore. It
should be kept in mind, however, that this passage at Acts 11:26 in the earliest manuscript tradition such as the Codex Sinaiticus refers not
to "Christians" but to Chrestians. In this case, then the Chrestians were to be found first at
Antioch, where they were called thus according to their divine vocation. But who were the Chrestians, and when
were they first styled by that designation? The answer is that we have inscriptions labeling people Chrestian in
the early first century, before "Jesus the Christ" had any noticeable impact.
As I state in my article "Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?", the same "Chrestian to Christian" chicanery has
happened with the other two passages in the NT containing the word "Christian," i.e., Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. These are both quite obviously late books - 1 Peter likewise does not
emerge clearly in the historical/literary record until after the middle of the second century, as a moniker for
these followers of Chrestos, the "Good" or "Useful." It would appear that it was Tertullian (Apologeticus 3), among others, in large part who made the push to change
the name to "Christians," accusing the nonbelievers of "mispronouncing" the title.
Here is the original Greek of this passage at Acts 11:26 in the Sinaiticus:
χρηματιϲαι τε πρωτωϲ εν αν τιοχια τουϲ μαθηταϲ χρηϲτιανουϲ
As we can see from the above, in which the word chrematisai is apparently deliberately
juxtaposed with chrestianous, the copyist of the Sinaiticus more than likely was not making a mistake
but was retaining the earliest canonical rendition of Acts, as Chrestians, not "Christians." We must
ask, therefore, what business is it of Tertullian or any others to claim otherwise and to accuse people of
"mispronunciation," when it is there in writing held holy?
The pre-Christian Chrestians were apparently involved in the business of divination, religious
proselytizing and oracle readings, decades to centuries before Jesus supposedly walked the earth. It was not very
difficult eventually to change the cult of "the Good" into that of "the Anointed," with the
eventual introduction of a fictional composite presented as a "historical founder" who purportedly lived many
Is Suetonius's Chresto a Reference to Jesus?
The Chi-Rho Symbol and Chrestos
Chrestos Magical Bowl?
Chrestes as Oracle and Chrematizo in the New Testament
Isis the Chrest and the Egyptian Houses of Goodness
Apollo, Son of God and the Chrest?
Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius: No Proof of Jesus
Christos or Chrestos?
Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?
The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled
Franck Goddio Society Chrestos Bowl Report
Earliest Reference Describes Christ as 'Magician'
Catalogue of Chrest