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Messiah

From Academic Kids

This article is about religious concept of Messiah. For the musical work by Handel, see Messiah (Handel). For the BBC television drama series, see Messiah (television).

In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ "Anointed one", Standard Hebrew Mašaḥ, Tiberian Hebrew Māšḥ) is a human descendant of King David who will rebuild the nation of Israel and bring world peace by restoring the Davidic Kingdom. Christians consider Jesus to be that messiah (in Greek Christ), as well as the son of God and a member of the Holy Trinity. The word Christ (Greek Χριστός, Khristos, "the anointed one") is a literal translation of "mashiach". In Islam, Jesus is also considered the Maseeh, or Messiah, and his eventual return to the Earth is expected with that of another messianic figure, the Mahdi. The concept of the Messiah may have originated with the Zoroastrian Saoshyant . For similar figures in other religions, refer to the "See also" section in this article.

The Septuagint, an ancient Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Greek, translates all thirty-nine instances of the word messiah as Khristos. The New Testament records the Greek form Μεσσίας, Messias, only twice, in John 1:41 and 4:25.

Contents

In the Hebrew Bible

Main articles: Comparing and contrasting Judaism and Christianity and Jewish Messiah

The concept of the messiah is prominent in many books in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew Bible, Israelite priests, prophets, and kings were anointed with oil in consecration to their respective offices. The moshiach is anointed "above all his fellows" (Psalms 45:7), and therefore exalts himself in all the three offices.

The Hebrew Bible contains a small number of prophecies concerning a future descendant of King David who will be anointed as the Jewish people's new leader (moshiach). This leader will rebuild the nation of Israel and restore the Davidic Kingdom.

The Jewish understanding of moshiach (the messiah) has little, if anything, in common with the Christian understanding of Jesus Christ as messiah. This subject is covered in more detail in the entry on Jewish eschatology.

In the New Testament

main article: Christian views of Jesus

Christianity emerged from Judaism in the first century of the Common Era. The first Christians were Jews, though early in the Christian period doctrinal differences had already begun to develop between the Jerusalem Church and Paul and his mostly gentile followers (cf. New Testament books of Acts, Romans and Galatians). Within the Jewish tradition was a belief that a messiah — a descendant of King David — would restore the monarchy and Jewish independence. According to mainstream Jewish belief, the failure of Jesus to restore the Kingdom, and his crucifixion by Romans, negated claims that he was the messiah (since most Jews do not accept that Jesus was the messiah, they reject the use of the full (Christian) name. See the Jewish conception of the messiah for a more detailed discussion of the Jewish understanding of the messiah). Nevertheless, many of Jesus' followers — perhaps inspired by encounters with Jesus after his crucifixion and entombment, but also drawing on alternative interpretations of Biblical passages — redefined the concept of messiah to encompass the resurrection and the promise of a second coming. In addition to this alternative understanding of the messiah, early Christians brought from Judaism the Jewish scriptures, fundamental doctrines such as monotheism, and other beliefs and practices. (See Comparing and contrasting Judaism and Christianity.)

Christian understanding of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament evaluates prophetic references to the Messiah in the context of New Testament witnesses; some passages are understood to deal with a contemporary fulfillment and a future fulfillment in Jesus. This is understood by Christians to be consistent with prophetic interpretation under the ancient Jewish tradition as well. In a unique example, the first Northern Kingdom ruler, Jeroboam received a prophecy of the future destruction of his idols by King Josiah (yet unborn) of Judah. This far future prophecy was confirmed by a contemporary prophecy that the ashes of the altar would spill out. This occurred shortly thereafter and was taken as confirmation of the far future prophecy.

In this view, the prophecies about Jesus became more definite and fuller as the ages rolled on. Different periods of prophetic revelation have been pointed out: (1) the patriarchal; (2) the Mosaic; (3) the period of David; (4) the period of prophetism, i.e., of those prophets whose work form a part of the Old Testament canon. Other periods have been defined as corresponding to the different dispensations (also seen as defined by covenants) of God's dealing with man. These would principally involved the pre-Mosaic period, the Mosaic period and finally the Christian period. This is not a full listing of the different periods of revelation, but a limited list helpful in the context. For a full listing see Dispensationalism.

In Islam

Main articles: Isa, Mahdi, Muhammad al-Mahdi

In the Qur'an, the scripture of Islam, Isa (Jesus) is described as a Prophet of Allah (God) as well as "messiah". He is regarded, like all other Prophets in Islam, as a human being, and not God incarnate nor the son of God. The belief is that he was raised to heaven (and not crucified, as in Christian belief) and will return at the end of days to live out the rest of his natural life. The role of the messiah in Islam differs from the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Messiah. The main task of the messiah in Islam is to proclaim the coming of Ahmed. The messiah does not bring out the end of days. That role is assigned to another, al-Mahdi.

The Mahdi (al-Mahdi, Imam Mehdi, etc.), is a different person from Jesus/Isa and is another "messianic figure" in Islam. The Mahdi will usher in a new age of peace. Shia and Sunni opinions on al-Mahdi differ somewhat, but both sects agree that Isa (Jesus), the son of Mary, is the Messiah. Ithna Ashari Shias identify the Mahdi with Muhammad al-Mahdi, the 12th Imam.

The Ahmadiyya sect believe that the Messiah and Mahdi has come in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835-1908).

Other historically significant Jewish Messiah claimants

Josephus's report of civil unrest in the first century

It had been thought that Josephus asserts that Jesus was indeed the true messiah. No original version of Josephus' writing exists, however, comparisons of various translations have led textual analysts to conclude that this and other statements were later interpolations inserted into the text centuries after the fact and were not written by Josephus himself.

However, also from Josephus it appears that in the first century before the destruction of the Temple a number of Jews incited or sought to incite rebellion. Josephus speaks of them thus: "Another body of wicked men also sprung up, cleaner in their hands, but more wicked in their intentions, who destroyed the peace of the city no less than did these murderers [the Sicarii ]. For they were deceivers and deluders of the people, and, under pretense of divine illumination, were for innovations and changes, and prevailed on the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them in the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them signs of liberty" (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 13, ; 4; idem, "Ant." xx. 8, ; 6). Matt. xxiv. 24, warning against "false Christs and false prophets," gives testimony to the same effect.

About 44 CE a man named Theudas appeared, claiming to be a prophet. He urged the people to follow him with their belongings to the Jordan, which he would divide for them. According to Acts 5:36 (which seems to refer to a different date), he secured about 400 followers. Cuspius Fadus sent a troop of horsemen after him and his band, slew many of them, and took captive others, together with their leader, beheading the latter ("Ant." xx. 5, 1).

An "Egyptian" is said to have gathered together 30,000 adherents, whom he summoned to the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem, promising that at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, and that he and his followers would enter and possess themselves of the city. But Felix, the procurator (c. 55-60), met the throng with his soldiery. The prophet escaped, but those with him were killed or captured, and the multitude dispersed.

Another messiah, Josephus reports, promised the people "deliverance and freedom from their miseries" if they would follow him to the wilderness. Both leader and followers were killed by the troops of Festus, the procurator. Even when Jerusalem was already being destroyed by the Romans, a prophet, according to Josephus suborned by the defenders to keep the people from deserting, announced that God commanded them to come to the Temple, there to receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Those who came met death in the flames.

Menahem ben Judah

Menahem ben Judah, the son of Judas the Galilean and grandson of Hezekiah, the leader of the Zealots, who had troubled Herod, was a warrior. When the war broke out he attacked Masada with his band, armed his followers with the weapons stored there, and proceeded to Jerusalem where he captured the fortress Antonia, overpowering the troops of Agrippa II. Emboldened by his success, he behaved as a king, and claimed the leadership of all the troops. Thereby he aroused the enmity of Eleazar, another Zealot leader, and met death as a result of a conspiracy against him. He is probably identical with the Menahem ben Hezekiah mentioned in the Talmud (tractate Sanhedrin 98b) and called "the comforter that should relieve".

Bar Kokhba

With the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem the appearance of messiahs ceased for a time. Sixty years later a politico-Messianic movement of large proportions took place with Shimeon Bar Kokhba (also: Bar Kosiba) at its head. This leader of the revolt against Rome was hailed as Messiah-king by Rabbi Akiva, who referred to him, Numbers xxiv. 17: "There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite through the corners of Moab,", and Hag. ii. 21, 22; "I will shake the heavens and the earth and I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms. . . ." (Talmud tracate Sanhedrin 97b). Although some doubted his messiahship, he seems to have carried the nation with him for his undertaking. After stirring up a war (133-135) that taxed the power of Rome, he at last met his death on the walls of Bethar. His Messianic movement ended in defeat and misery for the survivors.

Moses of Crete

The unsuccessful issue of the Bar Kokba war put an end for centuries to Messianic movements, but Messianic hopes were nonetheless cherished. In accordance with a computation found in the Talmud, the Messiah was expected in 440 (Sanh. 97b) or 471 ('Ab. Zarah 9b). This expectation in connection with the disturbances in the Roman empire attendant upon invasions may have raised up the Messiah who appeared about this time in Crete, and who won over the Jewish population to his movement. He called himself Moses, and promised to lead the people, like the ancient Moses, dryshod through the sea back to Palestine. His followers, convinced by him, left their possessions and waited for the promised day, when at his command many cast themselves into the sea, some finding death, others being rescued. The pseudo-Messiah himself disappeared (Socrates, "Historia Ecclesiastica," vii. 38; Grtz, "Gesch." 3d ed., iv. 354-355).

In 7th century Persia

The pseudo-Messiahs that followed played their roles in the Orient, and were at the same time religious reformers whose work influenced Karaism. At the end of the seventh century appeared in Persia Isḥaḳ ben Ya'ḳub Obadiah Abu 'Isa al-Isfahani of Ispahan (for other forms of his name and for his sect see "J. Q. R." xvi. 768, 770, 771; Grtz, l.c. v., notes 15 and 17). He lived in the reign of the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (684-705). He claimed to be the last of the five forerunners of the Messiah and to have been appointed by God to free Israel. According to some he was himself the Messiah. Having gathered together a large number of followers, he rebelled against the caliph, but was defeated and slain at Rai. His followers claimed that he was inspired and urged as proof the fact that he wrote books, although he was ignorant of reading and writing. He founded the first sect that arose in Judaism after the destruction of the Temple.

His disciple Yudghan, called "Al-Ra'i" (= "the shepherd of the flock of his people"), who lived in the first half of the eighth century, declared himself to be a prophet, and was by his disciples regarded as a Messiah. He came from Hamadan, and taught doctrines which he claimed to have received through prophecy. According to Shahristani, he opposed the belief in anthropomorphism, taught the doctrine of free will, and held that the Torah had an allegorical meaning in addition to its literal one. He admonished his followers to lead an ascetic life, to abstain from meat and wine, and to pray and fast often, following in this his master Abu 'Isa. He held that the observance of the Sabbath and festivals was merely a matter of memorial. After his death his followers formed a sect, the Yudghanites, who believed that their Messiah had not died, but would return.

Serene

Between 720 and 723 a Syrian, Serene (his name is given variously in the sources as Sherini, Sheria, Serenus, Zonoria, Sara) appeared as the messiah. The immediate occasion for his appearance may have been the restriction of the liberties of the Jews by the caliph Omar II (717-720) and his proselytizing efforts. On the political side, this Messiah promised the expulsion of the Muslims and the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land. He had followers even in Spain, where the Jews were suffering under the oppressive taxation of their new Arab rulers, and many left their homes for the new Messiah. Like Abu 'Isa and Yudghan, Serene also was a religious reformer. He was hostile to rabbinic Judaism. His followers disregarded the dietary laws, the rabbinically instituted prayers, and the prohibition against the "wine of libation"; they worked on the second day of the festivals; they did not write marriage and divorce documents according to Talmudic prescriptions, and did not accept the Talmudic prohibition against the marriage of near relatives (see Grtz, l.c. note 14). Serene was arrested. Brought before Caliph Yazid II, he declared that he had acted only in jest, whereupon he was handed over to the Jews for punishment. His followers were received back into the fold upon giving up their heresy.

Messiahs during the crusades

Under the influence of the Crusades the number of Messiahs increased, and the twelfth century records many of them. One appeared in France (c. 1087) and was slain by the French; another appeared in the province of Cordova (c. 1117), and one in Fez (c. 1127). Of these three nothing is known beyond the mention of them in Maimonides' "Iggeret Teman" (letter to the Yemenite Jews)

David Alroy

The next important Messianic movement appears again in Persia. David Alroy or Alrui, who was born in Kurdistan, about 1160 declared himself a Messiah. Taking advantage of his personal popularity, the disturbed and weakened condition of the caliphate, and the discontent of the Jews, who were burdened with a heavy poll tax, he set out upon his political schemes, asserting that he had been sent by God to free the Jews from the Moslem yoke and to lead them back to Jerusalem. For this purpose he summoned the warlike Jews of the neighboring district of Adherbaijan and also his coreligionists of Mosul and Baghdad to come armed to his aid and to assist in the capture of Amadia. From this point his career is enveloped in legend. His movement failed, and he is said to have been assassinated, while asleep, by his own father-in-law. A heavy fine was exacted from the Jews for this uprising. After his death Alroy had many followers in Khof, Salmas, Tauris, and Maragha, and these formed a sect called the Menahemists, from the Messianic name "Menahem," assumed by their founder.

In Yemen

Soon after Alroy an alleged forerunner of the Messiah appeared in Yemen (in 1172) just when the Muslims were making determined efforts to convert the Jews living there. He declared the misfortunes of the time to be prognostications of the coming Messianic kingdom, and called upon the Jews to divide their property with the poor. This pseudo-Messiah was the subject of Maimonides' "Iggeret Teman." He continued his activity for a year, when he was arrested by the Muslim authorities and beheaded at his own suggestion, it is said, in order that he might prove the truth of his mission by returning to life.

Abraham Abulafia

With Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (b. 1240; d. after 1291), the cabalist, begin the pseudo-Messiahs whose activity is deeply influenced by their cabalistic speculations. As a result of his mystic studies, Abulafia came to believe first that he was a prophet; and in a prophetic book which he published in Urbino (1279) he declared that God had spoken to him. It is thought, though not proven, that in Messina, on the island of Sicily, where he was well received and won disciples, he declared himself to be the Messiah and announced 1290 as the year for the Messianic era to begin. Solomon ben Adret, who was appealed to with regard to Abulafia's claims, condemned him, and some congregations declared against him. Persecuted in Sicily, he went to the island of Comino, near Malta (c. 1288), still asserting in his writings his mission. His end is unknown. Two of his disciples, Joseph Gikatilla and Samuel, both from Medinaceli, later claimed to be prophets and miracle-workers. The latter foretold in mystic language at Ayllon in Segovia the advent of the Messiah.

Nissim ben Abraham

Another pretended prophet was Nissim ben Abraham, active in Avila. His followers told of him that, although ignorant, he had been suddenly endowed, by an angel, with the power to write a mystic work, "The Wonder of Wisdom," with a commentary thereon. Again an appeal was made to Solomon ben Adret, who doubted Nissim's prophetic pretension and urged careful investigation. The prophet continued his activity, nevertheless, and even fixed the last day of the fourth month, Tammuz, 1295, as the date for the Messiah's coming. The credulous prepared for the event by fasting and almsgiving, and came together on the appointed day. But instead of finding the Messiah, some saw on their garments little crosses, perhaps pinned on by unbelievers to ridicule the movement. In their disappointment some of Nissim's followers are said to have gone over to Christianity. What became of the prophet is unknown.

Moses Botarel of Cisneros

After the lapse of a century another false Messiah came forward with Messianic pretensions. According to Grtz (l.c. viii. 404), this pretended Messiah is to be identified with Moses Botarel of Cisneros. One of his adherents and partizans was Hasdai Crescas. Their relation is referred to by Geronimo da Santa F in his speech at the disputation in Tortosa 1413.

Asher Lemmlein

In 1502, Asher Lemmlein (Lmmlein), a German proclaiming himself a forerunner of the Messiah, appeared in Istria, near Venice, and announced that if the Jews would be penitent and practice charity the Messiah would come within half a year, and a pillar of cloud and of smoke would precede the Jews on their return to Jerusalem. He found believers in Italy and Germany, even among the Christians. In obedience to his preaching, people fasted and prayed and gave alms to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, so that the year came to be known as the "year of penitence." But the "Messiah" either died or disappeared.

David Reuveni and Solomon Molko

Among the pseudo-Messiahs are to be included David Reuveni and Solomon Molko. The former pretended to be the ambassador and brother of the King of Khaibar, a town and former district of Arabia, in which the descendants of the "lost tribes" of Rueben and Gad were supposed to dwell. He said he was sent to the pope and the powers of Europe to secure cannon and firearms for war against the Muslims, who prevented the union of the Jews living on the two sides of the Red Sea. He denied expressly that he was a Messiah or a prophet (comp. Fuenn, "Keneset Yisrael," p. 256), claiming that he was merely a warrior. The credence which he found at the papal court in 1524, the reception accorded to him in 1525 at the Portuguese court (whither he came at the invitation of John III, and where he at first received the promise of help), the temporary cessation of persecution of the Maranos--all gave the Portuguese and Spanish Maranos reason to believe that Reuveni was a forerunner of the Messiah. Selaya, inquisitor of Badajoz, complained to the King of Portugal that a Jew who had come from the Orient (referring to Reuveni) had filled the Spanish Maranos with the hope that the Messiah would come and lead Israel from all lands back to Palestine, and that he had even emboldened them to overt acts (comp. Grtz, l.c. ix. 532). Reuveni and Molko were arrested in Regensburg on the orders of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain. Molko was taken to Mantua, in Italy, where he was tried and burned at the stake in November 1532. A spirit of expectancy was aroused by Reuveni's stay in Portugal. In Herrera del Duque, close to Puebla de Alcocer (Badajoz, Estremadura), a girl of fifteen described ecstatic visions in which she talked to the Messiah, who took her to heaven where she saw all those who were burned seated in thrones of gold, and assured her of his near coming. She (only known for us as the Maiden of Herrera) was enthusiastically proclaimed a prophetess, and such was the commotion caused by her visions that the Toledo Inquisition had her promptly arrested and burned together with many of her followers.

Isaac Luria

Isaac Luria (Isaac ben Solomon Ashkenazi Luria) was a Jewish advocate of Kabbalah (esoteric mysticism). At a later point, his disciple and successor, Chaim Vital Calabrese, was thought of as the messiah by some Palestinian Jews. Both claimed to be Ephraitic Messiahs, forerunners of the Davidic Messiah.

Isaac Luria (b. 1534 in Jerusalem; d. 1572 in Safed, Israel) taught in his mystic system the transmigration and superfetation of souls, and believed himself to possess the soul of the messiah of the house of Joseph, and to have it as his mission to hasten the coming of the messiah of the house of David through the mystic improvement of souls. Having developed his Kabbalistic system in Egypt without finding many followers, he went to Safed, Israel, about 1569. There he met Chaim Vital Calabrese, to whom he revealed his secrets and through whom he secured many disciples. To these he taught secretly his messiahship. He believed that the messianic era would commence in the beginning of the second half of the second day (of the year 1000) after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, that is, in 1568.

On Luria's death, Chaim Vital Calabrese (b. 1543; d. 1620 at Damascus) claimed to be the Ephraitic Messiah and preached the speedy advent of the Messianic era. In 1574 Abraham Shalom, a pretender to the Davidic Messiahship, it seems, sent to Vital, saying that he (Shalom) was the Davidic Messiah, whereas Vital was the Messiah of the house of Joseph. He urged Vital to go to Jerusalem and stay there for at least two years, whereupon the divine spirit would come upon him. Shalom bade Vital, furthermore, not to fear death, the fate of the Ephraitic Messiah, as he would seek to save him from this doom.

Sabbatai Zevi

The most important messianic movement, and one whose influence was wide-spread throughout Jewry, lasting in some quarters over a century, was that of Sabbatai Zevi (also Shabbethai Zevi) (b. at Smyrna 1626; d. at Dulcigno 1676). See the article on Sabbatai Zevi for more details.

Sabbethaian pseudo-messiahs

After his death Sabbatai was followed by a line of putative messiahs. Jacob Querido, son of Joseph Filosof, and brother of the fourth wife of Sabbatai, became the head of the Shabbethaians in Salonica, being regarded by them as the incarnation of Shabbethai. He pretended to be Shabbethai's son and adopted the name Jacob Tzvi. With 400 followers he went over to Islam about 1687, forming a sect called the Dnmeh. He himself even made a pilgrimage to Mecca (c. 1690). After his death during the pilgrimage his son Berechiah or Berokia succeeded him (c. 1695-1740).

A number of Shabbethai's followers declared themselves Messiahs. Miguel (Abraham) Cardoso (1630-1706), born of Marano parents, may have been initiated into the Shabbethaian movement by Moses Pinheiro in Leghorn. He became a prophet of the Messiah, and when the latter embraced Islam he justified this treason, saying that it was necessary for the Messiah to be reckoned among the sinners in order to atone for Israel's idolatry. He applied Isa. liii. to Shabbethai, and sent out epistles to prove that Shabbethai was the true Messiah, and he even suffered persecution for advocating his cause. Later he considered himself as the Ephraitic Messiah, asserting that he had marks on his body which were proof of this. He preached and wrote of the speedy coming of the Messiah, fixing different dates until his death (see Cardoso, Miguel).

Mordecai Mokia

Another follower of Shabbethai who remained faithful to him, Mordecai Mokiaḥ ("the Rebuker") of Eisenstadt, also pretended to be a Messiah. His period of activity was from 1678 to 1682 or 1683. He preached at first that Shabbethai was the true Messiah, that his conversion was for mystic reasons necessary, that he did not die but would reveal himself within three years after his supposed death, and pointed to the persecution of the Jews in Oran (by Spain), in Austria, and in France, and to the pestilence in Germany as prognostications of his coming. He found a following among Hungarian, Moravian, and Bohemian Jews. Going a step further, he declared that he was the Davidic Messiah. Shabbethai, according to him, was only the Ephraitic Messiah and was furthermore rich, and therefore could not accomplish the redemption of Israel. He (Mordecai), being poor, was the real Messiah and at the same time the incarnation of the soul of the Ephraitic Messiah. Italian Jews heard of him and invited him to Italy. He went there about 1680, and received a warm welcome in Reggio and Modena. He spoke of Messianic preparations which he had to make in Rome, and hinted at having perhaps to adopt Christianity outwardly. Denounced to the Inquisition, or advised to leave Italy, he returned to Bohemia, and then went to Poland, where he is said to have become insane. From his time a sect began to form there, which still existed at the beginning of the Mendelssohnian era.

Another Shabbethaians messaish claimant was Lbele Prossnitz. He taught that God had given dominion of the world to the "pious one," i.e., the one who had entered into the depths of Kabbalah. Such a representative of God had been Shabbethai, whose soul had passed into other "pious" men, into Jonathan Eybeschtz and into himself. Another, Isaiah Hasid (a brother-in-law of the Shabbethaian Judah Hasid), who lived in Mannheim, secretly claimed to be the resurrected Messiah, although publicly he had abjured Shabbethaian beliefs.

Jacob Frank

Jacob Frank (b. 1726 in Podolia; d. 1791), founder of the Frankists, also claimed to be the messiah. In his youth he had been brought into relation with the Dnmeh. He taught that he was a reincarnation of King David. Having secured a following among some Turkish and Wallachian Jews, he came in 1755 to Podolia, where the Shabbethaians were in need of a leader, and revealed himself to them as the reincarnation of the soul of Berechiah.

He laid stress on the idea of the "holy king" who was at the same time Messiah, and he accordingly called himself "santo seor" (="holy lord"). His followers claimed he performed miracles; and they even prayed to him. His purpose, as well as that of his sect, was to uproot rabbinic Judaism. He was forced to leave Podolia; and his followers were persecuted. Returning in 1759, he advised his followers to embrace Christianity, and about 1,000 were converted and became priviliged Polish gentry of Jewish origins. He himself was converted in Warsaw November 1759. Later his insincerity was exposed, and he was imprisoned as a heretic, remaining, however, even in prison the head of this sect. See the article on Jacob Frank for more details.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Among the Chabad Lubavitch sect of Hasidic Judaism there was a growing messianic fervor in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the belief that their leader, Menachem Mendel Schneerson was about to reveal himself to be the messiah. Schneerson's death in 1994 abated this sentiment somewhat though most followers of Schneerson still believe he is the messiah and will return when the time is right. Many, quoting Talmudic passages such as Ya'akov avinu lo meis ("our forefather Jacob did not die") (Talmud Ta'anit 5b) insist he has not died at all, and most refuse to put the typical honorifics for the dead (e.g. zt"l or Zecher Tzaddik Livrocho, "may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing") after his name.

Other Messiahs

In Stregheria, Jesus Christ is believed to have been a sort of "evil messiah" or false messiah, while Aradia de Toscano is seen as the true savior who came to free the poor and the oppressed from the bondages of Christianity.

A few million people consider Rev. Moon to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Shakers believed that Jesus was the male Messiah and Mother Ann Lee, the female Messiah.

For the Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the messiah.

The Messiah in science fiction and fantasy

The idea of a messiah figure has long been an element in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. See the article Messiahs in Fiction and Fantasy.

See also

External links

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