List of messiah claimants

This is a list of notable people who have been said to be a messiah, either by themselves or by their followers. The list is divided into categories, which are sorted according to date of birth (where known).

Jewish messiah claimants edit

In Judaism, "messiah" originally meant "a divinely appointed king" or "anointed one", such as Aaron the brother of Moses,[citation needed] David, Cyrus the Great[1] or Alexander the Great.[2] Later, especially after the failure of the Hasmonean Kingdom (37 BC) and the Jewish–Roman wars (AD 66–135), the figure of the Jewish messiah was one who would deliver the Jews from oppression and usher in an Olam Haba ("world to come") or Messianic Age. However the term "false messiah" was largely absent from rabbinic literature. The first mention is in the Sefer Zerubbabel, from the mid-seventh century, which uses the term, mashiah sheker, ("false messiah").[3]

See also Combination messiah claimants below.

Christian messiah claimants edit

Sun Myung Moon
Simon Magus

The Christian Bible states that Jesus will come again in some fashion; various people have claimed to, in fact, be the Second Coming of Jesus. Others have styled themselves new messiahs under the umbrella of Christianity. The Synoptic gospels (Matthew 24:4, 6, 24; Mark 13:5, 21-22; and Luke 21:3) all use the term pseudochristos for messianic pretenders.[33]

  • Ann Lee (1736–1784), a central figure to the Shakers,[34] who thought she "embodied all the perfections of God" in female form and considered herself in 1772 to be Christ's female counterpart.[35]
  • John Nichols Thom (1799–1838), who had achieved fame and followers as Sir William Courtenay and adopted the claim of Messiah after a period in a mental institute.[36]
  • Hong Xiuquan (1 January 1814- 1 June 1864), the leader of the Taiping Rebellion, who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.
  • Abd-ru-shin (Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, 18 April 1875 – 6 December 1941), founder of the Grail Movement.[37]
  • Lou de Palingboer (Louwrens Voorthuijzen)[37] (1898-1968), a Dutch charismatic leader who claimed to be God as well as the Messiah from 1950 until his death in 1968.
  • Father Divine (George Baker) (c. 1880 –1965), an African American spiritual leader from about 1907 until his death, who claimed to be God.
  • André Matsoua (1899–1942), Congolese founder of Amicale, proponents of which subsequently adopted him as Messiah in the late 1920s.
  • Ahn Sahng-hong (1918–1985), founder of the World Mission Society Church of God and worshiped by the members as the Messiah.[38]
  • Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012), founder and leader of the Unification Church established in Seoul, South Korea, who considered himself the Second Coming of Christ, but not Jesus himself.[39] It is generally believed by Unification Church members ("Moonies") that he was the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ and was anointed to fulfill Jesus's unfinished mission.[39]
  • Anne Hamilton-Byrne (born Evelyn Grace Victoria Edwards; 30 December 1921 – 13 June 2019), founder of The Family, claimed to have been the reincarnation of Jesus.[40]
  • Cho Hee-seung [ko] (1931–2004), founder of the Victory Altar New Religious Movement, which refers to him as “the Victor Christ” and “God incarnated”. Died in the midst of a series of legal battles in which he was alternately convicted and acquitted on charges of fraud and instigation of the murders of multiple opponents.[41][42]
  • Yahweh ben Yahweh (1935–2007), born as Hulon Mitchell, Jr., a black nationalist and separatist who created the Nation of Yahweh and allegedly orchestrated the murder of dozens of people.
  • Laszlo Toth (born 1938) claimed he was Jesus Christ as he battered Michelangelo's Pieta with a geologist hammer.
  • Wayne Bent (born 1941), also known as Michael Travesser of the Lord Our Righteousness Church, also known as the "Strong City Cult", convicted December 15, 2008, of one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2008.[43] He was paroled in February 2016.
  • Iesu Matayoshi (1944–2018); in 1997 he established the World Economic Community Party based on his conviction that he was God and the Christ.
  • Jung Myung-seok (born 1945), a South Korean who was a member of the Unification Church in the 1970s, before breaking off to found the dissenting group[44] now known as Providence Church in 1980.[45][46] He also considers himself the Second Coming of Christ, but not Jesus himself.[47] He believes he has come to finish the incomplete message and mission of Jesus Christ, asserting that he is the Messiah and has the responsibility to save all mankind.[48] He claims that the Christian doctrine of resurrection is false but that people can be saved through him. Jung Myung-seok was convicted of rape by the Supreme Court of Korea and spent 10 years in prison (2008-2018). He was again indicted in South Korea on October 28, 2022, for sexually assaulting two female followers between 2018 and 2022.[49]
  • Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël "messenger of the Elohim" (born 1946), a French professional test driver and former car journalist who became founder and leader of UFO religion the Raël Movement in 1972. Raëlism teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call Elohim. He claimed he met an extraterrestrial humanoid in 1973 and became the Messiah.[50] He then devoted himself to the task he said he was given by his "biological father", an extraterrestrial named Yahweh.[51]
  • José Luis de Jesús (1946–2013), founder and leader of Creciendo en Gracia sect (Growing In Grace International Ministry, Inc.), based in Miami, Florida. He claimed to be both Jesus Christ returned and the Antichrist, and exhibited a "666" tattoo on his forearm. He has referred to himself as Jesucristo Hombre, which translates to "Jesus Christ made Man".
  • Inri Cristo (born 1948) of Indaial, Brazil, a claimant to be the second Jesus.[52]
  • Apollo Quiboloy (born 1950), Filipino founder and leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ religious group, who claims that Jesus Christ is the "Almighty Father," that Quiboloy is "His Appointed Son," and that salvation is now completed. He proclaims himself to be the "Appointed Son of God". On November 11, 2021, Quiboloy was indicted by the United States Department of Justice for allegedly coercing girls and young women to have sex with him. These victims were threatened with eternal damnation and physical punishment if they didn’t comply. The indictment also included allegations that Quiboloy ran a sex-trafficking operation. Girls as young as 12 were allegedly trafficked through the fraudulent California charity “Children’s Joy.”[53]
  • Brian David Mitchell (born 1953) was convicted May 25, 2011, for the 2002 kidnapping and rape of Elizabeth Smart. He believed himself the fore-ordained angel born on earth to be the Davidic "servant" prepared by God as a type of Messiah who would restore the divinely led kingdom of Israel to the world in preparation for Christ's Second Coming. Mitchell's belief in such an end-times figure – also known among many fundamentalist Latter Day Saints as "the One Mighty and Strong" – appeared to be based in part on a reading of the biblical Book of Isaiah by the independent LDS Hebraist, Avraham Gileadi, with whom Mitchell became familiar as a result of his previous participation in Stirling Allan's American Study Group.[54][55]
  • Ante Pavlović (1957–2020), a Croatian self-proclaimed chiropractor who claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ who he would soon become president of Croatia.[56]
    Ante Pavlović on his horse.
  • David Koresh, also known as Vernon Wayne Howell (1959–1993), leader of the Branch Davidians, renaming himself in honor of King David and Cyrus the Great. He and his followers were killed after an ATF raid and siege which ended with their compound catching fire.
  • Maria Devi Christos (born 1960), leader of the Great White Brotherhood popular in the former Soviet Union.
  • Sergey Torop (born 1961), who started to call himself "Vissarion", founder of the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia.
  • Alan John Miller (born 1962), founder of Divine Truth, a new religious movement based in Australia. Also known as A.J. Miller, he claims to be Jesus of Nazareth through reincarnation. Miller was formerly a Jehovah's Witness.[57]
  • Yang Xiangbin (born 1973) is believed to be the identity of a woman referred to as "Lightning Deng" and "the female Christ" in the literature of Eastern Lightning, a Chinese Christian new religious movement. Zhao Weishan, founder and administrative leader of Eastern Lightning, claimed that Yang revealed herself to be the Second Coming of Christ in 1992.[58]

See also Combination messiah claimants below.

Muslim Mahdi-messiah claimant edit

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Islamic tradition has a prophecy of the Mahdi, who will come alongside the return of Isa (Jesus).

  • Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835–1908), proclaimed himself to be both the expected Mahdi and Messiah,[59][60] being the only person in Islamic history who claimed to be both. Crucially, however, he claimed that Jesus had died a natural death after surviving crucifixion,[59] and that prophecies concerning his future advent referred to the Mahdi himself bearing the qualities and character of Jesus rather than to his physical return alongside the Mahdi. He founded the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1889 envisioning it to be the rejuvenation of Islam. Adherents of the Ahmadiyya movement claim to be strictly Muslim, but are widely viewed by other Muslim groups as either disbelievers or heretics.[61][62]

Zoroastrian messiah claimants edit

  • Bahram Chobin, after he usurped the throne of the Sassanian Empire, declared himself to be the Messiah in the midst of the eschatological times of the late 6th century AD[63]

Combination of messiah claimants edit

This list features people who are said, either by themselves or their followers, to be the messianic fulfillment of two or more religious traditions.

  • Baháʼu'lláh, Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, (1817–1892), born Shiite, adopting Bábism in 1844 (see "Bab" in Muslim messiah claimants section above). In 1863, he claimed to be the promised one of all religions, and founded the Baháʼí Faith.[64] He claimed to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming of a promised figure found in all 6 of the major prophetic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism and Buddhism) as noted in the authoritative history of the Baha'i Faith.[65] He also claimed to be the prophet predicted by the Bab (see Muslim messiah claimants section above) as "He Whom God shall make manifest"[66] His followers have also claimed that his coming fulfilled prophecies of various smaller (often native) religions.
  • Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) in 1909 renounced the status of Messiah and Maitreya incarnation given him by the Theosophical Society.
  • Peter Deunov Bulgarian white brotherhood sect leader
  • Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi (born 25 November 1941) is a spiritual leader and the founder of the spiritual movements Messiah Foundation International (MFI) and Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam.[67][68] He is controversial for being declared the Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar by the MFI.[69][70][71]
  • Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (1946–2013), a Puerto Rican preacher who had claimed to be both "the Man Jesus Christ" and the Antichrist at the same time. He claimed he was indwelled with the same spirit that dwelled in Jesus; however, Miranda also contradicted his claims of being Christ incarnate by also claiming he was the Antichrist, even going as far as tattooing the number of the beast (666) on his forearm, a behavior his followers also adopted. Founder of the "Growing in Grace" ministries, Miranda died on August 14, 2013, due to liver cancer.
  • Ryuho Okawa (1956–2023), was the founder of Happy Science in Japan. Okawa claimed to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius and to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare.

Other messiah claimants edit

This list features people who have been said, either by themselves or their followers, to be some form of a messiah that do not easily fit into Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.

  • Cyrus Teed (1839–1908), proponent of the Hollow Earth theory who created a distinct model in which the world is an inverted sphere that the rest of universe can be seen from by looking inward and claimed to be the incarnation of Jesus Christ after being electrocuted when attempting to practice alchemy with doses of magnetism during 1869.[72]
Haile Selassie

See also edit

References edit

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  2. ^ "Messiah: Alexander as Messiah". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  3. ^ William Horbury, Markus Bockmuehl, James Carleton Paget: Redemption and resistance: the messianic hopes of Jews and Christians in antiquity Page 294 : (2007) ISBN 978-0567030443
  4. ^ Segal, Alan F. (1997). Davis, Stephen T.; Kendall, Daniel; O'Collins, Gerald (eds.). The Resurrection: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus. OUP Oxford. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-19-815091-6. marginal Jewish apocalyptic cult
  5. ^ Gray, John (2011). Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia. Penguin Books Limited. p. PT19. ISBN 978-0-241-95917-6. Yet some such belief was a central feature of the apocalyptic cult to which the followers of Jesus belonged. The outbursts of chiliasm that recur throughout western history are heretical reversions to Christian origins.
  6. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (31 January 2013), "How Jesus Became God: The *Original* Idea",
  7. ^ Nel, Marius; Balia, Daryl (2018). An African Pentecostal Hermeneutics: A Distinctive Contribution to Hermeneutics. Wipf & Stock Publishers. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-5326-6086-3. The Christian movement might have started as an apocalyptic sect within Judaism and it was initially contained within the mother religion.44 44. Tripolitis, Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age, 92.
  8. ^ Orlin, Eric, ed. (2015). Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions. Taylor & Francis. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-134-62552-9. Retrieved 31 December 2021. Jesus' literacy remains disputed, as is the nature of his teaching, yet most scholars regard Jesus' message as heavily apocalyptic.
  9. ^ Tripolitis, Antonia (2002). Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-8028-4913-7. Retrieved 12 September 2023. The Christian movement began as an apocalyptic sect within Judaism.
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