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
In Judaism, "messiah" originally meant a divinely appointed king, such as David, Cyrus the Great or Alexander the Great. 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").
- Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BC – 30/33 AD), leader of a Jewish sect who was crucified by the Romans for sedition and is believed by some to have been resurrected. Jews who believed him to be the Messiah were originally called Nazarenes and later they were known as Jewish Christians (the first Christians). Muslims and Christians (including Messianic Jews) believe him to be the Messiah.
- Simon bar Kokhba (died c. 135), founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the Second Jewish-Roman War.
- Moses of Crete, who in about 440–470 persuaded the Jews of Crete to walk into the sea, as Moses had done, to return to Israel. The results were disastrous and he soon disappeared.
- Ishak ben Ya'kub Obadiah Abu 'Isa al-Isfahani (684–705), who led a revolt in Persia against the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.
- David Alroy, born in Kurdistan, who around 1160 agitated against the caliph before being assassinated.
- Moses Botarel of Cisneros, active around 1413; claimed to be a sorcerer able to combine the names of God.
- Asher Lämmlein, a German near Venice who proclaimed himself a forerunner of the Messiah in 1502.
- David Reubeni (1490–1541?) and Solomon Molcho (1500–1532), messianic adventurers who travelled in Portugal, Italy and Turkey; Molcho, who was a baptised Catholic, was tried by the Inquisition, convicted of apostasy and burned at the stake.
- Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676), an Ottoman Jew who claimed to be the Messiah, but then converted to Islam; still has followers today in the Dönmeh.
- Jacob Querido (?–1690), claimed to be the new incarnation of Sabbatai; later converted to Islam and led the Dönmeh.
- Miguel Cardoso (1630–1706), another successor of Sabbatai who claimed to be the "Messiah ben Ephraim".
- Löbele Prossnitz (?–1750), attained some following amongst former followers of Sabbatai, calling himself the "Messiah ben Joseph".
- Jacob Joseph Frank (1726–1791), who claimed to be the reincarnation of King David and preached a synthesis of Christianity and Judaism.
- Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (r. 1920 - 1950), sixth rebbe (spiritual leader) of Chabad Lubavitch, claimed to be "Atzmus u'mehus alein vi er hat zich areingeshtalt in a guf" (Yiddish and English for: "Essence and Existence [of God] which has placed itself in a body"), and to be the Messiah.
- Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994), seventh rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch, claimed to be the Messiah by his followers.
Christian messiah claimants
Verses in the Christian Bible tell that Jesus will come again in some fashion; various people have claimed to, in fact, be the second coming of Jesus. Others have been styled a new messiah still 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.
- Simon Magus (early 1st century), was a Samaritan, and a native of Gitta; he was considered a god in Simonianism; he "darkly hinted" that he himself was Christ, calling himself the Standing One.
- Dositheos the Samaritan (mid 1st century), was one of the supposed founders of Mandaeanism. After the time of Jesus, he wished to persuade the Samaritans that he himself was the Messiah prophesied by Moses. Dositheus pretended to be the Christ (Messiah), applying Deuteronomy 18:15 to himself, and he compares him with Theudas and Judas the Galilean.
- Tanchelm of Antwerp (c. 1110), who violently opposed the sacrament and the Eucharist.
- Ann Lee (1736–1784), a central figure to the Shakers, who thought she "embodied all the perfections of God" in female form and considered herself to be Christ’s female counterpart in 1772.
- Bernhard Müller (c. 1799–1834) claimed to be the Lion of Judah and a prophet in possession of the Philosopher's stone.
- 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.
- Arnold Potter (1804–1872), Latter Day Saint schismatic leader; called himself "Potter Christ"
- Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), Hakka Chinese; claimed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ; started the Taiping Rebellion and founded the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. Committed suicide before the fall of Tianjing (Nanjing) in 1864.
- Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, Bahá'u'lláh (1817–1892), born Shiite, adopting Bábism in 1844 (see "Bab" in Muslim messiah claimants section below). In 1863, he claimed to be the promised one of all religions, and founded the Bahá'í Faith.
- Jacobina Mentz Maurer (1841 or 1842–1874) was a German-Brazilian woman who lived and died in the state of Rio Grande do Sul who emerged as a messianic prophetess, a representation of God, and later declared the very reincarnation of Jesus Christ on earth by her German-speaking community called Die Muckers (or the false saints) by her enemies, Die Spotters (or the mockers). After a number of deadly confrontations with outsiders, Jacobina was shot to death together with many of her followers by the Brazilian Imperial Army.
- William W. Davies (1833–1906), Latter Day Saint (Mormon) schismatic leader; claimed that his infant son Arthur (born 1868) was the reincarnated Jesus Christ.
- Cyrus Reed Teed (October 18, 1839 – December 22, 1908, erroneously Cyrus Tweed) was a U.S. eclectic physician and alchemist turned religious leader and messiah. In 1869, claiming divine inspiration, Dr. Teed took on the name Koresh and proposed a new set of scientific and religious ideas he called Koreshanity.
- Abd-ru-shin (18 April 1875 – 6 December 1941), founder of the Grail Movement.
- Lou de Palingboer (Louwrens Voorthuijzen) (1898-1968), a dutch charismatic leader who claimed to be god and 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.
- Samael Aun Weor (1917–1977), born Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez, Colombian citizen and later Mexican, was an author, lecturer and founder of the 'Universal Christian Gnostic Movement', according to him, 'the most powerful movement ever founded'. By 1972, he referenced that his death and resurrection would be occurring before 1978.
- Ahn Sahng-hong (1918–1985), founder of the World Mission Society Church of God and worshiped by the members as the messiah.
- 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. Although 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' unfinished mission.
- 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 persons.
- Laszlo Toth (1940–2012) 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.
- Iesu Matayoshi (born 1944), in 1997 he established the World Economic Community Party based on his conviction that he is 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 now known as Providence Church in 1980. He also considers himself the Second Coming of Christ, but not Jesus himself in 1980. 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. He claims that the Christian doctrine of resurrection is false but that people can be saved through him.
- Claude Vorilhon now known as Raël "messenger of the Elohim" (born 1946), a French professional test driver and former car journalist became founder and leader of UFO religion the Raël Movement in 1972, which 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. Then devoted himself to the task he said was given by his "biological father", an extraterrestrial named Yahweh.
- 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.
- Apollo Quiboloy (born 1950), 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. Proclaims himself as the "Appointed Son of the God" not direct to the point as the "Begotten Son of the God" in 1985.
- David Icke (born 1952), of Great Britain, has described himself as "the son of God", and a "channel for the Christ spirit".
- Brian David Mitchell was born on October 18, 1953 in Salt Lake City, Utah, 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 which Mitchell became familiar from his former participation with Stirling Allan's American Study Group.)
- David Koresh (Vernon Wayne Howell) (1959–1993), leader of the Branch Davidians.
- Maria Devi Christos (born 1960), founder of the Great White Brotherhood.
- 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. Alan John Miller, also known as A.J., who claims to be Jesus of Nazareth through reincarnation. Miller was formerly an elder in the Jehovah's Witnesses.
- David Shayler (born 1965), former MI5 agent and whistleblower who declared himself the Messiah on 7 July 2007.
Muslim messiah claimants
- Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443–1505), who traveled Northeastern India; he influenced the Mahdavia and the Zikris.
- Báb (1819–1850), who declared himself to be the promised Mahdi in Shiraz, Iran in 1844. (Related to Baha'i claims--see the Christian Messiah Claimants section above--Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, also known as Baha'u'llah.)
- Muhammad Ahmad ("The Mad Mahdi") (1844–1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottoman Egyptian authority, and founded the Mahdist Sudan.
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835–1908), proclaimed himself to be both the expected Mahdi and Messiah, 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, 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.
- Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (1864–1920), who led the Dervish State in present-day Somalia in a two-decade long resistance movement between 1900 and 1920.
- Rashad Khalifa (1935–1990), an Egyptian-American biochemist who claimed that he had discovered a mathematical code in the text of the Qur'an involving the number 19; he later claimed to be the "Messenger of the Covenant" and founded the "Submitters International" movement before being murdered.
- Juhayman al-Otaybi (1936–1980), who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979 and declared his son-in-law the Mahdi.
- Louis Farrakhan (May 11, 1933) Nation of Islam leader on 04/04/2019, claims to be Jesus in 'Saviours' Day' address: 'I am the Messiah'
- Hasan Mezarci ( May 11, 1954) Conservative Islamist politician and member of parliament in Republic of Turkey (1991-1995), was expelled from Refah party and imprisoned for his extreme view against Secularism. He claimed to be the Messiah during his imprisonment.
- Harun Yahya ( February 2, 1956) leader of Islamic creationist cult leader, Active in Turkey since 1980, He believes himself to be the Messiah and focuses his brand of Islam on close reading of the Quran, with dramatic presentations similar to Christian televangelism. and the author of The Atlas of Creation.
Other or combination messiah claimants
This list features people who are said, either by themselves or their followers, to be some form of a messiah that do not easily fit into only Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
- Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (1892–1975), Messiah of the Rastafari movement. Never claimed himself to be Messiah, but was thus proclaimed by Leonard Howell, amongst others.
- André Matsoua (1899–1942), Congolese founder of Amicale, proponents of which subsequently adopted him as Messiah.
- Samael Aun Weor (1917–1977), born Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez, Colombian citizen and later Mexican, was an author, lecturer and founder of the Universal Christian Gnostic Movement. By 1972, Samael Aun Weor referenced that his death and resurrection would be occurring before 1978.
- Nirmala Srivastava (1923–2011), guru and goddess of Sahaja Yoga, proclaimed herself to be the Comforter promised by Jesus (that is, the incarnation of the Holy Ghost / Adi Shakti).
- Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (born 1946 – died 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.
- 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. He is controversial for being declared the Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar by the MFI.
- Raël, founder and leader of Raëlism (born 30 September 1946); Rael claimed he met an extraterrestrial being in 1973 and became the Messiah.
- World Teacher (unknown), a being claimed to be the Theosophical Maitreya and the Messiah (promised one) of all religions. He is said to have descended from the higher planes and manifested a physical body in early 1977 in the Himalayas, then on 19 July 1977 he is said to have taken a commercial airplane flight from Pakistan to England. He is currently said to be living in secret in London; promoted by New Age activist Benjamin Creme and his organization, Share International (See Maitreya (Benjamin Creme)).
- Ryuho Okawa (born 7 July 1956), is the founder of Happy Science in Japan. Okawa claims to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius and claims to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare.
- List of avatar claimants
- List of Buddha claimants
- False prophet
- List of people who have been considered deities
- Messiah complex
- Messianic Age
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Messiah: "In Isa. xlv. 1 Cyrus is called "God's anointed one," ...:
- "Messiah: Alexander as Messiah". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
- 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
- Professor Bart D. Ehrman, The Historical Jesus, Part I, p. 2, The Teaching Company, 2000.
- David Noel Freedman; Allen C. Myers (2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam University Press. p. 709. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
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- Identifying Chabad : What they teach and how they influence the Torah world (Revised ed.). Illinois: Center for Torah Demographics. 2007. p. 13. ISBN 978-1411642416. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- Singer, HaRav Tovia. "Why did some expect the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Resurrect as the Messiah? Rabbi Tovia Singer Responds (video-lecture)". Tovia Singer Youtube.com. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- Bar-Hayim, HaRav David. "The False Mashiah of Lubavitch-Habad". Machon Shilo (Shilo Institute). Retrieved 17 June 2016.
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- On Chabad Archived 19 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Public Responsa from Rabbi Aharon Feldman on the matter of Chabad messiansim (Hebrew), 23 Sivan, 5763 - http://moshiachtalk.tripod.com/feldman.pdf. See also Rabbi Feldman's letter to David Beger: http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/feldman_berger_sm_2.jpg
- Berger, David (April 1, 2008). The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference. Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization. ISBN 978-1904113751. for further information see the article: The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference
- Harris Lenowitz The Jewish Messiahs: From the Galilee to Crown Heights age 31 (2001) ISBN 978-0195148374
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Dositheans: "Origen states that "Dositheus the Samaritan, after the time of Jesus, wished to persuade the Samaritans that he himself was the Messias prophesied by Moses" (Contra Celsum, VI, ii); and he classes him with John the Baptist, Theodas, and Judas of Galilee as people whom the Jews mistakenly held to be the Christ (Hom. xxv in Lucam; Contra Celsum, I, lvii)."
- See "Contra Celsum," i. 57, vi. 11; in Matth. Comm. ser. xxxiii.; "Homil." xxv. in Lucam; "De Principiis," iv. 17.
- Campion, Nardi Reeder (1976), Ann the Word: The Life of Mother Ann Lee, Founder of the Shakers, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, ISBN 978-0-316-12767-7
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- Rogers, P. G. (1961), Battle in Bossenden Wood, Oxford University Press
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- Wilson, Bryan R. (1975). The Noble Savages: The Primitive Origins of Charisma and Its Contemporary Survival. University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-520-02815-9.
... but their prominence and relative success when compared with such figures as Louwrens van Voorthuizen (Lou) in Holland, Georges Roux in France, and Oskar Ernst Bernhardt in Germany and Austria, all of whom claimed to be the messiah—is striking.
- Introvigne, Massimo (1 March 2004). Clarke, Peter (ed.). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Routledge. p. 244. ISBN 978-1-134-49970-0.
A complicated esoteric work, which includes a history of the universe partially derived from the Theosophical Society (see Theosophy), and hinting at Berhnardt’s own messianic role, it found interested readers within the esoteric milieu (see Esoteric Movements).
- Vojtisek, Zdenek (February 2006). "Millennial Expectations in the Grail Movement" (PDF). Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. University of California Press. 9 (3): 61–79. doi:10.1525/nr.2006.9.3.061. ISSN 1541-8480. JSTOR 10.1525/nr.2006.9.3.061. OCLC 50633713. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
In order to calm the public and hide his messianic claims, in 1937 Bernhardt ordered that the “Conclusion” be cut out of all unsold In the Light of Truth books. ... Four lectures and the “Conclusion” published in 1931 are omitted in the authorized postwar version. The reason for dropping three of the lectures is probably the same as the reason for omitting the “Conclusion” in 1937: they were too explicit in pointing to Bernhardt (Abd-ru-shin) as the Messiah. Of the omitted lectures, the fourth was probably unacceptable after the war due to ideas that might be considered racist.28
- Kürti, László (April 2001). "Psychic Phenomena, Neoshamanism, and the Cultic Milieu in Hungary". Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. University of California Press. 4 (1): 322–350. doi:10.1525/nr.2001.4.2.322. ISSN 1541-8480. JSTOR 10.1525/nr.2001.4.2.322. OCLC 50633713.
Cultic milieu books, long familiar to Westerners, are being translated into Hungarian and sold in legitimate bookstores. The latest examples are Akashic Records by Victor Charon and The Message of the Grail by Abd-Ru-Shin [Oskar Ernst Bernhardt (1875-1941)]. Both are fashionable books involving esoteric worldviews with messianic claims, and both are widely distributed on the Hungarian publishing market.
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- Moon At Twilight: Amid scandal, the Unification Church has a strange new mission, Peter Maass New Yorker Magazine, September 14, 1998. "Moon sees the essence of his own mission as completing the one given to Jesus--establishing a "true family" untouched by Satan while teaching all people to lead a God-centered life under his spiritual leadership."..."Although Moon often predicts in his sermons that a breakthrough is near, Moffitt realizes that Moon may not come to be seen as the messiah in his lifetime."
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- Andrea Lathan (2008) ‘The Relativity of Categorizing in the Context of the Aḥmadiyya’ Die Welt des Islams, 48 (3/4): 376
- Antonio R. Gualtieri (1989). Conscience and Coercion: Ahmadi Muslims and Orthodoxy in Pakistan. Guernica Editions. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-920717-41-7.
- Andrea Lathan (2008) ‘The Relativity of Categorizing in the Context of the Aḥmadiyya’ Die Welt des Islams, 48 (3/4): 376
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- Burhani, Ahmad Najib (2013). When Muslims are not Muslims: the Ahmadiyya community and the discourse on heresy in Indonesia. Santa Barbara, California: University of California. ISBN 9781303424861.
- Judith Coney, Sahaja Yoga: Socializing Processes in a South Asian New Religious Movement (1999) p27 "She began her mission of salvation in earnest, establishing a reputation as a faith healer ... Then, on December 2nd 1979, in London, she unequivocally declared her divinity to her followers: '[Today] is the day I declare that I am the One who has to save the humanity. I declare, I am the one who is Adi Shakti, who is the Mother of all the mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti, the purest desire of God, who has incarnated on this Earth to give meaning to itself...' Since then, she is most often understood by her followers to be the Devi, the Goddess of Indian mythology, returned to save the world."
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