5

I have heard growing up that many people around and before Jesus' time claimed to be the Messiah and/or claimed to be God, so Jesus had to "up the ante" and perform miracles. Who else has claimed to be the Messiah, particularly around the 1st century?

  • Are you looking only for those who would have been known by Jesus's time (and not, e.g., Shabbatai Tzvi 1600+ years later)? – Monica Cellio Jul 20 '15 at 17:39
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    Note that Jewish records don't record the details of most of these people (as with most other 'crazies'). Only ones that had significant historical impact (such as Jesus or Shabbetai Tzevi) are likely to be recorded. – Double AA Jul 20 '15 at 17:43
  • @MonicaCellio I'm looking for notable names around Jesus time. I know there's always nutcases claiming to be God, but I'm looking for somewhat notable Jews that gained a bit of a following or something significant. – LCIII Jul 20 '15 at 17:44
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    Thanks; I've made an edit to the title to bring it into line with the body (and your comment). Also, welcome to Mi Yodeya! (I just noticed that you're new.) – Monica Cellio Jul 20 '15 at 17:47
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    Is this off-topic as Jews not Judaism? – DonielF Nov 26 '17 at 18:12
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Famously Rabbi Akiva thought that Bar Kochba was the Messiah but I don't know whether Bar Kochba claimed that title for himself.

  • 2
    He did. But he lived a long time after Jesus. – user6591 Jul 20 '15 at 19:07
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    @user6591 Not a long time after. He was probably born a few decades after Jesus died. The question asks for people "around the first century." I think Bar Kochba fits the bill. – Daniel Jul 20 '15 at 19:11
  • @Daniel partially fits the bill. Unfortunately due to the way the question was phrased, its unclear if the OP specifically wants claimants to whom Jesus reacted and "had to up the ante", or just a general mood with a later claimant sufficient evidence. Although then we can say Bar Kochba's claim based in military success was a reaction to Jesus' claim. – user6591 Jul 20 '15 at 19:17
9
+50

I decided to expand the scope of my answer a bit beyond the limits set in the question. I did so for a couple of reasons: the period of Jesus' life is a very narrow range; we don't have much information about alleged messiahs prior to Jesus; and most importantly, I was having too much fun to stop. Therefore, my answer spans the period from the first messianic claim, over a century before Jesus was born, to the destruction of the Second Temple, at which time most of Jesus' peers and followers were killed along with everyone else in Jerusalem.

My primary reference was this site, which I just discovered was mentioned in the previous answer. I assure you that I had no intention of pilfering from another answer. In any case, most of my experience on SE is on the Science Fiction and Fantasy site, and the general rule there is to provide all the relevant information within the text of your answer, rather than simply posting a link to it.

I have added a bit of new information based on my own research. In most cases, my more significant contributions are preceded by the word "Note", but this is not always the case. For the sake of clarity and readability, I have restricted the use of block quotes to ancient texts, but almost everything that begins with "Source", "Story", or "Comment" is from the site linked above.


Judas Maccabeus (167–160 BCE), leader of a successful revolt against Antiochus' Seleucid empire. Many considered him the Messiah because he freed the Jews from foreign domination and many of the events in his life paralleled the prophecies in Daniel chapter eight.

"How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."

"In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power." [Daniel 8]

"Antiochus sacked the temple, outlawed Judaism, and banned temple sacrifices in 167 BC. Judas Maccabeus led a revolt and defeated Antiochus' general Nicanor in 160 BC, about six and a half years or almost exactly 2300 days later. Considering the amazing parallels of these events to the prophecy in Daniel seven, many people considered Judas Maccabeus to be the "Prince of princes" in verse twenty-five.
Wikipedia


Judas, son of Hezekiah (4 BCE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.56 and Jewish Antiquities 17.271-272.

Story: In 4 BCE, king Herod the Great died. Immediately, there were several revolts against the rule of his son and successor, Herod Archelaus.

"There was Judas, the son of that Hezekiah who had been head of the robbers. (This Hezekiah had been a very strong man, and had with great difficulty been caught by Herod.) Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace there, and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there. He became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity, for he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.271-272]"


Simon of Peraea (4 BCE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.57-59 and Jewish Antiquities 17.273-277; Tacitus, Histories, 5.9.

Story: In 4 BCE, king Herod the Great died. Immediately, there were several revolts against the rule of his son and successor, Herod Archelaus. One of the rebels was Simon of Peraea, who claimed the kingship for himself. The fact that was a slave, is of no importance: slaves could be highly educated and civilized people.

There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care. This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than any one else. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.273-276]

The Roman historian Tacitus heard about this incident too, because he writes:

At Herod's death, without waiting for imperial decision, a certain Simon usurped the title of king. He was dealt with by the governor of Syria, Quinctilius Varus, while the Jews were divided up into three kingdoms ruled by Herod's sons.
[Tacitus, Histories]


Athronges, the shepherd (4 BCE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.60-65 and Jewish Antiquities 17.278-284.

Story: In 4 BCE, king Herod the Great died. Immediately, there were several revolts against the rule of his son and successor, Herod Archelaus. One of the rebels was...

Athronges, a person neither eminent by the dignity of his progenitors, nor for any great wealth he possessed. For he had been a mere shepherd, not known by anybody. But because he was a tall man, and excelled others in the strength of his hands, he was so bold as to set up for king.

He had four brothers, who... thought that strength of theirs would support them in retaining the kingdom. Each of these ruled over a band of men of their own (for those that got together to them were very numerous). After he had put a diadem about his head, he assembled a council to debate about what things should be done, and all things were done according to his pleasure. So, this man retained his power a great while; he was also called king, and had nothing to hinder him from doing what he pleased.

Together with his brothers, he slew a great many of both of Roman and of the king's forces, and managed matters with the like hatred to each of them. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.278-284].


John the Baptist (c.28 CE)

Sources: Mark 1.2-9, 6.14-29; Luke 1.5-25, 39-80; Q's 'first Baptist block' = Matthew 3.7-12 || Luke 3.7-9, 15-18; Q's 'second Baptist block' = Luke 7.18-35 || Matthew 11.2-19; Luke's own tradition, 3.10-14; John 1.19-42; Acts 19.1-7; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.116-119.

Note: John the Baptist never claimed to be the messiah, but the gospel of Luke suggests that other people made the claim on his behalf; this may or may not be true, but even Luke says that John was adamant in saying that he was absolutely not the messiah.

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts whether John was the Messiah or not, John answered, saying unto them all, 'I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the straps of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.' [Luke 3.7-20]

And:

[18.116] Now some of the Jews thought that the destructionof Herod's army came from God as a just punishment of what Herod had done against John, who was called the Baptist.

[18.117] For Herod had killed this good man, who had commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, righteousness towards one another and piety towards God. For only thus, in John's opinion, would the baptism he administered be acceptable to God, namely, if they used it to obtain not pardon for some sins but rather the cleansing of their bodies, inasmuch as it was taken for granted that their souls had already been purified by justice.

[18.118] Now many people came in crowds to him, for they were greatly moved by his words. Herod, who feared that the great influence John had over the masses might put them into his power and enable him to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best to put him to death. In this way, he might prevent any mischief John might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late.

[18.119] Accordingly John was sent as a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I already mentioned, and was put to death. Now the Jews thought that the destruction of his army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure with him.
Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities


Jesus of Nazareth

We all know this story.


Judas the Galilean (6 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.433 and Jewish Antiquities 18.1-10 and 18.23; Acts of the apostles 5.37.

Story: The new governor, a man named Coponius, tried to establish new taxes, but a large rebellion was the only result. Its leader was Judas the Galilean, and when the high priest Joazar had shown himself incapable of overcoming the rebellion, the governor of adjacent Syria interfered and conducted the census. This was Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, well known from the census mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (2.2).

There was one Judas, a Galilean, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Zadok, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt.

They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same. So men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.4-6]

Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.23]

Comment: This 'fourth branch of Jewish philosophy' is called Zealotism; the other three sects were the Sadducees, Essenes and Pharisees. Flavius Josephus hated the Zealots. It is unclear what happened exactly. For instance, we do not know whether Judas conducted military operations or was merely the intellectual leader of the revolt. However, the revolt is absent from the catalogue of armed interventions by the Syrian governor of the Roman historian Tacitus (Histories, 5.9); Quirinius' measures were probably harsh, but not military in nature. Josephus does not tell us what became of Judas, but the author of the Acts of the apostles tells us that he perished by the sword.

Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. [Luke, Acts of the apostles 5.36-37]

This is a quotation from a discussion among the Jewish leaders about Jesus. We know that both Jesus and Theudas, together with Judas' (grand)son Menahem, were called Messiahs, and this makes it extremely likely that this title was given to Judas too. An additional argument is that Judas made a bid for national independence, something that was expected from the Messiah. In about 47, Judas' sons Jacob and Simon were arrested and crucified by governor Tiberius Julius Alexander.

Note: See also Menahem, below.


The Samaritan prophet (36 CE)

Source: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.85-87.

Story: In 36 CE, the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, was confronted with a serious rebellion in Samaria.

For a man who made light of mendacity and in all his designs catered to the mob, rallied them, bidding them go in a body with him to Mount Gerizim, which in their belief is the most sacred of mountains. He assured them that on their arrival he would show them the sacred vessels which were buried there, where Moses had deposited them. His hearers, viewing this tale as plausible, appeared in arms. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.85-87]


King Herod Agrippa (44 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 19.338-353 and the Acts of the apostles 1219b-23.

King Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. And he was highly displeased with those from Tyre and Sidon. But they came with one accord to him and, having made Blastus (the king's chamberlain) their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne and delivered an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, 'It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!' And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and gave up the ghost. [Luke, Acts of the apostles 12.19b-23]

This was the story according to Luke, the author of the Acts of the apostles; he seems to delight in the terrible end of the man who had prosecuted the first Christians. The same story is told by Flavius Josephus:

Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea... his flatterers cried out [...] that he was a god; and they added, 'Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.'

Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and he fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, 'I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner.' [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 19.343-350]


Theudas (about 45 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98 and Acts of the apostles 5.36.

Story: Between 44 and 46 CE, one Theudas, about whom Josephus is predictably negative, caused some consternation with what may have been a claim to be the Messiah.

Theudas led his followers in a short-lived revolt. Some writers are of the opinion that he may have said he was the Messiah.

It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. [(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]

And:

36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
[Acts of the Apostles, 5:36]


The Egyptian prophet (between 52 and 58 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259-263 and Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171; Acts of the apostles 21.38.

There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.261-262]

About this time, someone came out of Egypt to Jerusalem, claiming to be a prophet. He advised the crowd to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of a kilometer. He added that he would show them from hence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his command, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those collapsed walls. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. The Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171]

And:

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

37As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”

“Do you speak Greek?” he replied. 38“Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?

39Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”


An unnamed prophet (c.59 CE)

Source: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.188.

Story: The Roman governor Festus, who was -according to recent research- in office from 58 until 60 CE, was confronted with another rebel.

Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.188]


Menahem (66 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.433-450.

Story: According to Flavius Josephus, the scholar Menahem was the son of Judas the Galilean, but on chronological grounds, this seems unlikely. He may have been his grandson. His ministry took place at the beginning of the war against the Romans, when the Jews had not yet expelled their enemies from Jerusalem.

In the mean time, one Menahem, the son of that Judas [see above, Judas the Galilean], who was called the Galilean [...] took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod's armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard, and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition. (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.433-434)

After this, Menahem captured the governor's palace at Jerusalem, laid siege to some minor Roman fortifications and ordered the execution of the high priest. He was now the only leader of the Jewish revolt, and could boast remarkable successes. However, the son of the high priest, Eleasar, was the leader of the temple guard and Menahem's deadly enemy.

The overthrow of the places of strength, and the death of the high priest Ananias, so puffed up Menahem, that he became barbarously cruel; and as he thought he had no antagonist to dispute the management of affairs with him, he was no better than an insupportable tyrant. But Eleasar and his party [...] made an assault upon him in the temple, for he went up thither to worship in a pompous manner, and adorned with royal garments, and had his followers with him in their armor. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.442-448]


Vespasian (67 CE)

Sources: Cassius Dio, Roman History, 65=66.1.4, 65=66.8.1; Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 3.399-404 and 6.310-315; Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 4.5; Tacitus, Annals, 15.47; Tacitus, Histories, 5.13; Zonaras, Epitome 11.16.

Story: The Roman general Vespasian, who attacked the Jews, may seem an odd candidate for a Messiah, but nonetheless, his coup d'état in 70 was regarded as the fulfillment of the famous Balaam-prophecy that

a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter will rise out of Israel. It shall crush the foreheads of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be dispossessed. (Numbers 24.17-19)

There were two comets. One appeared in late 64 (Tacitus, Annals, 15.47), the other, in 69, is mentioned by Cassius Dio (Roman History, 65=66.1.4). Most people thought that the new ruler would be the liberator of Israel, but Flavius Josephus claims to have found the true meaning of the prophecy.

What did the most to induce the Jews to start this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth. The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 6.312-313)

There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome -as afterwards appeared from the event- the people of Judaea took to themselves. (Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 4.5)

The majority [of the Jews] were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, true to the selfish ambitions of mankind, thought that this exalted destiny was reserved for them, and not even their calamities opened their eyes to the truth. (Tacitus, Histories 5.13)


John of Gischala (67-70 CE)

Source: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War books 2-6.

Story: John of Gischala was a personal enemy of Flavius Josephus: in the first stages of the war against the Romans, they had both commanded Jewish armies in northern Galilee. After the Romans had conquered these parts, John and his six thousand men went south, where he managed to control most of Jerusalem and appointed a high priest, a man named Phannias. According to Flavius Josephus, John behaved like a tyrant or despot, which probably may be decoded as a kingly rule. This caused heavy tensions with the Zealots, who occupied the Temple and accepted no other lord than the Lord; John solved the problem with the sword. When Titus had captured Jerusalem, John surrendered. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Josephus abhors from John's...

impiety towards God. For he had unlawful food served at his table and abandoned the established rules of purity of our forefathers [Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 7.264]

which also suggests that John of Gischala was not a particularly pious man. But it is possible that Josephus is simply slandering his former enemy.


Simon bar Giora (69-70 CE)

Source: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War books 4-7.

Story: As a leader of the Jewish revolt against Rome, the Idumean Simon bar Giora was the most important rival of John of Gischala. He was a very competent general who attracted some forty thousand soldiers, promising 'liberty for slaves and rewards for the free', a political program that was sufficient to incur the hate of the conservative Flavius Josephus. The Idumean was invited by that part of the population of Jerusalem that feared the power of John; he entered the city in the spring of 69. There, he ruled as a king, until he was forced to surrender to the Romans:

Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock, and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been. At the first, indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were; but afterward they came nearer to him, and asked him who he was. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 7.26-32]


  • Your answer is dazzlingly done. You clearly put much time and effort into it. You might want to know that Jerry Racow in 50 Jewish Messiahs: The Untold Life Stories of Fifty Jewish Messiahs Since Jesus and How They Changed the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Worlds (2002) in an appendix states: 'Judah Maccabee was not descended from the Davidic line (or even from the Davidic priestly line of Zadok), and never claimed to be the Messiah.' And he 'does not appear to have developed followers who believed he was the Messiah.' – Clifford Durousseau Nov 29 '17 at 11:11
4

Here is a list of a number of people who made the claim.

Here is some info on historical records of one earlier claimant.

The linked website quotes this text from Josephus:

There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.261-262]

The most famous named one was later, when Shabbtai Tzvi made the claim. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbatai_Zevi

  • 1
    That first link is heretical. First, it basically claims that the idea of a religious warrior messia was invented. Then based on this he labels any military leader, successful or not, religious or not, as a messiah. No wonder he's got that long list. It's ludicrous. Removing that offensive part and leaving the rest would make for a good answer. – user6591 Jul 20 '15 at 18:14
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    His list includes a wider cast but his comments make it clear which ones (might have) had the label of messiah attached. To delete that list would mean to lose all those who would answer the question. If I can find a winnowed list, I'll replace it then. – rosends Jul 20 '15 at 18:20
  • @user6591 - I think you're misunderstanding the article. The author isn't saying that any of these people are messiahs, let alone all of them. He's simply saying that these people may have been called the messiah, either by themselves or by other people. I can't find the part you interpret as saying that the concept of the "religious warrior messiah" was invented. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 17 '15 at 0:09

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