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Leadership and ConflictTensions in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History and Culture$
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Marc Saperstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764494

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.001.0001

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Messianic Leadership in Jewish History: Movements and Personalities

Messianic Leadership in Jewish History: Movements and Personalities

(p.291) Chapter Thirteen Messianic Leadership in Jewish History: Movements and Personalities
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter is a survey of the dynamics of messianic movements over a period of some two millennia. The most dramatic tests of leadership in the history of the Jewish diaspora have come when an individual presented himself as playing a central role in the process that would bring an end to the exile of the diaspora. The messianic figure — whether claiming to be the actual messiah from the line of David or a prophet or forerunner of the messiah — transcended the accepted categories by which authority has been asserted and expressed in post-biblical Jewish life. However, rooted in traditional texts and expectations, the ideology of the incipient movement may have been, for the individual at its core this claim was by its very nature a radical departure from the norms, a revolutionary challenge to the status quo. This placed the more traditional Jewish leadership, especially the rabbinic authorities, who were structurally bound to a conservative position in society, in a difficult situation.

Keywords:   messiah, messianic figure, messianic movements, rabbinical leadership, traditional Jewish leadership, exile, Jewish diaspora, messianic leadership, post-biblical Jewish life

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