This is a list of 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
- Main article: Jewish messianic claimants. Note that for messiahs lacking articles, there may be more detail here.
The Jewish Messiah originally meant a divinely-appointed king; David and Cyrus the Great and Alexander the Great are examples of such. Later, especially after the failure of Bar Kokhba’s revolt, it came to represent a figure who would deliver the Jews from oppression and usher in a new world.
- Judas of Galilee (?), son of Hezekiah/Ezekias, member of the Zealots faction who led a bloody revolt against a Roman census in AD 6. (JA18)
- Simon (ca. 4 BC), a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled.
- Athronges (ca. 3 BC)
- Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 4 BC – AD 30), a wandering prophet and teacher who was crucified by the Romans; Jews who believed him to be the Messiah called him “Christ” and became the first Christians.
- Theudas (? – 46), who attempted a short-lived revolt against the Romans before being slain. (JA20.5.1)
- “Egyptian Prophet”, c.55, (an allusion to Moses), with 30,000 unarmed Jews doing The Exodus reenactment massacred by Procurator Antonius Felix (JW2.13.5, JA20.8.6, Acts 21:38)
- Menahem ben Judah (?), allegedly son of Judas of Galilee, partook in a revolt against Agrippa II before being slain by a rival Zealot leader.
- Simon bar Kokhba (?- ca. 135), founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the Second Jewish-Roman War.
- Moses of Crete (?), who in about 440-470, convinced the Jews of Crete to attempt to walk into the sea to return to Israel; he disappeared after that disaster.
- 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.
- Yudghan (?), a disciple of Abu ‘Isa who continued the faith after Isa was slain.
- Serene (?), who around 720 claimed to be the Messiah and advocated expulsion of Muslims and relaxing various rabbinic laws before being arrested; he then recanted.
- David Alroy (?), born in Kurdistan, who around 1160 agitated against the caliph before being assassinated.
- Nissim ben Abraham (?), active around 1295.
- Moses Botarel of Cisneros (?), active around 1413; claimed to be a sorcerer able to combine the names of God.
- Asher Lemmlein (?), a German near Venice who proclaimed himself a forerunner of the Messiah in 1502.
- David Reubeni (1490-1541?) and Solomon Molcho (1500-1532), adventurers who travelled in Portugal, Italy, and Turkey; Molcho was eventually burned at the stake by the Pope.
- A mostly unknown Czech Jew from around the 1650s.
- Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676), an Ottoman Jew who claimed to be the Messiah, but then converted to Islam; still has followers today in the Donmeh.
- Barukhia Russo (Osman Baba), successor of Sabbatai Zevi.
- Jacob Querido (?-1690), claimed to be the new incarnation of Sabbatai; later converted to Islam and led the Donmeh.
- Miguel Cardoso (1630-1706), another successor of Sabbatai who claimed to be the “Messiah ben Ephraim.”
- Mordecai Mokia (1650-1729), “the Rebuker,” another person who proclaimed himself Messiah after Sabbatai’s death.
- Löbele Prossnitz (?-1750), a proven fraud who nevertheless 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.
- Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), a Lubavitch rabbi who tried to “prepare the way” for the Messiah; some followers believe him to be the Messiah
Christian messiah claimants
Some verses in the Bible suggest 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.
- Simon Magus, mid first century
- Montanus, who claimed to be the promised Paraclete, mid second century
- Adalbert, a bishop who claimed miraculous powers circa 744; he was excommunicated by the Pope.
- Tanchelm of Antwerp (ca. 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.
- John Nichols Thom (1799-1838), a Cornish tax rebel.
- Hong Xiuquan of China (1812-1864), claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus.
- Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), born Shiite, he claimed to be the promised one of all religions, and founded the Bahá’í Faith.
- Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975), Messiah of the Rastafari movement. Never claimed himself to be messiah, but was proclaimed by Leonard Howell, amongst others.
- Georges-Emest Roux (1903-1981), the “Christ of Montfavet,” founder of the Eglise Chrétienne Universelle.
- Sun Myung Moon (b. 1920), claimant of being the Second Coming of Christ and founder of the Unification Church.
- Yahweh ben Yahweh (b. 1935), 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; currently out on parole.
- Michael Travesser, born Wayne Bent (b. 1941). Claims to be the beginning of the Second Coming of Jesus.
- Iesu Matayoshi (b. 1944), in 1997 he established the World Economic Community Party based on his conviction that he is the God and Christ.
- Jung Myung Seok (b. 1945), claims to be the Second Coming of Christ, founder of Providence Church, and fugitive wanted for rape among other crimes
- Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (b. 1946), Puerto Rican preacher who has claimed to be “the Man Jesus Christ”, who is indwelled with the same spirit that dwelled in Jesus. Founder of the Growing in grace” ministries.
- Inri Cristo (b. 1948) of Curitiba, Brazil, a claimant to be the second Jesus.
- David Icke (b. 1952), who has described himself as “the son of God,” and a “channel for the Christ spirit.”
- David Koresh (Vernon Wayne Howell) (1959-1993), leader of the Branch Davidians.
- Maria Devi Christos (b. 1960), founder of the Great White Brotherhood.
- Sergei Torop (b. 1961) who started to call himself “Vissarion,” founder of the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia.
Muslim messiah claimants
- Syed Mohammad Jaunpuri (1443-1505), who travelled Northeastern India; he influenced the Mahdavia and the Zikris.
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, ‘the Promised Messiah’ return of Jesus, founder of the Ahmadiyya religious movement.
- Muhammad Ahmad (“The Mad Mahdi”) (1844-1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottomans, and founded a short-lived empire in Sudan.
- Báb (1819-1850), who declared himself to be the promised Mahdi in Shiraz, Iran in 1844.
- Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan of Somaliland (1864-1920), who engaged in military conflicts from 1900 to 1920.
- Rashad Khalifa (1935-1990), a numerologist who analyzed the Qu’ran; claimed to be the “Messenger of the Covenant” and founded the “Submitters International” movement before being murdered.
- Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936-1980), who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979 and declared his son-in-law the Mahdi.
- Dia Abdul-Zahra Leader of the Soldiers of Heaven. Died in the Battle of Najaf with Iraqi Forces in January 2007.
Other/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.
- André Matsoua (1899-1942), Congolese founder of Amicale, proponents of which subsequently adopted him as Messiah.
- World Teacher (unknown), claims to be the Maitreya and promised one of all religions; promoted by New Age activist Benjamin Creme and his organization, Share International.
- Jewish messianism
- Jewish Messiah claimants
- List of people considered to be avatars
- List of charismatic leaders
- List of Buddha claimants
- List of people considered to be deities
- List of people who have claimed to be Jesus
- God complex
- ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Messiah: Alexander as Messiah
- ^ A page from the Jewish Museum of Prague about Solomon Molcho mentions this nameless Czech Jew.
- Hogue, John Messiahs: The Visions and Prophecies for the Second Coming (1999) Elements Books ISBN 1-86204-549-6
- The Jewish Encyclopedia, a public-domain work hosted at www.jewishencyclopedia.com/