The purpose of this paper is to determine bona fide messianic movements of the first century. Many have written articles using the term “messianic” or “messianic movement,” but few seem to define the terms. Other terms such as “messianic pretenders” and “messianic consciousness” are also used without definition. In order to avoid the ambiguity that comes with using undefined terms, I will attempt to define the terms “messiah” and “messianic movement” using criteria drawn mainly from Jewish writings of the period 200BC to 100AD. This will allow us to determine messianic expectations that were prevalent among Jewish people at the time under discussion. I will then use the common expectations as criteria for determining bona fide “messianic movements” of the first century.
It is the thesis of this paper that there are seven figures that led Jewish movements which can be considered “messianic” between the years of 4 BC and 100 AD. These movements were led by
(1) Judas, son of Ezekias
(2) Simon, a slave of King Herod
(3) Anthronges, a shepherd
(4) Jesus of Nazareth
(5) Menahem, a descendent of Judas of Galilee
(6) John of Gischala
(7) Simon bar Giona.