Scot N. Moir


This article seeks to understand Jesus historically and categorize him sociologically as a charismatic revolutionary prophet according to the norms of First Century Jewish society and Max Weber’s Theories of Legitimate Rule. We begin by noting the apparent risk of historical Jesus studies turning into scholarly self-portraiture and how the move back to a genuinely historic Judaism (as in Meyer [1979] or Wright [1996]) is the only way to avoid it. Arguing that the primary texts of the Gospels are reliable sources of historical information about Jesus, we then move on to a sociohistorical reading of Luke 4:16-30, from which we can observe Jesus participating in a First Century Jewish worship community and a recognizably Palestinian Honor/Shame society. Moreover, we observe that Jesus’ announcement (that the end of Israel’s exile was being accomplished through him) would be understood in that context as a prophetic statement, thus locating Jesus on the religious map of First Century Judaism as a prophet. Once we have recognized Jesus’ First Century status as a prophet, we can utilize Weber’s categories to define Jesus sociologically as a charismatic prophet, a categorization we nuance further by applying Swenson’s (2009) classification of revolutionary.



historical Jesus, N.T. Wright, Max Weber, charismatic, revolutionary, prophetic, honour/shame, Judaism