Max Weber’s charismatic prophets

History of the Human Sciences 27 (1):3-20 (2014)


Most accounts of Weber’s notion of charisma follow his own explicit comments and seek its origins in the writings of Rudolf Sohm. While I acknowledge the validity of this, I follow Weber’s suggestions and locate the charismatic forces in the political and ethical conduct and beliefs of certain Old Testament prophets, specifically Amos, Jeremiah and Isaiah. Their emphasis on political justice and ethical fairness, coupled with their unwavering belief in the power of prophecy, infuse Weber’s conception of charisma and in crucial ways contribute to the formation of his notion of the modern political leader.

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