The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Israel

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This page contains a list of the greatest Israeli Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 2,272 Religious Figures, 57 of which were born in Israel. This makes Israel the birth place of the 8th most number of Religious Figures behind United States and Spain.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Israeli Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Israeli Religious Figures is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Israeli Religious Figures.

Photo of Jesus

1. Jesus (-4 - 33)

With an HPI of 95.52, Jesus is the most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 249 different languages on wikipedia.

Jesus (Greek: Ἰησοῦς, romanized: Iēsoûs, likely from Hebrew/Aramaic: יֵשׁוּעַ‎, romanized: Yēšūaʿ; c. 4 BC – AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited messiah (the Christ), prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically. The quest for the historical Jesus has yielded some uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament reflects the historical Jesus, as the only records of Jesus' life are contained in the Gospels. Jesus was a Galilean Jew, who was baptized by John the Baptist and began his own ministry. His teachings were initially conserved by oral transmission and he himself was often referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. He was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the early Church.Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Commonly, Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A small minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural. The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25 as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The widely used calendar era "AD", from the Latin anno Domini ("year of the Lord"), and the equivalent alternative "CE", are based on the approximate birthdate of Jesus.Jesus is also revered outside of Christianity in religions such as Manichaeism, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith. Manicheanism was the first organised religion outside of Christianity to venerate Jesus, viewing him as an important prophet. In Islam, Jesus (often referred to by his Quranic name ʿĪsā) is considered the penultimate prophet of God and the messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, but was neither God nor a son of God. The Quran states that Jesus never claimed to be divine. Most Muslims do not believe that he was killed or crucified, but that God raised him into Heaven while he was still alive. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill messianic prophecies, and was neither divine nor resurrected.

Photo of Mary, mother of Jesus

2. Mary, mother of Jesus (-100 - 100)

With an HPI of 93.21, Mary, mother of Jesus is the 2nd most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 136 different languages.

According to the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament, Mary was a first-century Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Joseph and the virgin mother of Jesus. The Quran also describes Mary as a virgin. According to Christian theology, Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin, and accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.Mary has been venerated since early Christianity, and is considered by millions to be the holiest and greatest saint because of her extraordinary virtues as seen at the Annunciation by the archangel Gabriel. She is said to have miraculously appeared to believers many times over the centuries. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Theotokos (Mother of God; Θεοτόκος). There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas, namely her status as the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, and her Assumption into heaven. Many Protestants minimize Mary's role within Christianity, basing their argument on the alleged lack of biblical support for any beliefs other than the virgin birth.Mary also has the highest position in Islam among all women. She is mentioned in the Quran more often than in the New Testament, where two of the longer chapters of the Quran are named after her and her family.According to Catholic and Eastern Christian teachings, at the end of her earthly life, God raised Mary's body into heaven; this is known in the Christian West as the Assumption of Mary.

Photo of Saint Peter

3. Saint Peter (-1 - 67)

With an HPI of 92.98, Saint Peter is the 3rd most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 119 different languages.

Saint Peter (died between AD 64 and 68), also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon ( (listen)), Cephas (), or Peter the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and one of the first leaders of the early Church. According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. He is traditionally counted as the first bishop of Rome‍—‌or pope‍—‌and also by Eastern Christian tradition as the first patriarch of Antioch. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Diocese of Rome, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his successors. According to Catholic teaching, Jesus promised Peter a special position in the Church.In the New Testament, Peter appears repeatedly and prominently in all four gospels as well as the Acts of the Apostles. He is the brother of Saint Andrew, and both brothers were fishermen. The Gospel of Mark in particular was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter's preaching and eyewitness memories. He is also mentioned, under either the name Peter or Cephas, in Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Galatians. The New Testament also includes two general epistles, First Peter and Second Peter, that are traditionally attributed to him, but modern scholarship generally rejects the Petrine authorship of both.Outside of the New Testament, several apocryphal books were later attributed to him, in particular the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Judgment of Peter, although scholars believe these works to be pseudoepigrapha.

Photo of John the Baptist

4. John the Baptist (-20 - 31)

With an HPI of 90.30, John the Baptist is the 4th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 103 different languages.

John the Baptist (c. 1st century BC – c. AD 30) was an itinerant preacher active in the area of the Jordan River in the early 1st century AD. He is also known as John the Forerunner in Christianity, John the Immerser in some Baptist Christian traditions, and Prophet Yaḥyā in Islam. He is sometimes alternatively referred to as John the Baptizer.John is mentioned by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus and revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Baháʼí Faith, the Druze Faith, and Mandaeism. He is considered to be a prophet of God by all of these faiths, and is honoured as a saint in many Christian denominations. According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and the Gospels portray John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming and prepares the people for Jesus' ministry. Jesus himself identifies John as "Elijah who is to come", which is a direct reference to the Book of Malachi (Malachi 4:5), that has been confirmed by the angel who announced John's birth to his father, Zechariah. According to the Gospel of Luke, John and Jesus were relatives.Some scholars maintain that John belonged to the Essenes, a semi-ascetic Jewish sect who expected a messiah and practiced ritual baptism. John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his pre-messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus, and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John.According to the New Testament, John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime around AD 30 after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife Phasaelis and then unlawfully wedding Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I. Josephus also mentions John in the Antiquities of the Jews and states that he was executed by order of Herod Antipas in the fortress at Machaerus. Followers of John existed well into the 2nd century AD, and some proclaimed him to be the messiah. In modern times, the chief followers of John the Baptist are the Mandaeans, an ethnoreligious group who believe that he is their greatest and final prophet.

Photo of Elijah

5. Elijah (-1000 - -900)

With an HPI of 88.11, Elijah is the 5th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.

Elijah ( ih-LY-jə; Hebrew: אֵלִיָּהוּ‎, ʾĒlīyyāhū, meaning "My God is Yahweh/YHWH") or Greek form Elias ( ih-LY-əs) was, according to the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible, a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BCE). In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. God also performed many miracles through Elijah, including resurrection, bringing fire down from the sky, and entering heaven alive "by fire". He is also portrayed as leading a school of prophets known as "the sons of the prophets". Following his ascension, Elisha, his disciple and most devoted assistant, took over his role as leader of this school. The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah's return "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD", making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. References to Elijah appear in Sirach, the New Testament, the Mishnah and Talmud, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Baháʼí writings. In Judaism, Elijah's name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah rite that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover Seder and the brit milah (ritual circumcision). He appears in numerous stories and references in the Haggadah and rabbinic literature, including the Babylonian Talmud. The Christian New Testament notes that some people thought that Jesus was, in some sense, Elijah, but it also makes clear that John the Baptist is "the Elijah" who was promised to come in Malachi 3:1; 4:5. According to accounts in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Elijah appeared with Moses during the Transfiguration of Jesus. In Islam, Elijah or Ilyas appears in the Quran as a prophet and messenger of God, where his biblical narrative of preaching against the worshipers of Baal is recounted in a concise form. Due to his importance to Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, Elijah has been venerated as the patron saint of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1752.

Photo of Solomon

6. Solomon (-1011 - -931)

With an HPI of 88.01, Solomon is the 6th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.

Solomon (; Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה‎, Šəlōmō), also called Jedidiah (Hebrew יְדִידְיָהּ‎ Yəḏīḏəyāh), was, according to the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, a fabulously wealthy and wise king of the United Kingdom of Israel who succeeded his father, David. The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are about 970–931 BCE, normally given in alignment with the dates of David's reign. He is described as king of the United Monarchy, which broke apart into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah shortly after his death. Following the split, his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone.According to the Talmud, Solomon is one of the 48 Jewish prophets. In the Quran, he is considered to be a major Islamic prophet, and Muslims generally refer to him as Sulaiman ibn Dawud (Arabic: سُلَيْمَان بْن دَاوُوْد‎, lit. 'Solomon, son of David'). The Hebrew Bible identifies Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem, beginning in the fourth year of his reign using the vast wealth he and his father had accumulated; he dedicated the temple to Yahweh, the God of Israel. Solomon is portrayed as great in wisdom, wealth and power beyond either of the previous kings of the country. He is the subject of many other later references and legends, most notably in the 1st-century apocryphal work known as the Testament of Solomon. In the New Testament, he is portrayed as a teacher of wisdom excelled by Jesus, and as arrayed in glory, but excelled by "the lilies of the field". In later years, in mostly non-biblical circles, Solomon also came to be known as a magician and an exorcist, with numerous amulets and medallion seals dating from the Hellenistic period invoking his name.

Photo of Saint Joseph

7. Saint Joseph (-100 - 100)

With an HPI of 87.17, Saint Joseph is the 7th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 81 different languages.

Joseph (Hebrew: יוֹסֵף‎, romanized: Yosef; Greek: Ἰωσήφ, romanized: Ioséph) was a 1st-century man of Nazareth who, according to the canonical Gospels, was married to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and was the legal father of Jesus.The Gospels also name some brothers of Jesus, who may also have been Joseph's sons; the Gospel of James, an apocryphal work of the late 2nd century, theorized these as the sons of Joseph from an earlier marriage. This position is still held in the Orthodox churches, but the Western church holds to Jerome's argument that both Joseph and Mary must have been lifelong virgins and that the "brothers" must have been his cousins. Perspectives on Joseph as a historical figure are distinguished from a theological reading of the Gospel texts.Joseph is venerated as Saint Joseph in the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and Anglicanism. His feast day is observed by some Lutherans. In Catholic traditions, Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of workers and is associated with various feast days. The month of March is dedicated to Saint Joseph. Pope Pius IX declared him to be both the patron and the protector of the Catholic Church, in addition to his patronages of the sick and of a happy death, due to the belief that he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary. Joseph has become patron of various dioceses and places. He is venerated with the title of Most Chaste, according to the dogma of perpetual virginity of Mary. A specific veneration is also tributed to the most Chaste and Pure Heart of the parents of the Lord Jesus.Several venerated images of Saint Joseph have been granted a decree of canonical coronation by a pontiff. Religious iconography often depicts him with lilys or spikenard. With the present-day growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centers for studying it have been formed.

Photo of Mary Magdalene

8. Mary Magdalene (-10 - 100)

With an HPI of 86.09, Mary Magdalene is the 8th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

Mary Magdalene, sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles and more than any other woman in the gospels, other than Jesus's family. Mary's epithet Magdalene may mean that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Roman Judea. The Gospel of Luke 8:2–3 lists Mary Magdalene as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in Mark 16. In all the four canonical gospels, Mary Magdalene was a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she was also present at his burial. All the four gospels identified her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women which includes Jesus's mother, as the first to witness the empty tomb, and the first to witness Jesus's resurrection.For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is known in some Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary Magdalene is a central figure in later Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. These texts portray Mary Magdalene as an apostle, as Jesus's closest and most beloved disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic texts, or Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with another disciple, Peter, due to her sex and Peter's jealousy of special teachings given to her. Gospel of Philip's text where she is described as Jesus's companion, as the disciple Jesus loved the most and the one Jesus kissed on the mouth, has led some people to conclude that she and Jesus were in a relationship. Some fiction portrays her as the wife of Jesus. The portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute began in 591 when Pope Gregory I conflated Mary Magdalene, who was introduced in Luke 8:2, with Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:39) and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anointed Jesus's feet in Luke 7:36–50. Pope Gregory's Easter sermon resulted in a widespread belief that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Then elaborate medieval legends from western Europe emerged which told exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as of her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was still a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation, and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church emphasized Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance. In 1969, Pope Paul VI removed the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" from the General Roman Calendar, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. In 2016 Pope Francis raised the level of liturgical memory on July 22 from memorial to feast, and for her to be referred as the "Apostle of the apostles". Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions.

Photo of Andrew the Apostle

9. Andrew the Apostle (-6 - 70)

With an HPI of 86.02, Andrew the Apostle is the 9th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.

Andrew the Apostle (Greek: Ἀνδρέας Andreas; Aramaic: ܐܢܕܪܐܘܣ), also called Saint Andrew, was an apostle of Jesus according to the New Testament. He is the brother of Saint Peter. He is referred to in the Orthodox tradition as the First-Called (Greek: Πρωτόκλητος, Prōtoklētos). According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Photo of James, son of Zebedee

10. James, son of Zebedee (1 - 44)

With an HPI of 85.69, James, son of Zebedee is the 10th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

James the Great, also known as James, son of Zebedee or as Saint James the Greater (Aramaic: ܝܥܩܘܒ ܒܪ ܙܒܕܝ; Arabic: يعقوب; Hebrew: בן זבדי יַעֲקֹב‎, Yaʿăqōḇ; Latin: Iacobus Maximus; Greek: Ἰάκωβος; died AD 44), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. Saint James is the patron saint of Spain and, according to tradition, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

Pantheon has 57 people classified as religious figures born between 1900 BC and 1937. Of these 57, 1 (1.75%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living religious figures include Michel Sabbah. The most famous deceased religious figures include Jesus, Mary, mother of Jesus, and Saint Peter. As of October 2020, 1 new religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Moses ben Jacob Cordovero.

Living Religious Figures

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Deceased Religious Figures

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2020)

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Which Religious Figures were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 3 most globally memorable Religious Figures since 1700.