Quick Reference

(literally ‘government by God’). The Greek term was coined by Josephus to denote the political organization of the Jewish people. Before the institution of kingship in Israel, God was regarded as the supreme ruler of the Hebrews, whose laws constituted both religious and civil obligations; even after the election of a king, the kings were vice-regents of God. A more complete theocracy was created after the Exile, when the monarchy disappeared. A theocratic form of government was known to many ancient peoples and is intrinsic in Islam. An attempt to realize the theocratic ideal was made by J. Calvin at Geneva.

Subjects: Religion.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »