What is the base of religious leadership and how has it changed over the centuries? This volume presents a range of actors, both men and women, who, in a variety of historical contexts, claimed to be the living voices or intermediaries of God. The essays analyse the foundation of their authoritative claims and ask how and how far they succeeded in securing obedience from the Christians to whom they addressed their message. Religious authority is not understood as a monolithic entity but as something derived from many sources and claims. Whatever the national background, whether ordained or supposedly appointed through divine intervention, the histories of the people portrayed underline the long-term manifestations and multifaceted nature of Christian identity.