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Original Research

Leadership in the world of the Bible: (De)institutionalisation as an ongoing process

Y. Dreyer

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 23, No 3 (2002), 625-641. doi: 10.4102/ve.v23i3.1228

Submitted: 07 August 2002
Published:  07 August 2002


This article discusses the development of leadership in the biblical world in light of structuration theory. The use of the structuration theory is embedded in the theoretical work of Max Weber. Max Weber distinguishes three types of authority: legal, traditional and charismatic authority. In order to differentiate between the more nurturing and the more institutionalised aspects of authority (with the innate possibility of the abuse of power), Latin, rather than Western languages, provides the most useful terminology. The article traces the development from auctoritas (nurturing authority) to potestas (coercive power). It focuses on how authority manifested in the Near- and Middle-East, the Hellenistic Emperor Cult and early Christianity. The aim is to explain the ways in which power and authority function in society by reflecting on the development from charismatic to institutionalised leadership. The potential danger that the message of Jesus can be adapted to the power structures of the world, is highlighted. Deinstitutionalisation is a postmodern demystifying process, by means of which church and society can be restructured today.

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Author affiliations

Y. Dreyer, University of Pretoria, South Africa



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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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