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Charisma (meaning "gift," "of/from/favored by God/the divine") is a trait found in individuals whose personalities are characterized by a powerful charm and magnetism (attractiveness). and markedly superior capabilities of interpersonal communication and persuasion. One who is charismatic is said to be capable of using their personal being, rather than just speech or logic alone, to influence others in a personal and direct manner, and effectively communicate an argument or concept to them. It is thus a subjective rather than an objective judgment about such persons and falls into the domain of the irrational rather than rational responses.



In the New Testament, Greek charisma occurs in the context of the free grace offered by God to believers, expressing that grace is given freely, without any merit or entitlement on the part of the recipient. The KJV translates "free gift" (e.g. Romans 5:15) or simply "gift" (e.g. Romans 1:11). Biblical use of the term is limited to the epistles attributed to Paul of Tarsus, besides a single occurrence in the First Epistle of Peter.

The term charisma was introduced in scholarly usage by German sociologist Max Weber.[1] He defined charismatic authority to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional (feudal) authority and legal or rational authority. According to Weber, charisma is defined thus:

...a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which one is "set apart" from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.[2]

Pierre Bourdieu did not have a very different position from that of Weber's, but he stressed that a leader has charisma only if other people accept that one has it. Bourdieu argued that charisma usually depends on an "inaugural act" such as a decisive battle or moving speech after which the charismatic person will be regarded as such.[citation needed]

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