Definition Of Theocracy Government
A theocracy government occurs when an earthly state is ruled by a divinity, either in a personal embodiment, or more frequently, through a human representative. Although religious in its basis, it can still be deemed a political system, since said representative, for instance a church, can take the place of a civil government. Even in the cases where there are both a religious and an administrative hierarchies, the latter is submitted to the former.
The Greek definition of theocracy was “rule by gods,” and it was first employed in the first Century A.D. by Josephus Flavius to describe the form of government practiced by the Jews. In its purest state, the theocracy definition involves a leader who is believed to be in direct communication with a god. Moses, for example, was told to free the Children of Israel and become their leader by a burning bush representing his god. The tent commandments were also revealed to him by way of divine revelation.
There have been many samples of theocratic governments through history, such as the king of Pharaonic Egypt, especially since Ramses the Great was recognized as a living god. In ancient Rome, the emperor was usually worshiped as a deity, until Constantine I converted to Christianity. This was also the case in China and Japan, as recently as 1911 and 1946 respectively. The city-states of the Mayas and the Inca Empires of pre-Columbian Peru are both examples of that fit the theocracy definition.
Currently, the Islamic states ruled by the Sharia (sacred law) and the Iranian government led by an Islamic cleric are instances of theocracy governments in the 21st Century. However, a very old yet well known contemporary theocracy is undoubtedly the Holy See. Located in the Vatican City since 1929, although in existence since early Christian times, it is recognized as a sovereign state that diplomatic relationships can be held with, and ambassadors can be accredited to. The Holy See, or Sacta Sedes, is the very definition of theocracy, not only being the Catholic church governing body, but also its bishop, the pope, is the official head of the Vatican City State and its 800 plus citizens.
Within the Vatican political system, the Pope is the head of government, and all the high ranking state positions are held by members of the clergy. The pontifical Swiss guard (founded in 1506 by Julius II, earlier popes merely employed Swiss mercenaries) are the pope’s bodyguards and the Vatican’s de facto military, while the Corpo Della Gendarmeria is the acting police force. The economy is supported by the sale of museum tickets, stamps, coins, medals and other assorted tourist souvenirs. Furthermore, the Vatican bank’s ATM may be the only such machine in the world with instructions in Latin. The Vatican theocracy government went from a 6.7 million euros surplus in 2007 to a 15 million euros deficit in 2008.