The Jedi Master in Star Wars Lore

Defining the Highest Jedi Rank in the Star Wars Universe

Jedi Master Yoda in Episode II
Lucasfilm Ltd.

A Jedi Master, as the name implies, is one who has attained mastery of the Force. Although the first Jedi Master to appear in Star Wars was Obi-Wan Kenobi in "A New Hope," the title wasn't explicitly used until Luke trained under Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back."

The Title of Jedi Master in the Star Wars Universe

Jedi Master was the highest rank in the Jedi Order, and as such was reserved for the most talented. A Jedi Master needed not only superior combat skills but also superior knowledge and wisdom in the ways of the Force. Even Jedi as powerful as Anakin Skywalker might not become Jedi Masters if the Council felt they were not mature and balanced enough.

Jedi Masters During the Period of the Jedi Council (4,000 BBY–19 BBY)

During the periods when the Jedi Council had centralized control over the Order, which was most of the time between 4,000 BBY and the Jedi Purge of 19 BBY, the Council had strict standards of who could become a Jedi Master. The most common test was to train more than one Padawan to Knighthood.

The Council could also bestow the title of Master on someone who passed a significant Trial, much like the Jedi Trials to become a Jedi Knight, or performed an extraordinary service for the Republic. The Jedi High Council was comprised of 12 Jedi Masters, with one of them having the title of Grand Master. It required a consensus of the council to grant the title of Jedi Master.

With the exception of Anakin Skywalker (and, temporarily, Ki-Adi-Mundi), one had to be a Jedi Master to get a seat on the Jedi Council. Anakin Skywalker joined the council as a representative of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, who secretly was Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord, but was not granted the title of Jedi Master. The council hoped to use Skywalker to spy on Palpatine.

Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Master Title

Before 4,000 BBY and after Luke Skywalker reestablished the Jedi Order, the process of Jedi training was much more informal and decentralized. In the early days of the Jedi Order, Jedi Knights would declare themselves Jedi Masters once they felt they deserved it, particularly after fighting the Sith. This had great potential for abuse and was strongly discouraged by the Jedi Council.

Luke declared himself a Jedi Master before starting his Jedi Academy since there was no Jedi Council at the time to give him the title. This action drew criticism, however, because Luke had only trained for a few years. The standard of training apprentices to Knighthood was not generally used in the New Jedi Order; instead, Jedi gained the title of Master either based on Luke's personal assessment of their skill or because of their extraordinary service to the New Republic.

Notable Jedi Masters

  • Yoda was a Jedi Master for 800 years. He held the title of Grand Master during the Clone Wars. He went into hiding on Dagobah after the great purge when most Jedi were killed by Darth Sidious.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi was a Jedi Master, having been awarded the title for his military successes in the Outer Rim during the Clone Wars. He was named to the Jedi Council.
  • Mace Windu and Shaak Ti were also seen on the Jedi Council at the time of the purge.
  • Qui-Gon Jinn was a Jedi Master who did not serve on the council.

Resources and Further Reading

  • "The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force" by Daniel Wallace (2010)