Herodians

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The Herodians were a sect or party mentioned in the New Testament as having on two occasions — first in Galilee, and later in Jerusalem — manifested an unfriendly disposition towards Jesus (Mark 3:6, 12:13; Matthew 22:16; cf. also Mark 8:15, Luke 13:31-32, Acts 4:27).

In each of these cases their name is coupled with that of the Pharisees. In Mark 3:6, the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus in response to his actions in healing on the Sabbath day, and drew the Herodians into their conspiracy. In Mark 8:15, Jesus recognised that the alliance of Pharisees and Herod (i.e. the Herodians) was a source of danger to him. In Mark 12:13ff, the Pharisees and Herodians together, having sent a delegation to investigate and challenge what Jesus was teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem, jointly flattered Jesus for his honesty and impartiality, then questioning him politically in relation to his attitude to paying Roman taxes. Jesus did appear (from Mark 12:17) to have impressed the Herodians with his reply: "... they marveled (εθαυμασαν) at Him".

According to many interpreters, the courtiers or soldiers of Herod Antipas ("Milites Herodis," Jerome) were intended; others argue that the Herodians were probably a public political party, who distinguished themselves from the two great historical parties of post-exilian Judaism (the Pharisees and Sadducees) by the fact that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, the King of the Jews, and to his dynasty (cf. such formations as "Caesariani," "Pompeiani").

It is possible that, to gain adherents, the Herodian party may have been in the habit of representing that the establishment of a Herodian Dynasty would be favourable to the realization of the theocracy; and this in turn may account for Pseudo-Tertullian's (Adversis Omnes Haereses [1,1)) allegation that the Herodians regarded Herod himself as the Messiah. The sect was called by the Rabbis Boethusians as being friendly to the family of Boethus, whose daughter Mariamne was one of Herod the Great's wives.

Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul the Apostle was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[1] Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa."[2] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul had written, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.

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  1. ^ See Paul as Herodian, JHC 3/1 (Spring, 1996), 110-122. http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/eisenman.html
  2. ^ Antiquities, Book XX, Chapter 9:4. http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-20.htm

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