BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Herod Antipas in the Bible and Beyond

The ruler of Galilee in Jesus’ time

Although he ruled as tetrarch over Galilee in Jesus’ time, we hear relatively little about Herod Antipas in the Bible and other ancient sources of the period. Was Herod Antipas (depicted in a painting above) an aggressive tyrant like his father, Herod the Great, or was he simply a perplexed ruler who didn’t know what to do about Jesus and his followers? Photo: SEF/Art Resource, NY.

Herod Antipas is known mostly as the Herod for whom Salome danced and who ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded.

Herod Antipas ruled Galilee in Jesus’ time. He succeeded his father, Herod the Great, and served as tetrarch (appointed by the emperor Augustus to rule over one quarter of his father’s kingdom) from 4 B.C. until 39 A.D., almost exactly the lifetime of Jesus. Yet there is relatively little about Antipas in the Bible.

According to Biblical scholar Morten Hørning Jensen in “Antipas—The Herod Jesus Knew” in the September/October 2012 issue of BAR, in the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Herod Antipas’s attitude toward Jesus is somewhat vague and indecisive:

In Matthew and Mark, Herod Antipas is ambivalent with regard to Jesus. Both gospels quote Herod Antipas as saying, after he has had John the Baptist executed, that Jesus is actually John resurrected (Matthew 14:1–2; Mark 6:14–16). Both gospels state that Antipas was actually saddened by Salome’s request to have John beheaded (Matthew 14:9; Mark 6:26), and they seem to blame Salome and her mother, Herodias, for John’s execution. Bound by his own oath, Antipas is nevertheless forced to fulfill his promise to Salome.

At the same time, however, we get the feeling in Matthew and Mark that Antipas is a shadow of death over Jesus. When Jesus hears that John has been killed, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place,” apparently fearful of Antipas (Matthew 14:13). In Mark 3:6, the Herodians counsel about how to kill Jesus, just as Jesus in Mark 8:15 warns against “the leaven of Herod.”

Luke’s account differs from Matthew’s and Mark’s by concentrating mostly on the trial of Jesus, for which Luke skillfully prepares his reader by references to Antipas along the way that build up an intense question in the reader’s mind: Is Antipas interested in Jesus or is he trying to kill him? (See Luke 3:19–20, 9:7–10, 13:31–33.)

FREE ebook: The Galilee Jesus Knew

* Indicates a required field.

So what can archaeology tell us about this not-so-great Herod?

Unlike his father, Antipas was not much of a builder. Although he founded cities and may have built theaters at Sepphoris and Tiberias, the building projects were relatively small compared to the later Roman-period structures that can be seen there today.

Although poverty was a fact of life for some in this period, Galilee in general was thriving economically. This can be seen especially at Yodfat, where elite houses featured high-quality frescoes. Photo: Shai Levi, Hecht Museum, University of Haifa.

Even the coins that Herod Antipas minted were relatively few and simple—especially compared with those of his co-tetrarch brother Herod Philip. Unlike his brother, he took care not to offend the religious sensibilities of his Jewish subjects with graven images and pagan temples.


Become a Member of Biblical Archaeology Society Now and Get More Than Half Off the Regular Price of the All-Access Pass!

Explore the world’s most intriguing Biblical scholarship

Dig into more than 9,000 articles in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s vast library plus much more with an All-Access pass.

access

And even while poverty was a fact of life for some in first-century Galilee, archaeological surveys and excavations show that the region in general was thriving economically under Antipas, even in the rural areas. As Jensen explains, this does not match earlier proposals of a devastating urban elite’s exploitation of a uniformly poor peasant population. Despite his enigmatic and sometimes inimical depiction in the New Testament, Antipas seems to have been a fairly passive but successful ruler of Galilee.

For more about what we know of Herod Antipas in the Bible and archaeological finds indicating how he ruled Galilee in Jesus’ time, see “Antipas—The Herod Jesus Knew” by Morten Hørning Jensen in the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

——————

BAS Library Members: Read the full article “Antipas—The Herod Jesus Knew” by Morten Hørning Jensen as it appears in the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.


This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in August 2012.


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

New Testament Political Figures: The Evidence by Lawrence Mykytiuk

Herod the Great and the Herodian Family Tree

Machaerus: Beyond the Beheading of John the Baptist

King Herod’s Ritual Bath at Machaerus

Anastylosis at Machaerus, Where John the Baptist was Beheaded

Tour Showcases Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace—Possible Site of the Trial of Jesus


Get more biblical Archaeology: Become a Member

The world of the Bible is knowable. We can learn about the society where the ancient Israelites, and later Jesus and the Apostles, lived through the modern discoveries that provide us clues.

Biblical Archaeology Review is the guide on that fascinating journey. Here is your ticket to join us as we discover more and more about the biblical world and its people.

Each issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features lavishly illustrated and easy-to-understand articles such as:

• Fascinating finds from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament periods

• The latest scholarship by the world's greatest archaeologists and distinguished scholars

• Stunning color photographs, informative maps, and diagrams

• BAR's unique departments

• Reviews of the latest books on biblical archaeology

The BAS Digital Library includes:

• 45+ years of Biblical Archaeology Review

• 20+ years of Bible Review online, providing critical interpretations of biblical texts

• 8 years of Archaeology Odyssey online, exploring the ancient roots of the Western world in a scholarly and entertaining way,

• The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land

• Video lectures from world-renowned experts.

• Access to 50+ curated Special Collections,

• Four highly acclaimed books, published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution: Aspects of Monotheism, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, The Rise of Ancient Israel and The Search for Jesus.

The All-Access membership pass is the way to get to know the Bible through biblical archaeology.

Related Posts

Sep 4
Judith: A Remarkable Heroine

By: Robin Gallaher Branch

Fishes and loaves
Sep 1
Jesus Holding a Magic Wand?

By: Marek Dospěl


18 Responses

  1. Patrick Tilton says:

    The sole passage in Josephus about John the Baptist — ANTIQUITIES 18:5:2 — says that Herod Antipas sought to have John killed. The Gospels, though, would have us believe that it was only after Salome’s erotic dance had so bedeviled him that Antipas rashly vowed to give her anything she wished for . . . whereupon she replied, “The head of John the Baptist on a platter.” Antipas, then, reluctantly acceded to her wish, because he had sworn an oath to give her whatever she wanted.
    This fictional Gospel version is an intentional echo of the passage in JUDGES 11:31, where Jephthah rashly vows “Then whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me on my safe return from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s and shall be offered by me as a burnt offering.” When it is his own daughter who emerges from the house, Jephthah is compelled by the power of his oath to sacrifice her.
    Notice that both stories involve a man who swears an oath he later regrets having made. Both involve a daughter. Sure, the roles are switched around — in the passage from Judges, the daughter is the person who has to die to fulfill the oath, whereas in the Gospels the daughter is the one who inspires the rash oath requiring the killing of John the Baptist.
    But there are enough parallels to make one suspicious that the gospel story is a literary construct, especially since the passage in ANTIQUITIES contradicts it.

    1. Bruce Stewart says:

      So Josephus wrote with perfect understanding of all the events no matter how far removed he was. And yet the eye witness accounts in the Gospels are myths? The atheist archeologists are continually proven wrong as more discoveries are made.

      1. Patrick Tilton says:

        The gospels are not eyewitness accounts. There isn’t a shred of evidence that the gospels were in existence until the reigns of the Flavian emperors — at the earliest. The 4 gospels were attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but those attributions were made many decades later — perhaps a century after they were written.
        By the way, I was not suggesting that Josephus “wrote with perfect understanding” — he was a propagandist writing on behalf of the Flavians. Christian apologists are quick to glom onto anything that might conceivably bolster the historicity of the Bible, but when extra-biblical material contradicts anything in the Bible, we’re supposed to side with the theological tract over a work of history, even a biased work of propaganda, such as ANTIQUITIES?
        In my opinion, the New Testament was also a work of pseudo-scripture composed by scholars on behalf of the Flavians — read Joseph Atwill’s CAESAR’S MESSIAH for more on this notion. A theist apologist is predisposed to believing in the sanctity of his/her ‘scriptures’, but that doesn’t make their belief ‘true’. Believe what you prefer to believe, but there’s a reason ‘Faith’ is accounted a virtue in religious circles: ‘Faith’ that something is true — no matter what the evidence can prove — is preferred by over evidentiary conclusions.

  2. John says:

    Jesus was not afraid of Herod or any other MAN; He wasn’t the typical, “afraid to die”, human being. Its obvious he had feelings, empathy, sadness, grief, anger and, most importantly, a deeper understanding of human beings, than most around Him, at that time.
    This writing’s author apparently is, was from someone not a believer of just who Jesus Christ was.
    Sadly, today’s society, writers and historians trust they know more about everything, even what is God inspired vs what’s simply speculative.
    Mankind is now wretching in the misery of man ruling man, directly related to man’s most haughty self-promoted (un)godliness.

    1. Patrick says:

      I totally agree. I have always interpreted Mt 14:13 as a sign of Jesus’ great sense of the loss of his cousin, John. He naturally wanted to go off by Himself to be alone and grieve through the reality of John’s death. He knew that people would be looking for him to see what his reaction would be and he needed to be alone. To infer fear from this is to ignore the rest of Jesus’ reactions to the Herods (see Lk 13:32-35)

    2. Bruce Stewart says:

      “a deeper understanding of human beings, than most around Him, at that time.” No, deeper than anyone around him, period.

  3. bidur says:

    god always chose the people who are in sin and he will always forgivness for his/her sin

  4. When did Herod die? | Countering anti-Bible says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; access  May 23, 2015. […]

  5. Kapan Herodes meninggal? | Mengkontra anti-Alkitab says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; akses 23 Mei 2015. […]

  6. Herod die? | Countering anti-Bible says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; access  May 23, 2015. […]

  7. Rick Carpenter says:

    I’m convinced that the historical record involving Antipas’ relationship with the Nabateans is crucial to an accurate Biblical timeline.

  8. antoniop6 says:

    Toutes vos recherches inutiles,on été élucidées,depuis des siècles.Juste,que vous ne trouverez,jamais sur internet,ni dans les archives du Vatican,où autres? Juste un commentaire de ma part,fils de paysan,et fier de l’être.

  9. Teah says:

    Was Talpiot part of Herod Antipas’ tetrarch?

  10. antoniop6 says:

    Toutes vos recherches;qu’elle soient basées,sur la bible,où archéologiquement,n’ont aucun fondement de vérité.Je vous ai posé,une simple question à laquelle vous ne saurez répondre,mais ignorerez volontairement,avec les crânes obtus,de tous scientifiques;Ma question est celle-ci <>;

  11. dwightstewart62 says:

    One would be wise to consult the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, for he wrote extensively concerning the Herod family and the impact they would have on the Christians.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.


18 Responses

  1. Patrick Tilton says:

    The sole passage in Josephus about John the Baptist — ANTIQUITIES 18:5:2 — says that Herod Antipas sought to have John killed. The Gospels, though, would have us believe that it was only after Salome’s erotic dance had so bedeviled him that Antipas rashly vowed to give her anything she wished for . . . whereupon she replied, “The head of John the Baptist on a platter.” Antipas, then, reluctantly acceded to her wish, because he had sworn an oath to give her whatever she wanted.
    This fictional Gospel version is an intentional echo of the passage in JUDGES 11:31, where Jephthah rashly vows “Then whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me on my safe return from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s and shall be offered by me as a burnt offering.” When it is his own daughter who emerges from the house, Jephthah is compelled by the power of his oath to sacrifice her.
    Notice that both stories involve a man who swears an oath he later regrets having made. Both involve a daughter. Sure, the roles are switched around — in the passage from Judges, the daughter is the person who has to die to fulfill the oath, whereas in the Gospels the daughter is the one who inspires the rash oath requiring the killing of John the Baptist.
    But there are enough parallels to make one suspicious that the gospel story is a literary construct, especially since the passage in ANTIQUITIES contradicts it.

    1. Bruce Stewart says:

      So Josephus wrote with perfect understanding of all the events no matter how far removed he was. And yet the eye witness accounts in the Gospels are myths? The atheist archeologists are continually proven wrong as more discoveries are made.

      1. Patrick Tilton says:

        The gospels are not eyewitness accounts. There isn’t a shred of evidence that the gospels were in existence until the reigns of the Flavian emperors — at the earliest. The 4 gospels were attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but those attributions were made many decades later — perhaps a century after they were written.
        By the way, I was not suggesting that Josephus “wrote with perfect understanding” — he was a propagandist writing on behalf of the Flavians. Christian apologists are quick to glom onto anything that might conceivably bolster the historicity of the Bible, but when extra-biblical material contradicts anything in the Bible, we’re supposed to side with the theological tract over a work of history, even a biased work of propaganda, such as ANTIQUITIES?
        In my opinion, the New Testament was also a work of pseudo-scripture composed by scholars on behalf of the Flavians — read Joseph Atwill’s CAESAR’S MESSIAH for more on this notion. A theist apologist is predisposed to believing in the sanctity of his/her ‘scriptures’, but that doesn’t make their belief ‘true’. Believe what you prefer to believe, but there’s a reason ‘Faith’ is accounted a virtue in religious circles: ‘Faith’ that something is true — no matter what the evidence can prove — is preferred by over evidentiary conclusions.

  2. John says:

    Jesus was not afraid of Herod or any other MAN; He wasn’t the typical, “afraid to die”, human being. Its obvious he had feelings, empathy, sadness, grief, anger and, most importantly, a deeper understanding of human beings, than most around Him, at that time.
    This writing’s author apparently is, was from someone not a believer of just who Jesus Christ was.
    Sadly, today’s society, writers and historians trust they know more about everything, even what is God inspired vs what’s simply speculative.
    Mankind is now wretching in the misery of man ruling man, directly related to man’s most haughty self-promoted (un)godliness.

    1. Patrick says:

      I totally agree. I have always interpreted Mt 14:13 as a sign of Jesus’ great sense of the loss of his cousin, John. He naturally wanted to go off by Himself to be alone and grieve through the reality of John’s death. He knew that people would be looking for him to see what his reaction would be and he needed to be alone. To infer fear from this is to ignore the rest of Jesus’ reactions to the Herods (see Lk 13:32-35)

    2. Bruce Stewart says:

      “a deeper understanding of human beings, than most around Him, at that time.” No, deeper than anyone around him, period.

  3. bidur says:

    god always chose the people who are in sin and he will always forgivness for his/her sin

  4. When did Herod die? | Countering anti-Bible says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; access  May 23, 2015. […]

  5. Kapan Herodes meninggal? | Mengkontra anti-Alkitab says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; akses 23 Mei 2015. […]

  6. Herod die? | Countering anti-Bible says:

    […] 2http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/herod-anti…; access  May 23, 2015. […]

  7. Rick Carpenter says:

    I’m convinced that the historical record involving Antipas’ relationship with the Nabateans is crucial to an accurate Biblical timeline.

  8. antoniop6 says:

    Toutes vos recherches inutiles,on été élucidées,depuis des siècles.Juste,que vous ne trouverez,jamais sur internet,ni dans les archives du Vatican,où autres? Juste un commentaire de ma part,fils de paysan,et fier de l’être.

  9. Teah says:

    Was Talpiot part of Herod Antipas’ tetrarch?

  10. antoniop6 says:

    Toutes vos recherches;qu’elle soient basées,sur la bible,où archéologiquement,n’ont aucun fondement de vérité.Je vous ai posé,une simple question à laquelle vous ne saurez répondre,mais ignorerez volontairement,avec les crânes obtus,de tous scientifiques;Ma question est celle-ci <>;

  11. dwightstewart62 says:

    One would be wise to consult the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, for he wrote extensively concerning the Herod family and the impact they would have on the Christians.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Send this to a friend