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Paul of Tarsus

Unveil­ing the Polit­i­cal and Genealog­i­cal Links : Paul’s Hero­di­an Connections

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Paul’s Ori­gins and Roman Citizenship

There are mate­ri­als in the New Tes­ta­ment, ear­ly Church lit­er­a­ture, Rab­binic lit­er­a­ture, and Jose­phus which point to some con­nec­tion between Paul and so-called Hero­di­ans.” These mate­ri­als pro­vide valu­able insight into prob­lems relat­ed to Paul’s ori­gins, his Roman cit­i­zen­ship, the pow­er he con­spic­u­ous­ly wields in Jerusalem when still a young man, and the Hero­di­an” thrust of his doc­trines (and as a con­se­quence those of the New Tes­ta­ment) envi­sion­ing a com­mu­ni­ty in which both Greeks and Jews would enjoy equal promis­es and privileges.

By Hero­di­an” we mean a reli­gio-polit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion not inim­i­cal to the aims of the Hero­di­an fam­i­ly, not only in Pales­tine, but also in Asia Minor and even Rome, and pos­si­bly imply­ing a genealog­i­cal con­nec­tion as well. Exam­ples of the effect of such an ori­en­ta­tion expressed with ret­ro­spec­tive his­tor­i­cal effect in the Gospels would be the curi­ous the­mat­ic rep­e­ti­tions por­tray­ing a Jew­ish Mes­si­ah desir­ing fel­low­ship with Sin­ners” (for Paul in Gal 2:1, Gen­tiles”), pub­li­cans” (pre­sum­ably Jew­ish dietary reg­u­la­tions were of lit­tle con­se­quence to such per­sons), pros­ti­tutes” (in our view a euphemism for for­ni­ca­tors” as per Jamesian/​Qumran def­i­n­i­tion, i.e., those who defined tech­ni­cal rules of sex­u­al puri­ty dif­fer­ent­ly or less strict­ly), and tax-col­lec­tors” (per­sons fit­ting com­fort­ably into the polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy enun­ci­at­ed by Paul in Rom 13), and a whole genre of oth­er allu­sions such as the first shall be last,” these lit­tle ones”/“simple ones,” the Mes­si­ah as wine-bib­ber” (pre­sum­ably there­fore dis­tin­guished from such well-known life­long Nazirite types as his broth­er James, John the Bap­tist, the mys­te­ri­ous Banus,” and prob­a­bly the Qum­ran Right­eous Teacher).

Hero­di­an Influ­ence on Paul’s Teaching

In recent work, I not only argued for the prece­dence that must be giv­en to lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal evi­dence over archae­o­log­i­cal and palaeo­graph­ic evi­dence of the kind which exists for Qum­ran, but also attempt­ed to con­cretize the basic polit­i­cal (and by con­se­quence reli­gious) ori­en­ta­tion of Qum­ran as anti-Hero­di­an. The last allows us to arrive at a prop­er tex­tu­al and his­tor­i­cal dat­ing of Qum­ran doc­u­ments and has impor­tant ram­i­fi­ca­tions for Gospel research. Under­es­ti­mat­ing it, I believe, is one of the most seri­ous defects of Qum­ran research. I have also rede­fined Phar­isees” gener­i­cal­ly in terms of seek­ing accom­mo­da­tion with for­eign­ers” for two rea­sons : first, to take into account impor­tant self-pro­fessed Phar­isees” like Paul and Jose­phus, and sec­ond, to relate such per­sons and oth­ers to Qum­ran cir­cum­lo­cu­tions like Seek­ers after Smooth Things.” By this I mean that we should not sim­ply call Phar­isees those whom the Tal­mud or Jose­phus might so iden­ti­fy, but those so iden­ti­fi­able because of an accom­mo­dat­ing atti­tude towards for­eign rule and some of its impor­tant ram­i­fi­ca­tions, e.g., accep­tance of gifts or sac­ri­fices on behalf of for­eign­ers in the Tem­ple, Hero­di­an or for­eign appoint­ment of high priests, etc.

In sev­er­al doc­u­ments and con­texts, Qum­ran presents a basic alliance or modus viven­di between groups it var­i­ous­ly refers to as the Traitors”/“Congregation of Trai­tors” (bogdim), the Seek­ers after Smooth Things,” the Man of Lying”/“Pourer out of Lying,” Come­di­an,” Wind­bag,” Dauber upon the Wall,” the Vio­lent Ones”/“Violent Ones of the Gen­tiles,” Men of War,” the Sim­ple Ones of Ephraim”/“House of Ephraim,” etc. This last allu­sion, which is found in the Nahum Pesh­er in the con­text of var­i­ous prob­lems relat­ing to the peri­od in which the Seek­ers after Smooth Things were in con­trol in Jerusalem, is also linked to a Lying Tongue” who leads many astray, prob­lems with over­seas mes­sen­gers, allu­sion to the city of blood” (which in the Habakkuk Pesh­er also relates to ide­o­log­i­cal prob­lems with the Liar”), and through the use of the expres­sion nil­vu (i.e., join­ing”), to Gen­tiles. It also par­al­lels anoth­er expres­sion, the Sim­ple Ones of Judah”/“Torah-Doers in the House of Judah”/“the Poor”/“the Many” on behalf of whom the Teacher of Right­eous­ness car­ries out prop­er jus­ti­fy­ing activities.

Paul’s Com­pan­ions and Their Hero­di­an Links

In Mac­cabees, Zadokites, Chris­tians, and Qum­ran (Brill, 1983), I iden­ti­fied at least those indi­cat­ed under the cir­cum­lo­cu­tion Vio­lent Ones of the Gen­tiles” with rene­gade Hero­di­an Men-of-War (also prob­a­bly par­tial­ly iden­ti­fi­able with those Jose­phus calls Idu­maeans”) who first sup­port the upris­ing and then desert it. Along with John the Essene, they are in the ear­ly days among the rev­o­lu­tion’s bravest mil­i­tary com­man­ders and would appear to take their war” pol­i­cy even fur­ther than so-called Zealots.” Among these I would include Queen Helen’s son Monobazus, who was killed in the attack on Ces­tius, Niger of Perea, a leader of Jose­phus’ Idu­maeans,” Silas (also close to the Hero­di­an fam­i­ly — pos­si­bly brought up with Agrip­pa I and in the final analy­sis a desert­er from Agrip­pa II’s army), and per­haps even Philip (the head of Agrip­pa’s body­guard in Cae­sarea). At the same time, they were prob­a­bly on inti­mate terms with a per­son Jose­phus calls Saulus,” a kins­man of Agrip­pa,” the prob­a­ble descen­dant of the Idu­maean con­vert Cos­to­barus (the real Idu­maean” in Hero­di­an genealo­gies), though he was a prin­ci­pal mem­ber of the oppos­ing pro-Roman peace” coali­tion and the go-between for Agrip­pa II and all those desirous for peace” who actu­al­ly invit­ed the Romans to send their sol­diers into the city to sup­press the revolt.

Paul’s basic attempts to found a com­mu­ni­ty where both Greek and Hebrew — or as he puts it some­times, Jews first, but Greeks as well” (cf. Rom 3:22, 1 Cor 12:13, etc.) — enjoy equal promis­es and priv­i­leges, spir­i­tu­al or oth­er­wise, and con­so­nant sote­ri­o­log­i­cal equi­ty, are well doc­u­ment­ed. This cos­mopoli­tanism is based on a more easy-going atti­tude towards the Law (as opposed to Qum­ran’s and James’ strict con­struc­tion­ist, not one jot or tit­tle” approach); the ide­al of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion by faith alone (as opposed, for instance, to the insis­tence in lQpHab 8 upon the Law as a pre­req­ui­site for jus­ti­fi­ca­tion); an open hos­til­i­ty to cir­cum­ci­sion which undoubt­ed­ly found a sym­pa­thet­ic response from such Asian” rulers as Anti­ochus of Com­ma­gene, Monobazus’ moth­er Helen of the sis­ter­ing state of Adi­a­bene, Azizus of Eme­sa, who mar­ried Drusil­la after he was cir­cum­cised only to have her divorce him, and Pole­mos of Cili­cia whom Ber­nice divorced after he was cir­cum­cised (which Jose­phus tells us he did on account of her great rich­es”); and an easy-going approach to dietary mat­ters — as Paul puts it in 1 Cor 9:19ff. in his dis­cus­sion of the terms of James’ Jerusalem Coun­cil” direc­tives, despite his some­what disin­gen­u­ous protests about not wish­ing to be the cause of his broth­er’s stum­bling”: do not be afraid to eat any­thing sold in the butch­er-shops ; there is no need to raise ques­tions of con­science” (“con­science” in his view being a euphemism for the Law : cf., his allu­sion to veg­e­tar­i­an­ism like James’ as weak”).

The Role of Hero­di­ans in Ear­ly Chris­t­ian Communities

Some­times in allu­sions such as being a Jew to the Jews,” run­ning the race to win,” etc. (1 Cor 9:19ff.), Paul even appears to turn this around to Greeks first, but Jews as well.” When he turns the accu­sa­tion against the Rich” for killing the Just One” as in 5:6 into an accu­sa­tion against the Jews in 1 Thess 2:14, he vir­tu­al­ly clos­es the doors against Jews. This accu­sa­tion, which par­al­lels the thrust of the inver­sion of imagery above where for­ni­ca­tors” and tax-col­lec­tors,” etc. are pic­tured as being on inti­mate terms with the Mes­si­ah, was ret­ro­spec­tive­ly assim­i­lat­ed into the New Tes­ta­ment, and there­by viti­at­ed its his­tor­i­cal fabric.

Paul’s trav­el­ing com­pan­ions and clos­est col­lab­o­ra­tors after his break with the Jew­ish apos­tles are usu­al­ly Judeo-Greeks like Tim­o­thy (= Titus?), whose moth­er was a Jew­ess” of the Hero­di­an type and who like Paul car­ried Roman cit­i­zen­ship, the mys­te­ri­ous Silas (= Sil­vanus?), etc. This mix is typ­i­cal of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of Hero­di­ans,” or at least those descend­ing from Mari­amne. The Jew­ish blood of third gen­er­a­tion Hero­di­ans like Agrip­pa I, his sis­ter Hero­dias, and broth­er (or half-broth­er) Herod of Chal­cis was even fur­ther dilut­ed. The Chris­t­ian” com­mu­ni­ty in Anti­och, where Chris­tians were first called Chris­tians (Acts 11:26) — a suit­able locale for the crys­tal­liza­tion of this ter­mi­nol­o­gy — com­pris­es, even accord­ing to Acts’ dubi­ous his­tor­i­cal reck­on­ing, var­i­ous per­sons of this Hero­di­an” mix. Among these one should include the curi­ous Niger,” Lucius of Cyrene,” who was very like­ly none oth­er than Paul’s oth­er famous trav­el­ing com­pan­ion Luke, and Man­aen who was a fos­ter-broth­er of Herod the Tetrar­ch” (Acts 13:1).

Polit­i­cal and Genealog­i­cal Implications

Though the last-men­tioned is prob­a­bly gar­bled (or pur­pose­ful­ly defaced), it tes­ti­fies that among those in Anti­och there were Hero­di­ans. Silas goes unmen­tioned, but we have already not­ed above one or two name­sakes of his in Jose­phus. The elder” was actu­al­ly brought up with Agrip­pa I. Accord­ing to Jose­phus, he was exe­cut­ed by Herod of Chal­cis after he had been in prison for act­ing too famil­iar­ly or in a rebel­lious man­ner towards Agrip­pa. Silas the Younger,” if he real­ly can be dis­tin­guished from the elder, mirac­u­lous­ly mate­ri­al­izes with Niger as one of the heroes of the Jew­ish Revolt along with John the Essene” and Queen Helen’s son Monobazus. He is the type of the Gentile/​Idumaean/​Herodian Men-of-War who desert the upris­ing when all is lost and whom I have iden­ti­fied else­where with the Arizei-Go’im in 4QpPs 37 who take vengeance on the Wicked Priest for the death of the Right­eous Teacher.

Where the con­sis­ten­cy of the Anti­och group is con­cerned, Acts (13:1) adds the name of Sau­los” direct­ly after describ­ing the rela­tion­ship between Man­aen” and Herod the Tetrar­ch. Not only is it pos­si­ble that Acts has gar­bled its mate­r­i­al and that by Herod the Tetrar­ch” it means Herod of Chal­cis,” who suc­ceed­ed his brother/​foster broth­er Agrip­pa I in 44 CE (the time of the death of Theudas and the arrest of Simon Peter”), it is tempt­ing to turn the posi­tion­ing around and con­sid­er that the notice about fos­ter­age relates to Sau­los,” not Man­aen. Man­aen” any­how is defec­tive. Josephus/​Josippon tra­di­tion knows a Man­naeus” the son or nephew of Lazarus or Seruk who desert­ed with Jose­phus to Titus, and Acts 21:16 knows a Mna­son,” who accom­pa­nies Paul on his last trip to Jerusalem because he had lodg­ing facil­i­ties there, even though Acts con­sid­ers him Cypri­ot.” How­ev­er, the most plau­si­ble iden­ti­fi­ca­tion from among Paul’s close asso­ciates is the qua­si-ana­gram Ana­nias,” whom Acts por­trays as wel­com­ing Paul to Dam­as­cus” and who is not includ­ed in the Anti­och group. It is note­wor­thy that Jose­phus, too, knows a pro­pa­gan­dist named Ana­nias” active in the East” in this peri­od. He gets in among the women of Adi­a­bene and con­verts Helen while tak­ing a patent­ly Pauline line on the issue of the cir­cum­ci­sion of her son. In this episode, Jose­phus also men­tions a col­league of Ana­nias fol­low­ing the same approach but declines to name him. While these points are not in them­selves par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant, they are nev­er­the­less worth remarking.

Reeval­u­at­ing Paul’s Iden­ti­ty and Motivations

Where the polit­i­cal aims of indi­vid­u­als of this Hero­di­an mix are con­cerned, Hero­di­an incur­sions via mar­riage and oth­er means into Asia Minor” (which else­where we refer to as Cili­cia) and Low­er Arme­nia” (which may also be referred to loose­ly as Cili­cia and prob­a­bly includ­ing Com­ma­gene as well) were cer­tain­ly on the increase in the mid­dle of the first cen­tu­ry. There is also a note of con­spir­a­to­r­i­al activ­i­ties against Rome where Agrip­pa I and Anti­ochus of Com­ma­gene are con­cerned (though not Agrip­pa II and his uncle Herod of Chal­cis). Anti­ochus, who blamed Rome for the death of his son, ulti­mate­ly did lead a revolt in the wake of the Jew­ish war. Herod of Chal­cis’ son Aris­to­b­u­lus, who like Agrip­pa I proud­ly pro­claimed his pro-Roman sen­ti­ments on his coinage, made him­self very use­ful to the Romans in help­ing to sup­press this revolt. Many of these areas, too, are the scenes of Paul’s most aggres­sive ear­ly mis­sion­ary work.

Aris­to­b­u­lus must be seen as one of the inner cir­cle around Titus (along with Tiberius Alexan­der, Jose­phus, Ber­nice, Agrip­pa II, and oth­ers). He is mar­ried to Hero­dias’ daugh­ter Salome (whose pic­ture with his own he proud­ly dis­plays on his coinage). While this is not strict­ly speak­ing an instance of mar­riage with a niece so frowned upon at Qum­ran and wide­ly prac­ticed by Hero­di­ans, it is very close to it. It is also inter­est­ing to con­sid­er this fam­i­ly’s links with the Hel­l­enized Alabarch in Alexan­dria. The lat­ter’s fam­i­ly con­trolled the all-impor­tant Egypt­ian gra­naries and was instru­men­tal in Ves­pasian’s rise to pow­er. One of its scions, Tiberius Alexan­der, who became procu­ra­tor in Pales­tine after the death of Herod of Chal­cis, was Titus’ mil­i­tary com­man­dant at Jerusalem. Jose­phus, who under­stood these mat­ters well, specif­i­cal­ly called atten­tion to Tiberius’ defec­tion from Judaism, as he did to that of Ber­nice, Titus’ mis­tress. Ber­nice’s sec­ond sis­ter Mari­amne divorced her first hus­band in order to mar­ry anoth­er son of the Alabarch, pre­sum­ably the first hus­band’s broth­er (if he was not of this fam­i­ly, it is anoth­er case of Gen­tile marriage).

Agrip­pa I’s third daugh­ter Drusil­la, after con­tem­plat­ing mar­riage to the son of King Anti­ochus, mar­ried King Azizus of Eme­sa because he had agreed to cir­cum­cise him­self (as Anti­ochus’ son had not). Dis­play­ing that cyn­i­cal oppor­tunism so typ­i­cal of Hero­di­ans, Drusil­la divorced him on her own ini­tia­tive to mar­ry Felix, a mar­riage con­nived at in Cae­sarea by some­one who can be none oth­er than the infa­mous Simon Magus (like its ana­gram Mna­son” above, he too is a Cypri­ot”). Simon’s sin­gu­lar ser­vice to Felix was to con­vince Drusil­la to divorce her pre­vi­ous hus­band. In this episode many themes emerge which are of the utmost impor­tance for dat­ing Qum­ran doc­u­ments and under­stand­ing the true gist of their cri­tique of the estab­lish­ment. Even Jose­phus, who is usu­al­ly so accom­mo­dat­ing on such mat­ters (lat­er find­ing Hero­di­an prac­tices con­ge­nial, he too divorces a wife), describes Drusil­la’s self-divorce from the King of Eme­sa as con­trary to the laws of her fore­fa­thers.” He makes a sim­i­lar com­ment about an ear­li­er such divorce by Hero­dias, which is at the root of prob­lems relat­ing to the death of John in both Jose­phus and the New Tes­ta­ment. These divorces are antic­i­pat­ed by the divorce of Herod’s sis­ter Salome from the Idu­maean Cos­to­barus, so impor­tant in all our genealo­gies and par­al­leled by sim­i­lar ones by Mari­amne (men­tioned above) and Ber­nice from Pole­mos of Cili­cia to take up with Titus (which would involve her in a two-fold denun­ci­a­tion at Qum­ran, not to men­tion her rich­es” and the rumor of her illic­it con­nec­tion with Agrip­pa II which Jose­phus also men­tions rel­a­tive to the Pole­mos affair). Paul, too, shows his knowl­edge of this kind of divorce in dis­cussing James’ Jerusalem Coun­cil’ for­ni­ca­tion” direc­tives in 1 Cor 7:10f., but impor­tant­ly he does not con­demn them. Instead, he gen­tly slaps the wrist of the offend­ing woman by rec­om­mend­ing that she abstain from fur­ther mar­riage and spec­i­fies no fur­ther puni­tive procedures.

Final Thoughts

It is impor­tant to under­stand that Qum­ran in gen­er­al con­demns divorce. The dis­ap­proval there is linked to the pro­scrip­tion on polygamy and based on ref­er­ences in the Zadokite Doc­u­ment to male and female” cre­ation and two by two” ark cita­tions from Gen­e­sis. Where the Ruler is con­cerned, it is com­bined in good Deutero­nom­ic style in both the Tem­ple Scroll and Zadokite Doc­u­ment with the pro­scrip­tion on putting a for­eign­er over you” and mul­ti­ply­ing wives,” and the addi­tion­al ban on mar­ry­ing for­eign­ers, all with impor­tant con­se­quences where Hero­di­ans are con­cerned. At the end of the Tem­ple Scroll, it is devel­oped more gen­er­al­ly and intro­duces the pro­scrip­tion on mar­riage with nieces. In many of the above exam­ples regard­ing Hero­di­an behav­ior, this last forms an inte­gral part of the prob­lem. Hero­dias, Agrip­pa I’s sis­ter, mar­ries not one, but two uncles, and at the same time incurs the con­dem­na­tion on divorce at least twice. New Tes­ta­ment spec­u­la­tion notwith­stand­ing, levi­rate mar­riage has very lit­tle to do with prob­lems relat­ing to her.

Not only is Paul’s pro-Roman and by exten­sion pro-Hero­di­an polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy clear from the gen­er­al tenor of his mis­sion­ary activ­i­ties in Acts, it is made explic­it in the enun­ci­a­tion of this phi­los­o­phy in Rom 13. A more anti-Zealot posi­tion is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine. Set­ting forth what can only be thought of as a delib­er­ate con­tra­dic­tion of the Zealot” polit­i­cal posi­tion on almost every point, includ­ing the tax ques­tion, over­seas rulers, armed resis­tance, etc., it is also anti-Jame­sian, e.g., he who does good works has noth­ing to fear from mag­is­trates” (13:4). Jas 2:6 states the oppo­site posi­tion : is it not the Rich who are always drag­ging you before the courts”? The Book of Acts por­trays Paul as speak­ing felic­i­tous­ly on sev­er­al occa­sions at some length with many of the above drama­tis per­son­ae while in Cae­sarea (the sub­ject of addi­tion­al con­tacts in Rome is not treat­ed by our doc­u­ments). At one point Paul is pic­tured as say­ing to Agrip­pa in the pres­ence of the for­ni­ca­tor and future apos­tate Ber­nice, I know that you believe.” King Agrip­pa, noth­ing loath, replies, a lit­tle more and you would have made me a Chris­t­ian”; then he good-natured­ly pro­nounces the judg­ment, which via the mir­a­cle of art has been assim­i­lat­ed into the por­trait of Jesus in the Gospels, this man has done noth­ing to deserve death or impris­on­ment” (Acts 26:27 – 32).

It is not very like­ly that Paul could have made the mirac­u­lous escapes he does with­out the involve­ment of some com­bi­na­tion of these pow­er­ful Herodian/​Roman forces. Noth­ing less is con­ceiv­able under the cir­cum­stances of the attack on Paul in the Tem­ple and his res­cue by Roman sol­diers wit­ness­ing these events from the Fortress of Anto­nia (Acts 21:31f). This episode, too, makes men­tion of a nephew and pos­si­bly a sis­ter of Paul (iden­ti­ties oth­er­wise unknown) res­i­dent in Jerusalem, but also pre­sum­ably car­ry­ing Roman cit­i­zen­ship. It is they who warn him of a plot by zealots for the Law” or oth­ers inter­est­ed in Nazirite oath pro­ce­dures to kill him. With­out this kind of inter­ven­tion, Paul could nev­er have enjoyed the com­fort­able pro­tec­tive cus­tody he does in Cae­sarea and nev­er been packed off in rel­a­tive secu­ri­ty to Rome (where Felix and Drusil­la pre­cede him). He arrives with funds gath­ered in over­seas fund-rais­ing from many of the areas into which Hero­di­ans have expand­ed and, in part because of this, those areas where cir­cum­ci­sion had become such an issue because of the mar­i­tal prac­tices of Hero­di­an princesses.

But where Paul is con­cerned, one can go even fur­ther. Paul speaks in an unguard­ed moment in Rom 16:11 of his kins­man Hero­di­on.” Though the name could refer to any per­son by this name any­where, still names like Herod and its deriv­a­tives (n.b. the par­al­lel with the name of Cae­sar’s son Cae­sar­i­on”) are not com­mon. Nor is there any indi­ca­tion that the pas­sage is an inter­po­la­tion. If it were indica­tive of actu­al famil­ial rela­tion­ships with Hero­di­ans, which in my view it is, then by itself it explains the hint of Hero­di­an mem­ber­ship and/​or activ­i­ty in the ear­ly Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty in Anti­och. It also very eas­i­ly explains the mat­ter of Paul’s Roman cit­i­zen­ship, which is such an impor­tant ele­ment in these escapes. In turn, it helps explain why Paul is always so con­vinced of his own Jew­ish­ness, while oth­ers seem to have mis­giv­ings con­cern­ing it, and it throws much light on the pecu­liar man­ner in which he choos­es to exer­cise this Judaism. Paul’s claim to being of the tribe of Ben­jamin may relate to a gen­er­al genre of such claims in the Dias­po­ra, but it also illus­trates the super­fi­cial ease with which such claims could be passed off on cred­u­lous and rel­a­tive­ly unschooled audi­ences. It is more like­ly that Paul derives the claim to Ben­jami­nite birth not from any actu­al genealog­i­cal link, but from the sim­ple fact of his Hebrew name­sake Saul” being from the tribe of Benjamin.

His report­ed descrip­tion of him­self as a Phar­isee the son of a Phar­isee” (Acts 23:6) is also read­i­ly explained by his Hero­di­an pedi­gree, and I have been at some pains to set forth the Phar­i­sa­ic con­nec­tions of the Hero­di­ans in Mac­cabees. These are per­haps best illus­trat­ed by the anti-Mac­cabean ten­den­cies of this par­ty and the cry in m. Sota 7 of those assem­bled (pre­sum­ably Phar­isees) when Agrip­pa (whether I or II is not spec­i­fied, prob­a­bly I) comes to read the Deutero­nom­ic King Law : Thou shalt not put a for­eign­er over you, You are one of us ! You are one of us ! You are one of us!” For the pur­pos­es of Zadokite his­to­ry in Pales­tine, the mir­ror rever­sals of this episode are the attempt by Simon the head of a San­hedrin” of his own in Jerusalem to bar Agrip­pa I from the Tem­ple as a for­eign­er in the 40s and the wall built by Tem­ple zealots in the next gen­er­a­tion to bar Agrip­pa II’s view of the sac­ri­fices (not to men­tion Agrip­pa’s ulti­mate expul­sion from Jerusalem : see below). The Tem­ple Scroll makes the Qum­ran inter­est in these mat­ters pal­pa­ble, even going into the mar­i­tal prac­tices of the King and insist­ing that in addi­tion to not mul­ti­ply­ing or tak­ing for­eign wives, he keep the same wife his whole life — all mat­ters rel­e­vant to the gen­er­al for­ni­ca­tion” charge against Herodians.

But Paul’s Hero­di­an links even explain how such a com­par­a­tive­ly young man could have wield­ed such pow­ers when he first came to Jerusalem and how he could have been empow­ered by the high priest” to search out Chris­tians” in areas even as far afield as Dam­as­cus” (whether we are deal­ing with the Dam­as­cus” set­tle­ment of Qum­ran allu­sion or an actu­al Jew­ish Set­tle­ment in Dam­as­cus” is impos­si­ble to tell from the sources). They read­i­ly explain his easy entrance into Jerusalem rul­ing cir­cles — all mat­ters which have nev­er been explained. The ref­er­ence imme­di­ate­ly pre­ced­ing the one to Hero­di­on in Rom 16:10, i.e., to a cer­tain house­hold of Aris­to­b­u­lus,” con­sol­i­dates these sus­pi­cions even fur­ther. Though Aris­to­b­u­lus may have been a com­mon name, still it is most promi­nent among Hero­di­ans, there being two or three Aris­to­b­u­lus­es from dif­fer­ent lines liv­ing at the same time, the most inter­est­ing of them being Herod of Chal­cis’ son Aris­to­b­u­lus not­ed above.

So far our evi­dence is cir­cum­stan­tial ; how­ev­er, there is a sur­pris­ing notice from anoth­er quar­ter which straight­for­ward­ly makes the charge we have been sketch­ing. Epipha­nius, who con­serves many tra­di­tions found in rab­binic lit­er­a­ture includ­ing the famous ben Pan­thera” nick­name for Jesus, con­serves a tra­di­tion about Paul (Pan 30.16.1). In its view, Paul was a non-Jew who came up to Jerusalem and con­vert­ed to Judaism because he want­ed to mar­ry the priest’s” (i.e., the high priest’s) daugh­ter (As in Pan 30.16.9, the priest” is usu­al­ly used at Qum­ran and in rab­binic tra­di­tion as deno­ta­tive of the high priest”). When dis­ap­point­ed in this design, he defect­ed from Judaism and turned against cir­cum­ci­sion” and the Law.” Epipha­nius attrib­ut­es this notice to the Anabath­moi Jacobou (“Ascents of James”), a lost work about the debates of James with the high priests and the Phar­isees (also find­ing refrac­tion in the Pseudo­clemen­tine Recog­ni­tions) over mat­ters relat­ing to Tem­ple ser­vice (includ­ing in our view prob­lems bear­ing on Gen­tiles or Gen­tile sacrifice/​gifts in the Temple).

We have no way of know­ing if the tra­di­tion is true. While the Anabath­moi Jacobou would appear to have been Jew­ish Chris­t­ian or Ebion­ite, and there­fore hos­tile to Paul, this is not cause for a pri­ori dis­miss­ing the tra­di­tion it con­serves via Epipha­nius ; on the con­trary, when one comes upon a tra­di­tion of such sur­pris­ing con­tent, it is often worth­while pay­ing atten­tion to it. One famous con­vert of sorts did aspire to mar­ry the high priest’s daugh­ter — in fact, he mar­ried two : Herod him­self. It is not impos­si­ble that this tra­di­tion con­serves an echo of valu­able his­tor­i­cal data, not nec­es­sar­i­ly about Paul, but about Paul’s fam­i­ly back­grounds ; that is, not that Paul was a con­vert (which he may have been) or that he per­son­al­ly want­ed to mar­ry the high priest’s daugh­ter (which again he might have), but that he was descend­ed from some­one who was a con­vert and had aspired to mar­ry the high priest’s daugh­ter, i.e., that he was a Herodian.

In our view, it is just these Hero­di­an ori­gins where Paul is con­cerned that explain his very pecu­liar view of Judaism, what we per­ceive to be his infe­ri­or­i­ty com­plex and defen­sive­ness where Jews are con­cerned, his jeal­ousy of Jews, in fact his anti-Semi­tism gen­er­al­ly, and final­ly his extreme­ly lax and, from the Jew­ish view­point, utter­ly uncon­scionable view of the Law. It is hard to con­sid­er that a native-born Jew, com­fort­able in his iden­ti­ty, could have indulged in the kind of insults Paul gra­tu­itous­ly makes con­cern­ing cir­cum­ci­sion, cir­cum­cis­ers, and those keep­ing dietary reg­u­la­tions, or adopt­ed the curi­ous approach towards the pos­si­bil­i­ty of simul­ta­ne­ous­ly being a Law-keep­er to those who keep the Law and a Law-break­er to those who did not in order, as he puts it, to win, not beat the air,” or that by avoid­ing cir­cum­ci­sion, one could avoid the demands of the Law, which in some man­ner he saw as a curse.”

This theme of a Gentile/​foreigner/​outsider with ambi­tions relat­ing to the high priest­hood under­goes a curi­ous trans­for­ma­tion in Tal­mu­dic tra­di­tions con­cern­ing a cel­e­brat­ed episode involv­ing Hil­lel and Sham­mai, where a pre­sump­tu­ous out­sider wish­es to know the whole of the Torah while stand­ing on one foot.” Sham­mai dis­miss­es the inter­lop­er with a blow, but Hil­lel is will­ing to quote the all right­eous­ness” com­mand­ment, love your neigh­bor as your­self.” This last, in turn, is allud­ed to with sim­i­lar import, not only in the Gospels, the Let­ter of James, and the Zadokite Doc­u­ment, but also in Paul. Paul actu­al­ly quotes the com­mand­ment in the con­text of allu­sion to dark­ness and light,” sal­va­tion, for­ni­ca­tion, jeal­ousy, etc., as ver­i­fi­ca­tion of his anti-Zealot phi­los­o­phy in Rom 13 above (n.b. that fol­low­ing this in 14:1f. Paul char­ac­ter­izes as weak” peo­ple — like James — who eat only veg­eta­bles”). In suc­ceed­ing mate­r­i­al relat­ing to this pre­sump­tu­ous out­sider, it is stat­ed he actu­al­ly wished to become high priest.

When viewed in the con­text of Paul’s own report­ed insis­tence that he was a stu­dent of Hil­lel’s grand­son Gamaliel, the tra­di­tion takes on addi­tion­al res­o­nances. One is not unjus­ti­fied in con­sid­er­ing that the indi­vid­ual in ques­tion is a type of Pauline out­sider, and that the theme of wish­ing to become high priest relates to that of wish­ing to mar­ry the priest’s” (high priest’s) daugh­ter in Epipha­nius, itself relat­ing to Paul’s non-Jew­ish (or qua­si-Jew­ish/Hero­di­an) origins.

From a dif­fer­ent quar­ter, evi­dence emerges which con­cretizes and sums up, albeit unwit­ting­ly, all the ten­den­cies we have been dis­cussing, pro­vid­ing us with an exam­ple of just the kind of per­son we have been describ­ing. As we have seen above, there are notices in Jose­phus about a mem­ber of the Hero­di­an fam­i­ly named Saulus,” again not a very com­mon name in this peri­od. This Saulus plays a key role in events lead­ing up to the destruc­tion of Jerusalem and the Tem­ple. Not only is Saulus the inter­me­di­ary between the men of Pow­er [the Hero­di­ans], the prin­ci­pal of the Phar­isees, the chief priests, and all those desirous for peace” (i.e., peace with the Romans), Jose­phus also describes him as a kins­man of Agrip­pa.” In what should be seen as per­haps as gar­bled notices relat­ing his geneal­o­gy through Ber­nice I to Cos­to­barus (an Idu­maean con­vert), he is grouped along­side indi­vid­u­als named Antipas” and Cos­to­barus.” Saulus leads the del­e­ga­tion to Agrip­pa (barred from the city and Tem­ple by those Jose­phus refers to as Inno­va­tors” — their patent­ly anti-Hero­di­an inno­va­tion being an unwill­ing­ness any longer to accept sac­ri­fices or gifts on behalf of for­eign­ers) that wish­es to invite the Romans into the city to sub­due the upris­ing before it could start. The note of Saulus’ rela­tion to the chief priests” is inter­est­ing for its par­al­lel with mate­r­i­al in Acts relat­ing to Saul’s com­mis­sion from the chief priest to arrest Chris­tians.”

It is curi­ous that in the Antiq­ui­ties, fol­low­ing Jose­phus’ descrip­tion of the ston­ing of James and the plun­der­ing of the tithes of the poor priests by the rich chief priests, Jose­phus refers to Saulus as lead­ing a riot in Jerusalem. For its part, the Book of Acts refers to the riotous behav­ior in Jerusalem of Sau­los,” but it places this event after the con­ver­sion of a large group of priests, prob­lems over the dis­tri­b­u­tion of col­lec­tion mon­eys, and the ston­ing of Stephen. H.-J. Schoeps has already remarked the resem­blance of this ston­ing of Stephen to the ston­ing of James. It is curi­ous that where­as Acts may have trans­posed the ston­ing of James in the six­ties with the ston­ing of Stephen in the for­ties (when the Pseudo­clemen­tines claim Paul led a riot and an attack on James in the Tem­ple), Jose­phus may have done just the oppo­site, i.e., trans­posed mate­ri­als relat­ing to Saul’s riotous behav­ior in Jerusalem in the for­ties with its ana­logue, the riot led by Saulus in the six­ties. In order to con­tend that Saulus and Paul are iden­ti­cal, one would have to assume either one or the oth­er of the above trans­po­si­tions took place or that Paul ulti­mate­ly returned to Jerusalem, or both. How­ev­er, this is not as implau­si­ble as it may seem on the sur­face, as our sources fall unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly silent on the sub­ject of Paul’s last years, and where Saulus is con­cerned, aside from his defec­tion to the Romans, we know noth­ing about his ulti­mate fate.

Though none of this infor­ma­tion is pre­cise or secure enough to draw any clear-cut or final con­clu­sions, nonethe­less it does raise inter­est­ing ques­tions and opens new direc­tions not hereto­fore explored. We do not deny that Paul con­sid­ered him­self Jew­ish. So did Hero­di­ans gen­er­al­ly, though this con­fi­dence does not seem to have been very wide­spread. This is pre­cise­ly the point of depar­ture of the so-called Zealot” move­ment, i.e., it is zealot” in the man­ner of Phineas, Ezekiel, and Ezra where remov­ing for­eign­ers from the Israelite camp or Tem­ple is con­cerned. Ezek 44:3ff. express­es this idea pri­or to enun­ci­at­ing the Zadokite Covenant” so impor­tant for the exegetes at Qum­ran, i.e., the pre­vi­ous priest­hood had pol­lut­ed itself by admit­ting for­eign­ers into the Tem­ple. Ezekiel sets forth more strin­gent require­ments applic­a­ble to back­slid­ing Jews as well as for­eign­ers, i.e., no one uncir­cum­cised in heart or body” shall be admit­ted into the Tem­ple. This is the allu­sion applied to the Wicked Priest in the Habakkuk Pesh­er when dis­cussing the prob­lem of pol­lu­tion of the Sanc­tu­ary” and by impli­ca­tion his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from ser­vice at the altar. It is also picked up in the Tem­ple Scroll, where its ram­i­fi­ca­tions are delin­eat­ed vis-à-vis the behav­ior of the King. There is also the theme in both this scroll and the Zadokite Doc­u­ment of prob­lems relat­ing to sep­a­ra­tion” in the Tem­ple, in our view, of for­eign­ers, a theme direct­ed inter alia against Hero­di­ans and the pol­lu­tion” they engendered.

Those we have called Zealots,” who mob Paul in the Tem­ple and uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly deposit him out­side, like Phineas and the prac­ti­tion­ers of the not one jot or tit­tle” approach in James and at Qum­ran, do not seek Smooth Things,” i.e., they do not seek accom­mo­da­tion with for­eign­ers on the key issues we have been sig­nal­ing, for­eign king, for­eign appoint­ment of high priests, divorce, mar­riage with nieces, sac­ri­fice and gifts from for­eign­ers in the Tem­ple, etc. In such a con­text, Paul takes on some­thing of the char­ac­ter of a stalk­ing horse for the Hero­di­an fam­i­ly. In our view, what he is doing in his last trip to Jerusalem, despite warn­ings not to go, is test­ing the ban on var­i­ous class­es of for­eign­ers in the Tem­ple and their oth­er rela­tion­ships with it.

Though these mat­ters are hard­ly capa­ble of proof, and we have, in fact, proved noth­ing, still no oth­er expla­na­tions bet­ter explain the com­bi­na­tion of points we raise. One thing can­not be denied, Paul’s Hero­di­an con­nec­tions make the man­ner of his sud­den appear­ances and dis­ap­pear­ances, his var­i­ous mirac­u­lous escapes, his ear­ly pow­er in Jerusalem, his Roman cit­i­zen­ship, his easy rela­tions with kings and gov­er­nors, and the venue and terms of his pri­ma­ry mis­sion­ary activ­i­ties com­pre­hen­si­ble in a man­ner no oth­er recon­struc­tion even approach­es. When it comes to link­ing the thrust of these tes­ti­monies and allu­sions to the polit­i­cal Sitz im Leben of lat­er Qum­ran sec­tar­i­an texts and that Lying Spouter so promi­nent in them, much good sense can be achieved, but such a dis­cus­sion is per­force beyond the scope of this study.Endmark

Robert H. Eisen­man, a schol­ar at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Long Beach, focus­es on ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the his­tor­i­cal con­texts of reli­gious texts. This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished with the title Paul as Hero­di­an” in the Jour­nal of High­er Crit­i­cism (JHC), Vol­ume 3, Issue 1, Spring 1996, pages 110 – 122.
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