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Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans (Studies on Personalities of the New Testament) [Hardcover]

By Peter Richardson (Author)
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Item description for Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans (Studies on Personalities of the New Testament) by Peter Richardson...

Peter Richardson's biographical study of Herod (73-4 BCE) offers insight into the personality of the man who served as the most prominent member of the substantial Herodian family and whose rule shaped the world in which the Christian faith arose. Richardson reveals Herod to be far more complex and important than is generally perceived and demonstrates that an understanding of Herod holds great value for comprehending the relationship between Judea and Rome.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans (Studies on Personalities of the New Testament) by Peter Richardson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 11/15/1996 page 569

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University of South Carolina Press
Pages   360
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.28" Height: 1.32"
Weight:   1.64 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1996
Publisher   University of South Carolina Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  1570031363  
ISBN13  9781570031366  

Availability  0 units.

More About Peter Richardson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richardson is Professor of Christian origins at the Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Ontario.

Peter Richardson currently resides in Toronto.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > Jewish
2Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Rome
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Concordances
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

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Reviews - What do customers think about Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans (Studies on Personalities of the New Testament)?

Flawed from the get go  Apr 24, 2008
Any scholarship dealing with the Herods has to begin with a proper understanding of the genealogy, otherwise, the historical record in this text cannot account for subsequent history. This book is inaccurate as to why and how the united kingdom of Palestine subsequently got divided into tetrarchies (tetra, of course, meaning four). From the get go, there is an inaccurate, incomplete time line which dates the birth of only three of Herod the Great's sons which includes the eldest, Antipater, and the youngest, Philip. Archelaus (5th in the line of succession) is also included. While there is mention of Alexander, Aristobulus, and Herod Antipas (2nd, 3rd & 6th) their birth dates are not given. However, Herod Philip, the 4th eldest, has no mention at all in the text while the vast majority of modern scholars on the subject of the Herods includes him in the genealogy & history of Herod the Great. To understand how and why the country was divided after Herod the Great's death, one has to understand there were four and not three surviving sons in the line of succession. Herod's first will had designated his eldest son, Antipater, as heir of a united Palestine. But when he died, Herod's second will (submitted long before Herod's death) called for the kingdom to be broken up between his remaining four surviving sons, i.e. Herod Philip, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip. The younger Philip is often confused with his older brother because the latter never served as a ruler having abdicated upon the death of his father. Thus, the second will, was never implemented as designed. The Romans compensated by consolidating Herod Philip's intended tetrarchy into his brother Archelaus' tetrarchy thus making Archelaus an "ethnarch" over the combined territories. Subsequent history shows that Herod Philip was the divorced first husband of Herodias (daughter of his brother Aristobulus, & subsequent wife of his brother Antipas) and father of the notorious Salome of the John the Baptist story. Eventually, Salome, like her mother, married a paternal uncle (legal under Herodian rule), i.e. Philip the Tetrarch. But if Herod Philip and Philip the Tetrarch had been the same person, the marriage would have ended up being a completely incestuous, illegal, marriage between father and daughter; which would be the result of this text having failed to accurately account for the family history of Herod the Great.
A fuller picture...  Jun 5, 2003
In Peter Richardson's new book, 'Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans', we are given a much fuller account of the king who has graduated to being an archtype, almost mythical character who is the embodiment of evil.

'Herod the Great, as he is usually called, was much like Henry VIII, Catherine the Great, of Peter the Great: talented, vigourous, lusty, skillful, charismatic, attractive, decisive, influential--but a disaster in his personal life. Like them, Herod changed his nation's history.'

In a biographical study an author need not like the subject, but it helps if there is something to admire. Herod's personality is not attractive; had I been a contemporary I should not have wanted to spend much time with him.

This having been said, Richardson does find much of interest and intrigue in the character and the deeds of Herod the Great.

Herod was king of the Jews by virtue of his assistance to the Romans who were, during the 50-year period preceding the birth of Jesus and the beginning of the common/Christian era, consolidating power throughout much of the eastern Mediterranean lands. Herod married many times for increasing political and social purposes (a trend that would continue in the Herodian line -- John the Baptist was beheaded primarily for pointing out the marriage difficulties with a later Herod).

Herod the Great, founder of the line that would last and be an influence in Roman and Christian development for some two hundred years, died in 4 BCE, in Jericho, not long after the events that would have created the first Christian martyrs -- the slaying of the newborns of Bethlehem. The timing of his death in Jericho makes it appear to be divine justice, but independent verification of the Biblical story has never been found.

Richardson approaches the historical subject in a somewhat backwards fashion, examining the details of the death of Herod and the aftermath his will and the will of Rome in shaping his legacy to their ends. Using close sources such as Josephus, Richardson then proceeds to examine earlier, less well-documented periods in Herod's life, including his early service to Rome and his attempts at consolidation of power at different points. Shortly before key events that would bring him the favour of the Romans, Herod himself was on trial in Jerusalem for his possible usurpation of power that was not rightfully his -- this bravado, however, found favour with the Romans who followed his career with interest ever after.

Richardson also explores Herod's influence in the building up of Jerusalem into a great city as well as outside projects (major fortresses, palaces, religious and cultural buildings, commercial construction and infrastructure), as well as his support of and rivalry with various religious factions in Jerusalem and surrounding Judea. Herod's relationship with the Temple and priestly elite had ramifications throughout the religious fabric of Judaism of the time, which in various factions held differing beliefs about the appropriate constitution of the priestly officials and the practices these should perform. Herod incurred the disfavour of Sadducees, Pharisees, Esssenes, Herodians, Brigands, and others at different points in turn.

In the final chapters, Richardson turns to examine the role of Herod and his descendants in Christianity. He examines in detail the likelihood of Herod ordering the death of the newborns (or even knowing of the birth of a potential rival king). He examines also the role of Herod Antipas in the death of John and Jesus. Josephus confirms John the Baptist's death at the hands of Antipas, though recounts somewhat differently from gospel accounts. The gospels relate two independent traditions regarding the relationship of Jesus and Herod Antipas.

In all, this is a fascinating history that brings up great detail and context with which to read the gospel stories, the Roman history in the Middle East, and the Dead Sea Scrolls in a new context.
informative, scholarly and readable  Jan 8, 1999
The introduction and the first two chapters captured my attention, the book begins with Herod's death and comments on the internal (tragic) family matters. The author displays his impressive knowledge of archeology, ancient and biblical history to present to us a believable portrait of Herod.
A clearer picture of Herod  Jun 24, 1998
Herod has long suffered from the taint of infanticide and his associations with the birth of Christ, as portrayed in the Bible. Peter Richardson's book dispells the myths that have grown up around Herod, and make him a living, breath ing, interesting character in the period of Roman rule of Palestine, and the int ertestamental period of religious history. Herod the builder, Herod the supporte r of the Jewish diaspora and the Olympian games, Herod the master politician - e ach of these aspects of his character are brought vividly to life, and make clea r his very important position in the pre-Christian life of Palestine. This book provides important insights into the life of Herod, his skills as architect and administrator, and uncanny ability to read the political situation and shift all egiance in order to remain in power. An excellent book well worth the effort to read.

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