Paper given at Society of Biblical Literature conference in 1984; published in Journal of Higher Criticism, Vol. 3, Spring 1996, pp. 110-122.
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 life-long Nazirite types as his brother James, John the Baptist, the mysterious “Banus,” and probably the Qumran Righteous Teacher).
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.
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 1QpHab 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”).
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).
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.
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.
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 behaviour, 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 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 “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 an 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 Idumean 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.