Geza Vermes on Herod

Herod the Great

Herod the Wonderful...

It must be the year for defending the justly maligned (like Judas Iscariot and Constantine and now Herod). Geza Vermes has set about to reclaim Herod as an actual member of human society. With thanks to Joseph Lauer for the tip.

In short, both Jewish and Christian traditions treat him as Herod the Terrible. The historian, however, is fully aware, despite Herod’s grave shortcomings, of his unparalleled political and cultural accomplishments. In particular, his long friendship with Augustus was highly beneficial to the inhabitants of Judea and the Jewish religion. Moreover, while Herod enjoyed the enviable status of a “client king, friend of the Roman people”, none of his descendants, if the short reign of Agrippa I (41-44 CE) is discarded, was sufficiently esteemed by Augustus and his successors to receive the title “king of the Jews”. All in all, in view of these unquestionable achievements Herod deserves to be known as the one and only Herod the Great.

All hail the mass murderer and cruel tyrant.

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