Recasts a fascinating but much maligned New Testament character
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.
Setting his study against the cross currents of Jewish and Roman culture in the first century, Richardson emphasizes the social and historical context in which Herod's life unfolded and evaluates the family matters, patronage, religious developments, and ethnic issues that shaped his reign. Richardson details Herod's active participation in political events during the making of the Roman Empire and his close association with such prominent figures as Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Cassius, Octavian (Augustus), Cleopatra, and Marcus Agrippa. In addition to telling Herod's life story, Richardson recounts the legends that grew up around the man--including his responsibility for a massacre of young children in Bethlehem.
Peter Richardson is professor, Centre for the Study of Religion, and past principal of University College at the University of Toronto. He is author of Israel in the Apostolic Church and Paul's Ethic of Freedom.
"A thorough and often engaging (though highly scholarly) account of Herod (73–4 B.C.), King of Judea and an influential figure in a period of great religious ferment, with the development of both rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity."—The Globe and Mail
"In this well-written and lively study. Richardson concentrates more on the political skills of Herod than on the elements of his personal life. Richardson offers a quite positive picture of Herod, comparing him with such dynamic but flawed characters of history as Henry VIII and Peter the Great. Herod's political and family life was much more complicated than the simple summary of this review would suggest, but Richardson does a good job of guiding the reader through he tangles. As Richardson says: Herod's life wasn't pretty, but it sure was dramatic."—Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly