The Herodians were a sect or party mentioned in the New Testament as having on two occasions — once in Galilee, and again in Jerusalem — manifested an unfriendly disposition towards Jesus (Mark 3:6, 12:13; Matthew 22:16; cf. also Mark 8:15, Luke 13:31-32, Acts 4:27).
In each of these cases their name is coupled with that of the Pharisees. According to many interpreters the courtiers or soldiers of Herod Antipas ("Milites Herodis," Jerome) are intended; but more probably the Herodians were a public political party, who distinguished themselves from the two great historical parties of post-exilian Judaism (Pharisees and Sadducees) by the fact that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, the King of the Jews, and to his dynasty (cf. such formations as "Caesariani," "Pompeiani").
It is possible that, to gain adherents, the Herodian party may have been in the habit of representing that the establishment of a Herodian Dynasty would be favourable to the realization of the theocracy; and this in turn may account for pseudo Tertullian's (Adversis Omnes Haereses [1,1)) allegation that the Herodians regarded Herod himself as the Messiah. The sect was called by the Rabbis Boethusians as being friendly to the family of Boethus, whose daughter Mariamne was one of Herod the Great's wives.
Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul of Tarsus was a member of the family of Herod the Great. Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa." Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.