1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Herodians

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HERODIANS (Ἡρωδιανοί), a sect or party mentioned in Scripture as having on two occasions—once in Galilee, and again in Jerusalem—manifested an unfriendly disposition towards Jesus (Mark iii. 6, xii. 13; Matt. xxii. 6; cf. also Mark viii. 15). 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 by the fact that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great 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 Tertullian’s (De praescr.) 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.  (J. H. A. H.)