Philorhomaios: The Portraits of Herod Agrippa II by Josephus and Luke

Doctoral Dissertation


The distinctive identity and role of Marcus Julius (Herod) Agrippa II as a client king of Rome are a medium for the two near contemporary historians, Josephus and Luke, to shape their view of their ethnic and religious identities in the late first century CE. Before delving into the portraits of Agrippa, we first investigate three Greco-Roman historians-Polybius, Livy, and Tacitus-who showed their own view of Rome and the Mediterranean world through their descriptions of client king figures. The portraits of Agrippa Josephus and Luke paint function as a mirror on which the identification of their own respective community is reflected. For Josephus, a Judean could survive, and even flourish in the Roman world because status quo is sanctioned by God. Like King Agrippa and Josephus himself, most Judeans are willing to live under the yoke of Rome while observing the Torah. For Luke, the client king embodies a group of Judean-Roman communities, whose allegiance lay in both Judaism and the Empire. They constituted a part of the gentile world in which Christianity strove to find its voice and place toward the end of the first century. The Judean diaspora in the Roman world played a meaningful role in shaping the identity of the Christian church. Not unlike the way Josephus conceptualizes Rome, the author of Luke-Acts affirms the value and rationale of the imperial order. But, the Judean-Roman community is not just a “setting” for the church’s evangelizing mission, but the very object of it. The client king represents an anomaly in the narrative context in which Judeans and Romans have alternated. As a legal counsel, a judge, and a listener of the gospel, Agrippa declares Paul and Christianity to be innocent. The king’s verdict upon Paul could be seen in the context of evangelism. Thus Josephus and Luke utilize their portraits of Agrippa in establishing the identities of their own communities. Dual citizenship, dual allegiance, ancestral faith and universalism are all at play in the two historians’ treatments of the client king.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07192013-011521

Author Jaecheon Cho
Advisor Gregory E. Sterling
Contributor David E. Aune, Committee Member
Contributor Gregory E. Sterling, Committee Chair
Contributor James C. VanderKam, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-06-21

Submission Date 2013-07-19
  • United States of America

  • client kings

  • Josephus

  • Luke-Acts

  • Herod Agrippa II

  • Judaism

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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