Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Revised dates for King Herod

Andrew E. Steinmann wrote "When Did Herod the Great Reign?" (pdf) in Novum Testamentum; 51 (2009). In it he defends a later date for Herod's reign and death. The abstract reads:
For about 100 years there has been a consensus among scholars that Herod the Great reigned from 37 to 4 BCE . However, there have been several challenges to this consensus over the past four decades, the most notable being the objection raised by W.E. Filmer. This paper argues that Herod most likely reigned from late 39 BCE to early 1 BCE , and that this reconstruction of his reign can account for all of the surviving historical references to the events of Herod’s reign more logically than the current consensus can. Moreover, the reconstruction of Herod’s reign proposed in this paper accounts for all of the datable evidence relating to Herod’s reign, whereas the current consensus is unable to explain some of the evidence that it dismisses as ancient errors or that it simply ignores.
He addresses the evidence for the current consensus and why this fails due to several other chronological considerations. He claims that Josephus erred with his Olympiad dates for the beginning of Herod's kingship. He shows that one must assume some chronological errors in Josephus because of internal inconsistencies; and, in assuming the 2 Olympiad dates are incorrect by one year, several other problems are resolved.

This is the summary table of Herod's life according to Steinmann's reconstruction.

DateEvent
Late 39 BC Herod appointed king by the Romans
Tishri 38 BC Beginning of Herod’s first regnal year
10 Tishri 36 Herod conquers Jerusalem
December 36 BC or March 35 BC Antigonus executed
Tishri 35 BC Beginning of Herod’s first regnal year in Jerusalem
20 BC Herod begins work on the temple in Jerusalem
Late 19 or early 20 BC Work on Temple building completed
12 BC Work on Temple precincts completed
11 or 10 BC Work on Caesarea Sebaste completed
4 BC Murder of Herod’s brother Pheroras;

Antipater deposed as Herod’s heir;

Archelaus named Herod’s heir
2 BC Jesus born
First quarter of 1 BC Antipater executed; Herod dies

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