King and ruler takes his stand: ‘Herod’ as a composite character in Luke-Acts
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Dicken, Frank Edward
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Using a narrative-critical approach, this thesis argues that ‘Herod’ may be construed as a composite character in Luke-Acts. Composite characters appear in literary works as a conflation of two or more historic individuals into a single character in a narrative. Scholars have often noted that Luke-Acts evidences a more extensive interest in the Herodian rulers than do the gospels of Mark and Matthew and that each of these rulers are depicted similarly to the others in his work. However, no one has argued that those rulers named ‘Herod’ may be understood as a composite character. In Luke-Acts, three Herodian rulers stand behind the composite ‘Herod’. The thesis will show that when compared/contrasted with what is known about the Herodian rulers from historical evidence, two unique features of the depiction of the Herodian rulers named Herod in Luke-Acts emerge. First, at Luke 1:5 the author uses the title ‘King of Judaea’ which is unattested elsewhere for any Herodian ruler. Second, at Acts 12 the author uses the name ‘Herod’ for Agrippa I, a name that finds no external corroboration for this particular King. While other occurrences of the name ‘Herod’ refer to Herod Antipas (Luke 3—Acts 4), these two distinct features of the narrative may be understood as conflation of the other ‘Herods’ with Antipas. Following an interpretation of all the passages in which ‘Herod’ appears, it will be evident that ‘Herod’ is portrayed consistently and as a single character not only through repeated use of the name ‘Herod’, but as a recurring antagonist to the key protagonists of the narrative (John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles/early church). Finally, the thesis will consider as explanation of the depiction of ‘Herod’ how this composite character embodies Satanic opposition from the political realm toward those who proclaim the gospel in the Lukan narrative.