Unremarkable Agrippa

Source: H. Graetz, History of the Jews, volume II (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1893) 260.

“The Zealots barred the entrance of the Temple against any one belonging to the peace party, and gained over to their side the masses who had brought wood for the altar, as well as the Sicarii who made their way into the Temple through the crowd. Strengthened by the increase of numbers, the Zealots drove away their opponents and became masters of the upper town. The anger of the people was aroused against the friends of Rome, they set fire to the palaces of King Agrippa and Princess Berenice, devoting to the slaves likewise the house of the rich priest Ananias, and the public archives, among which the bonds of debtors were kept.”

This quote stood out to me because it discussed Agrippa and Berenice, who also appear in Acts 25-26. It’s like seeing someone on a TV show whom I recognize from another series (“Hey, that’s Mrs. Landingham!”): it’s just cool.

I looked at David Braund’s article on Agrippa in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Agrippa did a lot of positive things for his nation and his religion, but he took the side of the Romans when the revolt was going on. And he lived a long life as a result. According to Braund, “In Rome in a.d. 75 Agrippa was awarded the symbols of praetorian rank.”

But he had some disappointments in life as well. Agrippa was about to be appointed to succeed his father, Agrippa I, but he was deemed too young and inexperienced for the position, so the Romans gave most of the power to a governor. I guess young Agrippa’s role was ceremonial rather than official.

Here’s one thought, which I may repeat a lot as time goes on: Agrippa was influential in his own time, but his influence did not go beyond that. Jesus and Paul, by contrast, created a current that persists to this very day. Often, a life of just seeking power and fame doesn’t have a lasting effect. Neither does simply being religious, since Agrippa paid his dues to God through his support of Judaism. But a contribution to the world of ideas in an attempt to help others and glorify a cause beyond oneself can actually have a long life.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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