Lectionary Year B
July 16, 2000
Step IV: Broader Context
(DH) A. PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY
According to the outer margin of the Nestle-text, there is no other mention
of the story of John's beheading outside the Gospels. In Luke 9:7-9, Herod
is perplexed that people talk about Jesus, saying that he might be the
resurrected John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. Luke's Herod
seems to be clear that it cannot be John, for "John I beheaded; but who is
this about whom I hear such things? (v. 9)" In Matthew's account of
John's death (Mt 14:1-11), the disciples come, take John's body; then they
go and tell Jesus about it. This is a piece of information that Mark's
Gospel does not disclose to its reader.
(DH) B. OLD TESTAMENT AND JUDAISM
Esther 5:3 (cf. also v. 6)
The king said to her: "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request?
It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom."
According to Josephus (Ant. 18, 5, 2), some of the Jews believed that
Herod's (Antipas, 4 B.C. - 39 A.D.) army was destroyed by God in the war
against the Arabian king Aretas because God executed His just punishment
against Herod who had killed John the Baptist. Herod, who had known John
to be a just and pious man, feared that John's popularity would lead to an
uprising of the people. Thus, Josephus seems to hold political motives
responsible for John's death.
[Strack/Billerbeck. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. Matthew 14:3; see
also: C.K. Barrett. The New Testament Background. p. 242.]
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