Why Does only Luke Claim that Jesus was Tried By Herod? Answer: He Borrowed this Detail from Paul’s Trial!

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Apostle Paul on Trial by Nikolai Bodarevsky (Paul stands before Festus, Herod Agrippa, and his wife Bernice)

Luke’s account of the trial before Pilate is twice the length of Mark’s.  Luke too [as did Matthew] has drawn basic subject matter from Mark; yet just as he reshaped in a major way the Marcan material he used in the Sanhedrin interrogation, here too Luke has reorganized drastically.  …There are three major points in which Luke differs from Mark:

  1.  The detailed presentation of charges.
  2.  Pilate’s sending Jesus to Herod for investigation, only to have Herod find him innocent.
  3.  The three statements by Pilate that he finds nothing guilty in Jesus.

The first two points have been strongly influenced by patterns in the trial of Paul before Roman officials described in Acts [also authored by “Luke”].  In particular when Paul is arrested in Jerusalem and the Jewish authorities plot to kill him (Acts 23-25), Paul is made to stand before a Roman procurator (Felix) as detailed charges are brought against him by the chief priests and elders.

Yet the Roman procurator (now Festus), seeking help because he finds Paul not to be guilty, invites an Herodian king [Herod Agrippa II] to investigate Paul; and that king finds him innocent.  Within Luke-Acts the influence most likely came from Paul’s trial to Jesus’ trial, rather than vice versa.

Luke, reshaping the trial of Jesus from the model of the trial of Paul, has supplied a paradigm to be imitated by Christians who are dragged before Roman judges.  If the Lucan Jesus exhibits a confident tranquility that forces even the Roman governor to recognize his innocence, Christians must be able to do likewise.

–mainstream New Testament scholar, Raymond Brown, in The Death of the Messiah (1994), pp. 756, 759


Gary:  So “Luke” was not simply putting Mark’s material in careful order, as conservative Christians claim.  No.  He (and Matthew) were inventing new material and adding it to Mark’s (…invented material???).

2 thoughts on “Why Does only Luke Claim that Jesus was Tried By Herod? Answer: He Borrowed this Detail from Paul’s Trial!

  1. Or it could just as easy be that Herod conducted trials with lots of people. What you are doing what we in seminary call “easygesis” (possessed to Exegesis) you are just manipulating the facts to encourage an answer that supports the view you want to endorse.


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