Historical accuracy of Mark concerning Herod


My professor at Catholic seminary said some things today that are rather worrying.

She claimed that the Gospel of Mark was historically false in chapter 6 verses 17 and 18 when it says that Herodias was Philip’s wife, when she was actually that of Herod Antipas. Mark 6 reads:

Herod himself had sent and arrested John and put him in prison, in chains, for love of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married; because John had told Herod, It is wrong for thee to take thy brother’s wife.

She also says that the account of Saint Matthew’s Gospel of the slaughtering of the Holy Innocents never happened, and was merely a device used to give a reason why the Holy Family ended up in Nazareth and that the account of John the Baptist’s execution was embellished with legendary lines.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with professors such as this? And secondly, is there any truth to what she said?


I would question this professor thoroughly on this topic.

I’m also trying to figure out what she means by saying she was Herod Antipas’ wife. That’s what Mark records, that he married his brother’s wife. Is she confused about which Herod that Mark is referring to?

I would ask to see some support for this claim. And you should ask to see the evidence when you hear claims like this. If they get upset at your request, tell them that you need to research it fully so that if someone asks you about it in the future, you can answer them.



Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents—the baby boys that Matthew records were slain on the orders of Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus.

Did he really?

Sometimes we hear skeptics dismiss the idea by saying that we have no record of him doing so.

But it’s not exactly like we have the complete records of what Herod did in his reign. So much has been lost that this kind of argument from silence is the logical fallacy they teach it to be in beginning philosophy classes. Just because we don’t have a record of Herod doing something doesn’t mean he didn’t do it.

And, after all, don’t we have a record in this case? Matthew mentions him doing it. That’s a record, right? Only if Matthew were a systematically untrustworthy source would one be warranted in summarily dismissing what he says, and judged by the ordinary standards applied to evaluating other first century historical works—even apart from the perspective of faith—Matthew must surely be reckoned as far more trustworthy than that.


You would have to ask her to explain. She may have her ‘Herods’ mixed up.



Herodias later married Herod II’s half-brother, Herod Antipas. According to Josephus:

Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas


The Holy Innocents



Although consistent with other documented actions of King Herod, the massacre cannot be positively verified outside of the biblical source.

Maier argues that sceptics have tended to “regard opinion as fact, and have largely avoided a careful historical search into the parameters of the problem”. After analysing the arguments against the historicity of the infant massacre Maier concludes they all “have very serious flaws”.[21] Maier follows Jerry Knoblet[22] in arguing for historicity based on the “identical personality profiles that emerge of Herod” in both Matthew and Josephus;[23]

Know your battleground before you engage. :slight_smile:


My advice is to recognize it and try not to fall into the same mindset. In my experience I have found that many of those of higher academia tend to be more on the non-traditional side and more scholarly minded rather than spiritually minded. They dont make them like St. Thomas Aquinas anymore. Anymore it seems like in order to be a so-called Bible scholar you have to have the knowledge of the Bible with the heart of an agnostic.


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