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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:1, Spring 2021

Epistles: What’s in a Name?: Antipas

Biblical Archaeology Review


Anti = “in the place of,” “equal to,” “like” | patēr = “father”

Antipas was a nickname of a first-century ruler of Galilee and Perea. His full name, Herod Antipatros (Greek: ̔Ηρᾡδης ̓Αντίπατρος, Hērōdēs Antipatros; 21 B.C.E.–39 C.E.), can be loosely translated as “Herod who is equal to his father.” This father was none other than King Herod the Great. More Hellenistic and Roman rulers (especially in the East) bore composite epithets that expressed a family status, relationship, or affection: Philadelphos (“brother-loving”), Philometor (“mother-loving”), Eupator (“of noble father”), etc.

Although the original sense of the Greek preposition anti is “over against” or “opposite” (see Sanskrit ánti or Latin ante), anti in the present sense serves to liken a bearer to someone else—in this case, the larger-than-life figure of Antipas’s father. Because anti governs the genitive case, “father” (patēr) in his name takes the form of patros.

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