Felix, Antonius°

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FELIX, ANTONIUS °, procurator of Judea 52–60 c.e. He was a brother of the freedman Pallas, who was influential in Rome. Felix, appointed to the procuratorship by the emperor Claudius, married Drusilla, daughter of Agrippa i (cf. Acts 24:24). Felix's period of office was one of constant unrest. Tacitus (Historiae 5:9; Annales 12:54) states scathingly that "with all manner of cruelty and lust he exercised royal function in the spirit of a slave." Immediately on his arrival in Judea he seized Eleazar b. Dinai, the leader of the *Sicarii, together with a number of his men, and sent them in chains to Rome; he crucified many more. Taking advantage of the hostility of the Sicarii toward certain classes among the Jews, Felix encouraged them to assassinate the high priest Jonathan, who had presumed to advise him on how to conduct affairs in Judea. He ruthlessly crushed any real or imaginary attempt at rebellion. Believing an exhortation by a prophet to go into the wilderness to be an incitement to insurrection, he dispatched a force which killed many who had been persuaded to go there (Jos., Ant., 20:166). An Egyptian prophet promised to demonstrate to the masses his power to make the walls of Jerusalem fall at a simple command. When he arrived at the Mount of Olives with his followers, Felix attacked them and killed many, although the prophet himself escaped (cf. Acts 21:38). In Caesarea, the residence of the procurator, a civic dispute between the Syrians and the Jews erupted into violence. When the Jews refused to desist, Felix sent soldiers against them. During Felix's term of office, the apostle Paul was imprisoned. According to the New Testament, he was kept in custody to please the Jews (Acts 23:24; 24:27), but this motive is difficult to accept in view of all that transpired during Felix's procuratorship. The more probable explanation is that Paul's being a Roman citizen prevented Felix from treating him as he had others. In 60 c.e. Felix was succeeded by *Festus Porcius, under whom the conflict in Caesarea continued.


Jos., Loeb (ed.), vol. 9, index; Pauly-Wissowa, 2 (1894), 2616–18, no. 54; Schuerer, Hist, 180, 228–34.

[Lea Roth]