Felix, Marcus Antonius
FELIX, MARCUS ANTONIUS
Roman procurator of Palestine (c. a.d. 53–60) who held St. Paul a prisoner at Caesarea. Felix was a freedman of Antonia, Emperor Claudius's mother, and a brother of Pallas, Claudius's favorite. He was first married to Drusilla, the granddaughter of Anthony and Cleopatra, and later to the daughter of Herod agrippa i, also named Drusilla. She had been married for two months to Aziz, King of Emesa (ancient Hamath), before leaving him to marry Felix. Felix was made procurator (governor) of Palestine by Claudius in 52 or 53. His brother's favored position emboldened him to cruelty, lust, greed, and assassination, and saved him from punishment when Nero recalled him to Rome on a charge of maladministration (c. a.d. 60).
His misconduct fanned Jewish discontent and eventually led to the Jewish revolt of 66–70. Paul, after his arrest at Jerusalem, was taken to Caesarea in order to be protected against the fanatical Jews in Jerusalem and to stand trial before Felix, who already had "some accurate knowledge of the Way" (Acts 23.22–24.23). Some days later Paul terrified Felix and Drusilla by speaking to them on chastity and the judgment to come, but in hope of a bribe, Felix kept him in prison for two years, speaking to him often (23.24–26). When Felix was recalled to Rome, he left Paul in prison for the sake of currying favor with the Jews, although he admitted that he did not find him guilty of any crime. He was succeeded by Porcius festus.
Bibliography: r. von rohden, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 1.2 (1894) 2616–18. f. m. abel, Histoire de la Palestine depuis la Conquête d'Alexandre jusqu'à l'invasion Arabe, 2 v. (Études bibliques 1952) 1:463–468. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 769–770. j. schmid, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 1957–65) 4:70. e. haenchen, Die Apostelgeschichte (12th ed. rev. 1959).
[f. j. buckley]