Roman procurator of Palestine (c. 60–62) who sent St. Paul to Rome for trial at the Emperor's tribunal. He was an honest and capable administrator, but he did not live long enough to lessen the Jewish hostility toward Rome that had grown to dangerous proportions during the preceding decades. During his administration a case of mob violence in Caesarea and a rebellion in the desert was suppressed. The Jews urged Festus to bring Paul, whom his predecessor Marcus Antonius felix had left in prison for two years at Caesarea, to Jerusalem for trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 24.27–25.9); but Paul, knowing that this was merely a ruse for killing him on the way, claimed his right as a Roman citizen to be tried before the Emperor's tribunal in Rome (25.10–12). In order to have a fuller report on the case, Festus had Paul plead his case before Herod agrippa ii and Berenice (25.13–26.31). Agrippa's opinion was that "this man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar" (25.32).
Bibliography: m. lambertz, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 22.1 (1953) 220–227. f. m. abel, Histoire de la Palestine depuis la Conquête d'Alexandre jusqu'à l'invasion Arabe, 2 v. (Études bibliques 1952) 1:468–470. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible 770. s. sandmel, The Interpreters' Dictionary of the Bible 2:265–266. j. schmid, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 4:101.
[f. j. buckley]