In his search for a state religion for his princedom,
Antipas selected the national solution and relied on a national Jewish literature to legitimise his rule.
Antipas’ achievements can be seen in three political fields; 1) the introduction of laws as the basis of his rule, rather than simply the personal exercise of power, as practised by Herod the Great; 2) in setting up a stable state in Galilee; 3) in detaching Galilee from the embrace of Herod’s union of kingdoms.
The Jewish elite’s solution resulted in a national Jewish literature, written in Hebrew, the ancient Jewish language,
but expressing ideas taken from Rome. Like Aeneas fleeing Troy, Moses is forced to flee Egypt from powerful enemies.
Many kings’ names were known from Jewish history, as well as relationships with Assyrian and Babylonian kings. But there were no narratives that could have been shaped into a literary form.
The Old Testament narrative history used contemporary themes and social conflicts, so that the literary production appeared very modern to contemporaries in the 1st Century AD. The division of the kingdom, temple construction, and conflicts between individual states played a part both in the literature and in current events.
The problem with the national solution: the national state religion for Galilee that favoured the Jewish elite excluded the large non-Jewish sections of the population. It created a hierarchy of belonging and graded levels of civil rights in the new city that contradicted the idea of a Galilean identity for the whole population.
The Jewish elite favoured a national solution for the reorientation and the search for an identity in Galilee,
looking back to the great figures of Jewish and Samaritan history and how they were embedded in the history of the Middle East.
The national solution recalls the solutions represented by the poet Virgil and his great epic, the Aeneid, written a generation previously in Rome. Virgil found the great Roman past in the Roman tradition, but followed Rome’s origins even further back into the past.
According to this narrative, the heroes of Troy, whose downfall Homer narrated, were the true ancestors of the Romans. One of them, Aeneas, was the forebear of the Roman kings.