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Marcellus, prefect of Judea

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Marcellus, prefect of Judea

Marcellus was Roman Prefect of the province of Judea.

He was a friend of Lucius Vitellius (ib. 4, § 2), who appointed him after sending Pilate to Rome (in 36 or 37) to render account. It may be assumed, however, that Marcellus was not really a governor of Judea, but only a subordinate official of Vitellius. Indeed, this is the only instance where Josephus, in designating the office of Marcellus, uses the expression epimeletes (ἐπιμελητής) = "overseer", which is uncommon, and we are not certain whether Marcellus really had the powers of a prefect, or was merely a caretaker. No official act of Marcellus is reported. In 37, he was replaced by Marullus.

However, we are given some insight into the changed situation in Jerusalem after the departure of Pilate by the contrast between the trial and execution of Jesus and that of the first Christian Martyr Saint Stephen (Acts 7). In the former the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council) passed the death sentence but dare not carry it out without the prefect's endorsement and the execution was carried out by the Roman state; in Stephen's case the Romans were ignored and the hurried execution was by the old Jewish method of stoning. It would appear that a temporary overseer may have preferred to stay in Caesarea and turn a blind eye to the growing confidence and aggression of the Jewish leaders who had engineered the removal of Pilate after 10 years.

See also

  • Prefects, Procurators and Legates of Roman Judaea

References

  • Livius.org: Marcellus
Marcellus (prefect of Judea)
Preceded by
Pontius Pilate
Prefect of Judaea Succeeded by
Marullus
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