More than any other person, Herod the Great was responsible for bringing the theater to Israel.

His campaign to make humanistic Hellenism the worldview of his people included building theaters at Caesarea, Jericho, Jerusalem, Samaria, and Sidon. Many other places including Susita, Sepphoris, the Decapolis, and Beth Shean had theaters as well.

Inside the theaters, large crowds gathered to watch the actors. Many plays involved obscene behaviors and language, promoting secular values that contradicted the God-centered values of the Jews. Caesarea and Jerusalem could not prosper at the same time; the values represented by Caesarea and its giant theater opposed the values of Jerusalem and the temple

The splendor and size of Hellenistic theaters were seductive and overwhelming to the Jewish people. The religious community, realizing the pull and temptation of the theater, resisted it strongly.

Certainly Jesus would not have participated in ungodly theater practices, but he did understand the theater’s influence on pagan culture. To convey God’s truth in a way that secular audiences would understand, he used many theater images in his parables and teachings.


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