A New Portrait of Salome

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Salome’s image has been obscured and marred due to the personas created for her by writers of the past 150 years. Salome is famous for the part she played in the execution of John the Baptist. Since 1863, she has been depicted in books and films as morally depraved. Diligent research reveals, however, that the real Salome is much different than popular portrayals.

A first century C.E. coin bearing the portraits of Aristobulus (obverse) and Salome (reverse). Image courtesy of the Classical Numismatic Group.

Salome’s image has been obscured and marred due to the personas created for her by writers of the past 150 years. Salome is famous for the part she played in the execution of John the Baptist. Since 1863, she has been depicted in books and films as morally depraved. Diligent research reveals, however, that the real Salome is much different than popular portrayals.

An artistic depiction of Salome at age 39-40 by Helen Twena based on a recently discovered coin.

The paradoxes begin with the fact that her name does not appear in the Gospels. We know her name from Josephus’ account of the story (Ant. 18:136-137) and from the coin that bears her portrait—incidentally, hers is the only portrait of a person mentioned in the Gospels. Another paradox is the distortion of her story in modern literature and art.[1]

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Issue55

For a free PDF download of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine issue in which this article originally appeared, click here.

 

 

 


  • [1] See the entry “Salome” in Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972), 14:689-691.

David Flusser [1917-2000]

David Flusser [1917-2000]

Professor David Flusser died and was buried in Jerusalem on Friday, September 15, 2000, his 83rd birthday. A founding member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, Flusser was one of the world's leading Jewish authorities on Early Christianity. His pioneering research on Jesus and…
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