The question of the identity of the group called the ‘Herodians’ in the Gospel of Mark has long been a thorny issue, with most commentators now deciding that they are in some way associated with Herod Antipas. However, a narrative-critical approach to Mark makes this unlikely. Rather, the suggestion that the Herodians are the Essenes under another (disparaging) name has many points in its favour, especially given evidence found in Josephus, patristic literature and archaeology that testifies to an association between the Essenes and the Herodian dynasty. Likewise, an assumption that the Essenes were a small, marginal and isolated group is one that needs to be laid on one side as a by-product of outdated conceptions of Judaism, wedded to a caricature in Pliny. Josephus or Philo indicate that the Essenes were the most esteemed of the Jewish legal schools within Second Temple Judaism.