03.06.17 A.D. 6 – 15 Annas Appointed High Priest
Ananus (shortened to Annas, also spelled Ananos), son of Sethi, was a Sadducee and father-in-law to Caiaphas. He was originally from Alexandria, Egypt, and came to Jerusalem at the invitation of Herod the Great. His appointment to the position as high priest was a point of immense tension with the common people who viewed the priesthood under his leadership as being equally as corrupt as the Romans. The high priest was also the president of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish judicial and legislative body. After his full service, he retired, but retained the title in a ceremonial capacity until his death and, hence, he is referred to as the high priest during the life of Christ even though he officially did not function in that office. After his tenure in office in A.D. 15, Ishmael ben Phabi held the office followed by his son Eleazar until the year A.D. 18. Neither of these two high priests had any recorded significance in the biblical narratives. Beginning in the year A.D. 18, the Annas dynasty ruled again under the leadership of Caiaphas.
The dynasty of Annas produced eight high priests who served between the years A.D. 6 and 65, and accumulated nearly forty years of corrupt temple service. Besides the founding father, Annas I, there were five sons, a son-in-law, and a grandson. It is believed that the first three Christian martyrs mentioned in the book of Acts were executed under the tenure of the Annas Dynasty. They were:
- Stephen: killed under the directives of Caiaphas.
- James, the brother of John: was killed under the directives of Matthias.
- James, the brother of Jesus: was killed under the directives of Annas II.
. Neusner and Green, eds., Dictionary of Judaism. 33, 38; See also Lk. 3:2; Jn. 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6.
. Wilson, The False Trials. 26.
. Stein, R. Jesus the Messiah. 56-57.
. Acts 6-7.
. Acts 12:2.
. Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1 (200).