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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Annas (2)

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ANNAS (Ἂννας, Heb. חָנָן, Hanan, Josephus Ἄνανος, Ananos).—High priest of the Jews from a.d. 6 to 15, and thereafter exercising commanding influence through his high priestly rank and his family connexions. The son of one named Sethi, who is otherwise unknown, he was appointed high priest by Quirinius, probably in a.d. 6, and exercised that office, which involved political as well as religious headship of the nation, until he was deposed by the procurator Valerius Gratus in a.d. 15 (Josephus Ant. xviii. ii. 2). The duration of his rule, and the fact that of his sons no fewer than five succeeded him at intervals in the high priesthood (‘which has never happened to any other of our high priests’), caused him to be regarded by his contemporaries as a specially successful man (Ant. xx. ix. 1). On the other hand, he incurred in an unusual degree the unpopularity for which the high priests were proverbial. In addition to their common faults of arrogance and injustice, Annas was notorious for his avarice, which found opportunity in the necessities of the Temple worshippers. It was he, probably, who established the ‘bazaars of the sons of Annas’ (hǎnnûyôth běnê Hânân), a Temple market for the sale of materials requisite for sacrifices, either within the Temple precinct (Keim, Jesus of Nazara, v. 116) or on the Mount of Olives (Derenbourg), the profits of which enriched the high priestly family. Beyond this, the house of Annas is charged with the special sin of ‘whispering’ or hissing like vipers, ‘which seems to refer to private influence on the judges, whereby “morals were corrupted, judgment perverted, and the Shekinah withdrawn from Israel” ’ (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, i. 263).

Annas is referred to by St. Luke and by St. John. In Luke 3:2 (‘in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas’) he is linked with Caiaphas, who alone was actually high priest at the time (a.d. 26). The explanation of this is found partly in the fact that the office having become to some extent the prerogative of a few families, it had acquired some degree of hereditary and indelible quality, and partly in the unusual personal authority exercised by Annas. The result was that even after his deposition he continued to enjoy much of the influence, and even to receive the title, of his former office (Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. i. 195 ff.; against this Keim, l.c. vi. 36 ff.; H. Holtzmann, Hdeom. ad Luke 3:2). In like manner in Acts 4:6 Annas appears at the head of the chiefs of the Sanhedrin in its action against the Apostles, though the actual president was the high priest. See Chief Priests.

The only other passage in which Annas is referred to is in the narrative of the trial of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (John 18:13-24). The Evangelist, speaking with technical accuracy, refrains from calling him high priest, and assigns as a reason for Jesus being led before Annas the relationship between Annas and Caiaphas. The ex-highpriest had probably been the chief instigator of the plot against Jesus, and before him He was brought not for trial, but only for an informal and private examination (so Schürer, l.c. p. 182). ‘The Lord Himself is questioned, but there is no mention of witnesses, no adjuration, no sentence, no sign of any legal process’ (Westcott, ad loc.).

C. A. Scott.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Annas (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/a/annas--2.html. 1906-1918.

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