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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ananias

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(Ἀνανίας , the Greek form of the name Annaiah, q.v.), the name of several men, principally in the Apocrypha and Josephus. (See HANANIAH), etc.

1. (Ἀννίς v. r. Ἀννίας .) One of the persons (or places) whose "sons," to the number of 101, are said to have returned with Zerubbabel from the captivity (1 Esdras 5:16); but the genuine text (Ezra 2:15-16) has no such name. 2. One of the priests, "sons" of Emmer (i.e. Immer), who renounced his Gentile wife after the riturn from Babylon (1 Esdras 9:21); evidently the HANANI (See HANANI) (q.v.) of the genuine text (Ezra 10:20).

3. An Israelite of the "sons" of Bebai, who did the same (1 Esdras 9:29); evidently the HANANIAH (See HANANIAH) (q.v.) of the true text (Ezra 10:28).

4. One of the priests who stood at the right hand of Ezra while reading the law (1 Esdras 9:43); the ANAIAH (See ANAIAH) (q.v.) of the genuine text (Nehemiah 8:4).

5. One of the Levites who aided Ezra in expounding the law (1 Esdras 9:48); the HANAN (See HANAN) (q.v.) of the true text (Nehemiah 8:7).

6. A person called "Ananias the Great," the son of "that great Samaias," the brother of Jonathas, and father of Azarias, of the family of Tobit; who the angel that addressed Tobit assumed to be (Tobit 5:12-13). The names are apparently allegorical (see Fritzsche, Handb. in loc.).

7. The son of Gideon and father of Elcia, in the ancestry of Judith (Judith 8:1).

8. The Greek form (Song of Three Children, ver. 66) of the original name, HANANIAH (See HANANIAH) (q.v.), of Shadrach, (Daniel 1:7). See also in 1 Maccabees 2:59.

9. One of the Jewish ambassadors in Samaria, to whom the decree of Darius in favor of the Jews was addressed (Josephus, Ant. 11, 4, 9).

10. A son of Onins (who built the Jewish temple at Heliopolis), high in favor with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra (Josephus,' Ant. 13, 10, 4), who made a league with Alexander Jannaeus at his instance as general of her army in Palestine (ib. 13, 2).

11. A Christian belonging to the infant church at Jerusalem, who, conspiring with his wife Sapphira to deceive and defraud the brethren, was overtaken by sudden death, and immediately buried (Acts 5, 1 sq.), A.D. 23.

The Christian community at Jerusalem appear to have entered into a solemn agreement that each and all should devote their property to the great work of furthering the Gospel and giving succor to the needy. Accordingly they proceeded to sell their possessions, and brought the proceeds into the common stock of the church. Thus Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37) "having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet." The apostles, then, had the general disposal, if they had not also the immediate distribution, of the common funds. The contributions, therefore, were designed for the sacred purposes of religion. As all the members of the Jerusalem Church had thus agreed to hold their property in common for the furtherance of the holy work in which they were engaged, if any one of them withheld a part, and offered the remainder as the whole, he committed two offenses he defrauded the church, and was guilty of falsehood; and as his act related, not to secular, but to religious affairs, and had an injurious bearing, both as an example and as a positive transgression against the Gospel while it was yet struggling into existence, Ananias lied, not unto man, but unto God, and was guilty of a sin of the deepest dye. Had Ananias chosen to keep his property for his own worldly purposes, he was at liberty, as Peter intimates, so to do; but he had, in fact, alienated it to pious purposes, and it was therefore no longer his own. Yet he wished to deal with it in part as if it were so, showing, at the same time, that he was conscious of his misdeed, by presenting the residue to the common treasury as if it had been his entire property. He wished to satisfy his selfish cravings, and at the same time to enjoy the reputation of being purely disinterested, like the rest of the church.

That the death of these evil-doers was miraculous seems to be implied in the record of the transaction, and has been the general opinion of the church. That this incident was no mere physical consequence of Peter's severity of tone, as some of the German writers have maintained (Ammon, Krit. Journ. d. theol. Lit. 1, 249), distinctly appears by the direct sentence of a similar death pronounced: by the same. apostle upon| his wife Sapphira a few hours after. (See SAPPHIRA). It is, of course, possible that Ananias's death may have been an act of divine justice unlooked for by the apostle, as there is no mention of such an intended result in his speech; but in the case of the wife, such an idea is out of the question. Niemeyer (Characteristik der Bibel, 1, 574) has well stated the case as regards the blame which some have endeavored to cast on Peter in this matter (Wolfenb. Frnagm. p. 256) when he says that not man, but God, is thus animadverted on: the apostle is but the organ and announcer of the divine justice, which was pleased by this act of deserved severity to protect the morality of the infant church, and strengthen its power for good. The early Christian writers were divided as to the condition of Ananias and Sapphira in the other world. Origen, in his treatise on Matthew, maintains that, being purified by the punishment they underwent, they were saved by their faith in Jesus. Others, among whom are Augustine and Basil, argue that the severity of their punishment on earth showed how great their criminality had been, and left no hope for them hereafter.

See, generally, Bibl. hermen. Unters. p. 375 sq.'; Hohmann, in Augusti's Theol. Blatt. 2, 129 sq.; Neander, Planting, 1, 31 sq.; Vita Ep'phan. in his Op. 2, 351; Wetstein, 2, 483; comp. Schmidt's Allgem. Biblioth. d. theol. Lit. 1, 212 sq.; also Medley, Sernons, p. 363; Bulkley, Disc. 4, 277; Mede, Works, 1, 150; Simeoni, Works, 14, 310; Durand, Sermons, p. 223. Special treatises are those of Walch, De Sepultura Anan. et Sapphir. (Jen. 1755); Meerheim, Ananix et Sapph. saerilegium (Wittenb. 1791); Ernesti, Hist. Ananice (Lips. 1679-1680); Franck, De crinine Ananice et Sapph. (Argent. 1751).

12. A Christian of Damascus (Acts 9:10; Acts 22:12), held in high repute, to whom the Lord appeared in a vision, and bade him proceed to "the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth." Ananias had difficulty in giving credence to the message, remembering how much evil Paul had done to the saints at Jerusalem, and knowing that he had come to Damascus with authority to lay waste the Church of Christ there. Receiving, however, an assurance that the persecutor had been converted, and called to the work of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, Ananias went to Paul, and, putting his hands on him, bade him, receive his sight, when immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and, recovering the sight which he had lost when the Lord appeared to him on his way to Damascus, Paul, the new convert, arose, and was baptized, and preached Jesus Christ (see Walch, Dissert. in Act. Apost. 2, 78 sq.), A.D. 30.

Tradition (Menolog. Graecor. 1, 79 sq.) represents Ananias as the first that published the Gospel in Damascus, over which place he was subsequently made bishop; but having roused, by his zeal, the hatred of the Jews, he was seized by them, scourged, and finally stoned to death in his own church.

13. A son of Nebedaeus (Josephus, Ant. 20, 5, 2), was made high-priest in the time of the procurator Tiberius Alexander, about A.D. 48, by Herod, king of Chalcis, who for this purpose removed Joseph, son of Camydus, from the high-priesthood (Josephus, Ant. 20, 1, 3). He held the office also under the procurator Cumanus, who succeeded Tiberius Alexander, A.D. 52. Being implicated in the quarrels of the Jews and Samaritans, Ananias was, at the instance of the latter (who, being dissatisfied with the conduct of Cumanus, appealed to Ummidius Quadratus, president of Syria), sent in bonds to Rome, together with his associate Jonathan and a certain Ananus (Josephus, War, 2, 12, 6), to answer for his conduct before Claudius Caesar (Josephus, Ant. 20, 6, 2). The emperor decided in favor of the accused party. Ananias appearsto have returned with credit, and to have remained in his priesthood until Agrippa gave his office to Ismael, the son of Phabi (Josephus, Ant. 20, 8, 8), who succeeded (Wieseler, Chronol. Synopsis, p. 187 sq.) a short time before the departure of the' procurator Felix (Joe oephus, Ant. 20, 8, 5), and occupied the. station also under his successor Festus (Josephus, Ant. 20, 6, 3). Ananias, after retiring from his high-priesthood, "increased in glory every day" (Josephus, Ant. 20, 9, 2), and obtained favor with the citizens, and with Albinus, the Roman procurator, by a lavish use of the great wealth he had hoarded. His prosperity met with a dark and painful termination. The assassins (sicarii) who played so fearful a part in the Jewish war, set fire to his house in the commencement of it, and compelled him to seek refuge by concealment; but, being discovered in an aqueduct, he was captured and slain, together with his brother Hezekiah (Josephus, War, 2, 17; 9), A.D. 67.

It was this Ananias before whom Paul was brought, in the procuratorship of Felix (Acts 23), A.D. 55. The noble declaration of the apostle, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day," so displeased him that he commanded the attendant to smite him on the face. Indignant at so unprovoked an insult, the apostle replied, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall" a threat which the previous details serve to prove wants not evidence of having taken effect. Paul, however, immediately restrained his anger, and allowed that he owed respect to the office which Ananias bore. After this hearing Paul was sent to Caesarea, whither Ananias repaired in order to lay a formal charge against him before Felix, who postponed the matter, detaining the apostle meanwhile, and placing him under the supervision of a Roman centurion (Acts 24). Paul's statement, "I wist not (οὐκ ἤδειν ), brethren, that he was the highpriest" (Acts 23:5), has occasioned considerable difficulty (see Cramer, De Paulo in Synedrio verbafaciente, Jen. 1735; Brunsmann, An Paulus vere ignorarit Ananiam esse summum sacerdotem, in his Hendecad. Diss. Hafn. 1691, p. 44 sq.), since he could scarcely have been ignorant of so public a fact, and one indicated by the very circumstances of the occasion; but it seems simply to signify that the apostle had at the moment overlooked the official honor due to his partisan judge (see Kuinol, Comment. in loc.). (See PAUL).

14. An eminent priest, son of Masambalus,, slain by Simon during the final siege of Jerusalem (Josephus, War, 5,13, 1).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ananias'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/ananias.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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