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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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Son of Sethi, or Seth (Josephus, "Ant." 18:2, § 1), a Jewish high priest. He was appointed to the office by Quirinus, governor of Syria, to succeed Joazar. When in his thirty-seventh year, and after having held his position from the years 6-15, he was deposed by Valerius Gratus, procurator of Judea. Annas was the head of a family which produced five high priests during the Herodian period (Josephus, "Ant." 20:9, § 1). These were Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Anan, and Matthias. His daughter was married to the high priest Joseph, who, under the surname of Caiaphas, held that office about ten years (27-37).

Annas is the high priest who appears in the New Testament as holding this office along with Caiaphas, his son-in-law (Luke 3:2 ). In fact, one passage calls him plainly the high priest (Acts 4:6 ), while Caiaphas is merely a member of the hierarchic family. It is into Annas' hands that Jesus is delivered for his first hearing, ere being sent to Caiaphas (John 18:13 ), though in another passage (John 11:49,,51 ) Caiaphas is styled the high priest of that year. From these citations it is obvious that though Caiaphas was the properly appointed high priest, Annas, being his father-in-law and a former incumbent of the office, undoubtedly exercised a great deal of the power attached to the position. The use of the singular in the passage in Luke, in fact, is interpreted by Dr. Plummer as significant of this circumstance: ὲ π ὶ ἀ ρ χ ι ε ρ έ ω ς ' Α ν ν α κ α ι κ α ι ά ψ α — "under the high priest Annas-Caiaphas," which would mean "that between them they discharged the duties, or that each of them in different senses was regarded high priest, Annas de jure [ Acts 4:6 ] and Caiaphas de facto " (John 11:49 ). Plummer's further suggestion that Annas may have been encouraged, "so far as it was safe to do so, to ignore the Roman appointments and to continue in office during the high-priesthoods of his successors," must be noted, particularly in view of the fact that government appointments to religious offices were always discountenanced by the Jews. After the removal of Caiaphas four more sons of Annas held the high-priesthood, and the last of them, another Annas, is said to have put to death James, known as "the brother of Jesus," and the first bishop of Jerusalem. The Anan family () is referred to in the Talmud (Pes. 57a ) as having influence, but using it against the interests of the people.

Bibliography : Schü rer, Gesch. d. Jü d. Volkes , 3d ed., 2:217 Plummer, St. Luke , in International Critical Commentary , pp. 84,515.H. G. E.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Annas'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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