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Statue of Annas in Bom Jesus, Braga

Annas (also Ananus[1] or Ananias;[2] Hebrew: חנן), son of Seth (23/22 BC – death date unknown, probably around 40 A.D.), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 A.D; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.

Annas officially served as High Priest for ten years (6–15 A.D.), when at the age of 36 he was deposed by the procurator Valerius Gratus. Yet while having been officially removed from office, he remained as one of the nation's most influential political and social individuals, aided greatly by the use of his five sons and his son-in-law Caiaphas as puppet High Priests.[3] His death is unrecorded. His son Annas the Younger, also known as Ananus the son of Ananus, was assassinated in 66 A.D. for advocating peace with Rome.[2]

Annas appears in the Gospels and Passion plays as a high priest before whom Jesus is brought for judgment, prior to being brought before Pontius Pilate.

The sacerdotal familyEdit

The terms of Annas, Caiaphas, and the five brothers are:

  • Ananus (or Annas), son of Seth (6–15)

Eleazar ben AnanusEdit

Jewish titles
Preceded by
Ishmael ben Fabus
High Priest of Israel
Succeeded by
Simon ben Camithus


(18–36 A.D.) Properly called Joseph, son of Caiaphas, who had married the daughter of Annas (John 18:13)

Jonathan ben AnanusEdit

Jewish titles
Preceded by
High Priest of Israel
Succeeded by
Theophilus ben Ananus
Jewish titles
Preceded by
Elioneus ben Simon Cantatheras
High Priest of Israel
Succeeded by
Josephus ben Camydus

(36–37 and 44 A.D.)

Theophilus ben AnanusEdit

(37–41 A.D.)

Matthias ben AnanusEdit

Jewish titles
Preceded by
Simon Cantatheras ben Boethus
High Priest of Israel
Succeeded by
Elioneus ben Simon Cantatheras

Ananus ben AnanusEdit

(63 A.D.)

References in the Mosaic Law to "the death of the high priest" (Numbers 35:25, 28) suggest that the high-priesthood was ordinarily held for life. Perhaps for this reason, Annas was still called "high priest" even after his dismissal, along with Caiaphas (Luke 3:2). He also may have been acting as president of the Sanhedrin, or a coadjutor of the high priest.

In the New TestamentEdit

Luke 3:2 indicates a joint high priesthood "of Annas and Caiaphas" when the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

The plot to kill Lazarus of BethanyEdit

The involvement of the family of Annas may be implied in the plot to kill Lazarus of Bethany in John 12:10. Although Annas is not mentioned by name in the plot to kill Lazarus, several 19th-century writers such as Johann Nepomuk Sepp and the Abbé Drioux, considered that there may be a concealed reference to Annas in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus which points at a "rich man" with five brothers (Luke 16:28). If it is considered that the rich man dressed in purple and fine linen (cf. Exodus 28:8) represents Caiaphas, as figurehead of the Sadducees, then Annas is intended by the "father" in Luke 16:27, and the "five brothers" Luke 16:28 are Annas' five sons. In support of this is the coincidence that the father and five brothers who will not be convinced even if the parable Lazarus is raised from the dead (Luke 16:31) predict that Caiaphas, Annas, and the five sons of Annas would not believe and plotted to have the real Lazarus killed when he was raised (John 12:10).

The trial of JesusEdit

According to the Gospel of John (the event is not mentioned in other accounts), Jesus was first brought before Annas, and after a brief questioning of him (John 18:19-23) was sent to the home of Caiaphas, where some members of the Sanhedrin had met, and where in Matthew's account the first trial of Jesus took place (Matthew 26:57-68).

In the Book of ActsEdit

After Pentecost, Annas presided over the Sanhedrin before which the Apostles Peter and John were brought (Acts 4:6).

Cultural referencesEdit

Annas has an important role in Jesus Christ Superstar, as one of the two main antagonists of the show (the other being Caiaphas) spurring Pontius Pilate to take action against Jesus. In almost all versions, Annas has a very high voice (almost reaching falsetto) to contrast against Caiaphas' bass. Despite being Caiaphas' father-in-law, Annas is generally played by a younger actor.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Josephus, The Complete Works, Thomas Nelson Publishers (Nashville, Tennessee, USA), 20.9.1 (1998)
  2. ^ a b Goodman, Martin, "Rome & Jerusalem", Penguin Books, p.12 (2007)
  3. ^ "It is said that the elder Ananus was extremely fortunate. For he had five sons, all of whom, after he himself had previously enjoyed the office for a very long period, became high priests of God - a thing that had never happened to any other of our high priests." (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XX, 9.1)
  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "Annas" . Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

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