(an' uhs) GREEK: HANNAS
"merciful" or "gracious"

Annas served as high priest in Jerusalem from A.D. 6 to 15 and continued as head of the high priestly clan for many years thereafter. He was high priest in the year when John the Baptist began his ministry (Luke 3:2) - about A.D. 26. He figures prominently in the trials of Jesus and Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (John 18:13,24; Acts 4:6).

Born into a wealthy and influential family, Annas saw five sons as well as his son-in-law Joseph Caiaphas succeed him in the office of high priest. The Jewish historian Josephus relates that in A.D. 6, when the Romans took direct control of Judea, the Roman governor of Syria, Quirinius, removed Joezer from the high priesthood and appointed Annas in his place. Some eight years later, Valerius Gratus, the governor of Judea, removed Annas, first substituting Ishmael son of Phabi, but soon replacing Ishmael with Annas's son Eleazar.

As the head of the most prominent high priestly family, Annas stood at the very pinnacle of Jewish aristocracy. A man of wealth and education, he was a leader of the Sanhedrin, or council. He and his family led the aristocratic faction that collaborated with Roman rule and continued to supply most of the high priests appointed by the Roman governors. They were also leading Sadducees, who rejected the doctrine of the resurrection and thus were in opposition both to the Pharisees and to Jesus and the early Christians. Even after Annas was no longer officially high priest, he evidently continued to use the title and receive the deference due the holder of that office.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

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