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Real People: The High Priest Annas

'Testing Luke' #23

 

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At one point early in the book of Acts, Luke says that the Jewish High Priest was a man called Annas. But Annas was not the High Priest at the time. So did Luke get it wrong? Was he inaccurate after all?

In Acts chapter 4, Luke records how the apostles Peter and John are arrested and hauled in front of the Jewish council. He says: 'Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.' But although Annas had been the High Priest from 6 AD to 15 AD, the Romans had thrown him out in 15 AD.

After he was thrown out, Annas continued to be one of the most influential leaders of the Jewish nation. Five of his sons became High Priests, as well as his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Many of the Jews thought that the Romans did not have any right to depose the High Priest. They continued to treat Annas as the High Priest.

So Luke is within his rights in calling Annas the High Priest. In fact earlier - in his Gospel - he talks about 'the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.'

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‘Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.’
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