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The Trial of Christ, by David K. Breed, [1948], at

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Jesus, arrested about midnight in the Garden of Gethsemane, was tried six times before he was crucified the following noon. Six trials in twelve hours! Peloubet's Bible Dictionary gives the time of this chronology as follows: 34


Before Annas



Before Caiaphas

1 to 5 A. M.


Before the Sanhedrin


Before Pilate

5 to 6 A. M.


Before Herod


Before Pilate Again

From a standpoint of technical law, the personnel of a legally constituted court is of slight significance. Yet historians know that the course of law has been at times altered and history influenced by the character of judges. Marshall and Holmes, of the United States Supreme Court, Lord Mansfield, Lord Eldon, and Sir William Blackstone of England,

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[paragraph continues] Moses of the Hebrews, Justinian of the Romans, Solon of the Greeks, Dean Wigmore of Northwestern University Law School and Dean Pound of Harvard have all made great contributions to law and legal literature. So, in a study of the trial of Christ, one should know something about Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.

This is particularly true because, as we shall see, Christian and Jewish scholars alike agree that the trial of Christ was not a proper trial, the Christians 35 contending that prophecy was fulfilled, 36 the Jews contending that the Christians falsely blame the Jews for a Roman crime. 37


Annas, his five sons, and his father-in-law Caiaphas, all held the Jewish High-Priesthood during the first century, A. D., 38 and it

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appears from the New Testament that at the time of the arrest of Jesus, Caiaphas was actually in office as High Priest, 39 his son-in-law, Annas, being a former High Priest but also holding the title for life. 40 Caiaphas was a wily politician in the Sanhedrin who had held office as High Priest for eighteen years, 41 although custom was to elect for a one year term. Rollins describes Annas as a nefarious moneylending Sadducee, a political friend of the Romans, 42 while we know that Caiaphas had conspired with Judas to betray Christ; 43 and that none of the writers give either man any praise.

Herod was Roman Governor of Galilee; Pilate, of Judea. Both happened to be in Jerusalem for the Passover crowd. Herod was a son of Herod the Great, who had ordered the slaughter of the infants thirty years before, 44 and probably hated Jesus.

Pilate was the fifth Roman governor of

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[paragraph continues] Judea 45 and was noted for his cruel and arbitrary administration of the government. He was also weak at times and has been greatly criticized by historians. Rabbi Drucker, in his analysis of the Trial of Christ, not only pictures Pilate as a persecutor of the Jews but states that Caiaphas was a Roman spy 46 and that the historian Tacitus correctly stated that "Jesus, called Christ, was crucified by Pilate for promoting a rebellion among the Jews." 47 We do know that Pilate was a craven coward and was afraid to release Jesus.


1. Jesus was taken first to Annas, who was not then High Priest and had no power, so took no formal action but merely "marked time" as it were, until Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin were ready for action. 48

2. Caiaphas was High Priest and seems to have questioned Jesus privately prior to

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the convening of the Sanhedrin. 49 Mr. Chandler, in his two volume work on the Trial of Jesus devotes a whole volume to the Biblical Record, Jewish Law and the Jewish Trials (Volume I), filling up his second volume with a discussion of the Roman Trial of Jesus, and while most of his discussion is interesting, it is longer than necessary. Suffice it to say that Caiaphas’ examination of Jesus was merely preparatory to the formal Sanhedrin trial. John gives the clearest account of the action before Caiaphas alone, 50 probably in the presence only of Peter who had followed afar off. 51

3. The Sanhedrin was a court in the limited sense of the word. It had legislative, executive, judicial, civil, criminal, and ecclesiastical powers over the Jews, and its judges were 72 descendants of Moses. It had to meet legally in daylight, in the forenoon, in a certain room, with court reporters present; and its rules of procedure were so strict that an unanimous verdict of guilt meant

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acquittal. 52 There could be unanimous verdicts of acquittal, but no unanimous verdicts of guilt. But the Sanhedrin (in violation of its rules) moved quickly to try Jesus on a charge of Blasphemy, 53 on the testimony of two false witnesses who contradicted each other, 54 but Jesus here broke His silence and said He is Christ. 55 Then the Sanhedrin unanimously found Him guilty of Blasphemy, but had no power to put Him to death without the consent of Pilate. The Sanhedrists at this point spit on Jesus, while some struck Him with their hands. 56 In the morning, 57 they sent Jesus to Pilate.

4. Pilate was Roman Governor and not interested at all in the Jewish charges of Blasphemy, so he found no harm in Jesus. He was impressed though with the "trumped up" charge of Treason; but when Jesus said His kingdom is "not of this world," 58 and that Pilate had "no power at all against me

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except it were given thee from above: therefore he that hath delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin," 59 Pilate was less interested than before and sent Jesus to Herod.

5. Herod questioned Jesus at length but, getting no answer, sent Jesus back to Pilate. 60

6. Pilate had Jesus before him a second time, and again tried to appease the Jews by releasing Jesus as a Holiday Pardon, but they demanded the release of Barabbas, then Pilate delivered Jesus up to be crucified by Roman soldiers on the demand of the Jewish mob. 61 However, Pilate required that it be inscribed over the Cross, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. " 61a


44:34 1925 Edn., pp. 779 & 780.

45:35 Edersheim, Chandler, Rollins, among our citations.

45:36 Compare: Mk. 14:62 with Ps. 110:1 and Dan 7:13; Mk. 15:1 with Is. 53:8; Mk. 15: 3-5 with Is. 53:7; John 19:1-3 with Is. 53:3, 5, 7; John 19:36 with Num. 9:12; John 19:37 with Zech. 12:10; etc.

45:37 Rabbi Drucker, op. cit., entire work, especially pp. 18-19; Rabbi Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth, (Danby Trans), pp. 339-48, inclusive, 413, 414.

45:38 Peloubet's Bible Dict., 35; Klausner, op. cit., 339.

46:39 John 18:3.

46:40 Peloubet, op. cit., 35; Klausner, 339.

46:41 Klausner, 340.

46:42 Rollins, op. cit., 17 & 18; Compare, Strachan, op. cit., pp. 244 and 308 on Annas & Caiaphas.

46:43 Matt. 26:3-5.

46:44 Matt. 2:16-20.

47:45 Tacitus Ann., xv:44; Peloubet, op. cit., 518.

47:46 Op. cit., p. 38 ff; loyal Jews thought all Sadducees were quislings.

47:47 Drucker, p 27; Tacitus, Ann., xv:44.

47:48 Only John gives the story as to Annas; John 18:13-15.

48:49 Matt. 26:57 & 58; Mk. 14:53; Luke 22:54 & 55; John 18:19-24.

48:50 John 18:19-24.

48:51 John 18:16-18 & 25-27.

49:52 Chandler, Op. Cit., I, 279.

49:53 Matt. 26:59-66; Mark 14:55-64.

49:54 Mark 14:59.

49:55 Mark 14:62; compare, Ps. 110:1 and Dan. 7:13.

49:56 Mark 14:64 & 65; Matt. 26:67; Compare, Isaiah 50:6.

49:57 Mark 15:1; John 18:28; Matt. 27:1 & 19; Lu. 22:66.

49:58 John 18:36.

50:59 John 19:11.

50:60 Luke 23:7-12.

50:61 Matt. 27:27 ff; Mark 15:16 ff; Luke 23:26 ff; John 19:17 ff., especially verse 23.

50:61a John 19:19-22, inclusive.

Next: Chapter VI. Argument As To Jewish Trials