Caiaphas, Joseph

views updated


CAIAPHAS, JOSEPH , high priest (18–36 c.e.) at the time of Jesus' activity and crucifixion. Caiaphas was mentioned by Josephus Flavius (Ant. 18:35:95) and in the New Testament (Matt. 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13–14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6), Caiaphas was appointed by the procurator Valerius Gratus to succeed *Simeon b. Kimḥit. He served in office throughout the administration of Gratus' successor, *Pontius Pilate (26–36), and was deposed the same year as Pilate by Vitellius, governor of Syria. Jonathan b. Ḥanan was appointed to replace him. Historical sources indicate the influential priestly background of Joseph Caiaphas: he was the son-in-law of *Anan son of Seth, a member of a powerful and important priestly family in Jerusalem (John 18:13); the Mishnah (Par. 3:5) speaks of a high priest named Elioeneiai (*Elionaeus) b. ha-Kayyaf (ha-Kof), who may have been a son of Joseph Caiaphas; and the Tosefta (Yev. 1:10) mentions the House of Kaipha as a high-priestly family. Although Caiaphas was high priest at the time of Jesus' arrest, he does not seem to have played a major role in the matter. Jesus was first taken to the house of Anan b. Seth (John 18:12–13), only later being brought to Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57; John 18:24), who is reported as having said: "It is better for you that one man die for the nation than that the entire nation be lost" (John 11:49–51; 18:14; the quotation is adapted from a rabbinic statement, cf. Gen. R. 94:9). In 1990 a rockhewn burial chamber was uncovered by Z. Greenhut to the south of Jerusalem and within it was a stone box containing bones (ossuary) bearing the Aramaic inscription "Yehosef bar (son of) Qafa (Caiapha)." It is assumed that this tomb belonged to the family of the High Priest Caiaphas.


A. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, 1 (18862), 242, 262–3; 2 (18863), 326, 546, 549–61; S.G.F. Brandon, Jesusand the Zealots (1967), 67, 81; idem, Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (1968), index; J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (1929), 162, 339–40; Smallwood, in: jts, 13 (April 1962), 14–34; P. Winter, The Trial of Jesus (1964), 11–12. add. bibliography: Z. Greenhut, "The Caiaphas Tomb in North Talpiyot, Jerusalem," in: H. Geva (ed.), Ancient Jerusalem Revealed (1994), 219–222; R. Reich, "Ossuary Inscriptions of the Caiaphas Family from Jerusalem," in: H. Geva (ed.), Ancient Jerusalem Revealed (1994), 223–225; D. Flusser, "Caiaphas in the New Testament," Atiqot, 21 (1992): 81–87; W. Horbury, "The 'Caiaphas' Ossuaries and Joseph Caiaphas," Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 126 (1994), 32–48; J.D. Crossan and J.L. Reed, Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (2001), 283–287.

[Lea Roth /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]