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QUESTION: Caiaphas

    “Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled” (Matthew 26:57).
Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest who presided over Jesus Christ’s trial and crucifixion. Do we have any evidence for Caiaphas outside the biblical texts?

In 1990, the family tomb of Caiaphas was accidentally uncovered during the construction of a water theme park in Israel. One of the limestone ossuaries (bone boxes) in the tomb contained beautiful carvings that identified a much honored person in the Jewish religious system. Written twice on the ossuary is “Joseph son of Caiaphas.”

Matthew, Luke and John each identify Caiaphas as the high priest that presided over the arrest and trial of Jesus. The historian Josephus also identifies “Joseph Caiaphas” as the Jewish high priest from 18 to 36 AD (Jewish Antiquities 18:35). Josephus also refers to him as “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood” (Jewish Antiquities 18:95).

Based on these historical records and Jewish tradition, it seems that the high priest at the time of Christ’s trial was commonly named Joseph, but was referred to by his family name, Caiaphas. It also seems that we now have his actual bones!

© K.C. Hanson, 1997 ( View our COPYRIGHT NOTICE

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