Who killed Jesus and (30 years later) his brother James?

The short answer: Ananias Bar Seth (and his family clan of high-priests) drove and succeeded in having Jesus put to death, as well as (thirty years later) James the brother of Jesus.


The long answer:

Jesus the Nazorean was put to death after leading a disturbance (the author of Mark calls it "a insurrection") that caused disruption and damages in the precincts of the Temple shortly before Passover in approx 33CE.

(1) The insurrection was aimed at the corrupt leadership of the Temple (dominated by the family of Ananias son of Seth).

At the same time, the actions of Jesus and his followers presented a challenge to the Roman secular powers ruling over the Jewish nation:
(2) in Judea, Rome was represented by Procurator Pontius Pilatus, and
(3) in Galilee, Rome was represented by Herod Antipas, Roman-appointed self-styled "King of the Jews' [Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great) had jurisdiction over Gallilee, but nevertheless belonged to the Herodian dynasty, and like his father and brothers, continually held ambitions for regaining status of "King" over Judea (eventually his nephew Herod Agrippa I would regain that title, in 41CE).

Certainly Pilate and Herod Antipas avidly collaborated with Ananias to put Jesus to death. However we will focus on Ananias because his opposition to the Jesus Movement was not only the instigating drive (which Pilate and Herod were more than glad to help execute), but also because Ananias' opposition to the Jesus Movement spanned 30 years and went far beyond Pilate and Herod Antipas.

Eventually (36CE) Pilate was disgraced and removed by Vitellius (Roman president of Syria, which included Judea and Samaria) due to his perceived incompetence and cruelty. He was removed from his post and sent by Vitellius to Rome to answer to the emperor Claudius (who died before Pilate's arrival in Rome). This is well documented by Philo and by Josephus, among others.
Similarly, Herod Antipas was eventually accused of treason by his relative Herod Agrippa I and, in 39CE, banished by the Roman Emperor Caius Caligula to Lyons, France (his title and posessions being given to Herod Agrippa I).

Ananias son of Seth and his family clan of high-priests:

It was first and foremost the Ananias clan who led the charge to dispose of Jesus. Ananias and his family clan controlled the postion of High-Priest more or less continously from 6CE until 66CE. The clan member officially holding the title of High-Priest during Jesus' ministry was Joseph Bar Qaiapha, son-in-law of Ananias Bar Seth  (whom we shall also call Ananias the Elder).

What do we know of this dynasty of High-Priests, the clan of Ananias Bar Seth?

From Wikipedia: Ananias son of Seth (23 BCE – 66 CE) [also known as Ananus or Annas], was appointed as the High Priest of the Roman province of Iudaea in 6 CE by the Roman legate Quirinius (aka Cyrinius). Ananias officially served as High Priest for ten years (6–15 CE), when at the age of 36 he was deposed by the procurator Gratus 'for imposing and executing death penalties which had been forbidden by the imperial government.' Yet while having been officially removed from office, he remained as one of the nations most influential political & social individuals, aided greatly by the use of his five sons and his son-in-law as puppet High Priests until his assassination at the hands of Zealots in 66 CE (the start of the Jewish war against Rome) for advocating surrender to the Romans.

Here is what historian Josephus has to say (writing of the situation in Judea around 62CE, when Albinus was Roman procurator, and Agrippa I was King of Judea): Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests.  ...  He increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of [Roman procurator of Judea] Albinus, and of the [current] high priest, by making them presents; he also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest sort of the people, and went to the thrashing-floors, and took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them. So the other high priests acted in the like manner, as did those his servants, without any one being able to prohibit them; so that priests, that of old were wont to be supported with those tithes, died for want of food. [Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews Book 20 Chapter 9 Sections 1.197 and 2.205]

Amazingly a similar accounting of the corrupt Ananias dynasty is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (Pesahim 57a; Tosephta Menahot 13:21) [Source: James Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty, edition 2007, pg 210]: Woe to me because of the house of Hanan [Ananias in Hebrew]; woe to me for their calumnies... Woe is me because of the House of Qathros [Qaiaphas], woe is me because of their pens ... For they are High Priests, and their sons are treasurers, and their sons-in-law are trustees, and their servants beat the people with staves."

These are the dates when the Ananias clan held its power over the Temple and many affairs in Judea:

    * Ananias ben Seth (Ananias the Elder) (Appointed by Roman procurator Cyrenius/Quirinius in 6 CE; deposed in 15CE by Roman procurator Gratus for ordering executions without Roman approval, but held his title of "High-Priest" and remained the power behind the Temple priesthood until 66CE).

    * Eleazar ben Ananus (16CE – 17CE) appointed and deposed by Roman procurator Gratus. Eventually in 66CE becomes a Zealot and uses his appointment as Temple Governor to the benefit of the Zealots in their war against Rome. Becomes General in charge of Idumea (southern Israel) in the war agains Rome.

    * Joseph bar Caiaphas (18CE – 36CE) (son-in-law of Ananias the Elder) appointed by Gratus in 18CE. Was high-priest during Pilate's procuratorship, and was removed by Vitellius (Roman president of Syria, which included Judea). [Vitellius also removed Roman procurator Pilate in the same year, due to Pilate's barbarous murders of Samaritans in that year.]

    * Jonathan ben Ananus (36CE – 37CE)

    * Theophilus ben Ananus (37CE – 41CE)

    * Matthias ben Ananus (43CE)

    * Jonathan ben Ananus (again; 44CE)

    * Ananus ben Ananus (62CE) appointed by Herod Agrippa II. Deposed by Agrippa II in the same year specifically for having ordered the stoning of James the brother of Jesus without approval from Rome (this was done during the transition after Roman procurator Festus died and the new procurator Albinus was still in transit to Judea).

History and Chronology of the Ananias clan and what end it met at the hands of the anti-Roman revolution (led by the Galilean Zealots):

The year 6 CE was the beginning of a 60-year period of insurrection which culminated in the full fledged War against Rome (starting 66CE and ending in 70 CE with the complete destruction of the Temple and of the Jewish institutions in Judea and Galilee).

The trigger to these events was the tightening Roman grip over Judea, starting in 6 CE with Quirinius' census for taxation and his replacement of the people-appointed high-priest (Joazar ben Boethus) with the mafioso Saducee Ananias son of Seth. This sparks the creation of the Zealot Movement by Judas the Galilean (aka Judas of Gamala in the Golan) in partnership with Zaddok the Pharisee. For the next 60 years, Judas and his sons (and grandsons) would wage a on-and-off guerilla war with the Roman authorities, their High-Priesthood Ananias clan collaborators, and the Herodian puppet kings.

Josephus gives his (unflattering) account of Judas the Galilean and the Zealot Movement (note: the reader must keep in mind that Josephus was a general in Galilee during the Jewish war. He changed sides to the Roman side after he was captured. Since then his public attitude towards the revolutionaries is demeaning; not surprisingly, since Josephus' books were written under the patronage of the Roman emperor. Whenever Josephus says "robbers" (lestai in Greek; exact wording used by the author of Mark to describe those that are crucified next to Jesus), the reader should understand "revolutionaries against Rome":

[Antiquities book 18, Ch 1, Sec 1 (4-10)] Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Zaddok, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty.   ...   All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left,) and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies' fire. Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein...(because the infection spread among the younger sort, who were zealous for it), brought the public to destruction. 

[Antiquities book 18, Ch 1, Sec 6 (23)] But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy [the sect of the Zealots], Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. ... And it was in Gessius Florus's time [66 CE] that the nation began to grow mad with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans.

From 6CE to 66CE we see Zealots for the Law mounting continuous attempts at overthrowing the corrupt Temple priesthood and kicking out the Roman overlords. Ananias and his clan, benefitting from the Roman patronage, play key roles in attempting to suppress the Zealots.

36 CE: Caiaphas is replaced by Vitellius with another member of the Ananias clan: Jonathan son of Ananias the Elder.

46 CE: Tiberius Alexander (then Roman procurator of Judea) captures the sons of Judas the Galilean (Yaakov and Simon) and executes them. [Josephus Antiquities book 20, ch 5, Sec 2 (102)].

56 CE: Zealot mercenaries (employed by Felix, Roman procurator of Judea, due to a power rivalry) murder high-priest Jonathan (probably Jonathan son of Ananias). These Zealot mercenaries are Sicarii (men wearing hidden daggers). That these revolutionaries were Messianic Zealots is made clear by Josephus:
[Antiquities, Book 20, Ch 8, Sec 5-6 (164 - 168)] Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others, not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty. And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men's wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities.  These works, that were done by the robbers, filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them.

[Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Ch 13, Sec 3-4 (254-260)] ...There sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city; this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them; by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while every body expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain. Such was the celerity of the plotters against them, and so cunning was their contrivance. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

56 CE: The Ananias clan revolts against Agrippa II's nomination of a outsider high-priest:
[Josephus, Antiquities, Book 20, Ch 8, sec 8 (179-181) About this time [56CE] king Agrippa II gae the high-priesthood to Ismael son of Fabi. And now arose a sedition between the high priests and the principal men of the multitude of Jerusalem; each of which got them a company of the boldest sort of men, and of those that loved innovations about them, and became leaders to them; and when they struggled together, they did it by casting reproachful words against one another, and by throwing stones also. And there was nobody to reprove them; but these disorders were done after a licentious manner in the city, as if it had no government over it. And such was the impudence and boldness that had seized on the high priests, that they had the hardiness to send their servants into the threshing-floors, to take away those tithes that were due to the priests, insomuch that it so fell out that the poorest sort of the priests died for want. To this degree did the violence of the seditious prevail over all right and justice.

63 CE: Ananias son of Ananias son of Seth is made High Priest by Agrippa II. Roman procurator Festus dies and before the new procurator arrives, Ananias has James the brother of Jesus stoned to death:
[Josephus, Antiquities, Book 20, Ch 9, Sec 1 (197-203)] And now Caesar Nero, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. And the king [Agrippa II] deprived Joseph Cabi son of Simon of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa II], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa II took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus son of Damneus high priest. 

Amazingly, in spite of the removal of his son as high-priest, the elder Ananias son of Seth maintains his role as "boss" of the High-Priesthood mafia, while the fight between the High-Priesthood and the Zealots intensifies, with casualties on both sides:

[Josephus , Antiquities, Book 20, Ch 9, Sec 2-3 (204-210)] Now as soon as Albinus was come to the city of Jerusalem, he used all his endeavors and care that the country might be kept in peace, and this by destroying many of the Sicarii. But as for the high priest, Ananias [son of Seth] he increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest [Jesus bar Damneus], by making them presents; he also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest sort of the people, and went to the thrashing-floors, and took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them. So the other high priests acted in the like manner, as did those his servants, without any one being able to prohibit them; so that [some of the] priests, that of old were wont to be supported with those tithes, died for want of food.   But now the Sicarii went into the city by night, just before the festival, which was now at hand, and took the scribe belonging to the governor of the temple, whose name was Eleazar, who was the son of Ananias [son of Seth] the high priest, and bound him, and carried him away with them; after which they sent to Ananias, and said that they would send the scribe to him, if he would persuade Albinus to release ten of those prisoners which he had caught of their party; so Ananias was plainly forced to persuade [Roman procurator] Albinus, and gained his request of him. This was the beginning of greater calamities; for the robbers perpetually contrived to catch some of Ananias's servants; and when they had taken them alive, they would not let them go, till they thereby recovered some of their own Sicarii. And as they were again become no small number, they grew bold, and were a great affliction to the whole country.

64 CE: Gessius Florus succeeds Albinus as procurator of Judea. Florus is ten times as corrupt and evil as his predessors (Albinus, Festus, Felix, etc). Florus finally ignites the full scale rebellion of the entire Jewish nation (Galilee and Judea) and the Galilean Zealots lead it. For a description of Florus evil acts which ignite the full scale War against Rome, see Josephus Antiquities Book 20, Ch 11 and Josephus Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Chs 14-15.

66 CE: the War begins (amazingly note that Eleazar son of Ananias actually has switched sides and is now on the side of the rebelion!!):
[Josephus Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Ch 17, Sec 2 (408-409)] And at this time it was that some of those that principally excited the people to go to war made an assault upon a certain fortress called Masada. They took it by treachery, and slew the Romans that were there, and put others of their own party to keep it. At the same time Eleazar, the son of Ananias the high priest, a very bold youth, who was at that time governor of the temple, persuaded those that officiated in the Divine service to receive no gift or sacrifice for any foreigner. And this was the true beginning of our war with the Romans; for they rejected the sacrifice of Caesar on this account.

Shortly after this, Ananias the Elder sends his son Simon ben Ananias to procurator Florus, asking for Florus to intervene against the rebellion. Yet the rebellion proceeds and grows. The rebels burn the house of the Ananias the Elder and take over the Antonia Fortress on the Temple Mount.

66 CE: The third son of Judas the Galilean, named Menahem, takes the baton as leader of the revolution.
[Josephus Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Ch 17, Sec 8 (433-434)] In the mean time, one Manahem, the son of Judas, that was called the Galilean, (who was a very cunning sophister, and had formerly reproached the Jews under Cyrenius, that after God they were subject to the Romans,) took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod's armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard, and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition.

One of Menahem's first targets: the Ananias clan. He succeeds in killing the high-priest Ananias son of Ananias the Elder (recall that Ananias son of Ananias was the one who had James the brother of Jesus stoned). Perhaps this is too much for Eleazar son of Ananias the Elder to bear, and he turns against Menahem:
Josephus Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Ch 17, Sec 9] But on the next day the high priest was caught where he had concealed himself in an aqueduct; he was slain, together with Hezekiah his brother, by the robbers: hereupon the seditious besieged the towers, and kept them guarded, lest any one of the soldiers should escape. Now the overthrow of the places of strength, and the death of the high priest Ananias, so puffed up Manahem, that he became barbarously cruel; and as he thought he had no antagonist to dispute the management of affairs with him, he was no better than an insupportable tyrant; but Eleazar and his party, when words had passed between them, how it was not proper when they revolted from the Romans, out of the desire of liberty, to betray that liberty to any of their own people, and to bear a lord, who, though he should be guilty of no violence, was yet meaner than themselves; as also, that in case they were obliged to set some one over their public affairs, it was fitter they should give that privilege to any one rather than to him; they made an assault upon him in the temple; for he went up thither to worship in a pompous manner, and adorned with royal garments, and had his followers with him in their armor. But Eleazar and his party fell violently upon him ... they took him alive, and drew him out before them all; they then tortured him with many sorts of torments, and after all slew him.

Now Eleazar takes the leadership of the rebellion. Foolishly, the new Zealots (under the leadership of Eleazar) entrust the leadership of the Jerusalem defense against the Romans to Eleazar's father: Ananias the Elder.  Eleazar son of Ananias assumes role of General defending Idumea (south of Judea). (see Josephus Wars, Book 20, Ch 3 sec 563 & Ch 4 sec 566).

But Ananias the Elder is betrays his true colors and again seeks to disuade the rebels. Ultimately this costs him his life: [Josephus Wars, Book 4 Ch 11 & 12] Ananus encouraged the multitude to go against the zealots, although he knew how difficult it would be to disperse them, because of their multitude, and their youth, and the courage of their souls; but chiefly because of their consciousness of what they had done, since they would not yield, as not so much as hoping for pardon at the last for those their enormities. However, Ananus resolved to undergo whatever sufferings might come upon him, rather than overlook things, now they were in such great confusion. So the multitude cried out to him, to lead them on against those whom he had described in his exhortation to them, and every one of them was most readily disposed to run any hazard whatsoever on that account.  Now while Ananus was choosing out his men, and putting those that were proper for his purpose in array for fighting, the zealots got information of his undertaking, (for there were some who went to them, and told them all that the people were doing,) and were irritated at it, and leaping out of the temple in crowds, and by parties, spared none whom they met with. Upon this Ananus got the populace together on the sudden, who were more numerous indeed than the zealots, but inferior to them in arms, because they had not been regularly put into array for fighting; but the alacrity that every body showed supplied all their defects on both sides, the citizens taking up so great a passion as was stronger than arms, and deriving a degree of courage from the temple more forcible than any multitude whatsoever; and indeed these citizens thought it was not possible for them to dwell in the city, unless they could cut off the robbers that were in it. The zealots also thought that unless they prevailed, there would be no punishment so bad but it would be inflicted on them. So their conflicts were conducted by their passions;

The end: The Zealots, with reinforcements from Idumean fighters, take over Jerusalem and assasinate the entire high-priesthood associated with Ananias the Elder: But the rage of the Idumeans was not satiated by these slaughters; but they now betook themselves to the city, and plundered every house, and slew every one they met; and for the other multitude, they esteemed it needless to go on with killing them, but they sought for the high priests, and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun. I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city.

And so ended the Ananias clan at the hands of the Zealot revolutionaries.