Most likely, the Book of James was written by James, the brother of Jesus, shortly before his death in AD 62. The High Priest Ananus II (the fifth son of Annas) conspired to execute James, who was the leader of the Jerusalem Church. There had been a long-standing feud between the Annas family and Jesus’s family for over 30 years. During His ministry, Jesus had challenged the authority and legitimacy of the Annas family and their control of the High Priesthood. From AD 7 until AD 62, seven members of the Annas Family had served as the High Priest.
The Annas Family was one of the richest and most powerful families in First century Jerusalem and Judea. They controlled the office of the High Priesthood for almost 60 years. They were also the most influential family in the party of the Sadducees. In AD 7, Annas I was appointed High Priest by Quirinius, the Roman Governor of Syria. Annas I served as the High Priest until AD 15. However, after officially leaving the office, Annas I continued to be the major power broker in Jerusalem. Annas’ son-in-law, Caiaphas, officially served as the High Priest between AD 18 to AD 36 (which included the time of Jesus’s ministry). The Gospel writer Luke made mention of the fact that Annas I and Caiaphas essentially shared control of the office of the High Priesthood (Luke 3:2). They both made the decision and politicked for the death of Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew explained that the chief priests and the Sanhedrin looked for false witnesses to testify against Jesus in order to put Him to death (Matt. 26:59). They conspired against Jesus (Matt. 27:1).
The power and wealth of the Annas family was dependent on their control of the Temple. They received a portion of the sacrifices and the profits made by the money changers. They ran booths in the Temple and on the Mount of Olives where the worshippers paid exorbitant prices to purchase the required sacrificial offerings. When Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves (Matt. 21:12), Jesus openly challenged the power and prestige of the Annas Family. Jesus actually stopped those who were selling oxen, sheep, and doves (John 2:14-16). In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus yelled, “[S]top making My Father’s house a place of business!” (John 2:16). The Temple was intended by God to be a place of worship, not business. Jesus did not permit those carrying merchandise to walk through Temple grounds (Mark. 11: 15-16). In fact, Jesus made a whip of cords and assaulted the merchants (John 2:15). Jesus told the crowd that the Temple was actually His house (not the house of the Annas Family) (Mark. 11:17). Jesus said that the Temple was the house of prayer for all nations, but the Annas Family and the Sadducees had turned the Temple into a “den of thieves” (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; John 2:16).
The confrontation between Jesus and the Annas Family is highly significant. It needs to be emphasized. Thereafter, the Annas Family and the Sadducees sought to kill Jesus (Mark. 11:18). Jesus had publicly insulted the Annas Family, and Jesus had sought to undermine their power, wealth, and reputation. Thereafter, as seen in his letter, James also had the courage to speak against the abuses of the rich and powerful (Jas. 2:6-7; 5:1-6).
With this background, it is easier for us to understand the death of James (the Lord’s brother). The years approaching the Jewish revolt against Rome (AD 66 to AD 70) were very tumultuous and chaotic. Festus, then Governor of Judea, died in AD 62. Emperor Nero assigned Albinus to replace Festus as the Governor of Judea. However, it took some time for Albinus to travel to Judea and assume his new position as the Governor of Judea. During this interlude of time, King Agrippa II took the opportunity to appoint the seventh and last member of the Annas Family (Ananus II) as the High Priest. The historian Josephus described the last Annas as a “bold” and “insolent” Sadducee. In hatred for Jesus and His family, Ananus II quickly assembled the Sanhedrin, and brought charges against James. Shortly thereafter, James was executed in AD 62 by stoning. James was highly revered by the people, and the public outcry against Ananus II was great. After the new Procurator Albinus arrived in Judea, Ananus II was terminated from his position as the High Priest. Ananus II served in his position as High Priest for only three months. A few years later in AD 68, Ananus II lost his life as different Jewish rebel groups fought each other for control of the Temple. Hate is destructive to self and others.
The featured image on this page is titled “Saint James the Just,” Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
 Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Second Ed. InterVarsity Press, 2014, p. 668.
 Smith, T. Kenan. Eyes to See The Revelation: A Spiritual Journey. WestBow Press, 2019, pp. 169-171 (citing, “Annas.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, et al., Vol. 1, A-D, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., p. 128.).
 Smith (citing, Josephus, The Complete Works. Translated by William Whistom. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, AN. 20.9.1.).
 Keener, p. 669.
 Smith (citing, Josephus, The Complete Works).
 Smith (citing, Goodman, Martin. Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. Alfred A. Knoph, 2007, p. 500.).