Theophilus was the High Priest in the Second Temple in Jerusalem from AD 37 to 41 according to Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews. He was a member of one of the wealthiest and most influential Jewish families in Iudaea Province during the first century. According to some Christian traditions he was the person to whom the Gospel of Luke is addressed, which would date Luke to within 4 to 8 years of the death of Jesus.

Theophilus was the son of Annas and the brother of Eleazar, Jonathan, Matthias and Ananus, all of whom served as High Priests. He was also the brother-in-law of Joseph Caiaphas, the High Priest before whom Jesus appeared. In addition his son Matthias served as the next to the last High Priest before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.

Archeological evidence confirming the existence of Theophilus the High Priest as an ossuary has been discovered bearing the inscription, Johanna granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest. The details of this ossuary have been published in the Israel Exploration Journal. Therefore Theophilus had at least one other son named Jonathan, father to Johanna.

See also


  • This article is a summary of an article appearing in Dossiers d’Archeologie as “A la recherche de Theophile”, Dec 02-Jan 03; A detailed description of the ossuary mentioned in this article is contained in an article by D. Barag and D. Flusser, The Ossuary of Yehohanah Granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus, Israel Exploration Journal, 36 (1986), 39-44.
Preceded by
Jonathan ben Ananus
High Priest of Israel
Succeeded by
Simon Cantatheras ben Boethus

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