Note: I found this part of history puzzling and that's why I asked this question.
- Jews hate death penalty.
- A Sanhedrin that condemned anyone to die in 75 years is called blood thirsty.
- In case of James the Just, most member of Sanhedrin disagree with the judicial killing.
On the other hand:
- Jesus, James the Just, and Saint Stephen get death penalty.
- 3 condemned people is high number given that the time is short and number of population is small.
- It's most likely more than 3 given that the 3 are "famous". Most condemned people are not that famous.
Obviously 3 people is not a lot of people compared to the Roman that simply crucified thousands and thousands of jerusalem jews. However, it's still quite high by contemporary standard. In Indonesia, for example, we got 10 executed out of 200 million per year.
So was the Sanhedrin more inclined to execute people around the time of Jesus than at other times?
Here are some cases about james the just.
According to a passage found in existing manuscripts of Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, (xx.9) "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" met his death after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Lucceius Albinus took office (Antiquities 20,9) — which has thus been dated to 62. The High Priest Ananus ben Ananus took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin (although the correct translation of the Greek synhedion kriton is "a council of judges"), who condemned James "on the charge of breaking the law," then had him executed by stoning. Josephus reports that Ananus's act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder and offended a number of "those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City, and strict in their observance of the Law," who went as far as meeting Albinus as he entered the province to petition him about the matter. In response, King Agrippa replaced Ananus with Jesus, the son of Damneus.
Back to topic. I am simply puzzled because:
So I would like to know how trigger happy the Sanhedrin is. Do they actually often condemn people to death, or are they prevented by Roman from doing so? Do they abhor death penalty?
Basically I want to know more about this issue.
There is another account about the death of James, but it looks too similar to the death of Stephen. Stephen and James may be the same guy
Eusebius, while quoting Josephus's account, also records otherwise lost passages from Hegesippus (see links below) and Clement of Alexandria (Historia Ecclesiae, 2.23). Hegesippus's account varies somewhat from what Josephus reports and may have been an attempt to reconcile the various accounts by combining them. According to Hegesippus, the scribes and Pharisees came to James for help in putting down Christian beliefs. The record says:
They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said: "We entreat thee, restrain the people: for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all who have come hither for the day of the passover, concerning Jesus. For we all listen to thy persuasion; since we, as well as all the people, bear thee testimony that thou art just, and showest partiality to none. Do thou, therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus: for all the people, and we also, listen to thy persuasion. Take thy stand, then, upon the summit of the temple, that from that elevated spot thou mayest be clearly seen, and thy words may be plainly audible to all the people. For, in order to attend the passover, all the tribes have congregated hither, and some of the Gentiles also." To the scribes' and Pharisees' dismay, James boldly testified that Christ "Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven." The scribes and pharisees then said to themselves, "We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him."
Accordingly, the scribes and Pharisees
...threw down the just man... [and] began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: "Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man. And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. —Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book