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Jewish council that operated in Roman Palestine from the time of the Maccabees (c. 165 BC) to the end of the patriarchate (AD 425). While the term refers to the supreme Jewish court, the Sanhedrin's exact composition and powersreligious, judicial, and legislativeare reported variously in different sources. It is mentioned in various books of the Bible (Mark, Luke, Acts) as having taken part in or adjudicated the trials of Jesus, St. Peter the Apostle, and St. John the Baptist. According to Talmudic sources, the Great Sanhedrin was a court of 71 sages that met on fixed occasions in the Temple of Jerusalem, acting as a religious legislative body, trial court, and administrator of rituals.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Sanhedrin, visit Britannica.com.