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The "Tannaim" (Hebrew: _he. תנאים, singular _tm. תנא, "Tanna") were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. The period of the "Tannaim", also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 130 years. It came after the period of the "Zugot" ("pairs"), and was immediately followed by the period of the "Amoraim".

The root "tanna" ( _he. תנא) is the Talmudic Aramaic equivalent for the Hebrew root "shanah" ( _he. שנה), which also is the root-word of "Mishnah". The verb "shanah" ( _he. שנה) literally means "to repeat [what one was taught] " and is used to mean "to learn".

The Mishnaic period is commonly divided up into five periods according to generations. There are approximately 120 known "Tannaim".

The "Tannaim" lived in several areas of the Land of Israel. The spiritual center of Judaism at that time was Jerusalem, but after the destruction of the city and the Second Temple, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and his students founded a new religious center in Yavne. Other places of Judaic learning were founded by his students in Lod and in Bnei Brak.

Many of the "Tannaim" worked as laborers (e.g., charcoal burners, cobblers) in addition to their positions as teachers and legislators. They were also leaders of the people and negotiators with the Roman Empire.

The origin of the "Tannaim"

Infobox Former Subdivision
native_name = Iudaea
common_name = Israel
continent = Asia
region = Mediterranean

era =
subdivision = Province
nation = the Roman Empire
year_start = 6
year_end = 132
p1 = Herod Archelaus
s1 = Simon bar Kokhba
capital = Caesarea Maritima
latd= 32 |latm= 30 |latNS= N |longd= 34 |longm= 54 |longEW= E
common_languages = Koine Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Hebrew
religion = Imperial cult (ancient Rome), Second Temple Judaism, Early Christianity
title_leader = Prefect
leader1 = Pontius Pilate
year_leader1 = 26-36
title_representative = King
representative1 = Agrippa I
year_representative1 = 41-44
representative2 = Agrippa II
year_representative2 = 48-100
title_deputy = High Priest
deputy1 = Annas
year_deputy1 = 6-15
deputy2 = Caiaphas
year_deputy2 = 18-36
event_start = Census of Quirinius
event1 = Crisis under Caligula
date_event1 = 37-41
event2 = Destruction of the Second Temple
date_event2 = August 4, 70
event_end = Bar Kokhba revolt
date_end = 132-135

The "Tannaim" operated under the occupation of the Roman Empire. During this time, the "Kohanim" (priests) of the Temple became increasingly corrupt and were seen by the Jewish people as collaborators with the Romans, whose mismanagement of Iudaea province (composed of Samaria, Idumea and Judea proper [H.H. Ben-Sasson, "A History of the Jewish People", Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0674397312, page 246: "When Archelaus was deposed from the ethnarchy in 6 CE, Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea were converted into a Roman province under the name Iudaea."] ) led to riots, revolts and general resentment. Throughout much of the period, the office of the "Kohen Gadol" (High Priest) was rented out to the highest bidder, and the priests themselves extorted as much as they could from the pilgrims who came to sacrifice at the Temple.

The conflict between the high priesthood and the people led to the split between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The elitist Sadducees (who generally controlled the high priesthood) were supported by the Hasmonean royal family and later by the Romans. The Pharisees were a more egalitarian sect; they accepted students from all the tribes, not only the Levites, and they also taught laws in addition to those set forth in the Torah. These laws make up the Mishnah, whose compilation marked the end of the period of the "Tannaim".

Until the days of Hillel and Shammai (the last generation of the "Zugot"), there were few disagreements among Rabbinic scholars. After this period, though, the "House of Hillel" and the "House of Shammai" came to represent two distinct perspectives on Jewish law, and disagreements between the two schools of thought are found throughout the Mishnah, see also Hillel and Shammai.

The "Tannaim", as teachers of the Oral Law, were direct transmitters of an oral tradition passed from teacher to student that was written and codified as the basis for the Mishnah, Tosefta, and tannaitic teachings of the Talmud. According to tradition, the "Tannaim" were the last generation in a long sequence of oral teachers that began with Moses.

Prominent "Tannaim"

Their titles

The "Nasi" (plural "Nesi'im") was the highest ranking member and presided over the Sanhedrin. "Rabban" was a higher title than "Rabbi", and it was given to the "Nasi" starting with Rabban Gamaliel Hazaken (Gamaliel the Elder). The title "Rabban" was limited to the descendants of Hillel, the sole exception being Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, the leader in Jerusalem during the siege, who safeguarded the future of the Jewish people after the Great Revolt by pleading with Vespasian. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was also "Nasi", was not given the title "Rabban", perhaps because he only held the position of "Nasi" for a short while and it eventually reverted to the descendants of Hillel. Prior to Rabban Gamliel Hazaken, no titles were used before someone's name, based on the Talmudic adage "Gadol miRabban shmo" ("Greater than the title "Rabban" is a person's own name"). For this reason Hillel has no title before his name: his name in itself is his title, just as Moses and Abraham have no titles before their names. (An addition is sometimes given "after" a name to denote significance or to differentiate between two people with the same name. Examples include "Avraham Avinu" (Abraham our father) and "Moshe Rabbeinu" (Moses our teacher).) Starting with Rabbi Judah haNasi (Judah the "Nasi"), often referred to simply as "Rabbi", not even the "Nasi" is given the title "Rabban", but instead, Judah haNasi is given the lofty title "Rabbeinu HaKadosh" ("Our holy rabbi [teacher] ").

The "Nesi'im"

The following were "Nesi'im", that is to say presidents of the Sanhedrin.
* Hillel
* Rabban Shimon ben Hillel, about whom very little is known
* Rabban Gamaliel Hazaken (Gamaliel the Elder)
* Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel
* Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai
* Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne
* Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was "Nasi" for a short time after Rabban Gamliel was removed from his position
* Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel of Yavne
* Rabbi Judah haNasi (Judah the "Nasi"), known simply as "Rabbi", who compiled the Mishnah

The generations of the "Tannaim"

The Mishnaic period is commonly divided into five periods according to generations of the Tannaim.

The generations of the Tannaim included:
#First Generation: Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai's generation (circa 40 BCE-80 CE).
#Second Generation: Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua's generation, the teachers of Rabbi Akiva.
#Third Generation: The generation of Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues.
#Fourth Generation: The generation of Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda and their colleagues.
#Fifth Generation: Rabbi Judah haNasi's generation.
#Sixth Generation: The interim generation between the Mishnah and the Talmud: Rabbis Shimon ben Judah HaNasi and Yehoshua ben Levi, etc.

Before the destruction of the Temple

* Hillel
* Shammai
* Rabban Gamaliel Hazaken (Gamaliel the Elder)
* Elisha ben Abuyah

The generation of the destruction

* Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel
* Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai
* Rabbi Yehuda ben Baba

Between the destruction of the Temple and Bar Kokhba's revolt

* Rabbi Yehoshua son of Hannania
* Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus
* Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne
* Rabbi Eleazar ben Arach

The generation of Bar Kokhba's revolt

* Rabbi Akiba
* Rabbi Tarfon
* Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha
* Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah
* Rabbi Yose HaGelili

After the revolt

* Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel of Yavne
* Rabbi Meir
* Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who wrote the Zohar
* Rabbi Yose ben Halafta
* Rabbi Yehuda ben Ilai

Compilers of the Mishnah

* Rabbi Yose
* Rabbi Yishmael
* Rabbi Shimon
* Rabbi Nathan
* Rabbi Hiyya
* Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi (known simply as "Rabbi" or "Rebbi"); compiled the Mishnah

Scholarly lineage of prominent "tannaim"


See also

*Oral law

External links

* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=59&letter=T JewishEncyclopedia]
* [http://www.chabad.org/article.asp?AID=115257 Biographies of the Tannaim]
* [http://virtualreligion.net/iho/tannaim.html Tannaim] entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith

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