Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, April 25th, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Search for…
Prev Entry
Tanḥuma, Midrash
Next Entry
Tanna Debe Eliyahu
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

The Name.

The name "tanna" is derived from the Aramaic "teni" or "tena" (="to teach"), and designates in general a teacher of the oral law, and in particular one of the sages of the Mishnah, those teachers of the oral law whose teachings are contained in the Mishnah and in the Baraita. The term was first used in the Gemara to indicate a teacher mentioned in the Mishnah or in a baraita, in contradistinction to the later authorities, the Amoraim. Not all the teachers of the oral law who are mentioned in the Mishnah are called tannaim, however, but only those belonging to the period beginning with the disciples of Shammai and Hillel and ending with the contemporaries of Judah ha-Nasi I. The authorities preceding that period are called "zeḳenim ha-rishonim" (the former elders). In the time of the Amoraim the name "tanna" was given also to one well versed in the Mishnah and the other tannaitic traditions.

The period of the Tannaim, which lasted about 210 years (10-220 C.E.), is generally divided by Jewish scholars into five or six sections or generations, the purpose of such division being to show which teachers developed their principal activity contemporaneously. Some of the tannaim, however, were active in more than one generation. The following is an enumeration of the six generations and of the more prominent tannaim respectively belonging to them:

First Generation (10-80 C.E.):

Principal tannaim: the Shammaites (Bet Shammai) and the Hillelites (Bet Hillel), 'Aḳabya b. Mahalaleel, Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, Ḥanina, chief of the priests ("segan ha-kohanim"), Simeon b. Gamaliel, and Johanan b. Zakkai.

Second Generation (80-120):

Principal tannaim: Rabban Gamaliel II. (of Jabneh), Zadok, Dosa b. Harkinas, Eliezer b. Jacob, Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, Joshua b. Hananiah, Eleazar b. Azariah, Judah b. Bathyra.

Third Generation (120-140):

Principal tannaim: Ṭarfon, Ishmael, Akiba, Johanan b. Nuri, Jose ha-Gelili, Simeon b. Nanos, Judah b. Baba, and Johanan b. Baroḳa. Several of these flourished in the preceding period.

Fourth Generation:

This generation extended from the death of Akiba (c. 140) to that of the patriarch Simeon b. Gamaliel (c. 165). The teachers belonging to this generation were: Meïr, Judah b. Ilai, Jose b. Ḥalafta, Simeon b. Yoḥai, Eleazar b. Shammua, Johanan ha-Sandalar, Eleazar b. Jacob, Nehemiah, Joshua b. Ḳarḥa, and the above-mentioned Simeon b. Gamaliel.

Fifth Generation (165-200):

Principal tannaim: Nathan ha-Babli, Symmachus, Judah ha-Nasi I., Jose b. Judah, Eleazar b. Simeon, Simeon b. Eleazar.

Sixth Generation (200-220):

To this generation belong the contemporaries and disciples of Judah ha-Nasi. They are mentioned in the Tosefta and the Baraita but not in the Mishnah. Their names are: Polemo, Issi b. Judah, Eleazar b. Jose, Ishmael b. Jose, Judah b. Laḳish, Ḥiyya, Aḥa, Abba (Arika). These teachers are termed "semi-tannaim"; and therefore some scholars count only five generations of tannaim. Christian scholars, moreover, count only four generations, reckoning the second and third as one (Strack, "Einleitung in den Talmud," pp. 77 et seq.).

For the term "amora" and a list of the generations of amoraim, see AMORA.

W. B.
J. Z. L.

The following list enumerates all the zeḳenim harishonim, tannaim, and amoraim mentioned in the Talmudic-Midrashic literature, those who are well known and frequently mentioned as well as those whose names occur once only in the Mishnah and Tosefta or in the Talmud and Midrash. To this pretannaitic period belong the so-called "pairs" ("zugot") of teachers: Simeon the Just and Antigonus of Soko; Jose ben Joezer and Jose ben Johanan; Joshua ben Peraḥyah and Nittai of Arbela; Judah ben Tabbai and Simeon ben Sheṭaḥ; Shemaiah and Abtalion; Hillel and Shammai.

Stars indicate that separate articles appear under the names so marked.

List of Tannaim.
J. Z. L.
List of Amoraim.[Babylonian and Palestinian amoraim are distinguished respectively by the initials B and P in parentheses; the figures indicate the centuries to which they belonged. For amoraim whose names are preceded by the dagger-sign, see also Jew. Encyc. s. Yiẓḥaḳ.]
L. G.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Tanna'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​t/tanna.html. 1901.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile