Johanan ben Zakkai

Johanan ben Zakkai
/joh han"euhn ben zak"ay uy'/; Seph. Heb. /yaw'khah nahn" ben zah kuy"/
died A.D. c80, Palestinian rabbi who was a leading Pharisaic teacher: disciple of Hillel.

* * *

flourished 1st century AD

Palestinian Jewish sage.

A leading representative of the Pharisees, he helped preserve and develop Judaism in the years after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (AD 70). He is said to have been smuggled out of the besieged city in a coffin and to have visited the Roman camp and persuaded the future emperor Vespasian to allow him to set up an academy at Jamnia near the Judaean coast. He established an authoritative rabbinic body there and was revered as a great teacher and scholar.

* * *

▪ Jewish scholar
flourished 1st century AD

      Palestinian Jewish sage, founder of an academy and an authoritative rabbinic body at Jamnia, who had a decisive influence on the continuance and development of traditional Judaism after the destruction of the Temple (AD 70).

      As is the case with all the Talmudic (Talmud and Midrash) teachers (the rabbis who interpreted and applied the Oral Law), little strictly biographical information about Johanan ben Zakkai has been preserved: Talmudic and Midrashic sources (commentative and interpretative writings) are principally devoted to the teachings of the sages and of what they came to represent. Thus, what can be reported essentially about Johanan is this: even before AD 70 he acted as a leading representative of the Pharisees (Pharisee) in debate with priestly and Sadducean authorities. (The Pharisees stressed rigorous observance of the Law, inclusion of the oral tradition as normative, and an interpretative adaptation of traditional precepts to new situations; the Sadducees (Sadducee), an elitist conservative group, accepted only the Written Law as authoritative and were more literalist and static in their interpretation.) Johanan's school was apparently famous, and one in search of learning would go to extremes, if need be, to be admitted there. Furthermore, Johanan was opposed to the policy of those who were determined on war with Rome at all costs. By quitting beleaguered Jerusalem according to most accounts in 70 (though it is possible that he left as early as 68) and being brought to the Roman camp, he somehow succeeded in getting permission to set up an academy in Jamnia (Jabneh), near the Judaean coast, and there he was joined by a number of his favourite disciples. Two of them, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Joshua ben Hananiah, who are credited with having smuggled their master out of Jerusalem in a coffin, were to become, by the end of the century and the beginning of the following one, the leading teachers of their generation and had a profound influence on the greatest scholars of the next generation.

      It is therefore hardly excessive to say that Johanan's teachings are to be traced not merely to the relatively few statements specifically attributed to him but to many views that become articulate during the 2nd century: for example, that acts of loving kindness atone no less effectively than the former Temple sacrificial ritual and are indeed at the core of the universe since its creation; that the study of Torah (the divine instruction or Law) is a central purpose of man and a paramount form of serving God; that a number of ceremonies and regulations once confined to the Temple were to be adopted even outside the Temple complex “to serve as memorials of the Sanctuary”; at the same time, despite the unique sanctity of Jerusalem, basic decisions regarding practice and instruction were now to be permitted to the authorized scholars wherever circumstances compelled them to sit in session. Such views, truly radical in origin, became normative rabbinical teaching and permanent components of Judaism.

      Thus, it may be said that, by establishing in Jamnia a major academy and authoritative rabbinic body, Johanan fixed the conditions for continuing Judaism's basic traditions after the destruction of the Temple; and that, by his lively sense of the need for reinterpreting inherited concepts in new circumstances, he laid the foundations on which Talmudic and rabbinic Judaism built their structure.

      The chief preoccupation of Johanan and his students was the study and continuing development of the Law (Halakha). He and they also engaged in the study of nonlegal subjects (Aggada), especially in connection with biblical exegesis (Midrash), explanation and interpretation of the biblical contents. In addition, he was interested in esoteric themes related to the subject of creation and the visions of the Merkavah (the divine chariot of Ezekiel 1), discourses on which were even delivered by some of his disciples. And, at least before the destruction of the Temple, if not thereafter as well, he seems to have held occasional sessions when certain ethical-philosophical questions, typical of Hellenistic-Roman popular philosophical discussion, were raised and explored. His homiletic interpretations of scripture often unite the symbolic with the rationalistic in a remarkable way. Why were not hewn stones permitted in the building of the altar? Because iron is for weapons of destruction, and the altar of God is intended to bring peace, he answers. Why is the ear of one who prefers servitude to have a hole bored in it? Because we are God's servants, and man heard at Sinai with his own ears. Let the unlistening ear be bored. Such are typical comments by Johanan. Although he had discouraged what must have seemed to him unwarranted messianic proclamations, a saying attributed to him in his last illness suggests that messianic speculation was not alien to him.

      Of all the Palestinian Jewish sages of the 1st century AD, none apparently proved so fundamentally influential in his own time and for subsequent generations of scholars and spiritual leaders as Johanan ben Zakkai. In the history of Talmudic literature and thought, Johanan is rightly seen as continuing the Hillelite tradition, although this should not be interpreted to mean that he inherited only Hillel's teachings.

Judah Goldin

Additional Reading
Jacob Neusner, A Life of Yohanan ben Zakkai, ca. 1–80 C.E., 2nd ed. rev. (1970), Development of a Legend: Studies on the Traditions Concerning Yohanan ben Zakkai (1970), and First Century Judaism in Crisis: Yohanan ben Zakkai and the Renaissance of Torah (1975, reissued 1982).

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • JOHANAN BEN ZAKKAI — (first century C.E.), tanna, considered in talmudic tradition the leading sage at the end of the Second Temple period and the years immediately following the destruction of the Temple. Johanan b. Zakkai s personality and work are depicted in a… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Johanan ben Zakkai — /joh han euhn ben zak ay uy /; Seph. Heb. /yaw khah nahn ben zah kuy / died A.D. c80, Palestinian rabbi who was a leading Pharisaic teacher: disciple of Hillel …   Useful english dictionary

  • Johanan ben Zakkai — (fl. lst cent.)    Palestinian tanna. He was the leading sage at the end of the Second Temple period and in the years following the destruction of the Temple. During the rebellion against Rome (66 70), he was among the peace party in Jerusalem.… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Johanan ben Zakkai — ( s. I AD). Sabio judío palestino. Destacado representante de los fariseos, contribuyó a preservar y desarrollar el judaísmo en los años posteriores a la destrucción del Segundo templo de Jerusalén (70 AD). Se dice que fue sacado de la ciudad… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ZAKKAI (J. ben) — ZAKKAI JOHANAN BEN (mort en 80 env.) Chef spirituel de la période du second Temple, Johanan ben Zakkai est le fondateur de l’école de Javné, qui fut le centre intellectuel du judaïsme après la chute de Jérusalem et jusqu’à l’échec de la révolte… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ben — /ben/, n. a male given name, form of Benjamin. * * * (as used in expressions) Akiba ben Joseph Alfasi Isaac ben Jacob Alkalai Judah ben Solomon Hai Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Israel ben Eliezer Ben Ali Zine el Abidine Ben Bella Ahmed Ben… …   Universalium

  • ben — ben1 /ben/, Scot. n. 1. the inner or back room of a two room cottage, esp. when used as a combined parlor and bedroom. adv., prep. 2. within; inside. adj. 3. inside; inner. [1400 50; late ME (Scots); as adv., unexplained var. of late ME bin, ME… …   Universalium

  • ben — ► sustantivo masculino BOTÁNICA Árbol o moringáceo, con tronco recto, flores blancas y cuyo fruto da por presión un aceite que no se enrancia y que se emplea en relojería y perfumería. (Moringa oleifera.) * * * ben1 (pl. «beni») Palabra árabe,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Joshua ben Hananiah — (Hebrew: יהושע בן חנניה d.131CE) was a leading tanna of the first half century following the destruction of the Temple. He was of Levitical descent (Ma as. Sh. v. 9), and served in the sanctuary as a member of the class of singers (Arakhin 11b).… …   Wikipedia

  • Eliezer ben Hurcanus — Eliezer ben HurcanusFact|date=June 2007 ( he. אליעזר בן הורקנוס) was one of the most prominent tannaim of the 1st and 2nd centuries, disciple of R. Johanan ben Zakkai ( Avoth ii. 8; Avot of Rabbi Natan vi. 3, xiv. 5) and colleague of Gamaliel II …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”