Amoraim (Aramaic: plural אמוראים ʔamoraˈʔim, singular Amora אמורא ʔamoˈʁa; "those who say" or "those who speak over the people", or "spokesmen") refers to the Jewish scholars of the period from about 200 to 500 CE, who "said" or "told over" the teachings of the Oral Torah. They were concentrated in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their legal discussions and debates were eventually codified in the Gemara. The Amoraim followed the Tannaim in the sequence of ancient Jewish scholars. The Tannaim were direct transmitters of uncodified oral tradition; the Amoraim expounded upon and clarified the oral law after its initial codification.
The Amoraic era
The first Babylonian Amoraim were Abba Arika, respectfully referred to as Rav, and his contemporary and frequent debate partner, Shmuel. Among the earliest Amoraim in Israel were Johanan bar Nappaha and Shimon ben Lakish. Traditionally, the Amoraic period is reckoned as seven or eight generations (depending on where one begins and ends). The last Amoraim are generally considered to be Ravina I and Rav Ashi, and Ravina II, nephew of Ravina I, who codified the Babylonian Talmud around 500 CE. In total, 761 amoraim are mentioned by name in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds. 367 of them were active in the land of Israel from around 200-350 CE, while the other 394 lived in Babylonia during 200-500 CE.
In the Talmud itself, the singular amora generally refers to a lecturer's assistant; the lecturer would state his thoughts briefly, and the amora would then repeat them aloud for the public's benefit, adding translation and clarification where needed.
The following is an abbreviated listing of the most prominent of the (hundreds of) Amoraim mentioned in the Talmud. More complete listings may be provided by some of the external links below. See also List of rabbis.
First generation (approx. 230–250 CE)
- Abba Arika (d. 247), known as Rav, last Tanna, first Amora. Disciple of Judah haNasi. Moved from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia (219). Founder and Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura.
- Shmuel (d. 254), disciple of Judah haNasi's students and others. Dean of the Yeshiva at Nehardea.
- Joshua ben Levi (early 3rd century), headed the school of Lod.
- Bar Kappara
Second generation (approx. 250–290 CE)
- Rav Huna (d. 297), disciple of Rav and Shmuel. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura.
- Rav Yehudah (d. 299), disciple of Rav and Shmuel. Dean of the Yeshiva at Pumbedita.
- Adda bar Ahavah, (3rd and 4th centuries), disciple of Rav.
- Hillel, son of Gamaliel III (fl. early 3rd century), disciple and grandson of Judah haNasi, and younger brother of Judah II (Judah Nesiah).
- Judah II (fl. early 3rd century), disciple and grandson of Judah haNasi, and son and successor of Gamaliel III as Nasi. Sometimes called Rabbi Judah Nesi'ah, and occasionally Rebbi like his grandfather.
- Resh Lakish (d. late 3rd century), disciple of Judah haNasi, Rabbi Yannai and others, and colleague of Rabbi Yochanan.
- Yochanan bar Nafcha (Rabbi Yochanan) (d. 279 or 289), disciple of Judah haNasi and Rabbi Yannai. Dean of the Yeshiva at Tiberias. Primary author of the Jerusalem Talmud.
- Samuel ben Nahman
- Shila of Kefar Tamarta
- Isaac Nappaha
- Anani ben Sason
Third generation (approx. 290–320 CE)
- Rabbah (d. 320), disciple of Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah. Dean of the Yeshiva at Pumbedita.
- Rav Yosef (d. 323), disciple of Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah. Dean of the Yeshiva at Pumbedita.
- Rav Zeira (Israel)
- Rav Chisda (d. 309), disciple of Rav, Shmuel, and Rav Huna. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura.
- Simon (Shimeon) ben Pazzi
- Rav Sheshet
- Rav Nachman (d. 320), disciple of Rav, Shmuel, and Rabbah bar Avuha. Did not head his own yeshiva, but was a regular participant in the discussions at the Yeshivot of Sura and Mahuza.
- Rabbi Abbahu (d. early 4th century), disciple of Rabbi Yochanan. Dean of the Yeshiva in Caesarea.
- Hamnuna — Several rabbis in the Talmud bore this name, the most well-known being a disciple of Shmuel (fl. late 3rd century).
- Judah III (d. early 4th century), disciple of Rabbi Johanan bar Nappaha. Son and successor of Gamaliel IV as NASI, and grandson of Judah II.
- Rabbi Ammi
- Rabbi Assi
- Hanina ben Pappa
- Raba bar Rav Huna
- Rami bar Hama
- Rav Shmuel bar Yehudah
Fourth generation (approx. 320–350 CE)
- Abaye (d. 339), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman. Dean of the Yeshiva in Pumbedita.
- Rava (d. 352), disciple of Rabbah, Rav Yosef, and Rav Nachman, and possibly Rabbi Yochanan. Dean of the Yeshiva at Mahuza.
- Hillel II (fl. c. 360). Creator of the present-day Hebrew calendar. Son and successor as Nasi of Judah Nesiah, grandson of Gamaliel IV.
- Abba the Surgeon
- Bebai ben Abaye (fl. c. 4th century)
Fifth generation (approx. 350–371 CE)
Sixth generation (approx. 371–427 CE)
Seventh generation (approx. 425–460 CE)
Eighth generation (approx. 460–500 CE)
- Ravina II (d. 475 or 500), disciple of Ravina I and Rav Ashi. Dean of the Yeshiva at Sura. Completed the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.
The "Stammaim" is a term used by some modern scholars, such as Halivni, for the rabbis who composed the anonymous (stam) statements and arguments in the Talmud, some of whom may have worked during the period of the Amoraim, but who mostly made their contributions after the amoraic period. See also Savoraim.
- Gideon Golany Babylonian Jewish neighborhood and home design- 1999 38 "Amoraim (from the Aramaic word amora meaning "spokesman")"
- Judith R. Baskin; Kenneth Seeskin (31 July 2010). The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-521-68974-8. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- David Guttmann (2006-03-21). "Believing is Knowing: Professor Halivni and the Sealing of the Gemara - a new chronology". Yediah.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2013-04-11.