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Talmudic Chronology

© 2002 Rabbi David Markel Hall

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The first generation of the carriers of the Oral tradition that became known as early Talmudists was Hillel I who in 32BCE became the leader of the Torah scholars and established his own Beit Midrash in 46BCE. At certain points of history the Talmudic leaders were split into two houses, one in Israel the other in Babylon. It is difficult to keep track of these at times but I have done the best I can with the available information.


If you  see any flaws in this, please direct your comments directly to me: Rabbi David Markel Hall


Here is the lineage of Talmudic leaders as best I can make it out.

  • Hillel I a descendant of King David, studied under Shimon ben Shatach and Yehuda ben Tabbai. He almost froze to death while listening at the window of their joint school of study in his eagerness to learn in 61BCE. Yonatan ben Uziel was is greatest student who translated the prophets into Aramaic.
  • Shimon I ben Hillel I became Nassi (head of the Sanhidran) in 32BCE. Shimon did not live long.
  • R.Gamliel I ben Shimon I [ben Hillel I] was the first to be called "Raban". R.Gamliel I was the one who taught R.Shaul [Paul the Apostle]
  • R.Shimon II ben Gamliel I succeeds his father. 50CE
  • R.Yochanan ben Zakkai (the last disciple of Hillel) escaped from the internal siege of Jerusalem and negotiated an agreement with Vespasian to allow continuance of the studies of the Sanhedrin under R.Gamliel II ben R.Shimon 68CE.
  • R.Yehoshua ben Chananyah was the first to assemble the oral traditions in written form [74CE] though not organized in it present form until later when Yehuda the Prince assembled scholars for that purpose.
  • R.Yehoshua ben Chananyah succeeded R.Yochanan ben Zakkai  as the head of the Av Bet Din was and was his disciple but was not his descendant 74CE.
  • R.Eliezer ben Yaakov I became the head of the Beit Hamikdash and after the death of R.Yochanan ben Zakkai he met with R.Gamliel II and R.Yehoshua in Yavneh in order to consolidate and clarify the laws of Torah by ruling on differences of opinion that had arisen since Hillel I. These things took place in 74CE.
  • In 82CE R.Eliezer ruled on some matters without R.Gamliel II and R.Yehosua present. As a result, they ousted R.Eliezer from the counsel leaving only R.Gamliel II and R.Yehoshua to lead. As a result disagreements ensued.
  • R.Akiva 120CE took over as the head of the Bet Din. In 133CE Akiva made a gross error in naming Bar Kochba as Messiah. In doing so, he not only lost the following of the Messianic Jews but cause great consternation with the Roman Emperor. Romans then began to discriminate against the Jews including Messianic Jews. They also killed Akiva by skinning him alive.  In 143CE the Tanna’im returned from Bavel and the met in small gatherings without forming a Sanhedrin.
  • R.Natan son of Reish Galuta (Exilarch) headed the Tanna’im in Israel in148CE. Alongside of R.Natan was R.Shimon ben Gamliel II who was later appointed Nassi.
  • R.Yehuda (Bar Ila’I) was appointed head of the Sanhidren Academy in 148CE.
  • R.Yehudah HaNassi (who was also called Rabbi) continued to the conclusion the clarification of Torah laws and completed the organization of them which was started by his father and R.Natan. He consolidated the various opinions into one body of law, the Mishna, which, when edited in its specific succinct style of syntax, became established as the final word of Jewish law and jurisprudence. The completion of the Mishna was in around 189CE.


The Gemara

·         Rabbi (Judah the prince) left Israel and settled in Bavel in 219CE.

·         R.Yehuda Nessia I (HaNassi) died and was succeeded by his son, Gamliel IV, but did not live long and was succeeded by his son R.Yehuda Nessia II in 230CE.

·         Many of the Amora’im (Mishna scholars) mentioned in the Talmud and the same names even though they lived in various generations.

·         R.Oshiya 235CE

·         R.Yochanan 247CE became the Rosh Talmud in Israel and Shmuel, the Rosh Metivta in Neharde’a became the leading Talmudic authority in Bavel.

·         R.Huna Rosh Metivta of Sura 258CE

·         R.Yehuda assumed the role of Rosh Talmud in 298CE upon the death of R.Huna

·         R.Chisda followed R.Yehuda in 300CE

·         Rabbah in Pumpedita in 309 replace R.Gamliel V In Israel

·         Constantine I 313CE had churches builg on Christian holy places in Israel.

·         R.Yosef a blind Amora became Rosh Talmud succeeding Rabbah (bar Nachmani) in 321CE.

·         Abbayé was Rosh Talmud after R.Yosef. This was the year of the Christian counsel of Nicaea. During that counsel, Constantine I demanded that Christians distance themselves from Judaism by forcing the Church to worship on Sunday instead of the Hebrew Sabbath and cease observance of the Biblically mandated Holy Days. He also made them take the pagan festivals of Easter and Saturnelia (Mithra’s birthday, Dec 25) 325CE.

·         Rava succeeded Abbayé as rosh Talmud in 338CE.

·         Talmud Yerushalmi was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and was fairly complete but still in its rudimentary form by 351CE.
Some of the names in the Talmud Yerushalmi are different than in the Talmud Bavali.

·         There was no central talmudic authority from the year 352 until 371. R.Nachman II succeeded Rava but the authority was not recognized until 371.

·         Hillel II who established the current calendar became Nassi in Israel in 359.

·         R.Ashi became Rosh Metivta in 371. He developed wider recognition and achieved the emergence, once again, of central Talmudic authority.
It was during R.Ashi’s time that the Talmud was compiled into its current form.

·         R.Iddi bar Avin became Rosh Metivta of Sura in 431.

·         R.Nachman III replaced R.Iddi in 451.

·         Rav Ashi succeeded R.Nachman III in 451.

·         Mar (Tivyumi) bar Rav Ashi replaced Rav Ashi in 454

·         Rabbah Tospha’a succeeded Mar in 467

·         Ravina II (a nephew of Ravina I)became Rosh Metivta of Sura in 474

·         The Talmud was completed when Ravina II died. 475CE


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