Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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(1,630 words)

The Hebrew and Aramaic רבי/rabbi (lit. “my master”) appears in the ancient sources as a polite phrase addressing a Jewish sage or teacher. In addition, it came to be used as the standard title of a Torah (Law/Decalogue/Torah) scholar accredited in the rabbinic movement, or in other words a “rabbi.” The import of the New Testament is twofold: it is the oldest extra-rabbinical document to use the term, and it is also the focus of the Christian trend to denigrate “rabbinism.”

Outside rabbinic literature,…

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Tomson, Peter J., “Rabbi”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 25 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2018

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