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(5,830 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Karl | Cancik, Hubert | Dietrich, Walter | Plümacher, Eckhard | Brennecke, Hanns Christof | Et al.
[German Version] I. Ancient Near East – II. Greece – III. Rome – IV. The Bible – V. Christianity – VI. Judaism I. Ancient Near East Historiography in the classic sense, with a reflective account of historical linkages, developed rudimentarily at best in the cuneiform cultures of the ancient Near East in Hittite and Neo-Assyrian annals and the introductions to treaties; even these documents were usually written to justify the political actions. Around the middle of the 3rd millennium bce, however, there appeared an immense number of all sorts of texts containing more …

Hai Gaon

(187 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
[German Version] (also: Hai ben Sherira; 939–1038), gaon of the Academy (Yeshivah) of Pumbedita from 1004 to 1038. Having already assisted his father Sherira Gaon as a young man, he became ab bet din (“Father of the Court,” the second highest in the hierarchy of the academy) in 985 and was appointed gaon during his father's lifetime. With the latter's help, he reestablished the “worldwide” authority and spiritual leadership of the Babylonian gaonate. Hai's prominence is largely due to the approx. 1,500 complete, fragmentary, or quoted ¶ responsa (representing ab…


(314 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
[German Version] Gaon, Heb. גאון/ ga'on, pl. ge'onim, from bibl. גָאוׄן/ gā'ôn (“lordliness, majesty, pride”), is a title given esp. to the heads of the leading rabbinical academies in Babylonia and (later) in Israel (Palestine) during the so-called Gaonic (or Geonic) period (c. mid-6th – mid-11th cent.), though it was still in use thereafter. It is probably derived from ראש ישיבת גאון יעקב ( ro'sh yeshivat ge'on ya'aqov [cf. Ps 47:5], “head of the academy [Yeshivah] of Jacob's majesty”). The office of the gaon was (with one exception) not hereditary, but in th…

Sherira Gaon

(407 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
[German Version] (Sherira ben Chanina Yehuda; c. 906–1006), between 968 and 1004 Gaon of the rabbinic academy (Yeshivah) of Pumbedita in Baghdad, one of the most important Geonim. During his tenure (and that of his son Hai Gaon), the academy enjoyed a renaissance. He placed relationships with the Jewish Diaspora communities outside Babylonia on a new footing, demanding their material support and recognition of the spiritual leadership of the Babylonian gaonate; he also played a decisive role in es…

Seder Olam

(300 words)

Author(s): Schlüter, Margarete
[German Version] The “Order of the World,” traditionally ascribed to the Tanna Jose ben Halafta, is usually identified as a chronographic work edited in the early Amoraic period; according to Milikowsky, Flavius Josephus was already using a Proto-Seder Olam, which was revised somewhat later and supplemented and taught by Jose. Its primary purpose – possibly in polemic against the use of non-biblical sources for biblical history in Hellenistic Jewish historiography (VI, 1) – is to determine the dat…

History/Concepts of History

(12,750 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Görg, Manfred | Schlüter, Margarete | Römer, Nils | Cancik, Hubert | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Ancient Near East and Israel – III. Judaism – IV. Greece and Rome – V. New Testament – VI. Church History – VII. Dogmatics – VIII. Ethics – IX. Philosophy I. Religious Studies History is a major aspect of the study of religion. Apart from its roots in the Enlightenment idea of tolerance, it owes its scholarly development to the historicism of the 19th century. As a result, the expression history of religions ( Religionsgeschichte, histoire des religions, storia delle religioni) has remained dominant in continental Europe, in con…