Akiba ben Joseph (əkēˈbə) [key], c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 135, Jewish Palestinian religious leader, one of the founders of rabbinic Judaism. Although the facts of his life are obscured by legend, he is said to have been a poor and illiterate shepherd who began his rabbinic studies at the age of forty. Tradition views him as one of the first Jewish scholars to systematically compile Hebrew oral laws, the Mishna. He is believed to have been executed by the Romans in the aftermath of the messianic revolt of Bar Kokba (A.D. 132–135), though the extent of his participation is a matter of controversy. He is one of the martyrs mentioned in the Jewish penitential prayer.
See study by L. Finkelstein (1936, repr. 1970).
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