Amoraim (äˈmōräˈĭm) [key] [Heb. amar = to interpret], in Judaism, term referring to those scholars, predominantly at Caesarea and Tiberias in Palestine (c.A.D. 220–c.A.D. 375) and in Babylonia (c.A.D. 200–c.A.D. 500), who interpreted the Mishna and other Tannaitic collections (see Talmud). Serving as judges, communal administrators, teachers, and collectors of charity, they were responsive to contemporary problems. Working to supersede the Temple cult, they helped establish the ideal that all Jews should devote themselves to study of the Torah. Their discussions constitute the section of the Talmud known as the Gemara. In addition, they were responsible for much of the nonlegal or aggadic material that appears in the Talmud and in the Midrashim (see Midrash).
See J. Neusner, There We Sat Down (1972); H. L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1931, rev. ed. 1991).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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