Amora

Amora (אמורא, interpreter, or expositor). In the narrower sense, this word designated those men who assisted the teachers of the law, in the schools and colleges of Palestine and Babylon, during the 3d, 4th, and 5th centuries, in interpreting the law to the people. In a wider sense, it designates all teachers of the law who, after the death of Judah the Holy until the close of the Talmud (A.D. 219-500), occupied themselves with the elucidation and development of those laws which were laid down in the Mishna. These teachers were called "amoraim." But as the force of these teachers, especially in large assemblies, was not sufficient, they were assisted in their lectures by a class of men who were styled "amoraim of the second order," to distinguish them from those of the "first order." The men of the second order became more and more indispensable to both teachers and hearers, and were well paid. But they soon abused their position either by abbreviating or expanding the lecture, and only cared to be heard. In consequence of this, R. Abbaku passed a law that no amora under fifty years of age should be engaged.

The time of the amoraim of the first order may be divided into six epochs — the first from 219 to 280, the second from 280 to 320, the third from 320 to 375, the fourth from 375 to 427, the fifth from 427 to 468, and the sixth from 468 to 500. We cannot enter here minutely upon the lives and merits of the amoraim, some of whom have already been treated in former volumes, or will be treated in their proper place in this Supplement. The lives of some of these teachers have been written by Bacher, in Die Agada der babylonischen Anoraer (Strasburg, 1878). (B. P.)

 
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