The rabbi or berabbi is used as the title of some sixty-eight men known from inscriptions and other documentary sources from late antiquity. Since the initial survey of these remains by Shaye Cohen in JQR in 1981, no consensus has emerged on the relationship between the epigraphic and documentary use of the title and the rabbinic movement. Along with an updated list of "epigraphical rabbis," this article reviews the evidence, with particular attention to numbers, chronology, and to the special case of Bet Shearim. Except for one instance, the use of the title in inscriptions as a marker of connection to the rabbinic movement cannot be established. Allowing that the epigraphic practice reflects non-rabbinic uses of the same title is the methodologically safer course. One consequence of this reconsideration is that the inscriptions now appear to be overwhelmingly from the fourth century and later. For scholars who do, nevertheless, insist that the epigraphical title implies membership and scholarly attainment in the rabbinic movement, the late date has important implications for assessing the fate of the rabbinic movement after the fourth century.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 311-346
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.