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From Aramaic, literally, “those who repeat.” Teachers and scholars of the first two centuries C.E. who set down the laws of the Talmud. They were called Tannaim because they were teachers who taught their students to rehearse the Oral Tradition, based on the Written Law of the Bible, for the purpose of memorization. The group of laws taught by a Tanna was called his Mishnah, or repetition. Among the nearly 300 Tannaim were the famous rabbis Johanan ben Zakkai, Akiba, Meir, Joshua ben Hananyah, Nahum of Gimzo, Eliezer ben Hyracanus, Eleazor ben Azaryah, and Judah the Prince. (See also Talmud.)

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