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The Great Synagogue
SYNAGOGUE, THE GREAT. According to Jewish tradition thewas the council first appointed by Ezra after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity to reorganize the religious life, institutions, and literature of the people. It consisted originally of 120 men, and lasted until the beginning of the Gr. period.
The expression “Great Synagogue” as relating to
Quite interestingly, the Great Synagogue is not noted in the Apoc., or in Josephus, or in Philo; neither does the OT make mention of it.
In the judgment of many, scholars have shown that the tradition of the Great Synagogue is unhistorical, and is a distortion of the general assembly of
C. Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (1877), 124, 125; H. E. Ryle, Canon of the OT (1892), 250ff.; C. A. Briggs, Study of Holy Scripture (1899), 120-122, 252ff.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A college or assembly of learned men, originating with Ezra, to whom Jewish tradition assigns an important share in the formation of the Canon of the Old Testament). One of its latest members is said to have been Simon the Just (circa 200 BC). The oldest notice of the is in the tract of the Mishna, Pirqe ’Abhoth (circa 200 AD); this is supplemented by an often-quoted, passage in another tract of the Mishna, Babha’ Bathra’ (14b), on the Canon, and by later traditions. It tells against the reliabe of these traditions that they are late, and are mixed up with much that is self-evidently unhistorical, while no corroboration is found in Ezra or Nehemiah, in the Apocrypha, or in Josephus. On this account, since the exhaustive discussion by Kuenen on the subject (Over de Mannen der Groote Synagoge), most scholars have been disposed to throw over the tradition altogether, regarding it as a distorted remembrance of the great convocation described in
For the rabbinical quotations and further important details, see C. Taylor’s Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 11 f and 110 f.