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This Greek word is derived from a Hebrew title used to honor the Jewish religious teachers, dating from the first century before Christ. Jesus is addressed by His disciples as “rabbi,” because the outward form of His life appeared like that of a Jewish teacher of the law. But the gospel writers interpret the term so as to underscore His lordship (cf. Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33), thus indicating that early Christians thought of Him as much more than a rabbi. The term does not occur in early Christian literature subsequent to the closing of the canon. As the recognized title given to teachers of the law in the Jewish community, it is passed on from teacher to pupil by ordination, and qualifies one who has the proper training to function as preacher, teacher, and pastor in the Jewish synagogue.


E. Schürer, HJP, II. i. 315ff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Talmud for Rabbinical literature.

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