Gaon

Gaon

[gah-ohn; Sephardic Hebrew gah-awn; Ashkenazic Hebrew gah-ohn, goin] ,
noun, plural Geonim [Sephardic Hebrew ge-aw-neem; Ashkenazic Hebrew gey-oh-nim] . English, Gaons.
1.
a title of honor for the directors of the Jewish academies at Sura and Pumbedita in Babylonia, used from the end of the 6th century a.d. to about the beginning of the 11th century.
2.
an eminent Jewish scholar noted for wisdom and knowledge of the Talmud: the Gaon of Vilna.

Origin:
1770–80; < Hebrew: literally, majesty

Gaonic [gey-on-ik] , adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
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gaon

the title accorded to the Jewish spiritual leaders and scholars who headed Talmudic academies that flourished, with lengthy interruptions, from the 7th to the 13th century in Babylonia and Palestine. The chief concern of the geonim was to interpret and develop Talmudic Law and to safeguard Jewish legal traditions by adjudicating points of legal controversy. Their replies (responsa) were quoted far beyond the limits of their own communities and are of great value in studying the Jewish history and theology of the period. The geonim continued a tradition of scholarship begun long before by the soferim (teachers and interpreters of biblical law) and kept alive in subsequent centuries by the tannaim and amoraim (who, respectively, produced the compilation of law called the Mishna and wrote commentaries on the Mishna, called Gemara).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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