Akiba, Ben Joseph
AKIBA, BEN JOSEPH (c.50-132), Jewish Palestinian rabbi, of the circle known as tana (q.v.). It is almost impossible to separate the true from the false in the numerous traditions respecting his life. He became the chief teacher in the rabbinical school of Jaffa, where, it is said, he had 24,000 scholars. Whatever their number, it seems certain that among them was the celebrated Rabbi Meir, and that through him and others Akiba exerted a great influence on the development of the doctrines embodied in the Mishnah. He sided with Bar Cochebas in the last Jewish revolt against Rome, recognized him as the Messiah, and acted as his sword-bearer. Being taken prisoner by the Romans under Julius Severus, he was flayed alive with circumstances of great cruelty, and met his fate, according to tradition, with marvellous steadfastness and composure. He is said by some to have been a hundred and twenty years old at the time of his death. He is one of the ten Jewish martyrs whose names occur in a penitential prayer still used in the synagogue service. Akiba was among the first to systematize the Jewish tradition, and he paved the way for the compilation of the Mishnah. From his school emanated the Greek translation of the scriptures by Aquila.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)