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Rabba was forced to flee to a forest after being accused by Shapur II’s ministers that his biannual gatherings (Kalah) were only created to avoid a poll tax. He was later found in the undergrowth, dead. Although extremely poor, Rabba had been appointed to head the academy of Pumbedita after Judah Bar Ezekiel’s (the founder of the academy) death. A position he held for twenty-one years. He endeavored to reconcile contradictions in the Mishna and was known for beginning his lectures with a quip.

331 - 396 ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA (Asia Minor/Central Turkey)

Is considered together with John Chrysostom, to be one the formulators of the anti-Jewish doctrine in the Byzantine Church. He called Jews "…murderers of the Lord, assassins of the prophets, rebels and detesters of God,... companions of the devil". He also claimed, "The Jews are a brood of vipers, (and) haters of goodness." Gregory is recognized as a saint by all catholic and many protestant churches.


Abbaye (278-338) was the nephew of Rabba Bar Nachmani who adopted him when his parents died. Abbaye was admired for his integrity by both Jews and gentiles. His Talmudic debates with Rava (who opened an academy at Mahoza on the Tigris River) became famous and are known as Havayot (Reflections) deAbbaya veRava. They both encouraged elementary education for children. He wrote many popular sayings underlying his belief in the importance that one be “beloved above and well liked below”.


He served as the Pope (314-335) the time of Nicea. Though little is known about him, he did forbid priests to "be friendly or sociable with Jews", on pain of excommunication. Today in many parts of Europe and Asia New year's day is also known as "Sylvester".

337 - 361 CONSTANTIUS (Constantine II) (Roman Empire)

Son of Constantine the Great. Weaker than his father, he relied on his Church advisors and began a series of anti-Jewish decrees banning Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the circumcising of Christian or Pagan slaves, and protecting Jewish converts to Christianity.

338 ABBAYA DIED (Babylon)

Upon his death, Rava (R. Abba bar Joseph) became the acknowledged head of both Sura and Pumbedita academies but stayed at Mahoza. Rava's deep analysis of the Mishna became very popular and is considered by some to be the perfect example of talmudic dissertation and elucidation.

338 December, CALLINCUM (modern Al Rakka, Iraq)

A synagogue was raided and burned, by the local bishop. Theodosius initially directed the bishop to make restitution, and to return the stolen goods. After St. Ambrose vehemently protested, he back down. This served as a precedent allowing the wanton destruction of synagogues with impunity.

339 CONSTANTIUS II`(Roman Empire)

Son of Constantine the Great, declared intermarriage with Jews and the circumcision of heathen or Christian slaves punishable by death. Considering that slaves fueled the economy, this put any Jewish owned businesses into a position where they could not compete – which was one of its goals. He also called synagogues "concliabula" (brothels). This is the first time this term is used.

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