Theodosius of Rome

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THEODOSIUS OF ROME ("Todos Ish Romi "; see Jastrow Dict. 1650), the spiritual leader of the Roman Jewish community some time during the late first century c.e. Yose b. Ḥalafta relates that he instituted in Rome on the nights of Passover the eating of "helmeted goats," i.e., goats roasted with entrails and legs on the head, like a helmet, the manner in which the paschal lamb was sacrificed. They (i.e., the sages, not Simeon b. Shetaḥ, as in Ber. 19a) sent to him, declaring that were he not Theodosius, they would have declared a ban against him, because he was "making Israel eat sacred flesh outside[the Temple]" (Pes. 53a; cf. Tosef., Beẓah 2:15). This story demonstrates the degree to which the central religious authorities in Palestine (probably Gamaliel and the bet din at Jabneh) kept a strict check on Diaspora Jewry. In the amoraic period, the question arose whether Theodosius was a "great man" (gavra rabba) or merely a "powerful man" (ba'al egrofin). They proved that he was a "great man," citing a teaching of his: "What did Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah see that they delivered themselves for the Sanctification of the[Divine]Name into the fiery furnace…–" It is surely indicative that the only teaching recorded of this prominent Diaspora leader deals with the problem of "the sanctification of the Name" (implying martyrdom), one no doubt of very topical import. According to another amoraic tradition, Theodosius gave financial support to scholars (Pes. 53b).


M. Vogelmann, in: Sefer Zikkaron li-Shelomo S. Mayer (1956), 196–200; M. Beer, in: Zion, 26 (1961), 238–40; S. Lieberman, Tosefta ki-Feshutah, 5 (1962), 959–60.

[Daniel Sperber]

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Theodosius of Rome

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