1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Elisha ben Abuyah

ELISHA BEN ABUYAH (c. A.D. 100), a unique figure among the Palestinian Jews of the first Christian century. He was born before the destruction of the Temple (which occurred in A.D. 70) and survived into the 2nd century. It is not easy to decide as to his exact attitude towards Judaism. That he refused to accept the current rabbinical views is certain, though the Talmud cites his legal decisions. Most authorities believe that he was a Gnostic; but while it is certain that he was not a Christian, it is possible that he was simply a Sadducee, and thus an opponent not of Judaism but of Pharisaism. His disciple, the famous Pharisee Meir, remained his steadfast friend, and his efforts to reclaim his former master are among the most pathetic incidents in the Talmud. In later ages Elisha (aḥer “the other,” as he was named) was regarded as the type of a heretic whose pride of intellect betrayed him into infidelity to law and morals. Without much appropriateness Elisha has been sometimes described as the “Faust of the Talmud.” (I. A.)