Anan ben David

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Anan ben David

(änän`), fl. 8th cent., Babylonian Jewish theologian, founder of the Ananites from whom the KaraitesKaraites
or Caraites
, form of Judaism, reputedly founded (8th cent.) in Persia by Anan ben David and originally known as Ananites. Its adherents were called Karaites after the 9th cent.
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 claim spiritual descent. He is said to have been a descendant of Bostanai ben ChaninaiBostanai ben Chaninai
, c.618–670, first Jewish exilarch (i.e., ruler of the Jewish exiles in Babylonia) under Arab rule. He is the subject of many legends. His name is also spelled Bustanai ben Haninai. Anan ben David is said to have been among his descendants.
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. Anan rejected the Talmudic tradition and in its place sought a return to Scripture as the sole source for God's Law. It is evident from those writings attributed to him that he made use of rabbinic methods of scriptural interpretation in the formulation of legal decisions to meet the needs of his age. These decisions often represent a quite ascetic attitude.


See L. Nemoy, Karaite Anthology (1952).

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For instance, despite popular conceptions, Anan ben David (8th century) was not the founder of Karaism, and the authenticity of the motto attributed to him, "search Scriptures well and do not rely on my opinion," is questionable (p.