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At the top of Keth. 43b the Gemara cites a ruling of Rav's, passed down by Rav Mathneh, as taught in the name of either Rav Zeira or Rabi Zeira:

אמר רב זירא אמר רב מתנה אמר רב ואמרי לה אמר רבי זירא א"ר מתנה אמר רב

Presumably, this is an effort to give proper citation, but if there's no ambiguity as to Rav Mathneh's tradition in the name of Rav, why go to the trouble an ambiguous citation of either Rav Zeira or Rabi Zeira?

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    There is an argument somewhere if citing sources means quoting the originator of the idea And the person you heard it from, skipping everyone in between, or citing everyone in the chain of tradition. – user6591 Mar 17 '15 at 19:50
  • @user6591 understood, and this is quite a common phenomenon, but if the whole point is to demonstrate that we have a solid tradition, although the redactors of the Gemara cannot agree on which Zeira transmitted this tradition, why not just go with the most recent, unambiguous link in the chain? (I suppose the question could be asked of any similar situation; but it's striking to me that, in this case, the only ambiguity is which Zeira said it, and that they're only distinguishable by a single letter in their respective honorifics.) – Seth J Mar 17 '15 at 20:15
  • well there's that lips mumbling in the grave thing that they were pretty into:) So skip someone unjustly and he's missing out on that. Your question reminded me though about one I wanted to ask here. In general how we know which Rav Zeira we are talking about. They lived around the same time and Rabi Zeira was also Rav Zeira when he was in Bavel. Have any insight? – user6591 Mar 17 '15 at 20:21
  • Commentless downvote? Really? – Seth J Mar 18 '15 at 16:52
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Rashi over there says that the word Rav preceding the name means without Semicha, the word rabbi preceding the name means with Semicha. The question here is whether at the time he said this if he had Semicha or not.

See Kevod Chachmim page 54 paragraph starting V'raiya.

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