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Rabbinic Literature

Talmudic literature

Jerusalem TalmudBabylonian Talmud
Minor tractates

Halakhic Midrash

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishmael (Exodus)
Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon (Exodus)
Sifra (Leviticus)
Sifre (Numbers & Deuteronomy)
Sifre Zutta (Numbers)
Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy)
Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael

Aggadic Midrash

—— Tannaitic ——
Seder Olam Rabbah
Alphabet of Akiba ben Joseph
Baraita of the Forty-nine Rules
Baraita on the Thirty-two Rules
Baraita on Tabernacle Construction
—— 400–600 ——
Genesis RabbahEichah Rabbah
Pesikta de-Rav Kahana
Esther RabbahMidrash Iyyov
Leviticus RabbahSeder Olam Zutta
Midrash TanhumaMegillat Antiochus
—— 650–900 ——
Avot of Rabbi Natan
Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer
Tanna Devei Eliyahu
Alphabet of Ben-Sira
Kohelet RabbahCanticles Rabbah
Devarim Rabbah • Devarim Zutta
Pesikta RabbatiMidrash Samuel
Midrash ProverbsRuth Rabbah
Baraita of SamuelTargum sheni
—— 900–1000 ——
Ruth Zuta • Eichah Zuta
Midrash TehillimMidrash Hashkem
Exodus RabbahCanticles Zutta
—— 1000–1200 ——
Midrash TadsheSefer ha-Yashar
—— Later ——
Yalkut ShimoniYalkut Makiri
Midrash JonahEin Yaakov
Midrash ha-GadolNumbers Rabbah
Smaller midrashim

Rabbinic Targum

—— Torah ——
Targum Onkelos
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Fragment Targum • Targum Neofiti

—— Nevi'im ——
Targum Jonathan

—— Ketuvim ——
Targum Tehillim • Targum Mishlei
Targum Iyyov
Targum to the Five Megillot
Targum Sheni to Esther
Targum to Chronicles

The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד talmūd "instruction, learning", from a root lmd "teach, study") is a central text of mainstream Judaism, in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history.

The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh.

The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature. The whole Talmud is also traditionally referred to as Shas (ש"ס), a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the "six orders" of the Mishnah.



The first page of the Vilna Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, folio 2a.

Originally, Jewish scholarship was oral. Rabbis expounded and debated the law (the written law expressed in the Hebrew Bible) and discussed the Tanakh without the benefit of written works (other than the Biblical books themselves), though some may have made private notes (megillot setarim), for example of court decisions. This situation changed drastically, however, mainly as the result of the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth in the year 70 CE and the consequent upheaval of Jewish social and legal norms. As the Rabbis were required to face a new reality—mainly Judaism without a Temple (to serve as the center of teaching and study) and Judea without autonomy—there was a flurry of legal discourse and the old system of oral scholarship could not be maintained. It is during this period that Rabbinic discourse began to be recorded in writing.[1][2] The earliest recorded oral law may have been of the midrashic form, in which halakhic discussion is structured as exegetical commentary on the Pentateuch. But an alternative form, organized by subject matter instead of by biblical verse, became dominant about the year 200 C.E., when Rabbi Judah haNasi redacted the Mishnah (משנה).

The Oral Law was far from monolithic; rather, it varied among various schools. The most famous two were the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. In general, all valid opinions, even the non-normative ones, were recorded in the Talmud.

Talmud structure

The six orders (sedarim, singular - seder) of general subject matter the Talmud are divided into 60 or 63 tractates (masekhtot, singular - masekhet) of more focused subject compilations. Each tractate is divided into chapters (perakim, singular - perek), 517 in total, that are both numbered according to the Hebrew alphabet and given names, usually using the first one or two words in the first mishah. The perek may continue over several to tens of pages (dafim, singular - daf; also known as blat) of the Talmud, which are cited in English-language works with Arabic numerals, each side referred to as Alef or Bet. Each perek will contain several mishnayot[3] with their accompanying exchanges that form the "building-blocks" of the Gemara; the name for a passage of gemara is a sugya (סוגיא; plural sugyot). A sugya, including baraita or tosefta, will typically comprise a detailed proof-based elaboration of a Mishnaic statement, whether halakhic or aggadic. A sugya may, and often does range widely off the subject of the mishnah. The sugya is not punctuated in the conventional sense used in the English language, but by using specific expressions that help to divide the sugya into components, usually including a statement, a question on the statement, an answer, a proof for the answer or a refutation of the answer with its own proof.

In a given sugya, scriptural, Tannaic and Amoraic statements are brought to support the various opinions. In so doing, the Gemara will bring semantic disagreements between Tannaim and Amoraim (often ascribing a view to an earlier authority as to how he may have answered a question), and compare the Mishnaic views with passages from the Baraita. Rarely are debates formally closed; in many instances, the final word determines the practical law, although there are many exceptions to this principle.



The Mishnah is a compilation of legal opinions and debates. Statements in the Mishnah are typically terse, recording brief opinions of the rabbis debating a subject; or recording only an unattributed ruling, apparently representing a consensus view. The rabbis recorded in the Mishnah are known as Tannaim.

Since it sequences its laws by subject matter instead of by biblical context, the Mishnah discusses individual subjects more thoroughly than the Midrash, and it includes a much broader selection of halakhic subjects than the Midrash. The Mishnah's topical organization thus became the framework of the Talmud as a whole. But not every tractate in the Mishnah has a corresponding Gemara. Also, the order of the tractates in the Talmud differs in some cases from that in the Mishnah (see the discussion on each order).


In addition to the Mishnah, other tannaitic teachings were current at about the same time or shortly thereafter. The Gemara frequently refers to these tannaitic statements in order to compare them to those contained in the Mishnah and to support or refute the propositions of Amoraim. All such non-Mishnaic tannaitic sources are termed baraitot (lit. outside material, "Works external to the Mishnah"; sing. baraita ברייתא). The baraitot cited in the Gemara are often quotations from the Tosefta (a tannaitic compendium of halakha parallel to the Mishnah) and the Halakhic Midrashim (specifically Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifre). Some baraitot, however, are known only through traditions cited in the Gemara, and are not part of any other collection.


In the three centuries following the redaction of the Mishnah, rabbis throughout Palestine and Babylonia analyzed, debated and discussed that work. These discussions form the Gemara (גמרא). Gemara means “completion” (from the Hebrew gamar גמר: "to complete") or "learning" ( from the Aramaic: "to study"). The Gemara mainly focuses on elucidating and elaborating the opinions of the Tannaim. The rabbis of the Gemara are known as Amoraim (sing. Amora אמורא).

Much of the Gemara consists of legal analysis. The starting point for the analysis is usually a legal statement found in a Mishnah. The statement is then analyzed and compared with other statements used in different approaches to Biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism (or - simpler - interpretation of text in Torah study) exchanges between two (frequently anonymous and sometimes metaphorical) disputants, termed the makshan (questioner) and tartzan (answerer). Another important function of Gemara is to identify the correct Biblical basis for a given law presented in the Mishnah and the logical process connecting one with the other: this activity was known as talmud long before the existence of the "Talmud" as a text.[4]

Halakha and Aggadah

The Talmud is a wide-ranging document that touches on a great many subjects. Traditionally Talmudic statements can be classified into two broad categories, Halakhic and Aggadic statements. Halakhic statements are those which directly relate to questions of Jewish law and practice (Halakha). Aggadic statements are those which are not legally related, but rather are exegetical, homiletical, ethical or historical in nature. See Aggadah for further discussion.

Bavli and Yerushalmi

The process of "Gemara" proceeded in the two major centers of Jewish scholarship, the Land of Israel and Babylonia. Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud or the Talmud Yerushalmi. It was compiled sometime during the fourth century in Israel. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled about the year 500 C.E., although it continued to be edited later. The word "Talmud", when used without qualification, usually refers to the Babylonian Talmud.

Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud)

A page of a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript, from the Cairo Genizah.

The Jerusalem Talmud, also known as the Palestinian Talmud, was one of the two compilations of Jewish religious teachings and commentary that was transmitted orally for centuries prior to its compilation by Jewish scholars in Palestine.[5] It is a compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris and Caesarea. It is written largely in a western Aramaic dialect that differs from its Babylonian counterpart.

This Talmud is a synopsis of the analysis of the Mishnah that was developed over the course of nearly 200 years by the Academies in Israel (principally those of Tiberias and Caesaria.) Because of their location, the sages of these Academies devoted considerable attention to analysis of the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel. Traditionally, this Talmud was thought to have been redacted in about the year 350 C.E. by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in the Land of Israel. It is traditionally known as the Talmud Yerushalmi ("Jerusalem Talmud"), but the name is a misnomer, as it was not prepared in Jerusalem. It has more accurately been called the The Talmud of the Land of Israel.[6] It has also often been referred to as the Palestinian Talmud, especially in sources that predate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Its final redaction probably belongs to the end of the fourth century, but the individual scholars who brought it to its present form cannot be fixed with assurance. By this time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem the holy city of Christendom. In 325 CE Constantine, the first Christian emperor, said "let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd.”[7] This policy made a Jew an outcast and pauper. The compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud consequently lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended. The text is evidently incomplete and is not easy to follow. The apparent cessation of work on the Jerusalem Talmud in the fifth century has been associated with the decision of in Theodosius II in 425 C.E. to suppress the Patriarchate and put an end to the practice of formal scholarly ordination. Some modern scholars have questioned this connection: for more detail see Jerusalem Talmud#Place and date of composition.

Despite its incomplete state, the Jerusalem Talmud remains an indispensable source of knowledge of the development of the Jewish Law in the Holy Land. It was also an important resource in the study of the Babylonian Talmud by the Kairouan school of Hananel ben Hushiel and Nissim Gaon, with the result that opinions ultimately based on the Jerusalem Talmud found their way into both the Tosafot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.

There are traditions that hold that in the Messianic Age the Jerusalem Talmud will have priority over the Babylonian. This may be interpreted as meaning that, following the restoration of the Sanhedrin and the line of ordained scholars, the work will be completed and "out of Zion shall go the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem". Accordingly, following the formation of the state of Israel there is some interest in restoring Eretz Yisrael traditions. For example, Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of the Machon Shilo institute has issued a siddur reflecting Eretz Yisrael practice as found in the Jerusalem Talmud and other sources.

Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud)

The Talmud Bavli was transmitted orally for centuries prior to its compilation by Jewish scholars in Babylon about the 5th century CE.[8]

A full set of the Babylonian Talmud.

Since the Exile to Babylonia in 586 BCE, there had been Jewish communities living in Babylonia as well as in Judea, as many of the captives never returned home. From then until the Talmudic period, the Babylonian Jewish population increased through natural growth as well as migration. The most important of the Jewish centres were Nehardea, Nisibis, Mahoza, Pumbeditha and Sura. It was no longer necessary for scholars to travel regularly to Israel to gather authentic traditions.

Talmud Bavli (the "Babylonian Talmud") comprises the Mishnah and the Babylonian Gemara, the latter representing the culmination of more than 300 years of analysis of the Mishnah in the Babylonian Academies. The foundations of this process of analysis were laid by Rab, a disciple of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. Tradition ascribes the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud in its present form to two Babylonian sages, Rav Ashi and Ravina. Ashi was president of the Sura Academy from 375 to 427 CE. The work begun by Ashi was completed by Ravina, who is traditionally regarded as the final Amoraic expounder. Accordingly, traditionalists argue that Ravina’s death in 499 CE is the latest possible date for the completion of the redaction of the Talmud. However, even on the most traditional view a few passages are regarded as the work of a group of rabbis who edited the Talmud after the end of the Amoraic period, known as the Saboraim or Rabbanan Savora'e (meaning "reasoners" or "considerers").

The question as to when the Gemara was finally put into its present form is not settled among modern scholars. Some, like Louis Jacobs, argue that the main body of the Gemara is not simple reportage of conversations, as it purports to be, but a highly elaborate structure contrived by the Saboraim, who must therefore be regarded as the real authors. On this view the text did not reach its final form until around 700. Some modern scholars use the term Stammaim (from the Hebrew Stam, meaning "closed", "vague" or "unattributed") for the authors of unattributed statements in the Gemara. (See eras within Jewish law.)

Comparison of style and subject matter

There are significant differences between the two Talmud compilations. The language of the Jerusalem Talmud is a western Aramaic dialect which differs from the form of Aramaic found in the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud Yerushalmi is often fragmentary and difficult to read, even for experienced Talmudists. The redaction of the Talmud Bavli, on the other hand, is more careful and precise. The law as laid down in the two compilations is basically similar, except in emphasis and in minor details. The Jerusalem Talmud has not received much attention from commentators, and such traditional commentaries as exist are mostly concerned with comparing its teachings to those of the Talmud Bavli.

Neither the Jerusalem nor the Babylonian Talmud covers the entire Mishnah: for example, a Babylonian Gemara exists only for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah. In particular:

  • The Jerusalem Talmud covers all the tractates of Zeraim, while the Babylonian Talmud covers only tractate Berachot. The reason might be that most laws from the Orders Zeraim (agricultural laws limited to the land of Israel) had little practical relevance in Babylonia and were therefore not included.[9] The Jerusalem Talmud has a greater focus on the Land of Israel and the Torah's agricultural laws pertaining to the land because it was written in the Land of Israel where the laws applied.
  • The Jerusalem Talmud does not cover the Mishnaic order of Kodashim, which deals with sacrificial rites and laws pertaining to the Temple, while the Babylonian Talmud does cover it. It is not clear why this is, as the laws were not directly applicable in either country following the Temple's 70 CE destruction.
  • In both Talmuds, only one tractate of Tohorot (ritual purity laws) is examined, that of the menstrual laws, Niddah.

The Babylonian Talmud records the opinions of the rabbis of Israel as well as of those of Babylonia, while the Jerusalem Talmud only seldom cites the Babylonian rabbis. The Babylonian version also contains the opinions of more generations because of its later date of completion. For both these reasons it is regarded as a more comprehensive collection of the opinions available. On the other hand, because of the centuries of redaction between the composition of the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmud, the opinions of early amoraim might be closer to their original form in the Jerusalem Talmud.

The influence of the Babylonian Talmud has been far greater than that of the Yerushalmi. In the main, this is because the influence and prestige of the Jewish community of Israel steadily declined in contrast with the Babylonian community in the years after the redaction of the Talmud and continuing until the Gaonic era. Furthermore, the editing of the Babylonian Talmud was superior to that of the Jerusalem version, making it more accessible and readily usable. According to Maimonides, all Jewish communities during the Gaonic era formally accepted the Babylonian Talmud as binding upon themselves, and modern Jewish practice follows the Babylonian Talmud's conclusions on all areas in which the two Talmuds are in conflict.


The Babylonian Talmud, comprising both the Mishnah and the Gemara, contains large swaths of both Hebrew and Aramaic.[10]

While Aramaic was spoken for a long time by ancient Jews, Hebrew, in various forms and at various historical stages, was also continuously used. Hebrew was used for the writing of religious texts, poetry, and so forth, as well as for speech. Even after the introduction of Aramaic, and its influence on Late Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew continued to develop, and today scholars use terms like Mishnaic/Rabbinic Hebrew and Medieval Hebrew.[11]

The Mishnah and all of the Baraitas and verses of Tanakh quoted and embedded in the Gemara are in Hebrew, so that Hebrew constitutes somewhat less than half[citation needed] of the text of the Talmud. The rest, including the discussions of the Amoraim and the overall framework of the Gemara, is in a characteristic dialect of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. There are occasional quotations from older works in other dialects of Aramaic, such as Megillat Taanit.


The first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud was printed in Italy by Daniel Bomberg during the 16th century. In addition to the Mishnah and Gemara, Bomberg's edition contained the commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot. Almost all printings since Bomberg have followed the same pagination. The edition of the Talmud published by the Szapira brothers in Slavuta in 1795 is particularly prized by many hasidic rebbes. In 1835, after an acrimonious dispute with the Szapira family, a new edition of the Talmud was printed by Menachem Romm of Vilna. Known as the Vilna Shas, this edition (and later ones printed by his widow and sons) has been used in the production of more recent editions of Talmud Bavli.

A page number in the Talmud refers to a double-sided page, known as a daf; each daf has two amudim labeled א and ב, sides A and B. The referencing by daf is relatively recent and dates from the early Talmud printings of the 17th century. Earlier rabbinic literature generally only refers to the tractate or chapters within a tractate. Nowadays, reference is made in format [Tractate daf a/b] (e.g. Berachot 23b). In the Vilna edition of the Talmud there are 5,894 folio pages.

The text of the Vilna editions is considered by scholars not to be uniformly reliable. In the early twentieth century Nathan Rabinowitz published a series of volumes called Dikduke Soferim showing textual variants from early manuscripts and printings. In 1960 the Institute for the Complete Israeli Talmud started work on a new edition under the name of Gemara Shelemah (complete Gemara) under the editorship of Menachem Mendel Kasher: only the volume on the first part of tractate Pesachim appeared (in 1986) before the project was interrupted by his death. This edition contained a comprehensive set of textual variants and a few selected commentaries. There have been critical editions of particular tractates (e.g. Henry Malter's edition of Ta'anit), but there is no modern critical edition of the whole Talmud. The most recent edition is by the Oz ve-Hadar institute: this is basically an updated version of the Vilna edition, but cites variant texts in footnotes.

Commentary and study

From the time of its completion, the Talmud became integral to Jewish scholarship. This section outlines some of the major areas of Talmudic study.

The Geonim

The earliest Talmud commentaries were written by the Geonim (approximately 800-1000, C.E.) in Babylonia. Although some direct commentaries on particular treatises are extant, our main knowledge of Gaonic era Talmud scholarship comes from statements embedded in Geonic responsa which shed light on Talmudic passages. Also important are practical abridgments of Jewish law such as Yehudai Gaon's Halachot Pesukot, Achai Gaon's Sheeltot and Simeon Kayyara's Halachot Gedolot. After the death of Hai Gaon, however, the center of Talmud scholarship shifts to Europe and North Africa.

Halakhic and Aggadic Extractions

One area of Talmudic scholarship developed out of the need to ascertain the Halakha. Early commentators such as Rabbi Isaac Alfasi (North Africa, 1013–1103) attempted to extract and determine the binding legal opinions from the vast corpus of the Talmud. Alfasi's work was highly influential and later served as a basis for the creation of halakhic codes. Another influential medieval Halakhic work following the order of the Babylonian Talmud, and to some extent modelled on Alfasi, was that of Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel (d. 1327).

A fifteenth century Spanish rabbi, Jacob ibn Habib (d. 1516), composed the Ein Yaakov. Ein Yaakov (or Ein Ya'aqob) extracts nearly all the Aggadic material from the Talmud. It was intended to familiarize the public with the ethical parts of the Talmud and to dispute many of the accusations surrounding its contents.


The Talmud is often cryptic and difficult to understand. Its language contains many Greek and Persian words which over time became obscure. A major area of Talmudic scholarship developed in order to explain these passages and words. Some early commentators such as Rabbenu Gershom of Mainz (10th c.) and Rabbenu Ḥananel (early 11th c.) produced running commentaries to various tractates. These commentaries could be read with the text of the Talmud and would help explain the meaning of the text. Another important work is the Sefer ha-Mafteach (Book of the Key) by Nissim Gaon, which contains a preface explaining the different forms of Talmudic argumentation and then explains abbreviated passages in the Talmud by cross-referring to parallel passages where the same thought is expressed in full. Commentaries (ḥiddushim) by Joseph ibn Migash on two tractates, Bava Batra and Shevuot, based on Ḥananel and Alfasi, also survive. Using a different style, Rabbi Nathan b. Jechiel created a lexicon called the Arukh in the 11th century in order to translate difficult words.

By far the best known commentary on the Babylonian Talmud is that of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040–1105). The commentary is comprehensive, covering almost the entire Talmud. Written as a running commentary, it provides a full explanation of the words, and explains the logical structure of each Talmudic passage. It is considered indispensable to students of the Talmud.

Medieval Ashkenazic Jewry produced another major commentary known as Tosafot ("additions" or "supplements"). The Tosafot are collected commentaries by various medieval Ashkenazic Rabbis on the Talmud (known as Tosafists). One of the main goals of the Tosafot is to explain and interpret contradictory statements in the Talmud. Unlike Rashi, the Tosafot is not a running commentary, but rather comments on selected matters. Often the explanations of Tosafot differ from those of Rashi.

Among the founders of the Tosafist school were Rabbi Jacob b. Meir (known as Rabbeinu Tam), who was a grandson of Rashi, and, Rabbenu Tam's nephew, Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel. The Tosafot commentaries were collected in different editions in the various schools. The benchmark collection of Tosafot for Northern France was that of R. Eliezer of Touques. The standard collection for Spain was that of Rabbenu Asher ("Tosafot Harosh"). The Tosafot that are printed in the standard Vilna edition of the Talmud are an edited version compiled from the various medieval collections, predominantly that of Touques.[12]

Over time, the approach of the Tosafists spread to other Jewish communities, particularly those in Spain. This led to the composition of many other commentaries in similar styles. Among these are the commentaries of Ramban, Rashba, Ritva and Ran. A comprehensive anthology consisting of extracts from all these is the Shittah Mekubbetzet of Bezalel Ashkenazi.

There were other commentaries produced in Spain and Provence which were not influenced by the Tosafist style. Two of the most significant of these are the Yad Ramah by Rabbi Meir Abulafia (uncle of the mystic Abraham Abulafia) and Bet Habechirah by Rabbi Menahem haMeiri, commonly referred to as "Meiri". While the Bet Habechirah is extant for all of Talmud, we only have the Yad Ramah for Tractates Sanhedrin, Baba Batra and Gittin.

In later centuries, focus partially shifted from direct Talmudic interpretation to the analysis of previously written Talmudic commentaries. These later commentaries include "Maharshal" (Solomon Luria), "Maharam" (Meir Lublin) and "Maharsha" (Samuel Edels)

Another very useful study aid, found in almost all editions of the Talmud, consists of the marginal notes Torah Or, En Mishpat Ner Mitzvah and Masoret ha-Shas by the Italian rabbi Joshua Boaz, which give references respectively to the cited Biblical passages, to the relevant halachic codes and to related Talmudic passages.


During the 15th and 16th centuries, a new intensive form of Talmud study arose. Complicated logical arguments were used to explain minor points of contradiction within the Talmud. The term pilpul (related to the Hebrew word pilpel, meaning "spice" or "pepper") was applied to this type of study. Usage of pilpul in this sense (that of "sharp analysis") harks back to the Talmudic era and refers to the intellectual sharpness this method demanded.

Pilpul practitioners posited that the Talmud could contain no redundancy or contradiction whatsoever. New categories and distinctions (hillukim) were therefore created, resolving seeming contradictions within the Talmud by novel logical means.

In the Ashkenazi world the founders of pilpul are generally considered to be Jacob Pollak (1460–1541) and Shalom Shachna. This kind of study reached its height in the 16th and 17th centuries when expertise in pilpulistic analysis was considered an art form and became a goal in and of itself within the yeshivot of Poland and Lithuania. But the popular new method of Talmud study was not without critics; already in the 15th century, the ethical tract Orhot Zaddikim ("Paths of the Righteous" in Hebrew) criticized pilpul for an overemphasis on intellectual acuity. Many 16th- and 17th-century rabbis were also critical of pilpul. Among them may be noted Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague), Isaiah Horowitz, and Yair Bacharach.

By the 18th century, pilpul study waned. Other styles of learning such as that of the school of Elijah b. Solomon, the Vilna Gaon, became popular. The term "pilpul" was increasingly applied derogatorily to novellae deemed casuistic and hairsplitting. Authors referred to their own commentaries as "al derekh ha-peshat" (by the simple method) to contrast them with pilpul.[13]

Sephardic approaches

Among Sephardi and Italian Jews from the fifteenth century on, some authorities sought to apply the methods of Aristotelian logic, as reformulated by Averroes.[14] This method was first recorded, though without explicit reference to Aristotle, by Isaac Campanton (d. Spain, 1463) in his Darkhei ha-Talmud ("The Ways of the Talmud"), and is also found in the works of Moses Chaim Luzzatto.

According to the present-day Sephardi scholar José Faur, traditional Sephardic Talmud study could take place on any of three levels. The most basic level, girsa (text), consists of literary analysis of the text without the help of commentaries, designed to bring out the tzurata di-shema'tata, i.e. the logical and narrative structure of the passage.[15] The intermediate level, 'iyyun (concentration), consists of study with the help of commentaries such as Rashi and the Tosafot, similar to that practised among the Ashkenazim. The highest level, halachah (law), consists of collating the opinions set out in the Talmud with those of the halachic codes such as the Mishneh Torah and the Shulchan Aruch, so as to study the Talmud as a source of law. (A project called Halacha Brura,[16] founded by Abraham Isaac Kook, presents the Talmud and the halachic codes side by side in book form so as to enable this kind of collation.)

A somewhat similar distinction exists in the Ashkenazi yeshivah curriculum between beki'ut (basic familiarization) and 'iyyun (in-depth study).

Brisker method

In the late nineteenth century another trend in Talmud study arose. Rabbi Hayyim Soloveitchik (1853–1918) of Brisk (Brest-Litovsk) developed and refined this style of study. Brisker method involves a reductionistic analysis of rabbinic arguments within the Talmud or among the Rishonim, explaining the differing opinions by placing them within a categorical structure. The Brisker method is highly analytical and is often criticized as being a modern-day version of Pilpul. Nevertheless, the influence of the Brisker method is great. Most modern day Yeshivot study the Talmud using the Brisker method in some form. One feature of this method is the use of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah as a guide to Talmudic interpretation, as distinct from its use as a source of practical halakha.

Rival methods were those of the Mir and Telz yeshivas.

Critical method

As a result of emancipation from the ghetto (1789), Judaism underwent enormous upheaval and transformation during the nineteenth century, (see Reform Judaism, Haskala). Modern methods of textual and historical analysis were applied to the Talmud.

Textual emendations

The text of the Talmud has been subject to some level of critical scrutiny throughout its history.

Rabbinic tradition holds that the people cited in both Talmuds did not have a hand in its writings; rather, their teachings were edited into a rough form around 450 CE (Talmud Yerushalmi) and 550 CE (Talmud Bavli.) The text of the Bavli especially was not firmly fixed at that time.

The Gaonic responsa literature addresses this issue. Teshuvot Geonim Kadmonim, section 78, deals with mistaken biblical readings in the Talmud. This Gaonic responsum states:

...But you must examine carefully in every case when you feel uncertainty [as to the credibility of the text] - what is its source? Whether a scribal error? Or the superficiality of a second rate student who was not well versed?....after the manner of many mistakes found among those superficial second-rate students, and certainly among those rural memorizers who were not familiar with the biblical text. And since they erred in the first place....[they compounded the error.]
Teshuvot Geonim Kadmonim, Ed. Cassel, Berlin 1858, Photographic reprint Tel Aviv 1964, 23b.

In the early medieval era, Rashi concluded that some statements in the extant text of the Talmud were insertions from later editors. On Shevuot 3b Rashi writes "A mistaken student wrote this in the margin of the Talmud, and copyists {subsequently} put it into the Gemara."[17]

The emendations of R. Yoel Sirkis and the Vilna Gaon are included in all standard editions of the Talmud, in the form of marginal glosses entitled Hagahot ha-Bach and Hagahot ha-Gra respectively; further emendations by R. Solomon Luria are set out in commentary form at the back of each tractate. The Vilna Gaon's emendations were often based on his quest for internal consistency in the text rather than on manuscript evidence;[18] nevertheless many of the Gaon's emendations were later verified by textual critics, such as Solomon Schechter, who had Cairo Genizah texts with which to compare our standard editions.[19]

In the nineteenth century R. Raphael Nathan Nota Rabinovicz published a multi-volume work entitled Dikdukei Soferim, showing textual variants from the Munich and other early manuscripts of the Talmud, and further variants are recorded in the Gemara Shelemah and Oz ve-Hadar editions (see Printing, above).

Historical analysis, and higher textual criticism

Historical study of the Talmud can be used to investigate a variety of concerns. One can ask questions such as: Do a given section's sources date from its editor's lifetime? To what extent does a section have earlier or later sources? Are Talmudic disputes distinguishable along theological or communal lines? In what ways do different sections derive from different schools of thought within early Judaism? Can these early sources be identified, and if so, how? Investigation of questions such as these are known as higher textual criticism. (The term "criticism", it should be noted, is a technical term denoting academic study.)

Religious scholars still debate the precise method by which the text of the Talmuds reached their final form. Many believe that the text was continuously smoothed over by the savoraim.

In the 1870s and 1880s Rabbi Raphael Natan Nata Rabbinovitz engaged in historical study of Talmud Bavli in his Diqduqei Soferim. Since then many Orthodox rabbis have approved of his work, including Rabbis Shlomo Kluger, Yoseph Shaul Ha-Levi Natanzohn, Yaaqov Ettlinger, Isaac Elhanan Spektor and Shimon Sofer.

During the early 19th century, leaders of the newly evolving Reform movement, such as Abraham Geiger and Samuel Holdheim, subjected the Talmud to severe scrutiny as part of an effort to break with traditional rabbinic Judaism. They insisted that the Talmud was entirely a work of evolution and development. This view was rejected as both academically incorrect, and religiously incorrect, by those who would become known as the Orthodox movement. Some Orthodox leaders such as Moses Sofer (the Chatam Sofer) became exquisitely sensitive to any change and rejected modern critical methods of Talmud study.

Some rabbis advocated a view of Talmudic study that they held to be in-between the Reformers and the Orthodox; these were the adherents of positive-historical Judaism, notably Nachman Krochmal and Zacharias Frankel. They described the Oral Torah as the result of a historical and exegetical process, emerging over time, through the application of authorized exegetical techniques, and more importantly, the subjective dispositions and personalities and current historical conditions, by learned sages. This was later developed more fully in the five volume work Dor Dor ve-Dorshav by Isaac Hirsch Weiss. (See Jay Harris Guiding the Perplexed in the Modern Age Ch. 5) Eventually their work came to be one of the formative parts of Conservative Judaism.

Another aspect of this movement is reflected in Graetz's History of the Jews. Graetz attempts to deduce the personality of the Pharisees based on the laws or aggadot that they cite, and show that their personalities influenced the laws they expounded.

The leader of Orthodox Jewry in Germany Samson Raphael Hirsch, while not rejecting the methods of scholarship in principle, hotly contested the findings of the Historical-Critical method. In a series of articles in his magazine Jeschurun (reprinted in Collected Writings Vol. 5) Hirsch reiterated the traditional view, and pointed out what he saw as numerous errors in the works of Graetz, Frankel and Geiger.

On the other hand, many of the nineteenth century's strongest critics of Reform, including strictly orthodox Rabbis such as Zvi Hirsch Chajes, utilized this new scientific method. The Orthodox Rabbinical seminary of Azriel Hildesheimer was founded on the idea of creating a "harmony between Judaism and science". Another Orthodox pioneer of scientific Talmud study was David Zvi Hoffman.

Orthodox Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer (great-grandson of the Kaf ha-Hayyim) notes that the text of the Gemara has had changes and additions, and contains statements not of the same origin as the original. See his Yehi Yosef (Jerusalem, 1991) p. 132 "This passage does not bear the signature of the editor of the Talmud!"

Orthodox scholar Daniel Sperber writes in "Legitimacy, of Necessity, of Scientific Disciplines" that many Orthodox sources have engaged in the historical (also called "scientific") study of the Talmud. As such, the divide today between Orthodoxy and Reform is not about whether the Talmud may be subjected to historical study, but rather about the theological and halakhic implications of such study.

Contemporary scholarship

Some trends within contemporary Talmud scholarship are listed below.

  • Orthodox Judaism maintains that the oral law was revealed, in some form, together with the written law. As such, some adherents, most notably Samson Raphael Hirsch and his followers, resisted any effort to apply historical methods that imputed specific motives to the authors of the Talmud. Other major figures in Orthodoxy, however, took issue with Hirsch on this matter, most prominently David Tzvi Hoffmann.[20]
  • Some scholars hold that there has been extensive editorial reshaping of the stories and statements within the Talmud. Lacking outside confirming texts, they hold that we cannot confirm the origin or date of most statements and laws, and that we can say little for certain about their authorship. In this view, the questions above are impossible to answer. See, for example, the works of Louis Jacobs and Shaye J.D. Cohen.
  • Some scholars hold that the Talmud has been extensively shaped by later editorial redaction, but that it contains sources which we can identify and describe with some level of reliability. In this view, sources can be identified by tracing the history and analyzing the geographical regions of origin. See, for example, the works of Lee I. Levine and David Kraemer.
  • Some scholars hold that many or most the statements and events described in the Talmud usually occurred more or less as described, and that they can be used as serious sources of historical study. In this view, historians do their best to tease out later editorial additions (itself a very difficult task) and skeptically view accounts of miracles, leaving behind a reliable historical text. See, for example, the works of Saul Lieberman, David Weiss Halivni, and Avraham Goldberg.
  • Modern academic study attempts to separate the different "strata" within the text, to try to interpret each level on its own, and to identify the correlations between parallel versions of the same tradition. In recent years, the work of R. David Weiss Halivni and Dr. Shamma Friedman have suggested a paradigm shift in the understanding of the Talmud (Encyclopedia Judaica 2nd ed. entry "Talmud, Babylonian"). The traditional understanding was to view the Talmud as a unified homogeneous work. While other scholars had also treated the Talmud as a multi-layered work, Dr. Halivni's innovation (primarily in the second volume of his Mekorot u-Mesorot) was to differentiate between the Amoraic statements which are generally brief Halachic decisions or inquiries, and the writings of the later "Stammaitic" (or Saboraic) authors which are characterised by a much longer analysis often consisting of lengthy dialectic discussion. It has been noted that the Jerusalem Talmud is in fact very similar to the Babylonian Talmud minus Stammaitic activity (Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed.), entry "Jerusalem Talmud"). Shamma Y. Friedman's Talmud Aruch on the sixth chapter of Bava Metzia (1996) is the first example of a complete analysis of a Talmudic text using this method. S. Wald has followed with works on Pesachim ch. 3 (2000) and Shabbat ch. 7 (2006).

Role of the Talmud in Judaism

The Talmud is the written record of an oral tradition. It became the basis for many rabbinic legal codes and customs, of which the most important are the Mishneh Torah and the Shulchan Aruch. Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, Conservative Judaism accept the Talmud as authoritative, while Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism do not. This section briefly outlines past and current movements and their view of the Talmud's role.


The Sadducees were a Jewish sect which flourished during the Second Temple period. One of their main arguments with the Pharisees (later known as Rabbinic Judaism) was over their rejection of an Oral Law as well as denying a resurrection after death. The disagreement was not strictly speaking about the Talmud, as this had not been written at the time.


Another movement which rejected the oral law was Karaism. It arose within two centuries of the completion of the Talmud. Karaism developed as a reaction against the Talmudic Judaism of Babylonia. The central concept of Karaism is the rejection of the Oral Torah, as embodied in the Talmud, in favor of a strict adherence to the Written Law only. This opposes the fundamental Rabbinic concept that the Oral Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai together with the Written Law. Some later Karaites took a more moderate stance, allowing that some element of tradition (called sevel ha-yerushah, the burden of inheritance) is admissible in interpreting the Torah and that some authentic traditions are contained in the Mishnah and the Talmud, though these can never supersede the plain meaning of the Written Law.

Karaism has virtually disappeared, declining from a high of nearly 10% of the Jewish population to a current estimated 0.2%.

Reform Judaism

With the rise of Reform Judaism, during the nineteenth century, the authority of the Talmud was again questioned. The Talmud was seen by Reform Jews as a product of late antiquity having relevance merely as a historical document. In some cases a similar view was taken of the written law as well, while others appeared to adopt a neo-Karaite "back to the Bible" approach, though often with greater emphasis on the prophetic than on the legal books.

Present day

See also Halakha: How Halakha is viewed today and Halakha: The sources and process of Halakha.

Orthodox Judaism continues to stress the importance of Talmud study and it is a central component of Yeshiva curriculum, in particular for those training to be Rabbis. This is so even though Halakha is generally studied from the medieval codes and not directly from the Talmud. Talmudic study amongst the laity is widespread in Orthodox Judaism, with daily or weekly Talmud study particularly common in Haredi Judaism and with Talmud study a central part of the curriculum in Orthodox Yeshivas and day schools. The regular study of Talmud among laymen has been popularized by the Daf Yomi, a daily course of Talmud study initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro in 1923; its 12th cycle of study began on March 2, 2005.

Conservative Judaism similarly emphasizes the study of Talmud within its religious and rabbinic education. Generally, however, the Talmud is studied as a historical source-text for Halakha. The Conservative approach to legal decision-making emphasizes placing classic texts and prior decisions in historical and cultural context, and examining the historical development of Halakha. This approach has resulted in greater practical flexibility than that of the Orthodox. Talmud study is part of the curriculum of Conservative parochial education at many Conservative day schools and an increase in Conservative day school enrollments has resulted in an increase in Talmud study as part of Conservative Jewish education among a minority of Conservative Jews. See also: The Conservative Jewish view of the Halakha.

Reform Judaism does not emphasize the study of Talmud to the same degree in their Hebrew schools, but they do teach it in their rabbinical seminaries; the world view of liberal Judaism rejects the idea of binding Jewish law, and uses the Talmud as a source of inspiration and moral instruction. Ownership and reading of the Talmud is not widespread among Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, who usually place more emphasis on the study of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh.

Attacks on the Talmud

Christian accusations against the Talmud have tended to fall into several categories, including alleged:[21]

  1. Anti-Christian or anti-Gentile content
  2. Insults against Jesus or the Virgin Mary (see Yeshu)
  3. Absurd or sexually immoral content
  4. Falsification of scripture

Such accusations often shade into attacks on Jews or Judaism generally,[22] and should be distinguished from criticisms of the Talmud (including some criticism by Jews) on grounds such as excessive legalism, strained reasoning, unhistoric content and superstitious beliefs.[23]

Middle ages

The history of the Talmud reflects in part the history of Judaism persisting in a world of hostility and persecution. Almost at the very time that the Babylonian savoraim put the finishing touches to the redaction of the Talmud, the emperor Justinian issued his edict against deuterosis (doubling, repetition) of the Hebrew Bible.[24] It is disputed whether, in this context, deuterosis means "Mishnah" or "Targum": in patristic literature, the word is used in both senses. This edict, dictated by Christian zeal and anti-Jewish feeling, was the prelude to attacks on the Talmud, conceived in the same spirit, and beginning in the thirteenth century in France, where Talmudic study was then flourishing.

The charge against the Talmud brought by the Christian convert Nicholas Donin led to the first public disputation between Jews[25] and Christians and to the first burning of copies of the Talmud (Paris, Place de Grève, Friday June 17, 1242[26]). The Talmud was likewise the subject of the Disputation of Barcelona in 1263 between Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman) and Christian convert, Pablo Christiani. This same Pablo Christiani made an attack on the Talmud which resulted in a papal bull against the Talmud and in the first censorship, which was undertaken at Barcelona by a commission of Dominicans, who ordered the cancellation of passages deemed objectionable from a Christian perspective (1264).

At the Disputation of Tortosa in 1413, Geronimo de Santa Fé brought forward a number of accusations, including the fateful assertion that the condemnations of "pagans," "heathens," and "apostates" found in the Talmud were in reality veiled references to Christians. These assertion were denied by the Jewish community and its scholars, who contended that Judaic thought made a sharp distinction between those classified as heathen or pagan, being polytheistic, and those who acknowledge one true God (such as the Christians) even while worshipping the true monotheistic God incorrectly. Thus, Jews viewed Christians as misguided and in error, but not among the "heathens" or "pagans" discussed in the Talmud.

Both Pablo Christiani and Geronimo de Santa Fé, in addition to criticizing the Talmud, also regarded it as a source of authentic traditions some of which could be used as arguments in favour of Christianity. Examples of such traditions were statements that the Messiah was born around the time of the destruction of the Temple, and that the Messiah sat at the right hand of God.[27]

Two years later, Pope Martin V, who had convened this disputation, issued a bull (which was destined, however, to remain inoperative) forbidding the Jews to read the Talmud, and ordering the destruction of all copies of it. Far more important were the charges made in the early part of the sixteenth century by the convert Johannes Pfefferkorn, the agent of the Dominicans. The result of these accusations was a struggle in which the emperor and the pope acted as judges, the advocate of the Jews being Johann Reuchlin, who was opposed by the obscurantists; and this controversy, which was carried on for the most part by means of pamphlets, became the precursor of the Reformation[citation needed].

An unexpected result of this affair was the complete printed edition of the Babylonian Talmud issued in 1520 by Daniel Bomberg at Venice, under the protection of a papal privilege. Three years later, in 1523, Bomberg published the first edition of the Jerusalem Talmud. After thirty years the Vatican, which had first permitted the Talmud to appear in print, undertook a campaign of destruction against it. On the New Year (September 9, 1553) the copies of the Talmud which had been confiscated in compliance with a decree of the Inquisition were burned at Rome; and similar burnings took place in other Italian cities, as at Cremona in 1559. The Censorship of the Talmud and other Hebrew works was introduced by a papal bull issued in 1554; five years later the Talmud was included in the first Index Expurgatorius; and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The convention of referring to the work as "Shas" (shishah sidre Mishnah) instead of "Talmud" dates from this time.

The first edition of the expurgated Talmud, on which most subsequent editions were based, appeared at Basel (1578–1581) with the omission of the entire treatise of 'Abodah Zarah and of passages considered inimical to Christianity, together with modifications of certain phrases. A fresh attack on the Talmud was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII (1575–85), and in 1593 Clement VIII renewed the old interdiction against reading or owning it. The increasing study of the Talmud in Poland led to the issue of a complete edition (Kraków, 1602-5), with a restoration of the original text; an edition containing, so far as known, only two treatises had previously been published at Lublin (1559–76). In 1707 some copies of the Talmud were confiscated in the province of Brandenburg, but were restored to their owners by command of Frederick, the first king of Prussia. A further attack on the Talmud took place in Poland (in what is now Ukrainian territory) in 1757, when Bishop Dembowski, at the instigation of the Frankists, convened a public disputation at Kamianets-Podilskyi, and ordered all copies of the work found in his bishopric to be confiscated and burned by the hangman.

The external history of the Talmud includes also the literary attacks made upon it by Christian theologians after the Reformation, since these onslaughts on Judaism were directed primarily against that work, the leading example being Eisenmenger's Entdecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked) (1700). In contrast, the Talmud was a subject of rather more sympathetic study by many Christian theologians, jurists and Orientalists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including Johann Reuchlin, John Selden, John Lightfoot and Johannes Buxtorf father and son.

Nineteenth century and after

The Vilna edition of the Talmud was subject to Russian government censorship, or self-censorship to meet government expectations, though this was less severe than some previous attempts: the title "Talmud" was retained and the tractate Avodah Zarah was included. Most modern editions are either copies of or closely based on the Vilna edition, and therefore still omit most of the disputed passages. Although they were not available for many generations, the removed sections of the Talmud, Rashi, Tosafot and Maharsha were preserved through rare printings of lists of errata, known as Chesronos Hashas ("Omissions of the Talmud"). Many of these censored portions were recovered ironically enough from uncensored manuscripts in the Vatican Library. Some modern editions of the Talmud contain some or all of this material, either at the back of the book, in the margin, or in its original location in the text.

In 1830, during a debate in the French Chamber of Peers regarding state recognition of the Jewish faith, Admiral Verhuell declared himself unable to forgive the Jews whom he had met during his travels throughout the world either for their refusal to recognize Jesus as the Messiah or for their possession of the Talmud. In the same year the Abbé Chiarini published at Paris a voluminous work entitled "Théorie du Judaïsme," in which he announced a translation of the Talmud, advocating for the first time a version which should make the work generally accessible, and thus serve for attacks on Judaism. In a like spirit nineteenth century anti-Semitic agitators often urged that a translation be made; and this demand was even brought before legislative bodies, as in Vienna. The Talmud and the "Talmud Jew" thus became objects of anti-Semitic attacks, for example in August Rohling's Der Talmudjude (1871), although, on the other hand, they were defended by many Christian students of the Talmud, notably Hermann Strack.

Further attacks from anti-Semitic sources include Justinas Pranaitis' The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians (1892) and Elizabeth Dilling's The Plot against Christianity (1964). The criticisms of the Talmud in many modern pamphlets and websites are often recognisable as verbatim quotes from one or other of these.

Contemporary accusations

Criticism of the Talmud is widespread, in great part through the Internet.[28]

The Anti-Defamation League's report on this topic states:

By selectively citing various passages from the Talmud and Midrash, polemicists have sought to demonstrate that Judaism espouses hatred for non-Jews (and specifically for Christians), and promotes obscenity, sexual perversion, and other immoral behavior. To make these passages serve their purposes, these polemicists frequently mistranslate them or cite them out of context (wholesale fabrication of passages is not unknown)...

In distorting the normative meanings of rabbinic texts, anti-Talmud writers frequently remove passages from their textual and historical contexts. Even when they present their citations accurately, they judge the passages based on contemporary moral standards, ignoring the fact that the majority of these passages were composed close to two thousand years ago by people living in cultures radically different from our own. They are thus able to ignore Judaism's long history of social progress and paint it instead as a primitive and parochial religion.

Those who attack the Talmud frequently cite ancient rabbinic sources without noting subsequent developments in Jewish thought, and without making a good-faith effort to consult with contemporary Jewish authorities who can explain the role of these sources in normative Jewish thought and practice.

Rabbi Gil Student, a prolific Internet author, writes:

Anti-Talmud accusations have a long history dating back to the 13th century when the associates of the Inquisition attempted to defame Jews and their religion [see Yitzchak Baer, A History of Jews in Christian Spain, vol. I pp. 150-185]. The early material compiled by hateful preachers like Raymond Martini and Nicholas Donin remain the basis of all subsequent accusations against the Talmud. Some are true, most are false and based on quotations taken out of context, and some are total fabrications [see Baer, ch. 4 f. 54, 82 that it has been proven that Raymond Martini forged quotations]. On the Internet today we can find many of these old accusations being rehashed...


Translations of Talmud Bavli

There are five contemporary translations of the Talmud into English:

  • The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition Adin Steinsaltz, Random House (incomplete). This work is in fact a translation of Rabbi Steinsaltz' Hebrew language translation of and commentary on the entire Talmud. See also: Steinsaltz Talmud site.
  • The Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud, Mesorah Publications. In this translation, each English page faces the Aramaic/Hebrew page. The English pages are elucidated and heavily annotated; each Aramaic/Hebrew page of Talmud typically requires three English pages of translation. Complete. See also: Mesorah Talmud site.
  • The Soncino Talmud, Isidore Epstein, Soncino Press. Notes on each page provide additional background material. This translation is published both on its own and in a parallel text edition, in which each English page faces the Aramaic/Hebrew page. It is available also on CD-ROM.
  • The Talmud of Babylonia. An American Translation, Jacob Neusner, Tzvee Zahavy, others. Atlanta: 1984-1995: Scholars Press for Brown Judaic Studies. Complete.
  • The Babylonian Talmud, translated by Michael L. Rodkinson. (1903, contains all of the tractates in the Orders of Mo'ed/Festivals and Nezikin/Damages, plus some additional material related to these Orders.) This is inaccurate and was wholly superseded by the Soncino translation: it is sometimes linked to from the internet because, for copyright reasons, it was until recently the only translation freely available on the Web (see below, under #Full text resources).

Translations of Talmud Yerushalmi

  • Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation Jacob Neusner, Tzvee Zahavy, others. University of Chicago Press. This translation uses a form-analytical presentation which makes the logical units of discourse easier to identify and follow. This work has received many positive reviews. However, some consider Neusner's translation methodology idiosyncratic. One volume was negatively reviewed by Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary.


  1. ^ See, Strack, Hermann, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, Jewish Publication Society, 1945. pp.11-12. "[The Oral Law] was handed down by word of mouth during a long period...The first attempts to write down the traditional matter, there is reason to believe, date from the first half of the second post-Christian century." Strack theorizes that the growth of a Christian canon (the New Testament) was a factor that influenced the Rabbis to record the oral law in writing.
  2. ^ The theory that the destruction of the Temple and subsequent upheaval led to the commiting of Oral Law into writing was first explained in the Epistle of Sherira Gaon and often repeated. See, for example, Grayzel, A History of the Jews, Penguin Books, 1984, p. 193.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Louis, Structure and form in the Babylonian Talmud, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p.2
  4. ^ e.g. Pirkei Avot 5.21: "five for the Torah, ten for Mishnah, thirteen for the commandments, fifteen for talmud".
  5. ^ "Palestinian Talmud". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  6. ^ The Yerushalmi--the Talmud of the land of Israel: an introduction, Jacob Neusner, J. Aronson, 1993
  7. ^ Eusebius (circa 330 CE). "XVIII: He speaks of their Unanimity respecting the Feast of Easter, and against the Practice of the Jews". Vita Constantini. III. Retrieved June 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Early compilations » The making of the Talmuds: 3rd–6th century". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2008. Retrieved 2June 21, 2009. 
  9. ^ Steinsaltz, Adin (1976). The Essential Talmud. BasicBooks, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0465020631. 
  10. ^ "Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: The Talmud". American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. 
  11. ^ Angel Sáenz-Badillos (1993). A History of the Hebrew Language. Tr. John Elwolde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  12. ^ For a list see Ephraim Urbach, s.v. "Tosafot," in Encyclopedia of Religion.
  13. ^ See Pilpul, Mordechai Breuer, in Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 16, 2nd Ed (2007), Macmillan Reference, USA and H.H. Ben Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, pp. 627, 717.
  14. ^ Kol Melechet Higgayon, the Hebrew translation of Averroes' epitome of Aristotle's logical works, was widely studied in northern Italy, particularly Padua.
  15. ^ Examples of lessons using this approach may be found here.
  16. ^ not to be confused with the halachic compendium of the same name by Rabbi David Yosef.
  17. ^ As Yonah Fraenkel shows in his book Darko Shel Rashi be-Ferusho la-Talmud ha-Bavli, one of Rashi's major accomplishments was textual emendation. Rabbenu Tam, Rashi's grandson and one of the central figures in the Tosafist academies, polemicizes against textual emendation in his less studied work Sefer ha-Yashar. However, the Tosafists, too, emended the Talmudic text (See e.g. Baba Kamma 83b s.v. af haka'ah ha'amurah or Gittin 32a s.v. mevutelet) as did many other medieval commentators (see e.g. R. Shlomo ben Aderet, Hiddushei ha-Rashb"a al ha-Sha"s to Baba Kamma 83b, or Rabbenu Nissim's commentary to Alfasi on Gittin 32a).
  18. ^ Etkes, Immanuel (2002). The Gaon of Vilna. University of California Press. p. 16. ISBN 0520223942. 
  19. ^ Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism p.92.
  20. ^ See particularly his controversial dissertation, Mar Samuel, available at (German).
  21. ^ Hyam Maccoby, Judaism on Trial.
  22. ^ Examples are Raymond Martini, Pugio Fidei; Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum; Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked; Rohling, Der Talmudjude.
  23. ^ For example, Uriel da Costa's Propostas contra a tradição and Exame das tradições farisaicas.
  24. ^ Nov. 146.1.2.
  25. ^ The Jewish representatives included Rabbi Yechiel of Paris and Rabbi Moses ben Jacob of Coucy
  26. ^ Other traditions cite the year as 1244.
  27. ^ Hyam Maccoby, op. cit.
  28. ^ Jones, Jeremy (June 1999). "Talmudic Terrors". Australia/Israel Review. Retrieved 2008-06-12. "If any reader doubts the maliciousness, virulence and prevalence of such material in cyber-space, it is well worth a visit to the Internet site known as Talmud Expose (, in which Melbourne's David Maddison has performed the Herculean task of responding, one by one, to the hundreds of "anti-Talmud" quotes, lies and themes he has encountered on the Internet." 

See also



  • Maimonides Introduction to the Mishneh Torah (English translation)
  • Maimonides Introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah (Hebrew Fulltext), transl. Zvi Lampel (Judaica Press, 1998). ISBN 1-880582-28-7
  • Adin Steinsaltz The Essential Talmud: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition (Basic Books, 2006). ISBN 0-465-08273-4. Read more here. See also here.
  • Adin Steinsaltz The Talmud: A Reference Guide (Random House, 1996). ISBN 0-679-77367-3
  • Zvi Hirsch Chajes Mevo Hatalmud, transl. Jacob Shachter: The Students' Guide Through The Talmud (Yashar Books, 2005). ISBN 1-933143-05-3
  • Nathan T. Lopes Cardozo The Infinite Chain: Torah, Masorah, and Man (Philipp Feldheim, 1989). ISBN 0-944070-15-9
  • Emmanuel Levinas: Nine Talmudic Readings, Indiana University Press, 1994, ISBN 0253208769
  • D. Landesman A Practical Guide to Torah Learning (Jason Aronson, 1995). ISBN 1-56821-320-4
  • Aaron Parry The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Talmud (Alpha Books, 2004). ISBN 1-59257-202-2
  • R. Travers Herford Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Ktav Pub Inc, 1975). ISBN 0-87068-483-3 (includes Samuel ha-Nagid's Mevo ha-Talmud, see next section)
  • Carmell, Aryeh, Aiding Talmud Study: Feldheim, 5th ed. 1986 ISBN 0873064283, ISBN 978-0873064286
  • Johnathan Rosen The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds (Picador USA, 2000). ISBN 0-312-42017-X

Talmudic logic and methodology

Modern scholarly works

  • Y. N. Epstein, Mevo-ot le-Sifrut haTalmudim
  • Hanoch Albeck, Mavo la-talmudim
  • Louis Jacobs, "How Much of the Babylonian Talmud is Pseudepigraphic?" Journal of Jewish Studies 28, No. 1 (1977), pp. 46–59
  • Saul Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1950)
  • Jacob Neusner, Sources and Traditions: Types of Compositions in the Talmud of Babylonia (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992).
  • David Weiss Halivni, Mekorot u-Mesorot (Jerusalem: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1982 on)
  • Yaakov Elman, "Order, Sequence, and Selection: The Mishnah’s Anthological Choices,” in David Stern, ed. The Anthology in Jewish Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 53-80
  • Strack, Herman L. and Stemberger, Gunter, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, tr. Markus Bockmuehl: repr. 1992, hardback ISBN 0567095096, ISBN 978-0567095091, paperback ISBN 0800625242, ISBN 978-0800625245
  • Moses Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud: repr. 1997, hardback ISBN 0819701564, ISBN 978-0819701565, paperback ISBN 0819700150, ISBN 978-0819700155

Historical study

  • Shalom Carmy (Ed.) Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations Jason Aronson, Inc.
  • Richard Kalmin Sages, Stories, Authors and Editors in Rabbinic Babylonia Brown Judaic Studies
  • David C. Kraemer, On the Reliability of Attributions in the Babylonian Talmud, Hebrew Union College Annual 60 (1989), pp. 175–90
  • Lee Levine, Ma'amad ha-Hakhamim be-Erez Yisrael (Jerusalem: Yad Yizhak Ben-Zvi, 1985), (=The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late Antiquity)
  • Saul Lieberman Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1950)
  • John W. McGinley " 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly". ISBN 0-595-40488-X
  • David Bigman, Finding A Home for Critical Talmud Study

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Talmud is the name of two different works which have been preserved to posterity as the product of the Palestinian and Babylonian schools during the amoraic period, which extended from the third to the fifth century C.E. One of these compilations is entitled "Talmud Yerushalmi" (Talmud of Jerusalem) and the other "Talmud Babli" (Babylonian Talmud). Used alone, the word "Talmud" generally denotes "Talmud Babli," but it frequently serves as a generic designation for an entire body of literature, since the Talmud marks the culmination of the writings of Jewish tradition, of which it is, from a historical point of view, the most important production.


The Name.

"Talmud" is an old scholastic term of the Tannaim, and is a noun formed from the verb "limmed" = "to teach." It therefore means primarily "teaching," although it denotes also "learning"; it is employed in this latter sense with special reference to the Torah, the terms "talmud" and "Torah" being usually combined to indicate the study of the Law both in its wider and in its more restricted sense, as in Pe'ah i. 1, where the term "talmud Torah" is applied to study as a religious duty. On the other hand, the learning acquired by study is also called "talmud," so that Akiba's pupil Judah ben Ilai could say: "He from whom one derives the greater part of his knowledge ["talmudo"] must be regarded as the teacher" (Tosef., B. M. ii., end; Yer. B. M. 8d; B. M. 33a has "ḥokmah" instead of "talmud"). To designate the study of religion, the word "talmud" is used in contrast with "ma'aseh," which connotes the practise of religion. Akiba's view that on this account the "talmud" ranked above the "ma'aseh" was adopted as a resolution by a famous conference at Lydda during the Hadrianic persecution (see Sifre, Deut. 41; Ḳid. 40b; Yer. Pes. 30b; Cant. R. ii. 14). The two terms are contrasted differently, however, in the tannaitic saying (B. B. 130b), "The Halakah [the principles guiding decisions in religious law] may not be drawn from a teaching of the master ["talmud"] nor be based upon an act of his ["ma'aseh"], unless the master expressly declare that the teaching or act under consideration is the one which is applicable to the practise."

In the second place, the word "talmud"—generally in the phrase "talmud lomar"—is frequently used in tannaitic terminology in order to denote instruction by means of the text of the Bible and of the exegetic deductions therefrom. In the third place, the noun "talmud" has the meaning which alone can be genetically connected with the name "Talmud"; in tannaitic phraseology the verb "limmed" denotes the exegetic deduction of a halakic principle from the Biblical text (for examples see R. H. ii. 9; Sifre, Num. 118); and in harmony with this meaning of the word "talmud" denotes that exposition of a halakic saying which receives an exegetic confirmation from the Biblical text. Of the terms, therefore, denoting the three branches into which the study of the traditional exegesis of the Bible was from earliest times divided by the Tannaim (see Jew. Encyc. iii. 163, s.v. Bible Exegesis), "midrash" was the one identical in content with "talmud" in its original sense, except that the Midrash, which includes any kind of Biblical hermeneutics, but more especially the halakic, deals with the Bible text itself, while the Talmud is based on the Halakah. The Midrash is devoted to Biblical exposition, the result being the Halakah (comp. the phrase "mi-kan ameru" [= "beginning here the sages have said"], which occurs frequently in the tannaitic Midrash and which serves to introduce halakic deductions from the exegesis). In the Talmud, on the other hand, the halakic passage is the subject of an exegesis based on the Biblical text.

Relation to Midrash.

In consequence of the original identity of "Talmud" and "Midrash," noted above, the former term is sometimes used instead of the latter in tannaitic sentences which enumerate the three branches of traditional science, Midrash, Halakah, and Haggadah (see Ber. 22a [comp. M. Ḳ. 15a and Yer. Ber. 6c, 39]; Ḳid. 30a; Suk. 28a; B. B. 134a; Ab. R. N. xiv. [comp. Masseket Soferim, xvi. 8]; Yer. B. Ḳ. 4b, 31 [comp. Sifre, Deut. 33]; Tosef., Soṭah, vii. 20 [comp. Yer. Soṭah 44a]), while sometimes both "Talmud" and "Midrash" are used (M. Ḳ. 21a; Ta'an. 30a); it must be noted, however, that in the editions of the Babli, "Gemara" is usually substituted for "Talmud," even in the passages here cited. The word "Talmud" in all these places did not denote the study subsequently pursued by the Amoraim, but was used instead of the word "Midrash," although this did not preclude the later introduction of the term "Talmud" into tannaitic sayings, where it either entirely displaced "Midrash" or was used side by side with it.

After the term "Talmud" had come to denote the exegetic confirmation of the Halakah, it was applied also to the explanation and exposition of halakic passages in general. As early as the end of the tannaitic period, when the halakot were finally redactedby the patriarch Judah I. and were designated as "Mishnah," a term originally applied to the entire system of traditional learning, the Talmud was developed as a new division of this same science; and it was destined to absorb all others. In a baraita dating, according to the amora Johanan, from the days of Judah I. (B. M. 33a; comp. Yer. Shab. 15c, 22 et seq.), the Mishnah and the Talmud are defined as subjects of study side by side with the "Miḳra" (Bible), the study of the Talmud being mentioned first. To this baraita there is an addition, however, to the effect that more attention should be given to the Mishnah than to the Talmud. Johanan explains this passage by the fact that the members of Judah's academy, in their eagerness to investigate the Talmud, neglected the Mishnah; hence the patriarch laid stress upon the duty of studying the Mishnah primarily. In these passages the word "Talmud" is used not in its more restricted sense of the establishment of halakot by Biblical exegesis, but in its wider signification, in which it designates study for the purpose of elucidating the Mishnah in general, as pursued after Judah's death in the academies of Palestine and Babylon. This baraita is, furthermore, an authentic document on the origin of the Talmud.

Three classes of members of the academy are mentioned in an anecdote referring to Judah I. (B. B. 8a): (1) those who devoted themselves chiefly to the Bible ("ba'ale Miḳra"); (2) those whose principal study was the Mishnah ("ba'ale Mishnah"); and (3) those whose main interest lay in the Talmud ("ba'ale Talmud"). This is the original reading of the passage, although the editions mention also the "ba'ale Halakah" and the "ba'ale Haggadah" (see below). These three branches of knowledge are, therefore, the same as those enumerated in B. M. 33a. Tanḥum b. Ḥanilai, a Palestinian amora of the third century, declared, with reference to this threefold investigation ('Ab. Zarah 19b): "Let the time given to study be divided into three parts: one-third for the Bible, one-third for the Mishnah, and one-third for the Talmud." In Ḳid. 33a this saying is quoted in the name of the tanna Joshua b. Hananiah, although this is probably a corruption of the name of Jose b. Ḥanina (amora). Yudan, a Palestinian amora of the fourth century, found in Eccl. xi. 9 an allusion to the pleasure taken in the three branches of study, Miḳra, Mishnah, and Talmud.

The Three Subjects of Study.

The old trichotomy of traditional literature was changed, however, by the acceptance of the Mishnah of Judah I., and by the new study of the Talmud designed to interpret it. The division termed "Halakot" (singular, "Halakah") in the old classification was then called "Mishnah," although in Palestine the Mishnah continued to be designated as "Halakot." The Midrash became a component part of the Talmud; and a considerable portion of the halakic Bible hermeneuties of the Tannaim, which had been preserved in various special works, was incorporated in the Babylonian Talmud. The Haggadah (plural, "Haggadot") lost its importance as an individual branch of study in the academies, although it naturally continued to be a subject of investigation, and a portion of it also was included in the Talmud. Occasionally the Haggadah is even designated as a special branch, being added as a fourth division to the three already mentioned. Ḥanina ben Pappa, an amora of the early part of the fourth century, in characterizing these four branches says: "The countenance should be serious and earnest in teaching the Scriptures, mild and calm for the Mishnah, bright and lively for the Talmud, and merry and smiling for the Haggadah" (Pesiḳ. 110a; Pes. R. 101b; Tan., Yitro, ed. Buber, p. 17; Massek. Soferim, xvi. 2). As early as the third century Joshua ben Levi interpreted Deut. ix. 10 to mean that the entire Law, including Miḳra, Mishnah, Talmud, and Haggadah, had been revealed to Moses on Sinai (Yer. Pes. 17a, line 59; Meg. 74d, 25), while in Gen. R. lxvi. 3 the blessings invoked in Gen. xxvii. 28 are explained as "Miḳra, Mishnah, Talmud, and Haggadah." The Palestinian haggadist Isaac divided these four branches into two groups: (1) the Miḳra and the Haggadah, dealing with subjects of general interest; and (2) the Mishnah and the Talmud, "which can not hold the attention of those who hear them" (Pesiḳ. 101b; see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." ii. 211).

According to a note of Tanḥuma ben Abba (of the latter part of the 4th cent.) on Cant. v. 14 (Cant. R. ad loc.), a student must be familiar with all four branches of knowledge, Miḳra, Mishnah, Halakah (the last-named term used here instead of "Tatmud"), and Haggadah; while Samuel b. Judah b. Abun, a Palestinian amora of the same century, interpreted Prov. xxviii. 11 as an allusion to the halakist ("man of the Talmud") and to the haggadist ("man of the Haggadah"; Yer. Hor. 48c; see also Pesiḳ. 176a; Lev. R. xxi., Talmud and Haggadah). Here may be mentioned also the concluding passage of the mishnaic treatise Abot (v., end): "At the age of five to the Bible; at the age of ten to the Mishnah; at the age of fifteen to the Talmud." This is ascribed by many to the ancient tanna Samuel ha-Ḳaṭon (see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 378), although the sequence of study which it mentions is evidently that which was customary during the amoraic period (comp. also the saying of Abaye in Ket. 50a).

The following passages from the Babylonian Talmud may likewise serve to illustrate the special usage which finally made the word "Talmud" current as the name of the work. Samuel, one of the earliest Babylonian amoraim, interpreted the words of Zech. viii. 10, "neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in," as applying to the restlessness of one who turns from the Talmud and confines himself to the study of the Mishnah (Ḥag. 10a). Johanan, the younger Palestinian contemporary of Samuel, extends the allusion to "him also who turns from one Talmud to study another," referring here to Babli and to Yerushalmi. It is very possible that he had noticed that in the case of his numerous Babylonian pupils the transition from the mishnaic exegesis which they had acquired at home to that of the Palestinian schools was not made without disturbing their peace of mind. Allusions to the "Talmud of Babylon" by two prominent Babylonians who settled in Palestine (Ze'era and Jeremiah) have likewise been pre-served (B. M. 85c; Sanh. 24a); and they confirm Johanan's conception of the meaning of the term.

The Gemara.

In Babylonia the Aramaic noun "gemar" (emphatic state, "gemara") was formed from the verb (image) (which does not occur in Palestinian texts), having the meaning of "learn." This substantive accordingly designates that which has been learned, and the learning transmitted to scholars by tradition, although it is used also in a more restricted sense to connote the traditional exposition of the Mishnah; and it therefore gained currency as a designation of the Talmud. In the modern editions of the Babylonian Talmud the term "Gemara" occurs very frequently in this sense; but in nearly every case it was substituted at a later time for the objectionable word "Talmud," which was interdicted by the censor. The only passage in which "Gemara" occurs with the meaning of "Talmud" in the strict sense of that term and from which it was not removed by the censor is 'Er. 32b, where it is used by Naḥman bar Jacob, a Babylonian amora of the second half of the third century. For further details see Bacher, "Gemara," in "Hebrew Union College Annual," pp. 26-36, Cincinnati, 1904, where the word is shown to have been used for "Talmud" from the geonic period (see also idem, "Die Terminologie der Amoräer," pp. 31 et seq., Leipsic, 1905). The later editions of the Talmud frequently substitute for the word "Gemara" the abbreviation (image) (Aramaic, (image) = "the six orders of the Mishnah"), which has come to be, with the pronunciation "Shas," a popular designation for the Babylonian Talmud.

Here may be mentioned the term "Shem'ata" ( (image) ), which was used in Babylonia to designate the halakic portion of the Talmud, and which was thus contrasted with "Haggadah" (see Ḥag. 26a; Soṭah 20a; Sanh. 38b; comp. also M. Ḳ. 23a, where "Shemu'ah," the Hebrew form, occurs in a baraita). In the tenth century this word was used in Mohammedan circles to designate Jewish tradition as well as its chief source, the Talmud; so that Mas'udi refers to Saadia Gaon as an "ashma'ti" (i.e., a believer in the tradition), using this term in contrast to "Karaite" (see Pinsker, "Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot," i. 5). A "Kitab al-Ashma'ah" (i.e., "Talmud") is also mentioned ("Z. D. M. G." lviii. 659).

The theorem that the Talmud was the latest development of traditional science has been demonstrated by this discussion of the meaning and the use of the word itself. The Talmud accordingly dates from the time following the final redaction of the Mishnah; and it was taught in the academy of Judah I. as the commentary on the tannaitic Halakah. The editorial activity which, from the mass of halakic material that had accumulated since Akiba's Mishnah, crystallized the Talmud in accordance with the systematic order introduced by that teacher, implied the interpretation and critical examination of the Halakah, and was, therefore, analogous to Talmudic methodology.

There were, likewise, many elements of tannaitic tradition, especially the midrashic exegesis of the Bible, as well as numerous halakic interpretations, lexicographical and material, which were ready for incorporation into the Talmud in its more restricted meaning of the interpretation of the Mishnah of Judah I. When this Mishnah became the standard halakic work, both as a source for decisions of questions of religious law, and, even more especially, as a subject of study in the academies, the Talmud interpretation of the mishnaic text, both in theory and in practise, naturally became the most important branch of study, and included the other branches of traditional science, being derived from the Halakah and the Midrash (halakic exegesis), and also including haggadic material, though to a minor degree. The Talmud, however, was not an independent work; and it was this characteristic which constituted the chief difference between it and the earlier subjects of study of the tannaitic period. It had no form of its own, since it served as a running commentary on the mishnaic text; and this fact determined the character which the work ultimately assumed.

Relation to Mishnah.

The Talmud is practically a mere amplification of the Mishnah by manifold comments and additions; so that even those portions of the Mishnah which have no Talmud are regarded as component parts of it and are accordingly included in the editions of Babli. The history of the origin of the Talmud is the same as that of the Mishnah—a tradition, transmitted orally for centuries, was finally cast into definite literary form, although from the moment in which the Talmud became the chief subject of study in the academies it had a double existence, and was accordingly, in its final stage, redacted in two different forms. The Mishnah of Judah I. was adopted simultaneously in Babylon and Palestine as the halakic collection par excellence; and at the same time the development of the Talmud was begun both at Sepphoris, where the Mishnah was redacted, and at Nehardea and Sura, where Judah's pupils Samuel and Rab engaged in their epoch-making work. The academies of Babylon and of Palestine alike regarded the study of the Mishnah and its interpretation as their chief task. The Amoraim, as the directors and members of these academies were called ( see Amora), became the originators of the Talmud; and its final redaction marked the end of the amoraic times in the same way that the period of the Tannaim was concluded by the compilation of the Mishnah of Judah I. Like the Mishnah, the Talmud was not the work of one author or of several authors, but was the result of the collective labors of many successive generations, whose toil finally resulted in a book unique in its mode of development.

The Palestinian Talmud.

Before entering into any discussion of the origin and peculiar form of the Talmud, the two recensions of the work itself may be briefly described. The general designation of the Palestinian Talmud as "Talmud Yerushalmi," or simply as "Yerushalmi," is precisely analogous to that of the Palestinian Targum. The term originated in the geonic period, when, however, the work received also the more precise designations of "Talmud of Palestine," "Talmud of the Land of Israel," "Talmud of the West," and "Talmud of the Western Lands." Yerushalmi has not been preserved in its entirety; large portions of it were entirely lost at an early date,while other parts exist only in fragments. The editio princeps (ed. Bomberg, Venice, 1523 et seq.), on which all later editions are based, terminates with the following remark: "Thus far we have found what is contained in this Talmud; and we have endeavored in vain to obtain the missing portions." Of the four manuscripts used for this first edition (comp. the note at the conclusion of Shab. xx. 17d and the passage just cited), only one is now in existence; it is preserved in the library of the University of Leyden (see below). Of the six orders of the Mishnah, the fifth, Ḳodashim, is missing entirely from the Palestinian Talmud, while of the sixth, Ṭohorot, it contains only the first three chapters of the treatise Niddah (iv. 48d-51b). The treatises of the orders of the Mishnah are arranged in the following sequence in this Talmud; the pagination also is given here, in parentheses, to indicate the length of the several treatises:

I. Zera'im:

Berakot (2a-14d);

Pe'ah (15a-21b);

Demai (21c-26c);

Ki'layim (26d-32d);

Shebi'it (33a-39d);

Terumot (40a-48b);

Ma'aserot (48c-52a);

Ma'aser Sheni (52b-58d);

Ḥallah (57a-60b);

'Orlah (60c-63b);

Bikkurim (63c-65d).

II. Mo'ed:

Shabbat (2a-18a);

'Erubin (18a-26d);

Pesaḥim (27a-37d);

Yoma (38a-45c);

Sheḳalim (45c-51b);

Sukkah (51c-55d);

Rosh ha-Shanah (56a-59d);

Beẓah (59d-63b), Ta'anit (63c-69c);

Megillah (69d-75d);

Ḥagigah (75d-79d);

Mo'ed Ḳaṭan (80a-83d).

III. Nashim:

Yebamot (2a-15a);

Soṭah (15a-24c);

Ketubot (24c-36b);

Nedarim (36c-42d);

Giṭṭin (43a-50d);

Nazir (51a-58a);

Ḳiddushin (58a-66d).

IV. Neziḳin:

Baba Ḳamma (2a-7c);

Baba Meẓi'a (7c-12c);

Baba Batra (12d-17d);

Sanhedrin (17d-30c);

Makkot (30d-32b);

Shebu'ot (32c-38d);

'Abodah Zarah (39a-45b);

Horayot (45c-48c).

VI. Ṭohorot:

Niddah (48d-51b).

In order ii. the last four chapters of Shabbat are missing from the Palestinian Talmud, while the treatise Sheḳalim has been incorporated into the editions of the Babylonian Talmud from Yerushalmi, and is found also in a Munich manuscript of Babli. In order iv. the treatises Abot and 'Eduyot are missing in both Talmudim, and the concluding chapter of Makkot is wanting in Yerushalmi. In order vi. the treatise Niddah ends abruptly after the first lines of ch. iv.

Maimonides expressly states in the introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah that in his time Yerushalmi was extant for the entire first five orders (comp. Abraham ibn Daud, ed. Neubauer, "M. J. C." i. 57); therefore he must have seen the Yerushalmi of the order Ḳodashim, although he himself does not quote it in his commentary on this order (see Frankel, "Mebo," p. 45b). Except for the treatise Niddah, on the other hand, there was, according to Maimonides (l.c.), no Yerushalmi for the sixth order. A South-Arabian work of the fifteenth century, however, quotes the Gemara "on 'Uḳẓin in the Gemara of the people of Jerusalem," which is said to contain a passage on the zodiac (see Steinschneider, "Catalog der Hebräischen Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin," p. 65, Berlin, 1878). The author of this quotation, therefore, knew Yerushalmi for the last treatise of the sixth order, although it is possible that the passage quoted may have been in the lost portion of the treatise Niddah, and that the name "'Uḳẓin" may have been used instead of "Ṭohorot." For further details on the missing sections of Yerushalmi see Frankel, l.c. pp. 45a et seq.; Weiss, "Dor," iii. 232; Buber, in Berliner's "Magazin," v. 100-105; and Strack, "Einleitung in den Talmud," pp. 63-65. The mishnaic text on which the Palestinian Talmud is based has been preserved in its entirety in a manuscript belonging to the library of the University of Cambridge, and has been edited by W. H. Lowe ("The Mishnah on Which the Palestinian Talmud Rests," Cambridge, 1883).

The Palestinian Talmud is so arranged in the editions that each chapter is preceded by its entire mishnaic text with the paragraphs numbered, this being followed by the Talmud on the several paragraphs. In the first seven chapters of Berakot the paragraphs are designated as "First Mishnah" ( (image) ), "Second Mishnah," etc.; while in the remainingchapters and all the other treatises the paragraphs are termed "halakot" ( (image) ). In the early chapters the mishnaic text of each paragraph is repeated entire in the Talmud at the beginning of the paragraph; but later only the first words are prefaced to the Talmudic text. Even in cases where there is no Talmud the designation of the paragraph and the beginning of the mishnaic text are given. The editio princeps seems to have borrowed this arrangement from the manuscripts, although the system is much more simple in the fragment of Yerushalmi edited by Paul von Kokowzoff in the "Mémoires de la Société Archéologique de St. Petersbourg" (xi. 195-205), which contains some paragraphs of the sixth and eighth chapters of Baba Ḳamma. This fragment begins with the concluding lines of the Talmudic text of ch. v.; but between them and the beginning of ch. vi. the Mishnah is lacking, so that the superscription, "Chapter vi.," is followed immediately by the Talmudic text. There is no reference to the beginning of the paragraph, either in the first or in the succeeding paragraphs; nor is there any explanation of the fact that paragraphs 4 and 7 of ch. viii. have no Talmud. It is clear, therefore, that the manuscript to which this fragment belonged contained only the Talmudic text, thus presupposing the use of a special copy of the Mishnah. It is likewise noteworthy that in the first two chapters of Berakot the sections of the Talmudic text on some of the paragraphs are designated in the editions by the word "pisḳa" (section), a term found occasionally also in other portions of the text of Yerushalmi.

The Style of the Yerushalmi.

The style of Yerushalmi may be indicated by a brief analysis of a few sections, such as Ber. i. 1; R. H. i. 1, 2; Giṭ. ii. 1; and B. B. i. 6.

Ber. i. 1: The text of this paragraph, which begins the Mishnah, is as follows:

"During what time in the evening is the reading of the 'Shema begun? From the time when the priests go in to eat their leaven [see Lev. xxii. 7] until the end of the first watch of the night, such being the words of R. Eliezer. The sages, however, say until midnight, though R. Gamaliel says until the coming of the dawn."


The Talmud on this paragraph (2a, line 34-3a, line 3) contains three sections, which correspond to the three opinions and the contents of which are as follows:


A citation, from a baraita, of another tannaitic regulation defining the Mishnah that governs the reading of the "Shema'" in the evening; two sayings of Jose (a Palestinian amora of the 4th cent.), serving to elucidate the baraita (2a, 34-45). Remarks on the position of one who is in doubt whether he has read the "Shema'," with analogous cases, according to Jeremiah, whose views were transmitted by Ze'era II. (4th cent.), the first case being decided according to the baraita already mentioned (2a, 45-2b, 4). Another passage from the baraita, designating the appearance of the stars as an indication of the time in question; explanation of this baraita by Abba bar Pappai (transmitter, Phinehas; both of the 4th cent.); other passages on the appearance of the stars as bearing on the ritual, together with a dialectic explanation by Jose b. Abin (second half of the 4th cent.) and a saying by Judah b. Pazzi (2b, 5-31). A baraita on the division between day and night, and other passages bearing on the same subject (ib. lines 31-41). The meaning of "ben ha-shemashot" (twilight), and an answer by Tanḥuma b. Abba (latter part of the 4th cent.), together with another solution given by a baraita (ib. lines 41-46). Discussion of this baraita by Aḥa and Jose (4th cent.); reference by Mani to a question dealing with this subject which he addressed to Hezekiah of Cæsarea (4th cent.) from Mishnah Zab. i. 6, and the answer of the latter (2b, 46-2c, 9). Amoraic sayings and a baraita on the beginning of the day (ib. lines 9-20). A sentence of tannaitic origin in no way related to the preceding matters: "One who prays standing must hold his feet straight," and the controversy on this subject between Levi and Simon (3d cent.), the one adding, "like the angels," and the other, "like the priests"; comments on these two comparisons (2c, 20-31). Further discussion regarding the beginning of the day, introduced by a saying of Ḥanina's (3d cent.); haggadic statements concerning the dawn; a conversation between Ḥiyya the Elder and Simeon b. Ḥalafta (latter part of the tannaitic period); cosmological comments: dimensions of the firmament, and the cosmic distances expressed in units of 50 and 500 years, together with similar haggadic material, chiefly tannaitic in origin; Haggadic sayings on Gen. i. 6, introduced by a saying of Abin's (4th cent.), and including sayings by Rab, Judah b. Pazzi, and Ḥanina; Haggadic material on Isa. xl. 22, introduced by a controversy between Johanan and Simeon b. Laḳish (3d cent.), and on Gen. ii. 4 (2c, 31-2d, 11). On the second part of the first mishnaic sentence; the views of Judah I. and Nathan on the number of the night-watches, and an exegetic discussion of them, with an allusion to Ps. cxix. 62 ("at midnight"), as well as haggadic material concerning David and his harp, with especial reference to Ps. lvii. 9 (2d, 11-44).


Assi in the name of Johanan: "The ruling of the sages ["until midnight"] is the valid one, and forms the basis for the counsel given by Jose [4th cent.] to the members of the academy" (ib. lines 45-48). Baraita on the reading of the "Shema'" in the synagogue; a question bearing on this matter, and Huna's answer in the name of the Babylonian amora Joseph (ib. lines 48-52), an illustration being given in an anecdote regarding Samuel b. Naḥman, together with a haggadic saying by him (ib. lines 52-58). A contradictory view by Joshua b. Levi, together with pertinent haggadic sayings to the effect that the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" must follow immediately the after-benediction of the "Shema'" (ib. lines 59-73).


R. Gamaliel's view compared with an analogous opinion of Simeon b. Yoḥai, together with a question which remains unanswered (2d, 74-3a, 3).

R. H. i. 1, 2: These two paragraphs, which are combined into one in Babli, deal with the commencement of the four seasons (new years): Nisan 1, Elul 1, Tishri 1, and Shebaṭ 1 (or 15). The Talmud on par. 1 is found in 56a, 44-56d, 52, and that on par. 2 in 56d, 52-57a, 30.

Talmud on par. 1:


The "new year of the kings." Exegetic deductions and elucidations, beginningwith the interpretation of Ex. xii. 1; Johanan's explanation of II Chron. iii. 2; a controversy between Hananiah and Mani regarding the same verse; an explanation by Aḥa of Ex. xii. 1; a baraita by Samuel on the same verse; and similar material (56a, 44-56b, 10). Ḥanina's saying that even the years of Gentile kings were dated from Nisan, and the confirmation thereof by Biblical passages from Haggai and Zechariah, together with the contradictory view of the Babylonian amora 'Efa or Ḥefa; remarks and objections by Jonah and Isaac (56b, 10-29). Jonah on the practical importance of the new year for dating business documents (ib. lines 29-33). On the new year in the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah, together with an interpretation of I Kings ii. 11, and several haggadic passages referring to David (ib. lines 33-52).


The "new year of the feasts." Statement that according to Simeon b. Yoḥai Nisan 1 marks the beginning of the year for the sequence of the feasts; a tannaitic midrash of considerable length on Lev. xxiii. 38, and a reply by Ela (4th cent.) to a question bearing on this matter; additional, remarks and objections by amoraim of the fourth century, together with the citation of a saying by the scholars "of that place" (i.e., Babylonia; 56b, 52-56c, 15); various discussions on kindred subjects, especially those whose content involved halakic exegesis (56c, 15-56d, 14).


The "new year for tithes of cattle," declared by Meïr to be Elul 1. Proof by the Babylonian amora Huna, who deduced an opposing view from Ps. lxv. 14; the relation between Ben 'Azzai, who is mentioned in a baraita belonging to this passage, and Akiba (ib. lines 14-33); interpretation of Mishnah Bek. vii. 7 as being analogous in content; a citation by Mani of a halakic exegesis by his father, Jonah (ib. lines 33-52).

Talmud on par. 2: (a) Tishri 1, the "new year for the counting of the years." Deductions from Biblical passages; discussion on the subject between Jonah and the members of the college; Jonah's quotation of Ḥanina's saying on the names of the months, and a saying of Simeon b. Laḳish on the names of the angels (56d, 52-77). (b) The "new year for the Sabbatical years and the years of jubilee." Biblical inference (56d, 77-57a, 2). (c) The "new year for the planting of trees." Explanation and exegetical deduction (ib. lines 3-14). (d) The "new year for vegetables." Elucidation and discussion (ib. lines 14-23). (e) The "new year for trees," this section being supplemented by an example from a tannaitic account of Akiba's practise, with explanations (ib. lines 23-30).

Further Examples.

Giṭ. ii. 1: Inadequate attestation of the preparation of a bill of divorce. The Talmud on the passage (44a, 34-71); a special case in the Mishnah shown to contain the opinion of Judah b. Ilai (ib. lines 34-40); two casuistic questions by Jose and the Babylonian amora Ḥisda, and the answers furnished by the Mishnah (ib. lines 40-50); a more detailed discussion of another question of similar content, with reference to a controversy between Johanan and Simeon b. Laḳish, together with notes thereon by Ammi and Ze'era, and a discussion concluding with a comment by Mani (ib. lines 50-71).

B. B. i. 6: (a) A short exegetic proof by Ela, based on Prov. xviii. 11 (12d, 71 et seq.). (b) A baraita dealing with analogous matter, together with a remark by Jose b. Abin (ib. lines 72-75).

Although this analysis of the contents of four parts of Yerushalmi gives no adequate idea of the structure of the entire work, it will serve to show the difference between its several parts in regard both to their length and to their amplifications of the simple explanations of the Mishnah. A comparison of the portions of the Palestinian Talmud here summarized with the corresponding sections of Babli, as given below, is especially instructive.

Passages Repeated.

Yerushalmi, when regarded as a work of literature, is noteworthy for a textual peculiarity which is characteristic of it, though found also in Babli, namely, the large number of literal repetitions. Entire passages, sometimes whole columns, of the Talmud are found in two, occasionally in three, separate treatises, in which they differ from each other by mere variants, most of them due to corruptions of the text. These repetitions throw some light on the redaction of the Talmudic text, since they prove that before the editing of the treatises was undertaken a uniform mass of material was already at hand in a definitely revised form; they likewise show that in the compilation of the Talmud one portion was explained by another, as was natural in view of the character of the contents. The opportunity was gladly seized, moreover, to repeat didactic material in passages where it did not strictly belong. These repetitions are obviously of great value in the textual criticism of the Talmud. Since sufficient attention has never yet been paid to this phenomenon of Yerushalmi, a list is here given of those passages of the first order, Zera'im, which are repeated in other orders. It must be noted, however, that this list includes neither citations based on passages of another treatise nor parallel passages consisting of a single sentence.


Passages from the order i. repeated in the order ii.:

Ber. 3b, lines 10-55 = Shab. 3a, 69-3b, 20.

Ber. 4a, 30-56 = Sheḳ. 47a, 13-59 = M. Ḳ. 83c, 40-83d, 8.

Ber. 5a, 33-62 = M. Ḳ. 82b, 14-47.

Ber. 5d, 14-20 = Shab. 3a, 55-61.

Ber. 5d, 65-6a, 9 = M. Ḳ. 83a, 5-27.

Ber. 6c, 4-17 = Yoma 44d, 58-68.

Ber. 6d, 60-67 = Meg. 73d, 15-22.

Ber. 7b, 70-7d, 25 = Ta'an. 67c, 12-67d, 47.

Ber. 7d, 75-8a, 59 = Ta'an. 65c, 2-69.

Ber. 8c, 60-69 = R. H. 59d, 16-25.

Ber. 9a, 70-9b, 47 = Ta'an. 63c, 66-63d, 44.

Ber. 9c, 20-31 = Meg. 75c, 8-19.

Ber. 9c, 49-54 = Meg. 75b, 31-36.

Ber. 10a, 32-43 = Pes. 29c, 16-27.

Ber. 11c, 14-21 = Pes. 37c, 54-71.

Ber. 12c, 16-25 = 'Er. 22b, 29-37.

Ber. 12c, 44-62 = Suk. 24a, 6-21 = Meg. 72a, 15-31.

Ber. 13d, 72-14a, 30 = Ta'an. 64a, 75-64b, 35.

Pe'ah 15a, 67-15b, 21 = Ḥag. 76b, 24-53.

Pe'ah 17a, 39-72 = Ḥag. 76b, 13-47.

Pe'ah 18d, 16-33 = Sheḳ. 46a, 48-67.

Pe'ah 18d, 66-19a, 5 = Sheḳ. 48c, 75-48d, 13.

Pe'ah 21a, 25-29 = Sheḳ. 48d, 55-58.

Dem. 22a, 31-40 = Sheḳ. 48d, 40-49.

Kil. 29b, 27-61 = 'Er. 19c, 15-49 = Suk. 52a, 40-73.

Kil. 29b, 62-76 = Suk. 52a, 73-52b, 11.

Sheb. 34c, 27-49 = M. Ḳ. 80b, 26-52.

Sheb. 38a, 50-60 = Shab. 3c, 55-65.

Ter. 44a, 32-38 = Shab. 44d, 4-10.

Ter. 45d, 42-51 = Shab. 3d, 2-15 (comp. 'Ab. Zarah 41d, 13-28).

Ter. 46a, 41-46b, 35 = Pes. 28a, 34-28b, 37.

Ma'as. 49a, 22-28 = Suk. 53d, 43-53.

Ma'as. 49b, 14-32 = Shab. 6b, 17-36.

Ma'as. 49b, 39-48 = Beẓah 62b, 72-62c, 6.

Ma'as. Sh. 53b, 6-44 = Yoma 45c, 2-36 (comp. Shebu. 32b. 56-34c, 3).

Ma'as. Sh. 54b, 48-58 = Sheḳ. 51b, 15-25.

Ma'as. Sh. 55a, 23-55 = 'Er. 24c, 33-66.

Ma'as. Sh. 55d, 62-67 = M. Ḳ. 80b, 72-80c, 10.

Ḥal. 57c, 16-20 = R. H. 57b, 60-63.


Passages from the order i. repeated in the order iii.:

Ber. 6a, 35-6b, 17 = Naz. 56a, 12-68.

Ber. 6b, 51-56 = Ḳid. 61c, 11-17.

Ber. 9d, 3-19 = Giṭ. 47b, 49-63.

Ber. 11b, 42-68 = Naz. 54b, 2-27.

Ber. 14b, 45-70 = Soṭah 20c, 40-64.

Pe'ah 15b, 41-47 = Ket. 32c, 10-16.

Pe'ah 15c, 7-16 = Ḳid. 61a, 75-61c, 10.

Dem. 25b, 60-45c, 7 = Ḳid. 63a, 75-63b, 21.

Kil. 32a, 64-32d, 7 = Ket. 34d, 74-35b, 56.

Sheb. 36b, 25-68 = Ḳid. 61c, 56-61d, 17.

Ter. 40c, 42-40d, 6 = Yeb. 13c, 70-13d, 32.

Ter. 42b, 44-53 = Naz. 53d, 16-27.

Ter. 44c, 9-44d, 44 = Ket. 27b, 5-27c, 39.

Ma'as. Sh. 55a, 69-55b, 13 = Giṭ. 47d, 55-70.

'Orlah 61b, 8-33 = Naz. 55c, 32-63.

Bik. 64a. 32-44 = Yeb. 9b, 71-9c, 8.


Passages from the order i. repeated in the order iv.:

Ber. 3a, 52-69 = Sanh. 30a, 65-30b, 8 = 'Ab. Zarah 41c, 46-63.

Ber. 6b, 20-41 = Sanh. 20a, 43-60.

Pe'ah 16b, 22-25, 43-60 = Sanh. 27c, 38-60.

Sheb. 35b, 26-40 = 'Ab. Zarah 44b, 27-41.

Sheb. 39b, 14-38 = Mak. 31a, 33-50.

Ter. 45c, 24-45d, 11 = 'Ab. Zarah 41a, 18-41b, 3.

Ter. 47c, 66-47d, 4 = 'Ab. Zarah 41c, 13-23.

Ma'as. Sh. 54d, 71-55a, 8 = Sanh. 19a, 63-76.

Ma'as. Sh. 56c, 9-18 = Sanh. 18d, 13-22.

'Orlah 62b, 49-62c, 10 = 'Ab. Zarah 45a, 32-45b, 10.

The following parallel passages from the second and fourth orders may also be mentioned on account of their length: Shab. 9c, 62-9d, 59 = Sanh. 24c, 19-24d, 14; Shab. 14d, 10-15a, 1 = 'Ab. Zarah 40d, 12-41a, 4.

Despite these parallel passages in the four orders of Yerushalmi, which might be regarded as a proof of the uniform redaction of the entire work, there is proof to the contrary, which shows that the first two orders differ in origin from the third and fourth. While the first and second contain a large number of baraitot with the introductory formula "Samuel transmits [ (image) ]," there is not a single baraita by Samuel in the third and fourth orders. These latter two include, on the other hand, many controversies between Mani and Abin, two amoraim of the second half of the fourth century, while Zera'im and Mo'ed contain very few (see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." iii. 398). The redaction of Yerushalmi is discussed in further detail below.

The Haggadot of the Yerushalmi.

The haggadic portions of Yerushalmi are also characteristic of its style. As in Babli, they frequently have only a slight bearing, sometimes none at all, on the subject of the mishnaic section and its Talmudic interpretation, being added to the passages in which they are found either because they were mentioned in the academy on account of some subject under discussion, or because, in the process of the redaction of the treatise, this haggadic material, which was valued for some special reason, seemed to fit into the Talmudic text at the passage in question. Many haggadic portions of Yerushalmi are likewise found almost word for word in the earlier works of Palestinian midrashic literature, especially in Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, Pesiḳta di-Rab Kahana, Ekah (Lamentations) Rabbati, and Midrash Shemuel. These parallel passages do not always prove actual borrowing; for the same earlier source may have been used in the redaction both of Yerushalmi and of the midrashic works. The haggadot of the Palestinian Talmud were collected and annotated by Samuel ben Isaac Jaffe Ashkenazi in his "Yefeh Mar'eh" (Venice, 1589), and they were translated into German by Wünsche ("Der Jerusalemische Talmud in Seinen Haggadischen Bestandtheilen," Zurich, 1880).

Linguistically, the Palestinian Talmud is Aramaic, in so far as its framework (like the elucidations of the mishnaic text by the members of the academies and the amoraic discussions connected with them) is redacted in that language; the greater portion of the terminology is in like manner Aramaic. The same dialect is employed in general for the narrative sections, including both the haggadot and the accounts of the lives of the sages and their pupils. The Aramaic portion consequently comprises all that is popular in origin or content. The Hebrew sections, on the other hand, include the halakic sayings of the Tannaim, the citations from the collections of baraitot, and many of the amoraic discussions based on the tannaitic tradition, together with other sayings of the Amoraim. This linguistic usage is due to the fact that both in Palestine and in Babylon the Halakah was for the most part elucidated and expanded by the Amoraim themselves in the language in which it had been transmitted by the Tannaim. In the academy the Hebrew of the Mishnah held its place side by side with the Aramaic, thus giving to the latter a certain coloring, especially from a lexicographic point of view. Hebrew was retained in great measure also in the amoraic Haggadah. The Aramaic, which assumed a fixed literary form in Yerushalmi, is almost the same as that of the earlier Palestinian midrashic works, differing from them only in a few peculiarities, mostly orthographic. This idiom, together with that of the Palestinian Targum on the Pentateuch, has been analyzed in G. Dalman's "Grammatik des Jüdisch-Palästinischen Aramäisch" (Leipsic, 1894; 2 ed. 1905).

Editions of the Babli.

The first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud ( (image) ) was printed at Venice, 1520-23, by Daniel Bomberg, and has become the basis, down to the present day, of a very large number of editions, including that of Basel, 1578-81, which, with the changes and omissions made by the censor, exerted a powerful influence on later texts until the edition of Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1720-22, with its additions, became the model of all subsequent editions of the Talmud (see below). The external form of Babli was determined by the editio princeps. While the first edition of Yerushalmi, in its two columns on each folio page, contains only the text, the editio princeps of Babli adds the commentary of Rashi on one margin and the tosafot on the other, together with kindred matter. Especially noteworthy is the fact that the first edition of Babli has a pagination which has been retained in all subsequent editions, thus rendering it possible to quote passages with exactness, and to find citations readily. The mishnaic treatises which have no Babylonian Talmud are included in the editions of the Talmud, together with commentaries, and these same tractates are likewise found in the only complete manuscript of Babli (that at Munich), where they form an appendix, although they precede the post-Talmudic treatises, which are likewise contained in the editions. It has been noted above that the editions of Babli contain the Yerushalmi for the treatiseSheḳalim; and this is also the case in the Munich manuscript.

The following list gives the names of the treatises of Babli which have been preserved, together with the sequence generally followed in the editions, and the number of folios in each tractate, the pagination always beginning with fol. 2. Of the 570 leaves of the Munich codex, containing about eighty lines to a page, 490 belong to Babli; this gives an approximate idea of the size of this Talmud. The amount of text on each page of the editions, however, varies greatly on account of the varying length of the commentary of Rashi and the tosafot which accompany it; but the number of leaves shows the comparative lengths of the several treatises.

I. Zera'im:

Berakot (64).

II. Mo'ed:

Shabbat (157);

'Erubin (105);

Pesaḥim (121);

Beẓah (40);

Ḥagigah (27);

Mo'ed Ḳaṭan (29);

Rosh ha-Shanah (35);

Yoma (88);

Sukkah (56);

Ta'anit (31);

Megillah (32).

III. Nashim:

Yebamot (122);

Ketubot (112);

Ḳiddushin (82);

Giṭṭin (90);

Nedarim (91);

Nazir (66);

Soṭah (49).

IV. Neziḳin:

Baba Ḳamma (119);

Baba Meẓi'a (119);

Baba Batra (176);

'Abodah Zarah (76);

Sanhedrin (113);

Shebu'ot (49);

Makkot (24);

Horayot (14).

V. Ḳodashim:

Zebaḥim (120);

Menaḥot (110);

Bekorot (161);

Ḥullin (142);

'Arakin (34);

Temurah (34);

Keritot (28);

Me'ilah (22);

Tamid (9).

VI. Ṭohorot: Niddah (73).

Missing Gemaras.

Babli thus contains but one treatise each of the first and sixth orders; of the second, Sheḳalim (see above) is lacking; and there is no Talmud on 'Eduyot or Abot either in Babli or Yerushalmi. The fifth order of Babli contains neither Middot nor Ḳinnim, nor the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Tamid. It is incorrect, however, to speak of missing portions of the Babylonian Talmud, since in all probability the sections which it omits were entirely disregarded in the final redaction of the work, and were consequently never committed to writing (for a divergent opinion see Weiss, "Dor," iii. 271). It will be shown further on that the mishnaic treatises lacking in Babli were subjects of study in the Babylonian academies.

Earliest Manuscript of the Babli.

In the editions the Babylonian Talmud is so arranged that each paragraph of the Mishnah is followed by the portion of the Talmud which forms the commentary on it; the portions are frequently divided into sections, rubricked by the successive sentences of the mishnaic paragraph on which they are based, although an entire paragraph occasionally serves as a single text. Thus Babli on Ket. ii. 1 (16a-18b) is divided into six sections; but there is no division into sections for ii. 2 (18b-20b), ii. 3 (20b-22a), ii. 5 (23b), and ii. 9 (27b-28a). There are three sections for ii. 4 (23a); two for ii. 6 (23b-26a), ii. 7 (26b-27a), and ii. 8 (27a, b); and eight for ii. 10 (28a, b). In the Munich codex, which is based on a manuscript of the middle of the ninth century (see Lewy in "Breslauer Jahresbericht," 1905, p. 28), the text of the entire chapter of the Mishnah is written in large characters on the inner portion of the page, separated from the Talmudic text, which is in a different script. In the fragments in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, written in 1123 and containing a portion of the treatise Keritot (see "J. Q. R." ix. 145), each chapter is headed by the entire mishnaic text on which it is based. Then follow the sections of the Talmud, each beginning with the word (image) and the first part of the mishnaic paragraph in question, although some sections are marked by the superscription (image) (= (image) ). The superscription (image) , which in the editions marks the beginning of the Talmud on each paragraph of the Mishnah, is found neither in the Munich codex nor in the Bodleian fragments. Most of the manuscripts containing one or more treatises of Babli, and described by R. N. Rabbinovicz in the introductions to vols. i., iv., viii., ix., and xi. of his "Diḳduḳe Soferim," are so arranged that the entire mishnaic text is placed at the beginning of the chapter; and this is also occasionally the case in the editions, as in the first chapter of the treatise Sanhedrin. In a St. Petersburg manuscript said to date from 1112 the paragraphs are repeated in their proper places (ib. viii. 3). A number of codices in the Vatican Library are arranged partly in the one way and partly in the other (xi. 13, 15, 17, 18), while the system adopted in the printed texts occurs in manuscripts also (see ib. iv. 6, 8; xi. 20). It may be mentioned as a curious circumstance that in one manuscript of the Vatican (ib. xi. 19), containing the treatise Pesaḥim, many passages are vocalized and accented, as is also the case in a Bodleian fragment of Yerushalmi on Berakot ("J. Q. R." ix. 150). A fragment of considerable length in the Cambridge Library, and possibly the earliest extant manuscript of Babli, also contains the treatise Pesaḥim; it has been edited by Lowe ("The Fragment of Talmud Babli of the Ninth or Tenth Century," Cambridge, 1879); and in its four folios it includes the text of fols. 7a, below -9a, middle, and 13a, below -16a, above, of the editions. The pages are divided into two columns; and the entire mishnaic text precedes the chapter; the several sections, even those beginning with a new paragraph of the Mishnah, have an introduction only in the case of the first word of the mishnaic passage in question, with the word (image) as superscription.

The character of Babli and its divergencies from Yerushalmi may best be illustrated by a citation of its commentary on the same passages of the Mishnah as those contained in the sections of the Palestinian Talmud already analyzed.

Ber. i. 1 (divided in Yerushalmi into four paragraphs, but in Babli forms one only, the explanations of which are given in 2a-9a; for the purposes of the present comparison, only those discussions in Babli which refer to that part of the Mishnah which in Yerushalmi forms the first paragraph are here summarized):


The initial question of the Mishnah and its basis; two divergent answers, together with an objection and its refutation (2a; all anonymous). The initial statement of the Mishnah, and an interpretation of Lev. xxii. 7 based on a baraita on this verse and concluding with a note of Rabbah b. Shela (2b), and the method of teaching this interpretation in Palestine. The contradictions between the statement of the Mishnah and three baraitot which are successively stated and dialectically refuted (all anonymous). A discussion of the third baraita (3a). The opinion of R. Eliezer ("until the end of the first watch of the night"), and the problem whether three or four night-watches were implied; a haggadic baraita with a saying of R. Eliezer on the three watches of the night, together with a discussion of it. A haggadic excursus of some length, beginning with Rab's saying regarding the three watches of the night, and containing a baraita (a poem by Jose b. Ḥalafta) and a disquisition on it (3b). Further details of the night-watches, beginning with a controversy between Judah I. and Nathan (in a baraita); a haggadic saying of Joshua b. Levi transmitted by Zeriḳa and Ammi, this section concluding with a saying of Ashi. Another saying of Joshua b. Levi, transmitted in like manner, together with two versions of a comment by Abba b. Kahana. Discussion of the first saying of Joshua b. Levi, beginning with the rising of David "at midnight" (Ps. cxix. 62), and devoted in the main to the connotation of the word "neshef" (ib. cxix. 147), together with sayings of Babylonian amoraim. The way in which David knew when midnight had arrived, and concerning his harp, (4a). Further details regarding David, Ps. lvii. 9, and Ex. xi. 4, with an exegesis by Ashi, which concludes the entire discussion. Additional haggadic material concerning David, and a controversy between the Palestinian haggadists Levi and Isaac on Ps. lxxxvi. 2 with reference to Ps. cxix. 62, together with comments and citations of a kindred nature.

Examples from the Babli.


Dialectic exposition of the relation of the view of the scholars to the opinions of R. Eliezer and R. Gamaliel, together with the citation of a baraita (4b). A controversy between Johanan and Joshua b. Levi on the sequence of the "Shema'" and prayer, based on a sentence in this baraita ("the 'Shema is read: prayer is offered"), together with a discussion devoted chiefly to exegetic inferences. An objection alleged by Mar b. Rabina and based on a passage in the Mishnah, and a haggadic saying of Eleazar b. Abina to the effect that he who recites Ps. cxlv. thrice daily is assuredly a son of the world to come, the citation being made in this place on account of an aphorism of similar content given by Johanan in the course of the same debate. A discussion of these matters, and a saying of Johanan on Ps. cxlv., together with another haggadic aphorism by Eleazar b. Abina on the angels Michael and Raphael, and its elucidation. The view of Joshua b. Levi on the evening "Shema'," which should be recited in bed (5a), and amoraic sayings on the same subject, together with a confirmation, by a citation of Ps. iv. 6, of the ruling of Joshua b. Levi; a haggadic saying of Simeon b. Laḳish transmitted by Levi b. Laḥma, as well as another aphorism of this scholar transmitted by the same authority. A haggadic saying by Isaac on reading the "Shema'" in bed, and a comment by Ashi, followed by another haggadic aphorism by Isaac based on Job v. 7; interpretation of this verse as denoting afflictions sent by God ("yissurim"), against which the study of the Torah gives protection; haggadic sentences on the Law. A long series of haggadic sayings by Palestinian and Babylonian amoraim, and especially by Johanan, regarding affliction (5b), with anecdotes from Palestine and Babylon. A baraita with a saying of Abba Benjamin regarding prayer before retiring, and its elucidation, together with three other baraitot and haggadic sayings of Abba Benjamin regarding prayer (6a), regarding demons (with various sayings of Babylonian authors), and praying in the synagogue. A haggadic saying by Isaac on the last subject transmitted by Rabin b. Adda, together with a saying of Ashi and additional elucidations, followed by another aphoriam transmitted by Rabin in the name of Isaac regarding the "phylacteries of God," and by a discussion of the subject by Babylonian amoraim, the view of Ashi standing last. A third haggadic saying of Isaac, of similar transmission, concerning prayer in the synagogue (6b), and a series of aphorisms of a like nature, the first being by Johanan, and the second by Huna transmitted by Ḥelbo. These, interspersed with other sayings, are followed by five more aphorisms transmitted by Ḥelbo in the name of Huna and regarding departure from the synagogue, the Minḥah prayer, participation in marriage festivities, the fear of God, and the refusal to return a salutation. A series (7a) of five haggadic sayings transmitted by Johanan in the name of Jose ben Ḥalafta: the prayer offered by God, pacification of an angry neighbor, discipline of one's own conscience, three requests of Moses, and the teaching that a threat or promise by God is not recalled, even though given only conditionally, and that neither, therefore, is ever unfulfilled. After a number of sayings, partly tannaitic and partly amoraic in origin, come six haggadic aphorisms (7b) transmitted by Johanan in the name of the tanna Simeon ben Yoḥai, the second treating of the same subject as the corrresponding one in the previous series. To these sayings are appended various aphorisms and elucidations, followed by a conversation between Naḥman b. Jacob and Isaac, in which the latter cites a sixth saying, concerning prayer in the synagogue, transmitted by Johanan in the name of Simeon ben Yoḥai. Additional haggadic aphorisms (8a) on this subject as well as on the importance of the synagogue, followed by three sayings of 'Ulla transmitted by Ḥiyya b. Ammi, and by various aphorisms on the reading of the Torah in the synagogue (8b) and other kindred matters. This portion is concluded by the instructions which Joshua b. Levi gave to his sons, and by the analogous instructions which Raba gave to his children, as well as by elucidations of details of these teachings and by sayings of a similar import.


In the name of Samuel, Judah declares that the opinion of R. Gamaliel is authoritative. A baraita giving a similar view by Simeon ben Yoḥai, followed by an interpretation of it with a final decision by Joshua ben Levi, and by another version of the relation to it of the ruling of Joshua ben Levi. The section (9a) terminates with an opinion on this baraita by a scholar who had come from Palestine to Babylon.

Further Examples.

R. H. i. 1 (§§ 1-2 in Yerushalmi; the Talmud on these sections is contained in 2a-15b):


Ḥisda's answer to the question as to the practical importance of the "new year of the kings," with a citation of the mishnaic passage (Sheb. x. 5) regarding antedated and postdated promissory notes. A baraita on the reckoning of regnal years, and its elucidation (2b), together with hermeneutic deductions from the Bible regarding Nisan as the beginningof the regnal year, introduced by an inference of Johanan based on I Kings vi. 1 as compared with Num. xxxiii. 38, Deut. i. 3, 4, Num. xxi. 1 (3a), and similar passages, preference being finally given to Eleazar's deduction founded on II Chron. iii. 2. A baraita giving the deduction of Johanan. The assertion of Ḥisda that the regnal years of non-Israelitish kings were reckoned from Tishri, together with Biblical passages in confirmation of this view, beginning with Neh. i. 1 and its hermeneutic exposition (3b), the conclusion being formed by a variety of haggadic material on the Persian kings mentioned in the Bible (4a).


Ḥisda's answer to the query why Nisan 15, the first day of the Feast of Passover, was not made the "new year of the feasts," while a baraita shows that this view was promulgated by Simeon ben Yoḥai himself. Another baraita (4b) on the ritual order of the festivals, together with exegetic deductions from the views contained therein and additional discussions, concluding with an elucidation (5a) of other halakic and exegetic sayings on festivals and sacrifices. Baraita (5b) on Deut. xxiii. 22 et seq., and a detailed discussion, followed by a similar section (6a, b) on Deut. xxiii. 24. Baraita (7a) on Nisan 1 and its four meanings, the first being deduced from Ex. xii. 2 and Deut. xvi. 1, although an objection caused Lev. xxiii. 39 to be regarded by Ḥisda as the basic passage, while Zech. i. 7 was cited to refute an allegation made by Rabina, additional Biblical passages being quoted by the Babylonian amoraim 'Ulla, Kahana, and Ashi; the section is concluded by a deduction of the three other meanings of Nisan 1 (7b) mentioned in the baraita.


The signification of Elul 1 as the "new year for tithes of cattle," as taught by R. Meïr. The various origins of the sentences collected in R. H. i. 1, together with a saying by Joseph, followed by a series of aphorisms of later Babylonian amoraim, and one by Ashi (8a). Johanan's deduction, from Ps. lxv. 14, of the double view concerning the new year for tithes of cattle, and its dialectic elucidation.

Second half of the mishnaic paragraph:


The question regarding the practical utility of the new year for the counting of the years, answered by Pappa in exactly the same way as Ḥisda had solved the question concerning the new year of the kings; solution of the discrepancy and further elucidations of the principle that Tishri 1 was the new year for the counting of the years. Two baraitot on Ps. lxxxi. 4 et seq. (8b).


An inference regarding the year of jubilee, based on Lev. xxv. 4; and the obviation of the difficulty presented by Lev. xxv. 9 (with reference to the Sabbatical year) by means of a baraita on the following verse, together with two other baraitot on the same subject (9a) and an elucidation of Tishri 10, concluded by a baraita on Lev. xxv. 11 and its interpretation (9b).


Biblical deduction regarding the planting of trees and a baraita thereon, with an inference drawn from the Bible by Johanan (10a), and an elucidation of another baraita cited in explanation of the first, Johanan's deduction from Gen. viii. 13 regarding the opposing views of R. Meïr and R. Eleazar (10b) as to whether a day may be reckoned like a year, thus introducing a baraita containing the controversy between R. Eliezer and R. Joshua on the month of Creation, the former arguing for Tishri and the latter for Nisan; exegetic haggadot of considerable length (11a-12a) on this section.


A baraita stating that "tithes" and "vows" as well as "vegetables" belong to Tishri 1, together with interpretations by hermeneutics and other methods (12b), and with discussions of the subject by the Palestinian and Babylonian schools, and halakic exegeses (13a-14a).


An argument by Hoshaiah transmitted by Eleazar (14a), and a baraita recording the practise of R. Akiba (14b-15b), as well as elucidations of it. Another baraita on Shebaṭ 15, with a controversy between Johanan and Simeon ben Laḳish, and a discussion of it.

Giṭ. ii. 1 (the Talmud on this section is contained in 15a-17a):


The purpose of the entire paragraph, although its content is immediately apparent from the opening sentence of the mishnaic treatise.


The problem of the connotation of "the half of the bill of divorce, and Ashi's answer.


The law regarding a case in which only "the half" of a bill of divorce is signed by witness in the presence of the bearer; the more rigorous interpretation of it by Ḥisda and subsequent modifications by Raba and (15b) Ashi, as well as a dialectic discussion of these three sayings. Analogous cases from other branches of the Halakah and casuistic questions bearing on them (16a), concluding with one by Pappa which remains unanswered.


Case in which one of the bearers of a bill of divorce witnesses the engrossing of the document and the other the signature; exact definition given by Johanan and transmitted by Samuel b. Judah (16b); the answer of the latter to the objection of Abaye, although another version of the entire affair makes Ashi the author of the objection; controversy on the subject between Hoshaiah and 'Ulla. Anecdote of a visit made by Judah b. Ezekiel to Rabbah bar bar Ḥana during an illness of the latter, and their conversation on a problem connected with Giṭ. i. 1.


The case in which the engrossing of a bill of divorce is witnessed by one and the signature by two persons (17a), and the exact definition of such an event, given by Johanan and transmitted by Ammi, the section being concluded by a discussion between Ammi and Assi.

Legal Example.

B. B. i. 6 (the Talmud on this section is contained in 7b-11a):


"One who is part owner of a courtyard is obliged to contribute to the cost of the gateway as well as of the door itself"; -the citation of a legend concerning Elijah to prove that a gateway is not necessarily a subject for praise, concluded by a casuistic definition of the case presupposed by the Mishnah.


According to R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, "Every courtyard is not adapted to a gateway"; a baraita containing the complete version of this saying.


According to R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, "One who dwells in a city is obliged to contribute toward the building of the walls and the doors," etc.; a baraita containing the complete version ofthis saying. Johanan's answer to the query advanced by Eleazar concerning the method of levying contributions, followed by a second version of the same account. The patriarch Judah II. and the scholars contributed toward building the wall, although the legality of this action was questioned by Simeon b. Laḳish on the basis of a haggadic deduction from Ps. cxxxix. 18, while Johanan proposed another verse, Cant. viii, 10, to aid in the solution of the problem (8a); Rabbah's interpretation of this passage of Canticles. An instance of contributions on the part of the scholars of Babylonia, and the proof of their illegality furnished by the exegesis of three Biblical passages, taken respectively from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. Pappa's proof that a certain tax was imposed on orphans, and a discussion of it, followed by a tannaitic account (half Aramaic) by Judah I. of the support of scholars during a time of famine.


"How long must one dwell in a city to have equal rights with its citizens? Twelve months"; a conflicting baraita which speaks of thirty days; Rabbah's solution of this contradiction, while Johanan reconciles the discrepancy between the period of twelve months and that given in another baraita. The saying of Johanan as to the liability of scholars to taxation, and various statements regarding the practise of the Babylonian sages. The way in which Joseph (4th cent.) expended a sum of money sent him by the mother of King Sapor, together (8b) with an interpretation of Jer. xv. 2. Baraita on the mode of levying taxes for the poor, and the right of assessment of municipal taxes. The rule of the Mishnah (Sheḳ. v. 2) that the smallest number of persons who may be entrusted with raising taxes is two, and its Biblical basis according to Naḥman b. Jacob, together with sayings and examples bearing on this matter. An interpretation of Dan. xii. 3 as referring to the collectors and trustees of the tax for the poor, followed by two baraitot on these collectors and Abaye's statements regarding the practise of Rabbah b. Naḥmani, as well as (9a) by a note of Ashi and an opinion of Rabbah. Baraita on the auditing of the accounts of the trustees of the tax for the poor, and elucidations of it. Notes and anecdotes illustrating Mishnah Pe'ah viii. 7 (on the amount to be given to the poor), followed by haggadic passages on the importance of almsgiving, among these aphorisms being one cited by Rabbah as transmitted to Eleazar by a certain 'Ulla with a curious surname, which forms the basis of an anecdote. Further haggadic passages on the charity of Eleazar, Isaac, and others. A baraita giving R. Meïr's answer (10a) to the question why God Himself does not nurture the poor, followed by an account of the conversation on this subject between R. Akiba and Tineius Rufus. Sermon by Judah b. Shalom (Palestinian amora of the 4th cent.) on Jer. lvii. 17, and anecdotes from the lives of Johanan b. Zakkai and Pappa. Haggadic sayings by tannaim and amoraim on alms. The vision of Joseph b. Joshua b. Levi (10b) of the future life, together with baraitot on the interpretation of Prov. xiv. 34 by Johanan b. Zakkai and his scholars as well as by Gamaliel II. and the other sages of Jabneh. The charity of the mother of Sapor, and two baraitot: one (11a) the story of the beneficence of Benjamin ha-Ẓaddiḳ; the other an account of the generosity of King Monobaz.


"If one obtains a dwelling-place in the city, he immediately receives equal rights with the citizens"; an opposing view by Simeon b. Gamaliel transmitted in two versions.

Framework of Commentary.

This analysis of four different passages of the Babylonian Talmud shows, in the first place, that the framework, as in the Palestinian Talmud, is formed by a running interpretation of the Mishnah, despite the heterogeneity of the material which is interwoven with it. The Talmud, however, is not a mere commentary on the Mishnah, since, in addition to its haggadic portions, it contains a varied mass of halakic material, connected only loosely, if at all, with the contents of the mishnaic paragraphs in question; and while the Talmud sometimes adheres closely to the text of such a paragraph, its commentary on a single section of the Mishnah is often expanded into the compass of a small book. In this respect Babli is much more free than Yerushalmi, which is more concise in other regards as well; the wider interests of the former and its greater variety and length are due at least in large part to the fact that the Babylonian academies enjoyed a longer existence and hence its redaction extended over a more protracted period.

Haggadah of the Babli.

The fact that the Haggadah is much more prominent in Babli, of which it forms, according to Weiss ("Dor," iii. 19), more than one-third, while it constitutes only one-sixth of Yerushalmi, was due, in a sense, to the course of the development of Hebrew literature. No independent mass of haggadot developed in Babylon, as was the case in Palestine; and the haggadic writings were accordingly collected in the Talmud. The most curious example of this is a midrash on the Book of Esther, found at the end of the first chapter of the treatise Megillah (pp. 10b-17a). Except for the fact that the text of this section naturally alludes to the Book of Esther, the midrash has no connecting-link with the preceding portion of the Talmud. It is a true midrashic compilation in the style of the Palestinian midrashim, introduced by sixteen proems (mostly by Palestinian authors), and followed by exegeses and comments on individual verses of Esther in the order of the text, each preceded by a catch word (for further details on this midrash see Bacher, "Ag. Bab. Amor." p. 119). A fragment of a similar compilation on Lamentations, treating of a few verses of the first two chapters, is found in the last chapter of Sanhedrin (104, 4 et seq.), this fragment being inserted there on account of the preceding casual allusion to the Babylonian exile (ib. p. 120). The treatise Giṭṭin (55a-58a) contains a haggadic compilation on the destruction of Jerusalem, its elements being found partly in the Palestinian literature, partly in Ekah Rabbati, and partly in the treatise Ta'anit of the Jerusalem Talmud. This haggadah, which begins with a saying by Johanan, is appended to the brief halakic elucidation of the first sentence of the mishnaic paragraph on the law of the Sicarii (Giṭ. v. 6), mentioning those who fell in the war against the Romans. In Babli such haggadic interpolations, often of considerable length, are extremely frequent, while the very content of the mishnaic paragraphs often affords a basis for lengthy haggadic excursuses. Thus the last (in Yerushalmi, next to the last) chapter of Sanhedrin is made the foundation for a mass of haggadic comments, most of them only loosely connected by an association of ideas with the text of the passages of the Mishnah to which they are assigned. In this exceptionally long chapter of Babli (pp. 90a-113b) only that portion (111b-112b) which refers to the Law in Deut. xiii. 12 et seq. is halakic in nature. The haggadic conclusion of the first chapter of Soṭah furnishes the basis for further Talmudic comments in the style of the Haggadah (8b, 14a); so that, for example, the interpretation of Ex. ii. 4, cited in the Mishnah (11a), is followed (11a-13b) by an independent section which forms a running midrash on Ex. i. 8-ii. 4. Additional examples may be found in nearly every treatise of the Babylonian Talmud. The haggadic sections of this Talmud, which form an important part of the entire work, have been collected in the very popular "'En Ya'aḳob" of Jacob ibn Ḥabib (1st ed. 1516), as well as in the rarer "Haggadot ha-Talmud" (Constantinople, 1511; comp. Rabbinovicz, "Diḳduḳe Soferim," viii. 131); and they have been translated into German by A. Wünsche ("Der Babylonische Talmud in Seinen Haggadischen Bestandtheilen," 3 vols., Leipsic, 1886-89).

An important factor in the composition of the Talmud, and consequently one it is necessary to consider in a discussion of its literary form, is the frequent juxtaposition of several sayings ascribed to one and the same author. These sayings, which are frequently linked together by the name of their common transmitter as well as by that of their author, were evidently taught in this connected form in the academies, thus finding their way into the appropriate passages of the Talmudic text. Such groups of aphorisms are extremely frequent in Babli; and several of them are found in the passage from Ber. 2a-9a which has been analyzed above (regarding Yerushalmi see Frankel, "Mebo," p. 39a). Other circumstances which must be considered in discussing the composition of the text of the Talmud are set forth in the account of its origin and redaction given below.

Style and Language.

The remarks already made concerning the relation of the Hebrew and the Aramaic elements in the vocabulary of Yerushalmi apply with little modification to Babli, although the Aramaic of the latter is more nearly akin to the Syriac (the eastern Aramaic dialect then current in Babylonia) and is even more closely related to Mandæan (see Nöldeke, "Mandäische Grammatik," p. xxvi., Halle, 1875; on the Persian elements in the vocabulary of Babli see Jew. Encyc. vii. 313b, s.v. Judæo-Persian). In regard to Greek and Latin terms Levy makes the incomprehensible statement ("Neuhebr. Wörterb." iv. 274a) that "no Greek or Latin words are found in the Babylonian Talmud." This is, however, incorrect; for a large number of words from the Latin and Greek (see Krauss, "Lehnwörter," i. p. xxiii.) are employed in the Talmud, both in the tannaitic passages found in Babli, and in the sayings of Palestinian as well as of Babylonian amoraim, such as Rab (see Bacher, l.c. p. 32). On the exegetic terminology as applied in Biblical and traditional hermeneutics, see Bacher, "Terminologie der Amoräer," Leipsic, 1905. An interesting linguistic peculiarity of Babli is the fact that tannaitic traditions, especially stories, are occasionally given entirely in Aramaic, or an anecdote, begun in Hebrew, is continued in Aramaic (such as the story, designated by (image) as a baraita, concerning Joshua b. Peraḥyah and his pupil Jesus [Sanh. 107b]).

The Halakah in Babli.

The contents of the Talmud—this term being restricted to Babli, although much which applies to it holds true of Yerushalmi as well—fall into the two main divisions of Halakah and Haggadah. Although, as stated above, the Mishnah itself frequently furnishes the ground for the inclusion of haggadic elements in the Talmud, and although the subjects discussed in the Halakah frequently lead of themselves to haggadic treatment, the Haggadah occupies only a secondary position in the Talmud, since this is, both in origin and in purpose, a halakic work, and was intended to serve as a commentary on the chief authoritative work of the tannaitic Halakah, the Mishnah of Judah I. Those portions, therefore, which treat of the interpretation of the Mishnah are the substance of the Talmud. This interpretation, however, was not merely theoretical, but was primarily devoted to a determination of the rules applying to the practise of the ceremonial law; on the other hand, the development of the Halakah had not ceased in the academies of the Amoraim, despite the acceptance of the Mishnah, so that the opinions and the decisions of the Amoraim themselves, even when they were not based merely on an interpretation of the Mishnah and other tannaitic halakot, became the subject of tradition and comment. In addition to the Mishnah, furthermore, the Midrash (the halakic exegesis of the Bible) and the Halakah in the more restricted sense became the subject of tradition and of study, and were preserved in different collections as being the other results of the tannaitic period. In this way the Talmud, in its strict connotation of the interpretation of the Mishnah, was increased by an inexhaustible mass of material, which afforded the amoraic academies a basis both for the interpretation and for the criticism of the Mishnah; for since the Talmud deals with the criticism of the Mishnah, not only in text and meaning, but also in its relation to the baraitot, these baraitot themselves were frequently interpreted in the same way as were mishnaic passages (e.g., R. H. 10a, 12b, 29a), and were supplied with their Talmud. Moreover, the Talmud was further augmented by the inclusion within it of the views which the scholars expressed in the course of their public, judicial, and other activities, as well as by the data regarding their private lives and their religious practises which were discussed and memorized in the academies. If this brief sketch of the Talmud as regards its halakic contentsbe supplemented by the statement that the sayings of the several amoraim as well as the opposing views of their contemporaries and the members of the academies, whether teachers or pupils, are frequently recorded in connection with the report of the discussions of the academies, a more complete view of the nature of the Talmud and a better conception of its form may be gained.

The Framework Anonymous.

The real framework of the Talmud, however, on which the entire structure was built, was, as noted above, provided by the questions, comments, and discussions which are based on individual paragraphs of the Mishnah, and which are anonymous, or not ascribed to any author. Appended to these passages and interspersed among them are sayings whose authors are named; and this class frequently preponderates greatly. The anonymous framework of the Talmud may be regarded as the warp resulting from the united activity of the members of the academy, and upon which the woof of the Talmud was interwoven and developed during three centuries, until its final redaction gave it definitive form. The Talmud is really the work of the body of scholars in the academies, who devoted themselves to it generation after generation, and kept its traditions alive. Although many members of the academie—sthe great as well as the small, teachers as well as pupils—are mentioned as the authors of various sayings and decisions, and as taking part in the discussions and controversies, some of them being deemed scholars worthy of record on account of a single remark, the background of the Talmud, or rather the background for those elements regarding whose authorship statements are made, was formed by the united efforts of those who labored to produce that work. The manifold objections and refutations introduced by the word "metibi" (= "they object"), and the questions (generally casuistic in nature) preceded by the formula "ibba'ya lehu" (= "they have asked") refer to this body of scholars, regardless of the date at which they lived.


This allusion to the anonymous framework of the Talmud suggests the problem of its redaction, which is partially answered by the allusion itself; for the work began with the inception of the collection, and the first amoraim laid the foundation for the task, which was carried on by succeeding generations, the final result being the Talmud in its present form. The system of mishnaic hermeneutics, which was in a sense official, and was at all events sanctioned by the lectures delivered in the academy, was determined as early as the first generation, and remained valid thenceforth. It is interesting to notice that the only certain occurrence of the word "Gemara" in the sense of "Talmud" ('Er. 32b) is found in connection with an account which throws a flood of light upon the first stages of the redaction of the Talmud. This account begins with the interpretation of 'Er. iii. 4, and is as follows: "R. Ḥiyya b. Abba, R. Assi [Palestinian amoraim in Babylon], and Rabba b. Nathan sat; and beside them sat also Rab Naḥman. They sat and said [here follows a dialectic discussion on the nature of the place of the tree mentioned in the paragraph of the Mishnah]. Then R. Naḥman said: 'It is correct; and Samuel also has approved of this explanation.' Then the first three asked: 'Hast thou established this explanation in the Gemara?' [i.e., "Hast thou included it as a fixed element in the Talmud? Naḥman answers in the affirmative, whereupon a confirmatory amoraic tradition is added; and, in the name of Samuel, Rab Naḥman interprets the mishnaic passage under consideration in the light of that exegesis]." The term "ḳaba'" ("establish") was used in a later age by Sherira Gaon to designate the incorporation of portions that were used to make up the Talmud into its text (see Lewy, "Interpretation des Ersten Abschnitts des Palästinischen Talmud-Traktates Nesikin," p. 4; Bacher, in "Hebrew Union College Annual," 1904, p. 34), while in the Talmud itself the word was applied to the redaction of tannaitic traditions (see R. H. 32a, above; Ḳid. 25a; Sanh. 21b; Zeb. 114b). This account, which dates from the beginning of the amoraic period in the Academy of Nehardea, is, curiously enough, an isolated instance; for among the many dates and accounts which the Talmud contains in reference to the academy and its members, there is no direct statement concerning the redaction of the text, either in its earlier stages or at its conclusion, although certain statements on divergent traditions of amoraic sayings and discussions afford an idea of the way in which the Talmudic text emerged from the various versions given by the scholars and schools that transmitted it. These statements, which have been collected by Lewy (l.c. pp. 4-14), use the verb "tanni" ("pa'el" from (image) ) in referring to lectures on the Talmudic text as well as amoraic sayings or discussions on them (Bacher, "Terminologie der Amoräer," p. 239). Thus it is stated (Shab. 48b; B. B. 86a) that at Sura a certain interpretation was given in the name of Ḥisda and at Pumbedita in that of Kahana. There are a number of other similar statements concerning traditions, in regard to differences, as between Sura and Pumbedita, and between Sura and Nehardea, in the wording of the amoraic sayings and in their ascribed authorship (Giṭ. 35a). Especially frequent is the mention of amoraim of the fourth and fifth centuries as transmitters of these divergent statements, either two amoraim being named as authorities for two different versions, or an amora being cited as opposing another version to an anonymous tradition. As examples of the former may be mentioned Rabba and Joseph (Zeb. 25b), Pappa and Zebid (Shab. 66b), Kahana and Tabyomi (Ned. 16b), Ashi and Mar Zuṭra (Shab. 119a), and Rabina and Aḥa (Ket. 31b); while many other instances are cited by Lewy (l.c.).

Technical Terms for Tradition.

Particularly interesting are the cases in which a divergent account is presented before Ashi, and thus before the one who projected the definitive redaction of the Talmud, Ashi appearing in all these cases as representing the version first given. Thus the amora Mordecai said to Ashi: "Thou teachest thus; but we teach differently" (Men. 42b; Ber. 5a). In addition to such statements, which are ascribed to members of the Babylonian academies, and which indicate divergencies in amoraic tradition, the extant text of the Talmud contains also a number of othervariants, which are included without such statements. These are introduced by such formulas as "And if you will say ( (image) ), referring to other authorities, or "There are those who say," or "There are those who teach," and similar phrases. The expression "another version" ( (image) ) frequently appears in the text as a superscription to a divergent account (Naz. 9b; B. Ḳ. 59a; Ḥul. 119b; Tem. 5a, 6a, 9b; 11b, 30b [comp. Frankel in "Monatsschrift," 1861, x. 262]; Niddah 29a, 38a). All these instances afford an idea, even though but an imperfect one, of the gradual development of the Talmudic text. To comprehend why only practically a single Talmud was produced, despite the various academies, the great number of authoritative transmitters of the mass of material, and the number of generations that collaborated on the work, it must be borne in mind that there was a continual interchange of ideas between the academies, and that the numerous pupils of the successive generations who memorized the Talmud, and perhaps committed at least a part of it to writing, drew from a single source, namely, the lectures of their masters and the discussions in the academies; further, that, since the work on the Talmud was continued without interruption along the lines laid down by the first generation of amoraim, all succeeding generations may be regarded as one body of scholars who produced a work which was, to all intents and purposes, uniform. This unity finds its expression in the phraseology adopted in the anonymous framework of the Talmud, which terms the authors "we," exactly as a writer speaks of himself as "I" in an individual work. Examples of this phraseology occur in the following formulas: (image) ("We then raised the question"; see Shab. 6b, 71a, 99b; Yoma 74a, 79b; Suk. 33a; Meg. 22a; Yeb. 29b; Ḳid. 49a; Giṭ. 60b; Shebu. 22b; 'Ab. Zarah 35a, 52b; Niddah 6b); (image) ("We have opposed [another teaching to the one which has been quoted]"); (image) ("We have learned," or, in other words, "have received by tradition"), the conventional formula which introduces mishnaic passages; and, finally, (image) ("Whence have we it?"), the regular preface to an inquiry regarding the Biblical basis of a saying. In all these formulas the "we" denotes the authors of the Talmud regarded as a collective unity, and as the totality of the members of the academies whose labors, covering three centuries of collaboration, resulted in the Talmud. It was in the Babylonian Academy of Sura, moreover, that the final redaction of the Talmud took place, the very academy that took the lead in the first century of the amoraic period; and the uniformity of the Talmud was thus assured, even to the place of its origin.

Date of Redaction.

The statements already made concerning the continuous redaction of the Babylonian Talmud apply with equal force to the Yerushalmi, this fact being expressed by Lewy (l.c. pp. 14-15) in the following words: "In Palestine, as in Babylon, there may have been different Talmudim in the various schools at different periods. . . . Similarly in the Palestinian Talmud different versions of amoraic sayings are quoted in the names of different authors, from which it may be inferred that these authors learned and taught different Talmudim." Lewy speaks also (l.c. p. 20) of several redactions which preceded the final casting of the Palestinian Talmud into its present form. The actual condition of affairs can scarcely be formulated in these terms, however, since the divergencies consist, for the most part, of mere variants in certain sentences, or in the fact that there were different authors and transmitters of them; and although many of these deviations are cited by R. Jonah and R. Jose, who lived and taught contemporaneously at Tiberias, this fact scarcely justifies the assumption that there were two different Talmudim, one taught by Jonah and the other by Jose; it will nevertheless be evident, from the statements cited above, that the Talmud existed in some definite form throughout the amoraic period, and that, furthermore, its final redaction was preceded by other revisions. It may likewise be assumed that the contemporaneous schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Cæsarea in Palestine taught the Talmud in different redactions in the fourth century. Lewy assumes, probably with correctness, that in the case of Yerushalmi the treatise Neziḳin (the three treatises Baba Ḳamma, Baba Meẓi'a, and Baba Batra) was taken from a redaction differing from that of the other treatises. (Allusion has already been made to a difference of content between the first two and the last two orders of the Yerushalmi.) With regard to Babli. Frankel has shown ("Monatsschrift," x. 194) that the treatise Tamid, in which only three chapters out of seven are accompanied by a Talmud, belongs to a different redaction from that of the other treatises; and he endeavors to show, in like manner (ib. p. 259), both "that the redactor of the treatise Ḳiddushin is not identical with that of Baba Batra and Nedarim," and "that the redactor of the treatise Giṭṭin is not the same as that of Keritot and Baba Batra." However, as these remarks refer to the final redaction of the Talmud, they do not touch upon the abstract unity of the work as emphasized above. It is sufficient to assume, therefore, that the final redaction of the several treatises was based on the versions used in the different academies. It may be postulated, on the whole, that the Palestinian Talmud received its present form at Tiberias, and the Babylonian Talmud at Sura (comp. the passages in Yerushalmi in which (image) [= "here"] refers to Tiberias, and those in Babli in which the same word denotes Sura [Lewy, l.c. p. 4]).

The chief data regarding the academies of Palestine and Babylon, whose activity resulted in the Talmud, have been set forth elsewhere (see Jew. Encyc. i. 145-148, s.v. Academies), so that here stress need be laid only on those events in the history of the two schools and of their teachers which are especially noteworthy in connection with the origin and the final redaction of the two Talmudim. It may be said, by way of preface, that the academies of Palestine and Babylon were in constant intercommunication, notwithstanding their geographical position. Many prominent Babylonian scholars settled permanently in Palestine, and many eminent Palestinians sojourned in Babylon for some time, or even for a considerable portion of their lives. In the second half of the third century Babylonian students sought the Palestinian schools with especial frequency, while many pupils of Johanan went during the same period to Babylon; and in the troublous days of the fourth century many Palestinian scholars sought refuge in the more quiet regions along the Euphrates. This uninterrupted association of scholars resulted in an active interchange of ideas between the schools, especially as the activity of both was devoted in the main to the study of the Mishnah. The Jerusalem Talmud accordingly contains a large number of sayings by Babylonian authorities, and Babli quotes a still larger number of sayings by Palestinian scholars in addition to the proceedings of the Palestinian academies, while it likewise devotes a very considerable space to the halakic and haggadic teachings of such Palestinian masters as Johanan, Simeon b. Laḳish, and Abbahu. Anonymous Palestinian sentences are quoted in Babli with the statement, "They say in the West"; and similar maxims of Babylonian origin are quoted in Yerushalmi in the name of "the scholars there." Both the Talmudim thus acquired more traits in common than they had formerly possessed despite their common foundation, while owing to the mass of material which Babli received from the schools of the Holy Land it was destined in a measure to supplant the Palestinian Talmud even in Palestine.

Activity of Jonah and Jose.

The history of the origin of Yerushalmi covers a period of two centuries. Its projector was Johanan, the great teacher of Tiberias, who, together with his pupils and contemporaries, some of them of considerable prominence, laid the foundations for the work which was continued by succeeding generations. The extreme importance of Johanan in the genesis of the Palestinian Talmud seems to have been the basis of the belief, which first found expression in the twelfth century, although it is certainly older in origin, that he was the author of Yerushalmi (see Frankel, "Mebo," p. 47b). As a matter of fact, however, almost a century and a half elapsed after the death of Johanan (279) before this Talmud received its present form, but it was approximated to this form, toward the end of the fourth century, by Jonah and Jose, the two directors of the Academy of Tiberias. Their joint halakic sentences, controversies, and divergent opinions on the utterances of their predecessors are scattered throughout Yerushalmi; but the conclusion that Jose redacted it twice, which has been drawn from certain statements in this Talmud, is incorrect (Frankel, l.c. p. 101a; Weiss, "Dor," iii. 113 et seq., 211; see Lewy, l.c. pp. 10, 17; Halevy, "Dorot ha-Rishonim," ii. 322). Jonah's son Mani, one of the scholars most frequently named in Yerushalmi, seems, after studying at Cæsarea, where noteworthy scholars were living in the fourth century, to have raised the school of Sepphoris to its highest plane; and a large number of the sayings of the "scholars of Cæsarea" was included in Yerushalmi (see "Monatsschrift," 1901, pp. 298-3l0). The only other halakist of importance among the Palestinian amoraim is Jose b. Abin (or Abun). According to Frankel (l.c. p. 102a), he occupied about the same position in regard to the redaction of Yerushalmi as was held by Ashi in regard to that of Babli (see also Weiss, l.c. iii. 117). The final redaction of the Talmud was reserved for the succeeding generation, probably because the activity of the Academy of Tiberias ceased with the discontinuance of the patriarchate (c. 425). This was the time during which Tanḥuma b. Abba (see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." iii. 502) made his collection and definite literary arrangement of the haggadic exegesis of the amoraic period.

The beginnings of the Babylonian Talmud are associated both with Nehardea, where the study of the tradition had flourished even before the close of the tannaitic period, and with Sura, where Rab founded a new academy which soon surpassed Nehardea in importance. Rab and Samuel, who respectively presided with equal distinction over the two schools, laid the foundation of the Babylonian Talmud through their comments on the Mishnah and their other teachings. Their views are frequently contrasted in the form of controversies; but on the other hand they are often mentioned as the common authors of sentences which were probably transmitted by certain pupils who had heard them from both masters. One of these pupils, Judah b. Ezekiel, when asked to explain some of the more obscure portions of the Mishnah, subsequently alluded plaintively to the "hawayyot" of Rab and Samuel, meaning thereby the questions and comments of the two masters on the entire Mishnah (Ber. 20a and parallels). In like manner, scholars of the fourth century spoke of the hawayot of Abaye and Raba, which formed, as it were, the quintessence of the Talmud, and which, according to an anachronistic addition to an old baraita, were even said to have been included in the branches of knowledge familiar to Johanan b. Zakkai (Suk. 28a; B. B. 134a).

Activity of Raba.

The pupils of Rab and Samuel, the leading amoraim of the second half of the third century—Huna, Ḥisda, Naḥman b. Jacob, Sheshet, and the Judah mentioned above, who is especially prominent as a transmitter of the sayings of his two teachers—added a mass of material to the Talmud; and the last-named founded the Academy of Pumbedita, where, as at Sura, the development of the Talmud was continued. Pumbedita was likewise the birth-place of that casuistic and hair-splitting method of interpreting and criticizing halakic passages which forms the special characteristic of the Babylonian Talmud, although the scholars of this academy devoted themselves also to the study of the collections of tannaitic traditions; and at the beginning of the fourth century the representatives of the two movements, "Sinai" Joseph and Rabbah, the "uprooter of mountains," succeeded their master Judah and became the directors of the school. Their sayings and controversies, together with the still more important dicta and debates of their pupils Abaye and Raba, form a considerable part of the material of the Talmud, which was greatly increased at the same time by the halakic and haggadic sentences brought from Palestine to Babylon. All the six orders of the Mishnah were then studied, as is statedby Raba (not Rabba; see Rabbinovicz, "Diḳduḳe Soferim," on Ta'anit, p. 144), although in Judah's time the lectures had been confined to the fourth order, or, according to the view of Weiss ("Dor," iii. 187), which is probably correct, to the first four orders (comp. Meg. 28b; Ta'an. 24a, b; Sanh. 106b; Raba's pupil Pappa expresses a similar view in Ber. 20a).

Rab's activity marks the culmination of the work on the Talmud. The time had now come when the preservation and arrangement of the material already collected were more important than further accretions. Naḥman b. Isaac, pupil and successor of Raba (d. 352), whom he survived but four years, expressed the task of the epigoni in the following words (Pes. 105b): "I am neither a sage nor a seer, nor even a scholar as contrasted with the majority. I am a transmitter ["gamrana"] and an arranger ["sadrana"]." The combination of the former term with the latter, which occurs only here, very concisely summarizes the activity of the redactor. It is clear that Naḥman b. Isaac actually engaged in this task from the fact that he is mentioned as the Babylonian amora who introduced Mnemonics ("simanim"), designed to facilitate the memorizing and grouping of Talmudic passages and the names of their authors. The mnemonics ascribed to him in the Talmud (see J. Brüll, "Die Mnemonotechnik des Talmuds," p. 21; Bacher, "Ag. Bab. Amor." p. 134), however, constitute only a very small part of the simanim included in the text of that work. These again form but a remnant of the entire mass of what N. Brüll ("Jahrb." ii. 60) terms the "mnemotechnic apparatus," of which only a portion was included in the printed text of the Talmud, although many others may be traced both in the manuscripts of the Talmud and in ancient citations (see N. Brüll, l.c. pp. 62 et seq., 118 et seq.). The material, to which the epigoni of the second half of the fourth century had added little, was now ready for its final redaction; and it was definitively edited by Ashi (d. 427), who during his long period of activity infused fresh life into the Academy of Sura. In view of his recognized authority, little was left for the two succeeding generations, except to round out the work, since another redaction was no longer possible. The work begun by Ashi was completed by Rabina (Abina), whose death in 499 marks, according to an ancient tradition, the end of the amoraic period and the completion of the redaction of the Talmud.

Committed to Writing.

The date at which the Talmud was committed to writing is purely conjectural. The work itself contains neither statements nor allusions to show that any complete or partial copy of the work redacted and completed by Ashi and Rabina had been made in their days; and the same lack of information characterizes both Yerushalmi and the Mishnah (the basis of both the Talmudim), as well as the other works of the tannaitic period. There are, however, allusions, although they are only sporadic, which show that the Halakah and the Haggadah were committed to writing; for copies were described as being in the possession of individual scholars, who were occasionally criticized for owning them. This censure was based on an interdiction issued in the third century, which forbade any one to commit the teachings of tradition to writing or to use a manuscript of such a character in lecturing (see Giṭ. 60a; Tem. 14b). Replying to the scholars of Kairwan, Sherira Gaon in his letter (ed. Neubauer, "M. J. C." i. 26) alludes to this prohibition as follows: "In answer to your question asking when the Mishnah and the Talmud were respectively committed to writing, it should be said that neither of them was thus transmitted, but both were arranged [redacted] orally; and the scholars believe it to be their duty to recite them from memory, and not from written copies." From the second part of this statement it is evident that even in Sherira's time the "scholars," a term here restricted to the members of the Babylonian academies, refrained from using written copies of the Talmud in their lectures, although they were sufficiently familiar with it to be able to recite it from memory. The statement that the exilarch Naṭronai (8th cent.), who emigrated to Spain, wrote a copy of the Talmud from memory (see Brüll, "Jahrb." ii. 51), would show that the scholars of the geonic period actually knew the work by heart. Although this statement is not altogether free from suspicion, it at least proves that it was believed to be within the powers of this exilarch to make a copy of the Talmud without having an original at hand. This passage also throws light upon the period of the development and redac tion of the Talmud, during which the ability to memorize the mass of material taught in the schools was developed to an extent which now transcends conception.

On the other hand, Sherira's statement shows that his denial of the existence of the Talmud and the Mishnah in written form was limited to an officially recognized redaction; for manuscripts of the kind mentioned by him were then current, as they had been in the geonic period, despite the interdiction; for they were used at least as aids to study, and without them the Talmud could not possibly have been memorized. In like manner, this prohibition, in the light of Sherira's words, does not preclude the existence of private copies of portions of the traditional literature, even in earlier times. The concealed rolls ("megillot setarim") with halakic comments which Rab found in the house of his uncle Ḥiyya (Shab. 6b; B. M. 92a), as well as the note-books (πίνακες) mentioned at the beginning of the amoraic period and in which such scholars as Levi b. Sisi, Joshua b. Levi, Ze'iri, and Ḥilfai or Ilfa (Shab. 156a; Yer. Ma'as. 49d, 60b; Men. 70a), entered sentences, some of them halakic in character, indicate that such personal copies were frequently used, while the written Haggadah is repeatedly mentioned. It may therefore be assumed that the Mishnah and other tannaitic traditional works were committed to writing as early as the time of the Amoraim. In like manner, there may have been copies of the amoraic comments on the Mishnah, as aids to the memory and to private study. In the early part of the fourth century Ze'era disputed the accuracy of the halakic tradition taught by the Babylonian amora Sheshet, and as he based his suspicions on Sheshet's blindness,he evidently believed that it was impossible for the Babylonian scholar to confirm and verify his knowledge by the use of written notes (see Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." iii. 4). When Ashi undertook the final redaction of the Talmud he evidently had at his disposal notes of this kind, although Brüll (l.c. p. 18) is probably correct in ascribing to Rabina the first complete written copy of the Talmud; Rabina had as collaborators many of the Saboraim, to whom an ancient and incontrovertible tradition assigns numerous additions to the Talmudic text.

No Formal Ratification.

When Rabina died a written text of the Talmud was already in existence, the material contributed by the Saboraim being merely additions; although in thus extending the text they simply continued what had been done since the first redaction of the Talmud by Ashi. The Saboraim, however, confined themselves to additions of a certain form which made no change whatsoever in the text as determined by them under the direction of Rabina (on these saboraic additions as well as on other accretions in Babli, see the statements by Brüll, l.c. pp. 69-86). Yet there is no allusion whatever to a formal sanction of the written text of the Talmud; for neither did such a ratification take place nor was a formal one at all necessary. The Babylonian academies, which produced the text in the course of 300 years, remained its guardians when it was reduced to writing; and it became authoritative in virtue of its acceptance by the successors of the Amoraim, as the Mishnah had been sanctioned by the latter and was made the chief subject of study, thus becoming a basis for halakic decisions. The traditions, however, underwent no further development; for the "horayot," or the independent exegesis of the Mishnah and the halakic decisions based on this exegesis, ceased with Ashi and Rabina, and thus with the completion of the Talmud, as is stated in the canon incorporated in the Talmud itself (B. M. 86a). The Mishnah, the basal work of halakic tradition, thenceforth shared its authority with the Talmud.

Among the Jews who came under the influence of western Arabic culture the belief that the Talmud (and the Mishnah) had been redacted orally was superseded by the view that the initial redaction itself had been in writing. This theory was first expressed by R. Nissim of Kairwan ("Mafteaḥ," p. 3b), although even before his time the question addressed, as already noted, to Sherira Gaon by the Jews of Kairwan had shown that they favored this view, and the gaon's response had received an interpolation postulating the written redaction of the Talmud.

The definitive redaction of the Babylonian Talmud marks a new epoch in the history of the Jewish people, in which the Talmud itself becomes the most important factor, both as the pivotal point of the development and the manifestation of the spirit of Judaism, and as a work of literature deeply influenced by the fortunes of those who cherished it as their palladium. On the internal history of Judaism the Talmud exerted a decisive influence as the recognized source for a knowledge of tradition and as the authoritative collection of the traditional religious doctrines which supplemented the Bible; indeed, this influence and the efforts which were made to escape from it, or to restrict it within certain limits, constitute the substance of the inner history of Judaism. The Babylonian academies, which had gradually become the central authority for the entire Jewish Diaspora, found their chief task in teaching the Talmud, on which they based the answers to the questions addressed to them. Thus was evolved a new science, the interpretation of the Talmud, which produced a literature of wide ramifications, and whose beginnings were the work of the Geonim themselves.

Influence of the Talmud.

The Talmud and its study spread from Babylon to Egypt, northern Africa, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, regions destined to become the abodes of the Jewish spirit; and in all these countries intellectual interest centered in the Talmud. The first great reaction against its supremacy was Karaism, which arose in the very strong-hold of the Geonim within two centuries after the completion of the Talmud. The movement thus initiated and the influence of Arabic culture were the two chief factors which aroused the dormant forces of Judaism and gave inspiration to the scientific pursuits to which the Jewish spirit owed many centuries of marvelous and fruitful activity. This activity, however, did not infringe in the least on the authority of the Talmud; for although it combined other ideals and intellectual aims with Talmudic study, which it enriched and perfected, the importance of that study was in no wise decried by those who devoted themselves to other fields of learning. Nor did the speculative treatment of the fundamental teachings of Judaism lower the position of the Talmud; for Maimonides, the greatest philosopher of religion of his time, was likewise the greatest student of the Talmud, on which work he endeavored to base his philosophic views. A dangerous internal enemy of the Talmud, however, arose in the Cabala during the thirteenth century; but it also had to share with the Talmud the supremacy to which it aspired.

During the decline of intellectual life among the Jews which began in the sixteenth century, the Talmud was regarded almost as the supreme authority by the majority of them; and in the same century eastern Europe, especially Poland, became the seat of its study. Even the Bible was relegated to a secondary place, and the Jewish schools devoted themselves almost exclusively to the Talmud; so that "study" became synonymous with "study of the Talmud." A reaction against the supremacy of the Talmud came with the appearance of Moses Mendelssohn and the intellectual regeneration of Judaism through its contact with the Gentile culture of the eighteenth century, the results of this struggle being a closer assimilation to European culture, the creation of a new science of Judaism, and the movements for religious reform. Despite the Karaite inclinations which frequently appeared in these movements, the great majority of the followers of Judaism clung to the principle, authoritatively maintained by the Talmud, that tradition supplements the Bible; and the Talmud itself retained tained its authority as the work embodying the traditions of the earliest post-Biblical period, when Judaism was molded. Modern culture, however, has gradually alienated from the study of the Talmud a number of Jews in the countries of progressive civilization, and it is now regarded by the most of them merely as one of the branches of Jewish theology, to which only a limited amount of time can be devoted, although it occupies a prominent place in the curricula of the rabbinical seminaries. On the whole Jewish learning has done full justice to the Talmud, many scholars of the nineteenth century having made noteworthy contributions to its history and textual criticism, and having constituted it the basis of historical and archeological researches. The study of the Talmud has even attracted the attention of non-Jewish scholars; and it has been included in the curricula of universities.

Edict of Justinian.

The external history of the Talmud reflects in part the history of Judaism persisting in a world of hostility and persecution. Almost at the very time that the Babylonian saboraim put the finishing touches to the redaction of the Talmud, the emperor Justinian issued his edict against the abolition of the Greek translation of the Bible in the service of the Synagogue, and also forbade the use of the δευτέρωσις, or traditional exposition of Scripture. This edict, dictated by Christian zeal and anti-Jewish feeling, was the prelude to attacks on the Talmud, conceived in the same spirit, and beginning in the thirteenth century in France, where Talmudic study was then flourishing. The charge against the Talmud brought by the convert Nicholas Donin led to the first public disputation between Jews and Christians and to the first burning of copies of the work (Paris, 1244). The Talmud was likewise the subject of a disputation at Barcelona in 1263 between Moses ben Naḥman and Pablo Christiani. In this controversy Naḥmanides asserted that the haggadic portions of the Talmud were merely "sermones," and therefore devoid of binding force; so that proofs deduced from them in support of Christian dogmas were invalid, even in case they were correct.

Attacks on the Talmud.

This same Pablo Christiani made an attack on the Talmud which resulted in a papal bull against it and in the first censorship, which was undertaken at Barcelona by a commission of Dominicans, who ordered the cancelation of passages reprehensible from a Christian point of view (1264). At the disputation of Tortosa in 1413, Geronimo de Santa Fé brought forward a number of accusations, including the fateful assertion that the condemnations of pagans and apostates found in the Talmud referred in reality to Christians. Two years later, Pope Martin V., who had convened this disputation, issued a bull (which was destined, however, to remain inoperative) forbidding the Jews to read the Talmud, and ordering the destruction of all copies of it. Far more important were the charges made in the early part of the sixteenth century by the convert Johann Pfefferkorn, the agent of the Dominicans. The result of these accusations was a struggle in which the emperor and the pope acted as judges, the advocate of the Jews being Johann Reuchlin, who was opposed by the obscurantists and the humanists; and this controversy, which was carried on for the most part by means of pamphlets, became the precursor of the Reformation. An unexpected result of this affair was the complete printed edition of the Babylonian Talmud issued in 1520 by Daniel Bomberg at Venice, under the protection of a papal privilege. Three years later, in 1523, Bomberg published the first edition of the Palestinian Talmud. After thirty years the Vatican, which had first permitted the Talmud to appear in print, undertook a campaign of destruction against it. On New-Year's Day (Sept. 9), 1553, the copies of the Talmud which had been confiscated in compliance with a decree of the Inquisition were burned at Rome; and similar burnings took place in other Italian cities, as at Cremona in 1559. The Censorship of the Talmud and other Hebrew works was introduced by a papal bull issued in 1554; five years later the Talmud was included in the first Index Expurgatorius; and Pope Pius IV. commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The first edition of the expurgated Talmud, on which most subsequent editions were based, appeared at Basel (1578-1581) with the omission of the entire treatise of 'Abodah Zarah and of passages considered inimical to Christianity, together with modifications of certain phrases. A fresh attack on the Talmud was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII. (1575-85), and in 1593 Clement VIII. renewed the old interdiction against reading or owning it. The increasing study of the Talmud in Poland led to the issue of a complete edition (Cracow, 1602-5), with a restoration of the original text; an edition containing, so far as known, only two treatises had previously been published at Lublin (1559-76). In 1707 some copies of the Talmud were confiscated in the province of Brandenburg, but were restored to their owners by command of Frederick, the first king of Prussia. The last attack on the Talmud took place in Poland in 1757, when Bishop Dembowski, at the instance of the Frankists, convened a public disputation at Kamenetz-Podolsk, and ordered all copies of the work found in his bishopric to be confiscated and burned by the hangman.

The external history of the Talmud includes also the literary attacks made upon it by Christian theologians after the Reformation, since these onslaughts on Judaism were directed primarily against that work, even though it was made a subject of study by the Christian theologians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1830, during a debate in the French Chamber of Peers regarding state recognition of the Jewish faith, Admiral Verhuell declared himself unable to forgive the Jews whom he had met during his travels throughout the world either for their refusal to recognize Jesus as the Messiah or for their possession of the Talmud. In the same year the Abbé Chiarini published at Paris a voluminous work entitled "Théorie du Judaïsme," in which he announced a translation of the Talmud, advocating for the first time a version which should make the work generally accessible, and thus serve for attacks on Judaism. In a like spirit modern anti-Semitic agitators have urged that a translation be made; and this demand has even been brought before legislative bodies, as in Vienna. The Talmud and the "Talmud Jew" thus became objects of anti-Semitic attacks, although, on the other hand, they were defended by many Christian students of the Talmud.

In consequence of the checkered fortunes of the Talmud, manuscripts of it are extremely rare; and the Babylonian Talmud is found entire only in a Munich codex (Hebrew MS. No. 95), completed in 1369, while a Florentine manuscript containing several treatises of the fourth and fifth orders dates from the year 1176. A number of Talmudic codices containing one or more tractates are extant in Rome, Oxford, Paris, Hamburg, and New York, while the treatise Sanhedrin, from Reuchlin's library, is in the grand-ducal library at Carlsruhe. In the introduction to vols. i., iv., viii., ix., and xi. of his "Diḳduḳe Soferim, Variæ Lectiones in Mischnam et in Talmud Babylonicum," which contains a mass of critical material bearing on the text of Babli, N. Rabbinovicz has described all the manuscripts of this Talmud known to him, and has collated the Munich manuscript with the printed editions, besides giving in his running notes a great number of readings collected with much skill and learning from other manuscripts and various ancient sources. Of this work, which is indispensable for the study of the Talmud, Rabbinovicz himself published fifteen volumes (Munich, 1868-86), containing the treatises of the first, second, and fourth orders, as well as two treatises (Zebaḥim and Menaḥot) of the fifth order. The sixteenth volume (Ḥullin) was published posthumously (completed by Ehrentreu, Przemysl, 1897). Of the Palestinian Talmud only one codex, now at Leyden, has been preserved, this being one of the manuscripts used for the editio princeps. Excepting this codex, only fragments and single treatises are extant. Recently (1904) Luncz discovered a portion of Yerushalmi in the Vatican Library, and Ratner has made valuable contributions to the history of the text in his scholia on Yerushalmi ("Sefer Ahabat Ẓiyyon we-Yerushalayim"), of which three volumes have thus far appeared, comprising Berakot, Shabbat, Terumot, and Ḥallah (Wilna, 1901, 1902, 1904).

Early Editions.

The first edition of Babli (1520) was preceded by a series of editions, some of them no longer extant, of single treatises published at Soncino and Pesaro by the Soncinos. The first to appear was Berakot (1488); this was followed by the twenty-three other tractates which, according to Gershon Soncino, were regularly studied in the yeshibot. The first edition by Bomberg was followed by two more (1531, 1548), while another was published at Venice by Giustiniani (1546-51), who added to Bomberg's supplements (such as Rashi and the Tosafot, which later were invariably appended to the text) other useful marginal glosses, including references to Biblical quotations and to parallel passages of the Talmud as well as to the ritual codices. At Sabbionetta in 1553, Joshua Boaz (d. 1557), the author of these marginalia, which subsequently were added to all editions of the Talmud, undertook a new and magnificent edition of the Talmud. Only a few treatises were completed, however; for the papal bull issued against the Talmud in the same year interrupted the work. As a result of the burning of thousands of copies of the Talmud in Italy, Joseph Jabez published a large number of treatises at Salonica (1563 et seq.) and Constantinople (1583 et seq.). The mutilated Basel edition (1578-81) and the two editions which first appeared in Poland have been mentioned above. The first Cracow edition (1602-5) was followed by a second (1616-20); while the first Lublin edition (1559 et seq.), which was incomplete, was followed by one giving the entire text (1617-39); this was adopted for the Amsterdam edition (1644-48), the partial basis of the edition of Frankfort-on-the-Oder (1697-99). Many useful addenda were made to the second Amsterdam edition (1714-19), which was the subject of an interesting lawsuit, and which was completed by the edition of Frankfort-on-the-Main (1720-22). This latter text has served as the basis of almost all the subsequent editions. Of these the most important are: Prague, 1728-39; Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Oder, 1734-39 (earlier ed. 1715-22); Amsterdam, 1752-65; Sulzbach, 1755-63, 1766-70; Vienna, 1791-1797, 1806-11, 1830-33, 1840-49, 1860-73; Dyhernfurth, 1800-4, 1816-21; Slawita, Russia, 1801-6, 1808-13, 1817-22; Prague, 1830-35, 1839-46; Wilna and Grodno, 1835-54; Czernowitz, 1840-49; Jitomir, 1858-64; Warsaw, 1859-64, 1863-67 et seq.; Wilna, 1859-66; Lemberg, 1860-65 et seq.; Berlin, 1862-68; Stettin, 1862 et seq. (incomplete). The edition of the Widow and Brothers Romm at Wilna (1886) is the largest as regards old and new commentaries, glosses, other addenda, and aids to study.

Two other editions of Yerushalmi have appeared in addition to the editio princeps (Venice, 1523 et seq.), which they closely follow in columniation—those of Cracow, 1609, and Krotoschin, 1866. A complete edition with commentary appeared at Jitomir in 1860-67. The latest edition is that of Piotrkow (1898-1900). There are also editions of single orders or treatises and their commentaries, especially noteworthy being Z. Frankel's edition of Berakot, Pe'ah, and Demai (Breslau, 1874-75).

"Variæ Lectiones" and Translations.

A critical edition of Babli has been proposed repeatedly, and a number of valuable contributions have been made, especially in the huge collections of variants by Rabbinovicz; but so far this work has not even been begun, although mention should be made of the interesting attempt by M. Friedmann, "Kritische Edition des Traktates Makkoth," in the "Verhandlungen des Siebenten Internationalen Orientalisten-Congresses, Semitische Section," pp. 1-78 (Vienna, 1888). Here the structure of the text is indicated by such external means as different type, sections, and punctuation. The edition of Yerushalmi announced by Luncz at Jerusalem promises a text of critical purity.

The earliest allusion to a translation of the Talmud is made by Abraham ibn Daud in his historical "Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah" (see Neubauer, "M. J. C." i. 69), who, referring to Joseph ibn Abitur (second half of 10th cent.), says: "He is the one who translatedthe entire Talmud into Arabic for the calif Al-Ḥakim." The tradition was therefore current among the Jews of Spain in the twelfth century that Ibn Abitur had translated the Talmud for this ruler of Cordova, who was especially noted for his large library, this tradition being analogous to the one current in Alexandria in antiquity with regard to the first Greek translation of the Bible. No trace, however, remains of Joseph Abitur's translation; and in all probability he translated merely detached portions for the calif, this work giving rise to the legend of his complete version. The need of a translation to render the contents of the Talmud more generally accessible, began to be felt by Christian theologians after the sixteenth century, and by Jewish circles in the nineteenth century. This gave rise to the translations of the Mishnah which have been noted elsewhere (see Jew. Encyc. viii. 618, s.v., Mishnah). In addition to the complete translations mentioned there, single treatises of the Mishnah have been rendered into Latin and into modern languages, a survey being given by Bischoff in his "Kritische Geschichte der Thalmud-Uebersetzungen," pp. 28-56 (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1899). Twenty treatises of Yerushalmi were translated into Latin by Blasio Ugolino in his "Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum," xvii. (1755), xxx. (1765); and the entire text of this Talmud was rendered into French by Moïse Schwab ("Le Talmud de Jérusalem," 11 vols., Paris, 1871-1889). The translation by Wünsche of the haggadic portions of Yerushalmi has already been mentioned; and an account of the translations of single portions is given by Bischoff (l.c. pp. 59 et seq.). In 1896 L. Goldschmidt began the translation of a German version of Babli, together with the text of Bomberg's first edition; and a number of volumes have already appeared (Berlin, 1898 et seq.). The insufficiency of this work apparently corresponds to the rapidity with which it is issued. In the same year M. L. Rodkinson undertook an abridged translation of the Babylonian Talmud into English, of which seven volumes appeared before the translator's death (1904); Rodkinson's point of view was quite unscholarly. Of translations of single treatises the following may be mentioned (see Bischoff, l.c. pp. 68-76): Earlier Latin translations: Ugolino, Zeḅaḥim, Menaḥot (in "Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum," xix.), Sanhedrin (ib. xxv.); G. E. Edzard, Berakot (Hamburg, 1713); F. B. Dachs, Sukkah (Utrecht, 1726). Noteworthy among the Jewish translators of the Talmud are M. Rawicz (Megillah, 1863; Rosh ha-Shanah, 1886; Sanhedrin, 1892; Ketubot, 1897); E. M. Pinner (Berakot, 1842, designed as the first volume of a translation of the entire Talmud); D. O. Straschun (Ta'anit, 1883); and Sammter (Baba Meẓi'a, 1876). Their translations are entirely in German. Translations published by Christian scholars in the nineteenth century: F. C. Ewald (a baptized Jew), 'Abodah Zarah (Nuremberg, 1856); in 1831 the Abbé Chiarini, mentioned above, published a French translation of Berakot; and in 1891 A. W. Streane prepared an English translation of Ḥagigah. A French version of several treatises is included in J. M. Rabbinovicz's works 'Législation Civile du Talmud" (5 vols., Paris, 1873-79) and "Législation Criminelle du Talmud" (ib. 1876), while Wünsche's translation of the haggadic portions of Babli (1886-89) has been mentioned above.

Function in Judaism.

To gain a comprehensive view of the Talmud it must be considered as a historical factor in Judaism as well as a literary production. In the latter aspect it is unique among the great masterpieces of the literatures of the world. In form a commentary, it became an encyclopedia of Jewish faith and scholarship, comprising whatsoever the greatest representatives of Judaism in Palestine and in Babylon had regarded as objects of study and investigation and of teaching and learning, during the three centuries which elapsed from the conclusion of the Mishnah to the completion of the Talmud itself. When the Mishnah, with the many ancient traditions to which it had given rise since the latter centuries of the Second Temple, was incorporated into the Talmud as its text-book, the Talmud became a record of the entire epoch which was represented by the Jewish schools of Palestine and Babylon, and which served as a stage of transition from the Biblical period to the later aspect of Judaism. Although the Talmud is an academic product and may be characterized in the main as a report (frequently with the accuracy of minutes) of the discussions of the schools, it also sheds a flood of light on the culture of the people outside the academies. The interrelation between the schools and daily life, and the fact that neither teachers nor pupils stood aloof from that life, but took part in it as judges, instructors, and expounders of the Law, caused the Talmud to represent even non-scholastic affairs with an abundance of minute details, and made it an important source for the history of civilization. Since, moreover, the religious law of the Jews dealt with all the circumstances of life, the Talmud discusses the most varied branches of human knowledge—astronomy and medicine, mathematics and law, anatomy and botany—thus furnishing valuable data for the history of science also.

The Talmud, furthermore, is unique from the point of view of literary history as being a product of literature based on oral tradition and yet summarizing the literature of an entire epoch. Aside from it, those to whose united efforts it may be ascribed have left no trace of intellectual activity. Though anonymous itself, the Talmud, like other products of tannaitic and amoraic literature, cites the names of many authors of sayings because it was a universal practise to memorize the name of the author together with the saying. Many of these scholars are credited with only a few sentences or with even but one, while to others are ascribed many hundreds of aphorisms, teachings, questions, and answers; and the representatives of Jewish tradition of those centuries, the Tannaim and the Amoraim, received an abundant compensation for their renunciation of the fame of authorship when tradition preserved their names together with their various expositions, and thus rescued even the least of them from oblivion. The peculiar form of the Talmud is due to the fact that it is composed almost entirely of individual sayings and discussions on them, this circumstance being a result of its origin: the fact that it sought especially to preserve the oral tradition and the transactions of the academies allowed the introduction only of the single sentences which represented the contributions of the teachers and scholars to the discussions. The preservation of the names of the authors of these apothegms, and of those who took part in the discussions, transactions, and disputations renders the Talmud the most important, and in many respects the only, source for the period of which it is the product. The sequence of generations which constitute the framework of the history of the Tannaim and Amoraim may be determined from the allusions contained in the Talmud, from the anecdotes and stories of the academies, and from other valuable literary material, which exhibit the historical conditions, events, and personages of the time, not excepting cases in which the facts have been clothed in the garb of legend or myth. Although it was undertaken with no distinctly literary purpose, it contains, especially in its haggadic portions, many passages which are noteworthy as literature, and which for many centuries were the sole repositories of Jewish poetry.

Its Authority.

After the completion of the Talmud as a work of literature, it exercised a twofold influence as a historical factor in the history of Judaism and its followers, not only in regard to the guidance and formulation of religious life and thought, but also with respect to the awakening and development of intellectual activity. As a document of religion the Talmud acquired that authority which was due to it as the written embodiment of the ancient tradition, and it fulfilled the task which the men of the Great Assembly set for the representatives of the tradition when they said, "Make a hedge for the Torah" (Ab. i. 2). Those who professed Judaism felt no doubt that the Talmud was equal to the Bible as a source of instruction and decision in problems of religion, and every effort to set forth religious teachings and duties was based on it; so that even the great systematic treatise of Maimonides, which was intended to supersede the Talmud, only led to a more thorough study of it. In like manner, the Shulḥan 'Aruk of Joseph Caro, which achieved greater practical results than the Mishneh Torah, of Maimonides, owed its authority to the fact that it was recognized as the most convenient codification of the teachings of the Talmud; while the treatises on the philosophy of religion which strove as early as the time of Saadia to harmonize the truths of Judaism with the results of independent thinking referred in all possible cases to the authority of the Talmud, upon which they could easily draw for a confirmation of their theses and arguments. The wealth of moral instruction contained in the Talmud exercised a profound influence upon the ethics and ideals of Judaism. Despite all this, however, the authority enjoyed by it did not lessen the authority of the Bible, which continued to exercise its influence as the primal source of religious and ethical instruction and edification even while the Talmud ruled supreme over religious practise, preserving and fostering in the Diaspora, for many centuries and under most unfavorable external conditions, the spirit of deep religion and strict morality.

The history of Jewish literature since the completion of the Talmud has been a witness to its importance in awakening and stimulating intellectual activity among the Jews. The Talmud has been made the subject or the starting-point of a large portion of this widely ramified literature, which has been the product of the intellectual activity induced by its study, and to which both scholars in the technical sense of the word and also a large number of the studious Jewish laity have contributed. The same faculties which had been exercised in the composition of the Talmud were requisite also for the study of it; the Talmud therefore had an exceedingly stimulating influence upon the intellectual powers of the Jewish people, which were then directed toward other departments of knowledge. It is a noteworthy fact that the study of the Talmud gradually became a religious duty, and thus developed into an intellectual activity having no ulterior object in view. Consequently it formed a model of study for the sake of study.

The Talmud has not yet entirely lost its twofold importance as a historical factor within Judaism, despite the changes which have taken place during the last century. For the majority of Jews it is still the supreme authority in religion; and, as noted above, although it is rarely an object of study on the part of those who have assimilated modern culture, it is still a subject of investigation for Jewish learning, as a product of Judaism which yet exerts an influence second in importance only to the Bible.

The following works of traditional literature not belonging to the Talmud have been included in the editions of Babli: Abot de-Rabbi Natan; Derek Ereẓ Rabbah; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa; Kallah; Semaḥot; Soferim.

Bibliography: The manuscripts, editions, and translations have been discussed in the article. For an introduction to the Talmud the following works may be mentioned in addition to the general ones on Jewish history: Weiss, Dor, iii.; Halevy, Dorot ha-Rishonim, ii., Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1901; H. L. Strack, Einleitung in den Talmud, 2d ed., Leipsic, 1894 (covers the Mishnah also and contains an extensive bibliography of the Talmud); M. Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud, Cincinnati (also gives good bibliography of the Talmud; the second part of this work contains a clear discussion of the hermeneutics and the methodology of the Talmud). On the Palestinian Talmud: Z. Frankel, Mebo, Breslau, 1870; J. Wiener, Gib'at Yerushalayim, Vienna, 1872 (reprinted from Ha-Shaḥar); A. Geiger, Die Jerusalemische Gemara, in his Jüd. Zeit. 1870, pp. 278-306 (comp. Monatsschrift, 1871, pp. 120-137); I. Lewy, Interpretation des Ersten Abschnitts des Palästinischen Talmud-Traktates Nesikin, in Breslauer Jahresbericht, 1895, pp. 1-19. On the Babylonian Talmud: Z. Frankel, Beiträge zur Einleitung in den Talmud, in Monatsschrift, 1861, pp. 168-194, 205-212, 258-272; N. Brüll, Die Entstehungsgeschichte des Babylonischen Talmuds als Schriftwerkes, in his Jahrb. 1876, ii. 1-123. On the earlier works introductory to the Talmud: J. H. Weiss, in Bet Talmud, i., ii., Vienna, 1881, 1882; Samuel b. Hophni, Madkhal ila 'al-Talmud (= "Introduction to the Talmud"; this is the earliest work bearing the title and is known only through a quotation in the lexicon of Ibn Janaḥ, s.v. (image) ); Samuel ha-Nagid, Mebo ha-Talmud (forming an appendix to the first volume of modern editions of the Talmud); Joseph ibn 'Aḳnin, an introduction to the Talmud (Hebr. transl. from the Arabic), edited in the Jubelschrift des Breslauer Seminars zum Siebzigen Geburtstage Frankels, 1871.

For other works on the subject see Talmud Hermeneutics;

a list is given in Jellinek, Ḳonṭres ha-Kelalim, Vienna, 1878. General articles on the Talmud in reviews and encyclopedias: Emil Deutsch, in Quarterly Review, 1867, frequently reprinted and translated; J. Derenbourg, in Lichtenberg's Encyclopédie des Sciences Religieuses, 1882, xii. 1007-1036; Arsène Darmesteter, in R. E. J. xviii. (Actes et Conferences, pp. ccclxxxi.-dcxlii.); S. Schechter, in Hastings, Dict. Bible, extra vol., 1904, pp. 57-66; E. Bischoff, Talmud-Katechismus, Leipsic, 1904.

On the literature of the Talmud commentaries see Talmud Commentaries. On grammatical and lexicographical aids to the study of the Talmud see Jew. Encyc. vi.80, s.v. Grammar, Hebrew, and ib. iv. 580-585, s.v. Dictionaries, Hebrew.

On the terminology of the Talmud see, in addition to the works on Talmudic methodology: A. Stein, Talmudische Terminologie, Alphabetisch Geordnet, Prague, 1869; W. Bacher, Die Exegetische Terminologie der Jüdischen Traditionslitteratur: part i., Die Bibelexegetische Terminologie der Tannaiten, Leipsic, 1899 (original title, Die Aelteste Terminologie der Jüdischen Schriftauslegung); part ii., Die Bibel- und Traditionsexegetische Terminologie der Amoräer, ib. 1905.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.


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