“Formidable in size, written in a difficult Aramaic, elusive in many of its discussions, the Talmud has long been an enigma to many. Can the average reader get some idea of what this vast literature is all about, of the men who produced it, of the ideas which inspired them? Can we open a window to permit the modern reader to behold the world of the Talmud, its culture, its way of life?”
An excellent and highly readable introduction to the Talmud for contemporary readers.
The literature of the Talmud represents approximately a thousand years of Jewish thought. Its foundations were laid by the work of Ezra during the middle of the forth century B.C.E, in the community of the returned exiles from Babylonia, who inaugurated the second Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. Its period of greatest productivity came in the centuries that followed the disastrous Jewish war against Rome in 70 C.E. The Talmud is not an independent literature however. It proceeds instead as a supplement to the Bible. The Bible remained the fundamental source of belief and practice in Judaism, but the Talmud was its authoritative exposition and implementation.
The position of the Talmud in Jewish life has been paramount. It was studied zealously by young and old alike, who found in it the authoritative word concerning the true meaning of Scripture. The lighter side of the Talmud, its parables, its ethical aphorisms, its legendary tales, delighted the common people. The more serious side, the subtle discussions of law, were a welcome outlet for the intellectual interests of the learned.
THE TALMUD AS LITERATURE
THE FORERUNNERS OF THE TALMUD
THE TALMUD IN ITS HISTORICAL SETTING
THE THEOLOGICAL ELEMENTS IN THE TALMUD
SOCIAL ETHICS IN THE TALMUD
PERSONAL MORALITY IN THE TALMUD
THE JURISPRUDENCE OF THE TALMUD
HUMAN WISDOM IN THE TALMUD