The Talmud


In Judaism, the Jewish people have two primary religious texts:

The Written Law - The Torah, or Pentateuch also known as the first five books of the bible, written by Moses before 1200 b.c.

The Oral Law - The Talmud - Which was orally passed down according to tradition from Moses time through the Rabbis and eventually was recorded into texts between 200 a.d and 500 a.d.

The Talmud is the primary source of the Rabbis religious law (Halakha) and theology. It remains the central piece of the Jewish culture and bases for their religious ideology. There two version of the Talmud, the Jerusalem Version and Babylonian Version.

Structure of the Talmud

The structure of the Talmud follows the Mishnah, which is the first compiled work of the oral law. From there various interpretations, exegesis and debates emerge over interpretation, meaning and purpose of various subjects and verses in the Mishnah.

Mishnah - compiled 200 c.e. - was the first major work of rabbinic literature, it documents the multiplicity of legal opinions in the oral tradition. The tannaim where the Rabbinic sages who recorded their views into the Mishnah.

  • The Mishnah is further divided into 6 major subjects:

    • Zeraim - The Seeds

    • Moed - The Festivals

    • Nashim - Women

    • Nezikin - Damages

    • Kodashim - Holies

    • Tohorot - Purities

The Gemara - 500 c.e - The second major part of the Talmud is the Gemara. Rabbis in Palestine discussed the Mishnah and the Tannaim and their debates are recorded in the Gemara. It mostly contains legal analysis and contains statements about the approach to the biblical exegesis.

The Baraita - this included additional tannaitic teachings shortly after the mishnah was complied. The Gemara refers to the tannaitic in comparison to the Mishnah.

References - Tanakh, Talmud and other Jewish texts and literature sources - Ancient Jewish history by category.