The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud

The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud


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Jeffrey L. Rubenstein offers a translation from the Hebrew of The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud by David Weiss Halivni. Halivni's work is widely regarded as the most comprehensive scholarly examination of the processes of composition and editing of the Babylonian Talmud. Halivni presents the summation of a lifetime of scholarship and the conclusions of his multivolume Talmudic commentary, Sources and Traditions (Meqorot umesorot). Arguing against the traditional view that the Talmud was composed c. 450 CE by the last of the named sages in the Talmud, the Amoraim, Halivni proposes that its formation took place over a much longer period of time, not reaching its final form until about 750 CE. The Talmud consists of many literary strata or layers, with later layers constantly commenting upon and reinterpreting earlier layers. The later layers differ qualitatively from the earlier layers, and were composed by anonymous sages whom Halivni calls Stammaim. These sages were the true author-editors of the Talmud, who reconstructed the reasons underpinning earlier rulings, created the dialectical argumentation characteristic of the Talmud, and formulated the literary units that make up the Talmudic text. Halivni also discusses the history and development of rabbinic tradition from the Mishnah through the post-Talmud legal codes, the types of dialectical analysis found in the different rabbinic works, and the roles of reciters, transmitters, compilers, and editors in the composition of the Talmud. This volume contains an introduction and annotations by Jeffrey Rubenstein.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 32mm | 599.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199739889
  • 9780199739882
  • 714,227

Review quote

Rubenstein's translation and editing make this classic work of rabbinic scholarship available for study in English-speaking academic contexts. The book can be highly recommended for advanced students and scholars of rabbinic literature who are reasonably familiar with the Babylonian Talmud itself. Catherine Hezser, Journal of Jewish Studies

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About David Weiss Halivni

DWH: Professor Emeritus of Classical Jewish Civilization, Columbia University. JLR: Skirball Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Literature, New York University.

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Table of contents

Biography of David Weiss Halivni ; Translation Conventions ; Abbreviations ; Introduction by Jeffrey L. Rubenstein ; Preface ; I: The Stammaim ; II: The Editing of the Talmud ; III: Apodictic Transmission and Dialectical Argumentation ; IV: Compilers and Transposers ; V: Postscript ; Notes ; Annotations ; Selected Bibliography ; General Index ; Source Index

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