Reconstructing the Talmud : An Introduction to the Academic Study of Rabbinic Literature
Dr Joshua Kulp
The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli) is a symphony of hundreds of voices, including legal rulings, folklore, biblical interpretations, and rabbinic legends. Each of these voices was originally issued in a distinct generation but was only captured and frozen in time by the Talmud s editors, who lived during the fifth through seventh centuries C.E. Reconstructing the Talmud introduces the modern Talmud student to the techniques developed over the last century for uncovering how this literature developed. Opening with an extended introduction outlining the methods employed by scholars to engage in such analysis, Reconstructing the Talmud proceeds with nine examples concretely demonstrating how such methods are applied to actual passages from the Bavli. Sorting out the layers of the Bavli, understanding each layer within its cultural and historical context, and comparing it with earlier sources, reveals a dynamic world of change, debate, halakhic diversity and development far richer and more nuanced than that which is evident in the static and fixed text of the printed edition. Reconstructing the Talmud introduces the reader to the world of academic Talmudic research and opens new venues of exploration and understanding of one of the world's great literary treasures.
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