The History and the Future of the Talmudic Text (Classic Reprint)by Marcus Jastrow
For convenience sake we call this second element of the Talmud, Agadali (Talk). There you meet serious and often ingenious Bible exegesis, alongside of sportive plays on words and shrewd scholastic sophistry; grave History and her charming little sisters, Anecdote and Legend; Medicine and her parents,
Excerpt from The History and the Future of the Talmudic Text
For convenience sake we call this second element of the Talmud, Agadali (Talk). There you meet serious and often ingenious Bible exegesis, alongside of sportive plays on words and shrewd scholastic sophistry; grave History and her charming little sisters, Anecdote and Legend; Medicine and her parents, Magic and Superstition; Astronomy and her older companion, Astrology; Metaphysics and her next-door neighbor, Mysticism, and - I regret that I have nothing but an cl cetera for the rest of the thoughts and things contained in that store-house called the Agadah.
All these productions of the Jewish mind of eight centuries were stored in the national memory for ages and ages. The traditions were taught orally in schools and academies, the notes taken down now and then by individual scholars having no value beyond that of mnemonic guides to the student writing them. At last the time was considered ripe to reduce these verbal communications to writing, and to edit them in the form in which they appear in the Mishnah and Gemarah respectively. Thus was created a store-house wherein the ages could lay down their productions, or at least specimens thereof, protected from the storms of political changes and the ravages of time.
When speaking generally of the Gemara, we mean the collection of post-Mishnic discussions which had their origin in, or were brought to, the Babylonian academies, especially those of Sura and Pumbeditha.
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