The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud

The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud


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The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud by David Weiss Halivni

David Weiss Halivni's The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud, originally published in Hebrew and here translated by Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, 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 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. They 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-Talmudic 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 L. Rubenstein.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199739882
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/14/2013
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,102,594
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

David Weiss Halivni was ordained in 1943 as rabbi at the yeshivah of Sighet, Romania, at the age of fifteen. When his town was seized by the Germans in March 1944, he was sent first to Auschwitz, and then to the Wolfsberg and Ebensee (Mauthausen) concentration camps. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Professor Halivni became a naturalized US citizen in 1952. He received his doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1958. He has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Columbia University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, and Harvard Law School.

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is the Skirball Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Literature in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies of New York University. He received his Ph. D. from the Department of Religion of Columbia University. His books include The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods (1995); Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition and Culture (1999), The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud (2003), and most recently, Stories of the Babylonian Talmud (2010). Dr. Rubenstein has written numerous articles on the Jewish festivals, Talmudic stories, the development of Jewish law, and topics in Jewish liturgy and ethics.

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