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Designing The Talmud: The Origins Of The Printed Talmudic Page

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Chapter Summary

The Talmud is indisputably the most important and influential non-biblical Jewish work. Its redaction was completed at the end of the fifth century and the most important commentaries were written in the middle ages. Studied without interruption for a millennium and a half, it is surprising just how significant an effect the invention of printing, a relatively late occurrence, had upon the Talmud. Codices of the Talmud were customarily written without any commentaries, those being separate books, although later manuscripts not infrequently include Rashi. The Talmud, unlike many works which are little changed in their printed forms from their manuscript predecessors, was physically transformed by printing. The first dated Hebrew book to be printed was Rashi's commentary on the Torah, completed on 10 Adar, 5235 in Reggio di Calabria. By the beginning of the eighteenth century the layout of the Talmudic page and its foliation appeared to be settled.

Keywords: Hebrew printing; middle ages; Talmudic page; Torah



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