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The Babylonian Talmud

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Chapter Summary

The study of the literary character of the Babylonian Talmud, shows refined selectivity in its editing, an intricate but highly systematic pattern of presentation, and a wonderful integration of seemingly different topics. Midrashic tradition places the beginnings of Jewish learning in Babylonia as early as the exile of Jehoiachin, eleven years before the destruction of the First Temple. Babylonia had more than one learning center. This chapter gives us a fair conception of the great measure of independence towards the Mishna which is shown by the Babylonian Talmud in its full development. The same can be said with regard to its approach to the Tosefta, the baraitot and the Palestinian Talmud. The percentage of aggada in the Babylonian Talmud, is much higher than in the Palestinian Talmud. The basic literary unit of the Babylonian Talmud is the sugya, which literally means 'course', 'lesson'.

Keywords: aggada; Babylonian Talmud; baraitot; Halakhic Tradition; Jewish learning; Mishna; Palestinian Talmud; sugya; Tosefta

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