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Judaism /
Hebrew: talmud

A Jerusalemian Talmud.
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A Jerusalemian Talmud.

Inside a Talmud.
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Photo: Chajm Guski.

Hebrew for 'study'. Talmud are the accumulated oral traditions of theological strivings inside the Jewish community through some centuries, now found in written form.
There are two versions of the Talmud, one compiled in Babylonia, and one in Palestine. The efforts of writing them down took place between the 3rd century and the 6th CE. The Babylonian Talmud was written down in East Aramaic language, but has passages in Hebrew. The Palestinian was written in West Aramaic language but has many words from Greek. While the Babylonian consists of about 6,000 pages, there are only around 2,000 in the Palestinian. The Babylonian Talmud became authoritative, as the Jewish community here outlived the Palestinian both in time and in strength.
Talmud has two parts. The first, Mishnah was written down as early as around 200 CE. But as the traditions continued, much because of the need to explain the content of Mishnah, new writings came along. These were collected in Gemara, the other part of Talmud.
The content of the Talmud are divided into two groups: Halacha and Haggada. Halacha deals with legal questions and decisions, while Haggada contain material that illustrate the law questions.
The contents of Talmud are both judicial subjects as well as stories. The shape of the judicial content are often discussions, where all opinions are written down, as well as the conclusion of the discussions. This means that even the standpoints that lost the discussions, have been preserved.

By Tore Kjeilen