Thursday, January 26, 2017

Secunda on the Babylonian Talmud as an oral library

SHAI SECUNDA: Why the Talmud is the Only Rabbinic Work from Babylonia. The Babylonian Talmud as an Oral Library for Rabbinic Collections (
Rabbinic Compilations in Late Antiquity:
Palestine vs. Babylonia

In late antiquity, rabbinic Jewry was divided into two centers: Galilee and Babylonia. It is surprising that only one rabbinic work, the Babylonian Talmud, was produced in late antique Babylonia, while numerous compilations, including the Mishnah and the Tosefta, several Midrashei Halakha as well as Midrashei Aggadah, were compiled in Roman Palestine. How might we explain this disparity?

According to Professor Secunda, the Babylonian Talmud was orally transmitted, and not written down, all the way through the Geonic period, i.e., through the tenth century C.E. I mentioned this idea awhile ago and got some skeptical e-mail about it. Professer Secunda, who is a specialist in Talmud, explains some of his reasoning in this essay.