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Tradition and the Formation of the Talmud$
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Moulie Vidas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154862

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154862.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Tradition and the Formation of the Talmud

Moulie Vidas

Princeton University Press

This book examines compositional practices, historical developments, and passages that reveal the way the creators of the Babylonian Talmud (or Bavli) conceived themselves. It complements the continuous creative revision with a freezing of tradition and its containment in a way that produces discontinuity; it complements the fusing of horizons with a literary design that foregrounds one horizon from another. Part I of the book explores the Talmud's literary practice through a close analysis of selected passages, or sugyot. Part II focuses on the Talmud's creators‘ rhetoric of self-presentation and self-definition, arguing that they defined themselves in opposition to those who focused on the transmission of tradition, and that the opposition and hierarchy they created between scholars and transmitters allows us both to understand better the way they conceived of their project as well as to see this project as part of a debate about sacred texts within the Jewish community and more broadly in late ancient Mesopotamia.

Keywords:   composition, Babylonian Talmud, discontinuity, literary design, sugyot, self-presentation, self-definition, tradition, sacred texts, Mesopotamia

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