Formation of the Talmud
According to Schiffman (1952), the Talmud is the climax of a long process of transmission and study of Jewish traditions pertaining to virtually every aspect of life. It is an embodiment of an entire creative process that traditionally begun in the period of Ezra the Scribe and ended not earlier than the close of the Middle Ages (Unterman, 1952). Mishnah is the core of the Talmud. Mishnah is an earlier Jewish code of law or curriculum for the study of the law that was redacted in about 200 C.E. by Rabbi Judah the Prince. Both Talmuds, the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud, grew up around the Mishnah. Unterman (1952) observes that the Jerusalem Talmud was primarily formed from the activity of sages of Sepphoris and Tiberias, with some input coming from the sages of Lydda and the coastal plain of Caeseria. The reason for this emergence was that Jews under Rome and Byzantium were prohibited from living in the holy city itself, and so the Jewish population centers shifted northwards. The Babylonian Talmud was produced by circles if Babylonian amoraim who were led in each generation by masters whose schools constituted the center of amoraic activity.
Basic Contents of the Talmud and Their Relation to the Torah
The Talmud is not in itself a book. Basically, it is a compilation of oral law (the Mishnah) and rabbinical commentaries (the Gemorrah) (Neusner, 2011). It forms the basis for all rabbinic law codes. The Mishnah is the final canonization of the oral doctrine and is an earlier Jewish code of law while the Gemorrah is the continued teachings and commentaries by Rabbis (Unterman, 1952). So how is the Talmud related to the Torah? The Torah is the Hebrew Bible and contains written laws and text given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. However, Jews believe that there was also an oral law that was given to Moses that provided details of information that was not in the written text (Rich, 2011). This oral law was the Talmud and is what is known as the Oral Torah.
Neusner, J. (2011, September 15) The Formation of the Oral Torah. My Jewish Learning, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Rabbinics/Talmud/Gemara/Formation_of_Oral_ Torah.shtml#.UXGJZUozeho
Rich, R.T. (2011) Torah. Judaism 101, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htm
Schiffman, L.H. (1994) The Making of the Mishnah and the Talmud. New York: Yeshiva University Museum.
Unterman, I. (1952) The Talmud: An Analysis of its History and Context. New York: Bloch Publishing House.