The Talmud: A Selection. London: Penguin Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-141-44178-8

The Talmud There are several single-volume selections from or introductions to Talmud on the market. Why is this one different from all the others?

  1. Unlike other selections, which focus on some aspect or rearrange material to suit the editor or author’s purposes, this selection follows the agenda of the Talmud itself. You will find at least something from each of the sixty-odd tractates, in order, and in Six Parts according to the original division into Six Orders. It is, in other words, a ‘Talmud in Miniature’.
  2. A major problem in reading the original is that you never know whether you are reading a citation from the Bible, from the early rabbis (Tannaim), or from the late ones (Amoraim) who discuss the earlier material. In this translation each is represented by a different typeface, making it easy to follow the historical sequence.
  3. The diffuse nature of much Talmudic argument can confuse the reader. The basic argument is usually straightforward, but may be interrupted by some digression, then a digression from that digression, and perhaps further digressions or comments. Through the judicious use of indents the reader is able to see exactly how the main argument progresses.
  4. The work is designed to afford the reader a flavour of traditional Talmudic study, while drawing on the resources of modern scholarship to place the material in its historical context.
  5. As well as a scholarly Introduction the text is supplemented with maps, tables of festivals, of coins, weights and measures, of books of the Bible and other matters, and has a full Glossary, Index and Bibliography.

It is tailor-made for the student who is new to Talmud, and will throw up a lot of surprises and new perspectives even for the veteran Talmudic student.