For Out of Babylonia Shall Come Torah and the Word of the Lord from Nehar Peqod

The Quest for Babylonian Tannaitic Traditions


In For Out of Babylonia Shall Come Torah and the Word of the Lord from Nehar Peqod, Barak S. Cohen reevaluates the evidence in Tannaitic and Amoraic literature of an independent “Babylonian Mishnah” which originated in the proto-talmudic period. The book focuses on an analysis of the most notable halakhic corpora that have been identified by scholars as originating in the Tannaitic period or at the outset of the amoraic. If indeed such an early corpus did exist, what are its characteristics and what, if any, connection does it have with the parallel Palestinian collections? Was this Babylonian Mishnah created in order to harmonize the Palestinian Mishnah with a corpus of rabbinic teachings already existent in Babylonia?
Was this corpus one of the main contributors to the forced interpretations and resolutions found so frequently in the Bavli?
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Biographical Note

Barak S. Cohen, Ph.D. (2004) in Talmud and Rabbinics, is a senior lecturer at the Department of Talmud, Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University. He has published extensively on the intellectual history, chronology and historiography of the Babylonian Amoraim. His previous book, The Legal Methodology of Late Nehardean Sages in Sasanian Babylonia, was published in 2011.

Table of contents


1 Introduction: A Reassesment of the Existence of Babylonian Tannaitic Traditions
 “Babylonian Mishnah,” “Babylonian Baraitot,” and “Amoraic Baraitot”
 The Significance of the Study of Early Babylonian Traditions
 The Halakhic Corpora Discussed in This Study
 History of Scholarship
   Introductory Terms
   Baraitot Which Interpret, Expand, or Add to the Mishnah
   A Brief and Anonymous Formulation, without Attribution to Tannaim
   The Absence of a Parallel in Palestinian Tannaitic Literature
   The Relationship between Baraitot and Amoraic Memrot
   Late Insertions of Halakhot and Interpretations into Earlier Baraitot
   The Names of Sages and Their Geographical Location
 Findings and Conclusions
   The Origin and Nature of Halakha in Babylonia during the Second-Third Centuries
   The Historical Reliability of Attributions
   The Literary Contribution of Babylonian Sages from the Pre-talmudic Period

2 In Quest of Babylonian Halakha in Tannaitic Compositions
 Babylonian Rabbinic Traditions in the Proto-talmudic Era: A History of Scholarship
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: A Survey of the Main Evidence Presented by Scholars as Proof for the Existence of “Babylonian Halakhot” from the Mishnaic Period
 Circumstancial Evidence
 Sources in the Babylonian Talmud
   b. Sukkah 20a
   b. Pesaḥ. 109a
   b. Git. 14b = b. Ketub. 94b
   b. B. Bat. 7b
   b. Beṣah 34b
   b. Šabb. 6b = Šabb. 96b
   b. Ḥul. 63b
   b. Beṣah 6a
   b. Nid. 14a
   b. Šabb. 35b
   b. Git. 65b
 Sources in the Palestinian Talmud
   y. Ḥal. 4:4 (60a)
   y. Ta’an. 1:1 (63d) = b. Ta’an. 10a
   y. Sanh. 8:4 (26b) = y. Soṭah 4:12 (19c) = Sifre Deut. 118 (ed. Finkelstein, p. 251)
   y. Sanh. 1:3 (19a) = y. Ned. 6:8 (40a) = b. Ber. 63a-b
   y. Šabb. 5:4 (7c) = y. Beṣah 2:8 (61c)
   y. Qidd. 3:5 (64a) = b. Git. 14a
 Midrashic Sources
   Genesis Rabbah 33:3 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 306)
   Midrash Psalms 104:22 (ed. Buber, p. 446)
 The Gaonic Evidence: R Sherira Gaon
   R. Sherira Gaon, Epistle of R. Sherira Gaon, p 40

3 The Legal Traditions of Avuha-De-Shmuel
 Early Babylonian Halakhic Traditions?
 His Halakhic Rulings
 His Commentary on and Emendation of Tannaitic Sources
 Avuha De-Shmuel’s Customs
 Summary and Conclusions

4 The Legal Traditions of R. Shila
 The Problem of His Identification
 Passages in Which R. Shila’s Identity is Certain
 Doubtful Appearances of R. Shila in the Talmuds
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: Traditions Ascribed to R. Shila in the Talmuds and Their Parallels in Palestinian Tannaitic Literature
 Appearances Included in This Study
   Certain Appearances
   Doubtful Appearances
 Appearances Not Included in This Study
   Doubtful Appearances in Mss
   The Tanna, R. Shila
   A Late Aggadic Story
   “Of the House of R. Shila (“ד]בי[ת] רב שילא]”)

5 Levi’s Baraitot: Tannei Levi, Tanna D’bei Levi
 Previous Scholarship
 Baraitot Which Interpret, Expand, or Add to the Mishnah
 Analysis of Sugyot
 Laws Related to Topics Not Covered by the Mishnah
 Baraitot That Differ from the Mishnah or Dispute It
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: A List of All Levi’s Baraitot and Their Parallels in Rabbinic Literature
 Babylonian Talmud
 Palestinian Talmud

6 Shmuel’s Baraitot: Tanna D’Bei Shmuel, Tannei Shmuel
 Previous Scholarship
 Analysis of Sugyot
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: Shmuel’s Attitude towards the Tanna D’Bei Shmuel Baraitot

7 “They Teach There” (“תניי תמן”): “Babylonian Baraitot” in the Palestinian Talmud
 Re-evaluating Previous Research: Early Babylonian Halakhic Traditions?
 Analysis of Sugyot
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: The Halakhot Transmitted in the “They Teach There” (“תניי תמן”) Baraitot in the Palestinian Talmud and Their Parallels in Tannaitic Literature

8 The Tannei Tanna Kameh Baraitot
 Interpretations and Expansions of the Mishnah
 Baraitot Containing Amoraic Additions
 Baraitot That Were Rejected or Emended
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix A: A Detailed List of Halakhot Found in ttk Baraitot and Their Parallels in Tannaitic Literature
 Babylonian Talmud
 Palestinian Talmud
Appendix B: ttk Baraitot in the Babylonian Talmud Without an Amoraic Response

9 Shmuel: A Model of Halakhic Consistency
 The State of Scholarship: An Evaluation
 A New Appraisal of Shmuel’s Halakhic Methodology Shmuel Rules According to the More Lenient Opinion
 Adopting the Opinion of “Babylonian Tannaim”
 Summary and Conclusions
Appendix A: Halakhic Rulings in the Two Talmuds Issued by Shmuel Using the Term “Halakha” or “Hilkheta” (“הלכה”/“הלכתא”) and the Names of the Amoraim Who Transmitted Them
 Babylonian Talmud
 Palestinian Talmud
Appendix B: Decisions Made by Shmuel Which Accord with the More Lenient Tanna
 Babylonian Talmud
 Palestinian Talmud
 Uncertain Cases



All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Late Antiquity and Jewish law.

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