Notes for Religious Studies 369:

Introduction to Judaism

The Oral Torah

The First Page of the Mishnah
according to the Kaufmann Manuscript
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
Names of teachers are highlighted in yellow
The first chapter of Pirke Avot according to the Kaufmann Manuscript

Transition from Pharisees to Rabbis

Transmission of (Oral) Torah according to the "Chapters of the Fathers" (Pirke Avot:

Year (C.E.)

Historical Events

Name of Rabbinic Period

Works of Rabbinic Literature

c. 50

Limited autonomy under Roman rule


Mishnah (halakhic)
Halakhic Midrash


Destruction of Second Temple

(Yavneh [=Jamnia]: Restoration of Jewish Religious Life.)


Bar Kokhba Revolt

(Usha: Transfer of religious centre from Judea to Galilee









c. 220


Start of Amoraic era

Palestinian ("Jerusalem") Talmud, Aggadic Midrash

c. 400


End of Amoraic era in the Land of Israel

c. 500


End of Amoraic era in Babylonia

Babylonian Talmud

The Principal Genres of Rabbinic Literature:


Halakhah (Law)

Aggadah [=Haggadah] (Not Law: Does include: Biblical interpretation, ethical maxims, stories, folklore, etc.

Midrash (attached to Bible. Usually for traditions that were derived from the Bible.

Halakhic Midrash: [="Tannaitic Midrash"]: Commentaries to most of the Torah by the schools of Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Ishmael

Aggadic midrash [almost entirely from the Amoraic period]

Mishnah (independent of the Bible. Useful for non-Biblical "Oral Law" traditions, enactments, etc.)

The Mishnah (by Rabbi Judah the Prince).

Very rare: e.g. Tractate Avot ("Ethics of the Fathers")

The Six Orders of the Mishnah:

Major Topics

1. Zera'im (Seeds):

2. Mo'ed (Times):

3. Nashim (Women):

4. Neziqin (Damages)

5. Qodashim (Sacred things):

6. Toharot (Purity):

Types of Medieval Talmudic Literature

  1. Commentaries

  2. Codes of Law (Poskim literature)