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The standard printed Talmud page, as reproduced below, spans many centuries of Jewish religious scholarship, from the Bible to the beginning of the twentieth century.
In this Web page, a typical Talmud page will serve us as a port of departure on a voyage through the history of Jewish religious literature.
Click on any portion of the following image, and you will be linked to a description of that element of the Talmud page.
The description will tell you when and where the text was composed, its contents and purposes, and other interesting information.
Click here to see a hyperlinked selection of the texts in translation (requires a frames-capable browser).
The page format of the Babylonian Talmud has remained almost unchanged since the early printings in Italy. Some twenty-five individual tractates were printed by Joshua and Gershom Soncino between 1484 and 1519, culminating in the complete edition of the Talmud produced by Daniel Bomberg (a Christian) in 1520-30. These editions established the familiar format of placing the original text in square formal letters the centre of the page, surrounded by the commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot, which are printed in a semi-cursive typeface. The page divisions used in the Bomberg edition have been used by all subsequent editions of the Talmud until the present day.
Over the years several additions were introduced, including identifications of Biblical quotes, cross-references the Talmud and Rabbinic literature, and to the principal codes of Jewish law.
Almost all Talmuds in current use are copies of the famous Vilna (Wilno, Vilnyus) Talmuds, published in several versions from 1880 by the "Widow and Brothers Romm" in that renowned Lithuanian centre of Jewish scholarship. While retaining the same format and pagination as the previous editions, the Vilna Talmud added several new commentaries, along the margins and in supplementary pages at the ends of the respective volumes.