Using Rabbinic Literature for the Study of the Second Temple Period

Reading Acts

In a previous post I included rabbinic literature as a possible source for the study of the Second Temple period. I hesitated to include this on my list and placed it last intentionally. I was asked on twitter by @woofboy to expand on this point. (Sorry, I do not actually know a real name!)

Image result for rabbinical literature Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra, printed by Daniel Bomberg, Venice, 1522.

By rabbinic literature, I primarily mean the Mishnah, a collection of legal commentaries on the Torah. The Mishnah as we know it today was not written until about A.D. 250, but there are oral traditions which likely go back to a generation or two before Jesus. The rulings of Hillel and Shammai are often discussed in the Mishnah; Hillel died about A.D. 10 and Shammai died about A.D. 30.  Before the Mishnah, the Tannaim (“the repeaters”) passed these traditional rulings along orally. After these oral…

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