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As I understand it, the Babylonian Talmud was written in the 3rd to the 5th centuries CE. At that point, Judaism was already a well-established religion. The Babylonian Talmud contains explanations and commentaries on the Oral and Written law (correct me if I'm wrong please).

What I don't understand is why the Babylonian Talmud is considered scripture or "almost" scripture. What was special about the Babylonian rabbis that made their thoughts and arguments more authoritative than, say, contemporary rabbis?

In contrast, in Christianity, the "commentaries" are the letters written by people blessed with holy spirit such as Paul. Thus, it makes sense that new commentaries cannot be added or old ones challenged because there can be no new apostles. Is there some similar explanation for the authoritativeness of the Babylonian Talmud?

  • What do you mean by this phrase: “ What I don't understand is why the Babylonian Talmud is considered scripture or "almost" scripture.” – Dr. Shmuel Jan 22 at 5:04
  • The Babylonian Talmud is not the last say in the modern practice of a law, it is the first. – Dr. Shmuel Jan 22 at 5:06
  • I mean as in "holy book" If it is not holy, why can't, say, 21st century French rabbis get together and write the French Talmud? If it is holy, then what makes it holy? Maybe "holy" isn't the right word, but I hope you get what I mean. – Björn Lindqvist Jan 22 at 5:21
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    We believe that the Oral Law and Written Law were both given to Moses at Mt. Sinai. It was forbidden to write down the Oral Law, which was transmitted in a chain from Moses to Joshua down to the Babylonian exhile. When Roman persecution and exhile threatened to disrupt the continued teaching of the Oral Law, the decision was made to record discussions of the Law, (first in Israel, resulting in the "Jerusalem Talmud", later in Babylon, resulting in the Babylonian Talmud.) A group of 21st century French rabbis would presumably have no new Oral tradition dating back to Mt. Sinai – Josh K Jan 22 at 5:50
  • Further, most religious Jews believe that "ruach ha-Kodesh" (Very loosely translated as "the spirit of G-d") guided the discussions recorded in both Talmuds – Josh K Jan 22 at 7:14
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Maimonides writes in the Introduction to Mishneh Torah that the Babylonian Talmud is authoritative because it contains the rulings of all (or at least a majority) of the Sages of the time, and its rulings were accepted by all Israel.

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