In response to another question, I was told that the Talmud was considered canonical by Orthodox Jews. I have heard it called authoritative, but never canonical before. The cursory sources I checked did not include the Talmud as a part of the canon, though they clearly recognized it as authoritative as well.

So, is the Talmud part of the canon?

  • See this: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/17782/1569
    – b a
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 22:04
  • 3
    This is not an answerable question. Whether something is canonical depends on your definition of canonical. Wiktionary has six adjective definitions (besides those from the fields of music and math); W3NID online and OED online each have four. (Likewise, canon has varying definitions.) Closing.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 22:32
  • 2
    @msh210 I strongly disagree. If someone cannot answer this question, that is very sad. It's answerable because Judaism (and the Talmud itself) has a clear definition of what canonical means. The Talmud is most definitely not part of our scriptural canon. It is, however, (colloquially) canonical in the sense that we are not empowered to overrule it, and it, itself, has defined parameters as to what is considered talmudical.
    – Seth J
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 23:36
  • @SethJ Is Gemara not Scriptural?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 23:42
  • I see I must concede @msh210's point. However, I still object to this on the grounds that it's a distinction in English usage, not a distinction in the Gemara.
    – Seth J
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 0:12

2 Answers 2


I meant canonical as in authoritative/indisputable as a matter of law; not that it is part of the Biblical canon. That is why I wrote "places canonical value" and not something like "considers part of the canon." See this blog post for further elaboration.

  • @AdamRedwine No problem.
    – Dov F
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 22:36

See definition 2 of canon:

2. A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field.

"the durable canon of American short fiction" — William Styron

Or 3c from here:

[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard]

3b. a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works <the canon of great literature>

  • This doesn't explain whether the Talmud is in either category.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 22:20
  • @Yirmeyahu I doubt there's anyone who disputers that the Talmud meets both criteria for Jewish thought. Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 15:18

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