There are a few aspects of the Talmud that I'm curious about:
- Someone compiled it. My history knowledge is poor. I understand that Rabbi Yehuda compiled the Mishna. I'm not sure who compiled the Yerushalmi and the Bavli.
- There were numerous rabbis and houses of study scattered throughout both Israel and Babylon. How did the compiler discover who said or taught what? Did they send "snoopers" to these places to listen in on the discussion? Did rabbis or others send letters saying "Hey, Rav Yochanan heard about what you said and disagree with you, Rav Akiva?"
- There are some stories that seem quite private. E.g., somewhere, the Talmud discusses the size of a Rav's male organ. Who would know about such personal information, and why would he care to have that fact written down?
- I understand that Bavli was written much later than Yerushalmi. How much of the Yerushalmi is copied verbatim into the Bavli?
- Many people said many things. Obviously, not all of it got into the Talmud. What decided what was compiled and what wasn't?
I am interested in books and / or online resources that discuss this. If you can, explain why you think your source is the best one available.