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Can we prove what dates in history these texts were written?

Also, do we know exactly when the various Rabbis of these texts lived? What are those dates? Are there disputes about this?

Further, which historical records and artifacts are used to corroborate these dates? Are there any good books written on the topic?

There can be various practical applications for Jewish law if we know exactly when these texts were written. For example, if the Yerushalmi was written around the same time as the Bavli, then we may be able to rule like it against the Bavli, because Klal Yisrael didn't have a chance to disprove the Yerushalmi and make a final ruling whether the Bavli is the final word in halacha.

  • Another question: Which passages of these writings were added by the Savorai and Geonim and on which dates were they edited? – Emet v'Shalom Nov 9 '15 at 19:48
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There are some general understandings on these things. The Yerushalmi is believed to be completed by Rabbi Yochanan, Reish Lakish, and their peers around the year 350; the Bavli, by Ravina and Rav Ashi (and one generation past them), around the year 500. We generally follow the Bavli as it had the time to consider the Yerushalmi, then supersede it.

Some works of midrashim are considered more strongly "Tannaitic", i.e. we believe they were edited into their current form by the year 300 or so; others may not have been compiled until almost the year 1000. (E.g. when Rashi quotes midrashim from Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan.)

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    This is good info, but I am looking for evidence. – Emet v'Shalom Nov 9 '15 at 17:05
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There is very little room for doubt as for when the Bavli was compiled and written. It was obviously before the Geonim. We have multiple early Rishonim with no geographic connection, all referring to the Talmud and Geonim. We have the Geonim referencing the Talmud before them.

We have Rav Ashi mentioning the king Izgor or Yezdejerd (Izdegerdes)(p.185) which is about the year 400 so we know it is after that and it is pretty obviously before Mohammad.

But mainly, we have a chain that goes back. It is not something we have out of no place. We know exactly when the Rambam, Rashi, Rabbenu Tam, Rav Hai Gaon were. They were as aware of those before them.

As for the Yerushalmi, there wasn't much Torah in Eretz Yisroel by the end of the Talmudic period. The very early Rishonim tell us that it was compiled much earlier than the Bavli. Compiled doesn't mean written, though.

Regardless, we are students of the Babylonian Yeshivos and Geonim. It was the Geonim of Bavel who sent responsa all around. And it was from Bavel com where the original teachers and disseminators of Torah originated.

Very often, probably most often, history and direct chains are a more reliable source of knowledge than spoons and toys we dig up.

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    who is we in the "we are students of the Babylonian Yeshivos and Geonim". ashkanazim arent students of the jaonim. they have plenty of things they do that go against the rulings of the jaonim – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Nov 9 '15 at 18:49
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    Mori Doweedh is right. In fact, if one looks closely he will find that many of the rulings and customs that are peculiar to Ashkenazi Jewry stem from the Talmudh Yerushalmi and other sources from Eress Yisrael - not Bavel and its yeshivoth at all. The Geonim are rarely mentioned. The royal "we" of the Ashkenazi and Hasidic worlds must stop. It is not accurate historically or currently and does not represent the other traditions within Judaism. It is bigoted and myopic. Your statement just assumes that evrything has always more or less been like it is now. Kol tuv. – user3342 Nov 9 '15 at 19:21
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    Ignoring all the points above, the silliest part of this answer is assuming that the text of the Talmud remained constant just because people referred to it as a collective whole. – Double AA Nov 9 '15 at 20:08
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    @MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Exceptions might exist, but we, meaning all of us, Ashkenaz, Sefard and Bavel, all accepted the Halachos of the Geonim. This is evident in Rashi and Tosafos, even if they take the liberty to argue when necessary. They argue as well with their own Rebbeim. The chain however went from Bavel to the France-German Yeshivos and Spanish and African. It is all from Bavel. – HaLeiVi Nov 9 '15 at 20:26
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    @HaLeiVi there is no sources for him learning from the jaonim only 16th century speculation. the ramban is earlier than maharshal and clearly states ashkanazim have no masoro to the jaonim. besides the maharshal and seidar haddoroth you have nothing. they too have nothing – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Nov 10 '15 at 1:25

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