--Lecture Notes for Topic 2.1.1-
Religion 492
Last revised: 2/18/04
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2.1.1. Beginnings
Assigned Readings for This Topic:
Gerald Bray, "The Beginning of Biblical Interpretation," Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, pp. 47-76 Outline of Bray, chapter two
Listed below is a detailed outline of the discussion of chapter two in Bray's textbook: The period and the subject The interpreters and their work The Pharisees Two kinds of law Torah of the scriptures Oral Interpretive Tradition Rival scribal schools School of Shammai (fl. c. 20 B.C. - c. A.D. 15) School of Hillel (fl. c. 20 B.C. - c. A.D. 15) Targumim halakah (matters of behavior and conduct) Mishnah (first codified by Rabb i Judah Ha-Nasi [b. A.D. 115]) Tosephta (additions ascribed to Rabbi Hiyya) Gemaras ('teachings' to relate the pronouncements of the Mishnah to scripture) haggadah (illustrate scripture texts and edify the reader) Midrashim Talmudim The Sadducees The Essenes and Qumran The Samaritans The Jewish Diaspora Philo (c. 20 B.C. - c. A.D. 50) Flavius Josephus (c. A.D. 37-100) The Christians Jesus Paul Other Apostles The issues It was necessary to demonstrate how an ancient text could continue to act as the supreme law for the Jewish people. It was necessary to determine what the limits of Judaism were. It was necessary to defend the claims of Judaism against rivals. It was necessary to determine the place of (mainly oral) tradition in relation to Scripture. It was necessary to decide what the Old Testament pomises to Israel meant in terms of their future fulfilment. The methods of interpretation Scribal (mainly Pharisaic) Midrash Tannaitic period (before A.D. 70) Amoraic period Distinction between peshat (literal sense) and derash (derived interpretation) Scribal schools School of Hillel (Beth Hillel) School of Shammai (Beth Shammai) Scribal practices Massorah (vocalization) Qere (read) and Ketiv (written) Halakot (desire to produce new laws) Middot (canons of interpretation) Middot of Rabbi Hillel Qal wa-homer Gezerah shawah Binyan ab mikathub 'ehad Binyan ab mishene kethubim Kelal upherat Kayonze bo bemaqom 'aher Dabar halamed me 'inyano Middot of Rabbi Ishmalel ben Elisha (fl. c. A.D. 110-130): 13 canons Middot of Rabbi Eliezer ben Jose ha-Galili (fl. c. A.D. 130-160): 32 canons Mashal (comparison; parable) Qumranic Dead Sea Scrolls Teacher of Righteousness Pesher (exegesis) of raz (mystery) by the Teacher of Righteousness Samaritan Jesus Affirmed Torah but relativized it Used scribal exegetical methods Hillel's qal wa-homer middot used often ad hominem agruments in polemical contexts Christian (early church) Significance of resurrected Christ for NT writers use of OT scriptures NT writers shared conceptual framework of contemporary Judaism Scribal middot evident in NT writers gezerah shawah (e.g., Acts 2:25,34 // Psa. 16:8-11 and 110:1) pesher exegesis (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:3-5 // Isa. 53:4-12 and Hos 6:2) NT writers not tied to any one scribal school or method Paul illustrates full range of scribal middot in his use of OT scriptures A case study: the epistle to the Hebrews Glossary of key terms and personalities with hyperlinks: Dead Sea Scrolls Materials
Map of the caves around the Dead Sea where the scrolls were found.---Discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls------Google search results on Dead Sea Scrolls---Orion Library on Dead Sea Scrolls--- Essenes
Josephus on the Essenes in The Wars of the Jews 2.8.2-13 (scroll down to this section)---Gateway to study of the Essenes---Catholic Encyclopedia article on Essenes
Who Were the Essenes?
Since the archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, the word "Essene" has made its way around the world -- often raising a lot of questions. Many people were astonished to discover that, two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization. This brotherhood--more or less persecuted and ostracized--would bring forth people who would change the face of the world and the course of history. Indeed, almost all of the principal founders of what would later be called Christianity were Essenes--St. Ann, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Evangelist, etc.

The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people--not because of external signs like skin color, hair color, etc., but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. They considered themselves to be also a group of people at the center of all peoples--because everyone could become part of it, as soon as they had successfully passed the selective tests.They thought, and rightly so, that they were the heirs of God's sons and daughters of old, the heirs to their great ancient civilization. They possessed their advanced knowledge and worked assiduously in secret for the triumph of the light over the darkness of the human mind.

They felt that they had been entrusted with a mission, which would turn out to be the founding of Christianity and of western civilization. They were supported in this effort by highly evolved beings who directed the brotherhood. They were true saints, Masters of wisdom, hierophants of the ancient arts of mastery.

They were not limited to a single religion, but studied all of them in order to extract the great scientific principles. They considered each religion to be a different stage of a single revelation. They accorded great importance to the teachings of the ancient Chaldeans, of Zoroaster, of Hermes Trismegiste, to the secret instructions of Moses and of one of the founding Masters of their order who had transmitted techniques similar to those of Buddhism, as well as to the revelation of Enoch.
They possessed a living science of all of these revelations.
Thus, they knew how to communicate with angelic beings and had solved the question of the origin of evil on the earth.

One of their major preoccupations was to protect themselves from any contact with evil spirits, in order to preserve the purity of their souls. They knew that they would only be on earth for a short time, and they did not want to prostitute their eternal souls. It was this attitude, this strict discipline, this absolute refusal to lie or compromise, that made them the object of so much persecution through the ages.

The Essenes considered themselves the guardians of the Divine Teaching. They had in their possession a great number of very ancient manuscripts, some of them going back to the dawn of time. A large portion of the School members spent their time decoding them, translating them into several languages, and reproducing them, in order to perpetuate and preserve this advanced knowledge. They considered this work to be a sacred task.

The Essenes considered their Brotherhood-Sisterhood as the presence on earth of the Teaching of the sons and daughters of God. They were the light which shines in the darkness and which invites the darkness to change itself into light. Thus, for them, when a candidate asked to be admitted to their School, it meant that, within him, a whole process of awakening of the soul was set in motion. Such a soul was ready to climb the stairs of the sacred temple of humanity.
The Essenes differentiated between the souls which were sleeping, drowsy, and awakened. Their task was to help, to comfort, and to relieve the sleeping souls, to try to awaken the drowsy souls, and to welcome and guide the awakened souls. Only the souls considered as awakened could be initiated into the mysteries of the Brotherhood-Sisterhood. Then began for them a path of evolution that could not stop anymore through the cycle of their incarnations.

Everybody knew the Brothers and Sisters in white. The Hebrews called them "The School of Prophets"; and, to the Egyptians, they were "The Healers, The Doctors". They had property in nearly all of the big cities; and, in Jerusalem, there was even a door that bore their name: the door of the Essenes. Despite some fear and joking, due to the rejection of that which one does not know, the people as a whole felt respect and esteem for the Essenes because of their honesty, their pacifism, their goodness, their discretion, and their talent as healers, devoted to the poorest as well as to the richest. They knew that the greatest Hebrew prophets came from their lineage and their School.
Moreover, even if the Brotherhood was very strict about the law of secrecy with regard to its internal doctrine, it cultivated many points of contact with the people, notably through places of lodging for the pilgrims from every horizon, through helpful actions in difficult periods, and especially through the healing of illnesses. These places of primary teaching and of healing were located in precise areas where people could go freely. Qumran
The communal lifestyle at Qumran------
The Ruins of Qumran
The site of Qumran ruins (Khirbet Qumran) had been occupied at various times in antiquity. At a low level were found the remains of walls and pottery from Iron Age II (8-7th centuries BCE). A deep circular cistern also belongs to this period (centuries later it was incorporated in an elaborate system of aqueducts and reservoirs). Probably this was the site known as the Biblical "Ir ha-Melah" - City of Salt. 

In approximately 130 BCE new occupants cleared the circular cistern, added two rectangular cisterns, constructed a few rooms, and installed two pottery kilns. 30 years later two- and three-storey buildings were added, and an elaborated water-collecting system was constructed (incorporated the earlier ones) consisting of cisterns connected by channels and supplied by aqueduct from a dam. There is a vast evidence that the manuscripts discovered in the Qumran caves belonged to the library of the occupants of the site in this period - a small hermit community referred as the Dead Sea Sect . 

During the Jewish War the place was apparently stormed by Romans and ruined, and then occupied by a Roman garrison for 20 years. Bar-Kokhba fighters occupied the ruins in 132-135 CE. 

The main building on the site occupied about 37 square meters, constructed of large undressed stones, and with a strong tower in the northwestern corner. On the west side is a long room used apparently as an eating-room. In the adjacent smaller room over a thousand of ceramic vessels were found. They may have been manufactured on the spot, since the excavations brought to light the best preserved pottery thus far found in the Land of Israel. 

A first-storey room in the southwest part of the building was evidently furnished as a writing-room. Flour mills, a stable, a laundry and various workshops were also uncovered. The occupants apparently aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible. There were apparently no sleeping quarters; tents or caves may have served the occupants for shelter. Near the settlement and separated from it by a wall there is a large cemetery The Teacher of Righteousness

by Ysmena Pentelow

Bearing in mind the difficulties faced in interpreting the material, we can make some suggestions about the role of the Teacher of Righteousness as a mediator figure.

Damascus Document:
The title appears at 1:11 & 20:32 and in a slightly different form at 6:11. The title "Unique Teacher"/"Teacher of the Community" is also understood to refer to the Teacher of Righteousness. From 1:11 & Col.20 the Teacher is seen possibly as the founder the community. The laws and covenant he established are the community's means of vindication and remain effective after the Teacher's death. Col.6 anticipates a figure "who will teach righteousness" in the end time. Is this figure in some way the re-appearance of the historical Teacher? Or is he an ideal or messianic figure, perhaps modelled on historical remembrances?

From the Pesharim a picture of the Teacher of Righteousness emerges: He is a priestly leader of a community; in this role he is seen to suffer, perhaps to face death. His interpretation of scripture is definitive for his community and may perhaps be understood as his legacy.

A Written Legacy?
Various texts have been attributed to the hand of the Teacher - the Temple Scroll, 4QMMT, and various passages in the Hodayoth. None of these mention the Teacher by name but texts such as 1QH 10 (=2):13 & 32 seem to reflect incidents recorded in the commentary on Habakkuk (1QHab5:8-11 or 11:1-8).

Identifying the Teacher of Righteousness?
The Teacher is generally identified as what his community considers to be the legitimate high priest. As a priestly figure the Teacher's role as a mediator would be the maintenance of the comunity's relationship with God, as his chosen people. It is possible that the title 'Teacher of Righteousness' refers not to one historical individual but to an office that is to be filled in the historical realm. Possibly the office itself is an expected ideal. Alternatively in CD 6 it is the historical Teacher who is awaited-in the consummation pattern, although whether the material allows for such an understanding is questionable. Possible background for this view may have been suggested by Abegg's equation of the author of 4Q427 with the Teacher: " for me [my] office is among the gods..." If the Teacher is so exalted it might be reasonable to view his activity as extending beyond his earthly existance, and incorporating his return to the historical realm.

Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness:
There are a number of similarities between the earthly roles of Jesus and the Teacher, interpretation of scripture, the establishment of a law which is the means of salvation; both suffer. After death the followers of both require further guidence. There are also differences, the Teacher does not appear to be worshipped, his community does not continue and expand after his death.

It is possible that the Teacher of Righteousness could be understood as a stage in the development of thought that led to the worship of an individual. The Teacher reveals the prophetic mysteries - of which Jesus is seen to be the fulfilment. Moreover in 1QHab8:1-3 faith in the Teacher himself, along with obedience, is a necessary means of salvation. In the NT Jesus is that means of Salvation. Library
The Qumran Library
The scrolls and scroll fragments recovered in the Qumran environs represent a voluminous body of Jewish documents, a veritable "library", dating from the third century B.C.E. to 68 C.E. Unquestionably, the "library," which is the greatest manuscript find of the twentieth century, demonstrates the rich literary activity of Second Temple Period Jewry and sheds insight into centuries pivotal to both Judaism and Christianity. The library contains some books or works in a large number of copies, yet others are represented only fragmentarily by mere scraps of parchment. There are tens of thousands of scroll fragments. The number of different compositions represented is almost one thousand, and they are written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
There is less agreement on the specifics of what the Qumran library contains. According to many scholars, the chief categories represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls are:

Those works contained in the Hebrew Bible. All of the books of the Bible are represented in the Dead Sea Scroll collection except Esther.

Apocryphal or pseudepigraphical
Those works which are omitted from various canons of the Bible and included in others.

Those scrolls related to a pietistic commune and include ordinances, biblical commentaries, apocalyptic visions, and liturgical works.

While the group producing the sectarian scrolls is believed by many to be the Essenes, there are other scholars who state that there is too little evidence to support the view that one sect produced all of the sectarian material. Also, there are scholars who believe there is a fourth category of scroll materials which is neither biblical, apocryphal, nor "sectarian." In their view, such scrolls, which may include "Songs of the the Sabbath Sacrifice", should be designated simply as contemporary Jewish writing.

Scroll Fragments from the Qumran Library
Psalms Tehillim
Phylactery Tefillin
The Community Rule Serkeh ha-Yahad
Calendrical Document Mishmarot
Some Torah Precepts Miqsat Ma`ase ha-Torah
Enoch Hanokh
Hosea Commentary Pesher Hoshe`a
Prayer for King Jonathan Tefillah li-Shlomo shel Yonatan ha-Melekh
Leviticus Va-Yikrah
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice Shirot `Olat ha-Shabbat
Damascus Document Brit Damesek
The War Rule Serekh ha-Milhamah Ancient Jewish scribal concepts and procedures
Timeline of scribal and rabbinic Judaism

        When one enters the world of ancient Jewish scribal and later rabbinical studies, he/she encounters immediately a ton of strangely spelled words with little or no meaning whatsoever at initial glance. The technical terminology here rivals that of computer geek acronyms. Hopefully what is described below will help unravel the mystery and clear up confusion. Amoraic period
The emergence of amoraic schools of study.
By Lawrence H. Schiffman

During the fluctuations of Jewish fortunes in Palestine and Babylonia, a loosely organized group of scholars, known collectively as the amoraim ("explainers" of the Mishnah) continued to expound and develop the rabbinic tradition. From about 200 to 425 in Palestine and around 200 to 500 in Babylonia, they were busy discussing and analyzing the Mishnah, as well as baraitot (tannaitic traditions not included in the Mishnah) and midrashic (interpretive) traditions, in a process which ultimately led to a series of redacted documents:  the Babylonian Talmud, the Palestinian (Jerusalem) Talmud, and the amoraic, exegetical midrashim. This two-part article recounts that process. It is reprinted with permission from From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (Ktav). Beit Hillel
Hillel and Shammai - Jewish Virtual Library
Rabbi Hillel was born to a wealthy family in Babylonia, but came to Jerusalem without the financial support of his family and supported himself as a woodcutter. It is said that he lived in such great poverty that he was sometimes unable to pay the admission fee to study Torah, and because of him that fee was abolished. He was known for his kindness, his gentleness, and his concern for humanity. One of his most famous sayings, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishnah), is "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" The Hillel organization, a network of Jewish college student organizations, is named for him. Beit Shammai
Hillel and Shammai - Jewish Virtual Library
Rabbi Shammai was an engineer, known for the strictness of his views. He was reputed to be dour, quick-tempered and impatient. For example, the Talmud tells that a gentile came to Shammai saying that he would convert to Judaism if Shammai could teach him the whole Torah in the time that he could stand on one foot. Shammai drove him away with a builder's measuring stick! Hillel, on the other hand, converted the gentile by telling him, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it." Diaspora
Jewish Virtual Library
Greek “scattering.” Often used to refer to the Jewish communities living among the gentiles outside the “holy land” of Canaan/Israel/Palestine. Flavius Josephus (c. A.D. 37-100)
article on Josephus in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
Josephus or Flavius Josephus
Jewish general and author in the latter part of the 1st century CE who wrote a massive history (“Antiquities”) of the Jews and a detailed treatment of the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66-73 CE (and his involvement in it). Gemara
article on Gemara in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “completion”). Popularly applied to the Jewish Talmud as a whole, to discussions by rabbinic teachers on Mishnah, and to decisions reached in these discussions. In a more restricted sense, the work of the generations of the amoraim in “completing” Mishnah to produce the Talmuds. Haggadah
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “narration”; see also aggada[h]). In a general sense, in classical Jewish literature and discussion, what is not halaka legal subject matter) is (h)aggada (pl. haggadot). Technically, "the Haggada(h)" is a liturgical manual used in the Jewish Passover Seder. Halakah
Jewish Virtual Library
(adj. halakic). Any normative Jewish law, custom, practice, or rite--or the entire complex. Halaka is law established or custom ratified by authoritative rabbinic jurists and teachers. Colloquially, if something is deemed halakhic, it is considered proper and normative behavior. Halakot
Netscape search of the word 'halakot' Mashal
Modern day applications of ancient Jewish parable Massorah Middot
Middot and Character Development site

“Middot” is Hebrew for character traits. Midrash
article on Midrash in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
(pl. midrashim). From darash, "to inquire," whence it comes to mean “exposition” (of scripture). Refers to the “commentary” literature developed in classical Judaism that attempts to interpret Jewish scriptures in a thorough manner. Literary Midrash may focus either on halaka, directing the Jew to specific patterns of religious practice, or on (h)aggada, dealing with theological ideas, ethical teachings, popular philosophy, imaginative exposition, legend, allegory, animal fables—that is, whatever is not halaka. Mishnah
Article on Mishnah in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “teaching”). The digest of the recommended Jewish oral halaka as it existed at the end of the 2nd century and was collated, edited and revised by Rabbi Judah the Prince. The code is divided into six major units and sixty-three minor ones. The work is the authoritative legal tradition of the early sages and is the basis of the legal discussions of the Talmud. See also pilpul. Pesher
Comparison of Matthew's use of OT as Jewish pesher---Netscape search of the word 'pesher.'
Several approaches to scripture analysis may be discovered in first century Hebrew documents including literalistic, allegorical, midras and pesher. Longman doubts that these methods were distinguished from one another in the first century. Of these methods, pesher is of the greatest interest to this study, principally because Matthew does not lie under the accusation that he interprets the OT literalistically or allegorically but rather through pesher. Perhaps Matthew uses midrashic techniques, as many contend, but it can be argued that first century midrash could be very much akin to the manner in which Psalmists interpreted the Pentateuch. Early midrash, as defined by Hillel, is a fairly objective hermeneutical approach.[2] It is the claim that Matthew is using pesher contemporization of the OT, particularly in ‘fulfillment’ citations, that provides the most serious challenge to those holding to verbal, plenary inspiration.

The term pesher means, "to explain." In fact, however, pesher is an application of OT scripture with little to no concern for the context of the passage applied. Pesher may refer either to commentaries on the OT found amongst the Dead Sea scrolls[3] or to the interpretive technique typical of these commentaries.[4] Pesher interpreters assume that OT authors were speaking to the contemporary audience. This form of interpretation is tied to a word, text or OT allusion, which is then related to a present person, place or thing. The interpretations are generally aloof from the source context and appear to lack any coherent methodology. According to Lundberg, "This kind of commentary (pesher) is not an attempt to explain what the Bible meant when it was originally written, but rather what it means in the day and age of the commentator, particularly for his own community."[5]

For instance, in the pesher Habakkuk the writers simply take Habakkuk’s references to the Chaledeans and apply them to the Romans without any effort to justify the application. The context of Habakkuk seems to hold little interest for such interpreters. In the same commentary all the destructive activities described by Habakkuk are attributed to the ‘wicked priest’ while all the good things are attributed to the ‘righteous teacher’ – the antagonist and protagonist typical of Qumran pesher writing. Again, the interpreter shows little inclination to justify the wholesale substitution of the authorial intent for that of his community. Pharisees
article on Pharisees in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., perushim, lit. “separatists” (?); adj. pharisaic). The name given to a group or movement in early Judaism, the origin and nature of which is unclear. Many scholars identify them with the later sages and rabbis who taught the oral and written law; others see them as a complex of pietistic and zealous separatists, distinct from the proto-rabbis. According to Josephus, the Pharisees believed in the immortality of souls and resurrection of the dead, in a balance between predestination and free will, in angels as active divine agents and in authoritative oral law. In the early Christian materials, Pharisees are often depicted as leading opponents of Jesus/Joshua and his followers, and are often linked with “scribes” but distinguished from the Sadducees. Philo (c. 20 B.C. - c. A.D. 50)
Jewish Virtual Library
Philo Judeus
(“the Jew”) of Alexandria. Greek speaking (and writing) prolific Jewish author in the 1st century CE. Provides extensive evidence for Jewish thought in the Greco-Roman (“hellenistic”) world outside of Palestine. Sadducees
article on Sadducees in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
An early Jewish sub-group whose origins and ideas are uncertain. It probably arose early in the 2nd century B.C.E. and ceased to exist when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Sadducees supported priestly authority and rejected traditions not directly grounded in the Pentateuch, such as the concept of personal, individual life after death. They are often depicted as in conflict with the Pharisees. Samaritans
article on Samaritan in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
Another of the numerous sub-groups in early Judaism (see also Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes) and residents of the district of Samaria north of Jerusalem and Judah in what is now Israel. They are said to have recognized only the Pentateuch as scripture and Mt. Gerizim as the sacred center rather than Jerusalem. There was ongoing hostility between Samaritans and Judahites. Samaritan communities exist to the present. Talmud
article on Talmud in Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “study” or “learning”). Rabbinic Judaism produced two Talmuds: the one known as the “Babylonian” is the most famous in the western world, and was completed around the fifth century CE; the other, known as the “Palestinian” or “Jerusalem” Talmud, was edited perhaps in the early fourth century CE. Both have as their common core the Mishnah collection of the tannaim, to which are added commentary and discussion (gemara) by the amoraim (teachers) of the respective locales. Gemara thus has also become a colloquial, generic term for the Talmud and its study.

Judaism 101
In addition to the written scriptures we have an "Oral Torah," a tradition explaining what the above scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the Laws. Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained in oral form only until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.

Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century C.E.

There are actually two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian one is more comprehensive, and is the one most people mean when they refer to The Talmud. There have been additional commentaries on the Talmud by such noted Jewish scholars as Rashi and Rambam. Adin Steinsalz is currently preparing a new edition of the Talmud, with his own commentary supplementing the Mishnah, Gemara, and Rashi commentaries.

The Mishnah is divided into six sections called sedarim (in English, orders). Each seder contains one or more divisions called masekhtot (in English, tractates). There are 63 masekhtot in the Mishnah. Approximately half of these masekhtot have been addressed in the Talmud. Although these divisions seem to indicate subject matter, it is important to note that the Mishnah and the Talmud tend to be engage in quite a bit of free-association, thus widely diverse subjects may be discussed in a seder or masekhtah. Below is the division of the Mishnah into sedarim and masekhtot:

    * Zera'im (Seeds), dealing with agricultural laws
          o Berakhot
          o Peah
          o Demai
          o Kilayim
          o Shebiit
          o Terumot
          o Maaserot
          o Maaser Sheni
          o Challah
          o Orlah
          o Bikkurim
    * Mo'ed (Festival), dealing with shabbat and festivals
          o Shabbat
          o Erubin
          o Pesachim
          o Sheqalim
          o Yoma
          o Sukkah
          o Besah
          o Rosh Hashanah
          o Taanit
          o Megillah
          o Moed Qatan
          o Hagigah
    * Nashim (Women), dealing with marriage, divorce and contracts
          o Yebamot
          o Ketubot
          o Nedarim
          o Nazir
          o Sotah
          o Gittin
          o Qiddushin
    * Nezikin (Damages), dealing with tort laws and other financial laws
          o Baba Qamma
          o Baba Mesia
          o Baba Batra
          o Sanhedrin
          o Makkot
          o Shabuot
          o Eduyyot
          o Avodah Zarah
          o Avot (also known as Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers)
          o Horayot
    * Kodashim (Holy Things), dealing with sacrifices and the Temple
          o Zevachim
          o Menachot
          o Chullin
          o Bekhorot
          o Arakhin
          o Temurah
          o Keritot
          o Meilah
          o Tamid
          o Middot
          o Qinnim
    * Toharot (Purities), dealing with laws of ritual purity and impurity
          o Kelim
          o Ohalot
          o Negaim
          o Parah
          o Tohorot
          o Miqvaot
          o Niddah
          o Makhshirin
          o Zabim
          o Tebul-Yom
          o Yadayim
          o Uqsin

In recent times, many observant Jews have taken up the practice of studying a page of Talmud every day. This practice, referred to as daf yomi, was started at the First International Congress of the Agudath Yisrael World Movement in August, 1923. Rav Meir Shapiro, the rav of Lublin, Poland, proposed uniting people worldwide through the daily study of a page of Talmud. Daf Yomi is currently in its 11th cycle. A calendar of the cycle can be found at Daf Yomi Calendar. Tannaitic period (before A.D. 70)
article on Talmud in Wikipedia containing descriptions of the Tannaim
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “repeater, reciter”; adj. tannaitic, pl. tannaim). A Jewish sage from the period of Hillel (around the turn of the era) to the compilation of the Mishnah (200 CE), distinguished from later amoraim. Tannaim were primarily scholars and teachers. The Mishnah, Tosefta, and halakic Midrashim were among their literary achievements. Targumim
Jewish Virtual Library
(Heb., “translation, interpretation”). Generally used to designate Aramaic translations of the Jewish scriptures. See also Septuagint (in a sense, Greek Targums). Tosephta
Jewish Virtual Library
(pl. Tosafot) (Heb., “supplement”). Tannaitic supplements to the Mishnah. Called beraita (extraneous material) in the Talmud. Jewish Methods of Interpretation
Assigned Readings for This Topic:
Gerald Bray, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, relevant sections in chapter 2.

Resource Materials to also be studied: Jesus and the Apostles
Assigned Readings for This Topic:

Gerald Bray, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, relevant sections in chapter 2.

Resource Materials to also be studied: Case Study
Assigned Readings for This Topic:

Gerald Bray, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, pp. 70-76

Resource Materials to also be studied:


Check Bray's bibliography in appropriate chapter of the textbook.

Check the appropriate Bibliography section in

Peter Kirby, Early Jewish Writings, at
        Helpful gateway to both information about and the writings of early Judaism.