The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality The
Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part
scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written
in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the
point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow
scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Yet the Talmud
has remained in print for centuries and is more popular today than
ever. Barry Scott Wimpfheimer tells the remarkable story of this
ancient Jewish book, explaining why the Talmud is at once a
received source of traditional teachings, a touchstone of cultural
authority, and a powerful symbol of Jewishness for supporters and
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