New Book Sheds Light on Influence on Babylonian Talmud

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

October 23, 2006, New York, NY

In his newest publication, Jewish Babylonia Between Persia and Roman Palestine (Oxford University Press, 2006), Dr. Richard Kalmin explores the influences that rendered the Babylonian Talmud a rich tapestry of diverse cultural, religious, and political features.

In this book, Dr. Kalmin, the Theodore R. Racoosin Professor of Talmud at The Jewish Theological Seminary, places the Babylonian Talmud in its historical context, studying the Talmud as a document of Babylonia. As a province of the Persian Empire, Babylonia was influenced by Persian culture, but as home to a significant Jewish community, Babylonia was influenced by the culture of the land of Israel, the source of rabbinic Judaism.

An expert on the interpretation of Jewish stories, ancient history, and the development of rabbinic literature, Dr. Kalmin is the author of several critically acclaimed books on the Babylonian period, including Sages, Stories, Authors and Editors in Rabbinic Babylonia, touted as a classic in its field. His most recent article, "The Formation and Character of the Babylonian Talmud," was published in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol.4: The Late Roman–Rabbinic Period, for which he served on the Executive Editorial Committee.

Dr. Kalmin has been a visiting professor at Yale University, Hebrew Union College, and Union Theological Seminary, and has also served as Chair of JTS's Department of Talmud and Rabbinics. He lectures extensively on these subjects throughout Europe, Israel, and the United States.

Editors/Reporters: To schedule an interview with Dr. Kalmin, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the JTS Department of Communications at (212) 678–8953 or email.

Advance Praise for Jewish Babylonia Between Persia and Roman Palestine

"The Babylonian Talmud played a decisive role in determining the beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism through the ages, and in a masterpiece of scholarly research Kalmin has produced a wonderfully nuanced portrait of the social groups and cultural environment that helped shape this monumental literary corpus..." — Isaiah Gafni, Sol Rosenbloom Professor of Jewish History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

"Richard Kalmin has long been one of the leading exponents of a historical reading of the Babylonian Talmud ... This is an important book that will help to place the Babylonian Talmud within the academic study of the world of late antiquity." — Shaye J.D. Cohen, Nathan Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, Harvard University

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