Hebrew term for "Learning" or "Study." The word acquired a technical sense among Jews as reference to the collections of discussions & debates among generations of rabbis who studied the Mishna. The core of the Talmud is the text of the Mishna itself. Thus, it retains the Mishna's order of tractates. The supplementary discussions, which add material not found in the Mishna, are called the Gemara ["Completion"]. A rabbi whose opinions are cited in the Gemara but not the Mishna has been traditionally called an amora ["speaker"]. Collectively, these later generations of rabbis are referred to as the amoraim. The Gemara includes a lot of anecdotal material ['aggada] about the early tannaim whose opinions were accepted as authoritative in the Mishna. While obviously legendary & often fanciful these anecdotes represent the genre of ancient Jewish story-telling that is absent from the Mishna. Whatever questions there may be about the value of these reports for reconstructing an accurate historical impression of their subjects, the stories about various rabbinic heroes offer a window into the worldview of ancient Jews that provides a cultural sidelight on early Christian stories about Jesus & his disciples.

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