chapter  5
The conclusive statement
Pages 28

The Talmuds of the Land of Israel (circa 400 CE) and Babylonia (circa 600 CE) mark the fourth and conclusive stage in the formation of Judaism. As different in character and purpose from all prior documents as the Mishnah is from Scripture, the Talmuds drew together the entire received heritage of law and theology and restated the whole in a new intellectual idiom and in a definitive formulation. The mode of thought characteristic of the Talmuds, particularly the second of the two, is the dialectical argument of prepositional analysis. The definitive formulation joined the Mishnah’s emphasis upon sanctification and a timeless world of the present tense with the Pentateuch’s, and Scripture’s, stress upon salvation in a historical world of purposeful events leading to the climax and conclusion of history. So while the Mishnah framed a vision of a restoration of Eden in the eternal Sabbath, whether now, whether then, the Talmuds offered a glimpse of an end-time, a goal toward which Israel, vanguard of humanity, would find its way.