Babylonian Talmud / Mishnah / Rabbinic Literature / Talmud of the Land of Israel

“Philologists can sometimes forget that texts are not themselves autonomous subjects that move here and there, or chameleons that change color to fit the scenery”

Philologists can sometimes forget that texts are not themselves autonomous subjects that move here and there, or chameleons that change color to fit the scenery. What numerous intertalmudic parallels throughout the Bavli and Yerushalmi—including collections of relevant baraitot, glosses on the Mishna, tangentially related stories, all juxtaposed to the same Mishna—seem to suggest is that scholastic discussions concerning the Mishna developed by Palestinian rabbis were memorized and then reperformed by rabbis who traveled to Babylonia, before undergoing further extensive textual developments as the Bavli developed into a coherent (still oral) work.

Shai Secunda, “Gaze and Counter-Gaze: Textuality and Contextuality in the Anecdote of R. Assi and the Roman (b. B.M. 28b),” in Geoffrey Herman and Jeffrey Rubenstein, The Aggada of the Babylonian Talmud and its Cultural World (Providence: Brown University Press, 2018), 165.