Incredibly, since World War II talmudists have scarcely paid attention to the rich Iranian milieu in which the Babylonian Talmud was composed. This is in striking contrast to the study of Palestinian rabbinic literature, which has more or less consistently looked to contemporaneous Latin and Greek works for help in illuminating rabbinic texts and drawing out their meaning. At the beginning of the new millennium, Yaakov Elman began a project of reading the Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts composed by the Babylonian rabbis’ Persian neighbors and comparing them with relevant passages in the Babylonian Talmud. Elman’s innovative approach has seen great success, both in terms of the quality and quantity of insights gained from merging Iranian and talmudic studies, and in terms of the growing numbers of talmudists now working at the nexus of these two fields.
Shai Secunda, “The Construction, Composition and Idealization of the Female Body in Rabbinic Literature and Parallel Iranian Texts: Three Excurses”, NASHIM: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Studies No. 23 (Spring-Fall 2012), 61.