“…the Korean Talmud, in some ways, is an inversion of the Babylonian Talmud…”

…the Korean Talmud, in some ways, is an inversion of the Babylonian Talmud – a radical example of “reception”. Classical rabbinic texts from late antiquity (Mishnah, Tosefta, the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds) were composed as expert literature, products of rabbinic discussions in study houses and academies, composed and compiled by religious and cultural elites, transmitted only to those with proper education, and written in a style and form that requires years of careful training and study to comprehend. Still today, in order to be conversant in the Talmud, students spend years studying the texts in great detail-even a cursory study of a single page each day, known as daf yomi, takes seven and a half years to complete. The Babylonian Talmud is also insider literature, with rulings and discussions about how Jews ought to conduct their personal, communal, and ritual affairs, rather than explanations about Jewish practices for those beyond Jewish society. Its transmission was explicitly limited to fathers and sons, and its focus is on legal, civil, and ritual matters. One of the interesting twists in the Talmud’s reception in Korea is that the Korean Talmud has become, in altered form, a paradigmatic text for outsiders (rather than insiders), for those with no prior expertise (rather than for textual experts), transmitted from mothers to children (rather than fathers to sons), and primarily narrative and sapiential (rather than legal and ritual). The Korean Talmud is a text that is used to teach people about Judaism. There is much history between the Babylonian Talmud’s redaction and the first edition of the Korean Talmud that helps explain these radical transformations, and much more to be explored in the books and in their study.

Sarit Kattan Gribetz and Claire Kim, “The Talmud in Korea: A Study in the Reception of Rabbinic Literature”, Association for Jewish Studies Review vol. 42, no. 2 (November 2018), 350.