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Final Editing of the Talmud

The editing of the Babylonian Talmud took several centuries. The traditional view credits the final editing to Ravina II (ca. 500) and is based on the letter reproduced here, written by Sherira ben Øanina (906-1006), the gaon of the rabbinic academy at Pumbedita in Babylonia. Even he acknowledges, however, that the Babylonian Talmud was not fully completed until the time of R. Yose more than a century later.

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Rav Ashi functioned as head of his academy for almost sixty years. . . .

For this is what the rabbis instituted: to study two tractates every year, whether long or short. So he [Rav Ashi] reviewed his entire talmudic knowledge in thirty years. Since Rav Ashi ruled close to sixty years, there were two cycles. And he died in the year 738.

Rav Yemar ruled after him in Mata Meøasya, and he died in the year 743 .

After him [ruled] Rav Naøman bar Rav Øuna, and he died in the year 766 , in a time of persecution when Yezdegerd decreed the abolition of the Sabbath.

The Rav Tavyomi, who is Mar bar Rav Ashi, ruled in Mata Meøasya, and he died in the year 779 on the night following Yom Kippur. After him, Rabbah Tosfa'ah [ruled,] and he died in the year 785 .

On Wednesday, the thirteenth [day] of Kislev, in the year 786, Ravina bar Rav Huna died. He represents the end of talmudic halakhic determination.

During those years, [the following] ruled in Pumbedita: Rav Geviha of Be Kesil; and he died in 744.

After him, Rafram of Pumbedita; and he died in the year 754.

After him, Rav Rehumi -- or, as some have it, Rav Rehumai -- and he died in the year 767 in the time of persecution decreed by Yezdegerd.

After him, Rav Sama the son of Rava ruled. . . .

In the year 787, Rav Sama the son of Rava died.

After him, Rav Yose ruled. In his days was the end of talmudic halakhic determination and the Talmud was sealed.

Most of the savoraim died within a few years of each other, as the geonim explained in their historical books.

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