Ancient Judaism 101
After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Roman rule continued in Palestine until the empire crumbled. The Persians, Byzantines and Arabs alternately held control of the land through the seventh century CE.
The ancient period witnessed the formation of the basic institutions and ideas of Judaism. The final redaction of the Bible occurred during the second half of the sixth century BCE. Originally led by priests and centered on the Temple in Jerusalem and its sacrificial system, and inspired and challenged by prophets, Judaism evolved into a post-prophetic religion that could function in the Diaspora, with local places of worship--synagogues-- and religious leaders and teachers--rabbis--in many locations.
From the first through seventh centuries CE, rabbinic sages composed works of halakha (Jewish law) and aggadah (narrative expositions of biblical passages and other stories). Standardized liturgy emerged. Major halakhic works include the Mishnah and Tosefta (from the first and second centuries), and the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds (from the third through sixth centuries). Works of midrash, drawing additional interpretations from the biblical text, produced both legal and narrative material.
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