The passages from the Talmud and other Rabbinical works which will be considered in the following pages are excerpts from a literature of enormous extent, in which the intellectual energy of the Jewish nation during many centuries found ample and varied expression. To give a detailed account of this literature would lead me far from my main subject, and would, moreover, need a considerable volume for its full description. All that seems necessary here is to give in a few words a general account of the Rabbinical literature, so that the reader may be able to judge of the kind of evidence furnished by the passages which will be quoted, from some knowledge of their origin.
The details of date, authorship and contents of the several writings may be found in works of reference accessible to scholars, such as Zunz' " Gottesdienst-
liche Vortrage der Juden," Hamburger's " Real-En-
cyklopadie fur Bibel und Talmud," or, for English readers, the " Introduction to Hebrew Literature"
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