Jewish Scripture

The Tanakh, largely identical to the Christian Old Testament, is the foundational scripture of Judaism. It consists of the Torah (“Teaching”)—the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the Nevi’im (“Prophets”), and the Ketuvim (“Writings”). Judaism’s second central text is the Talmud, which is a record of discussions among leading ancient rabbis on Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. The Talmud is made up of the Mishnah—the first written compilation of Jewish oral traditions, known as the “Oral Torah”—and the Gemara—commentary on the Mishnah. Most Jewish denominations place equal value on the Tanakh and Talmud, though Reform Judaism downplays the latter. While the Tanakh and Talmud are the principal sources of textual authority, Judaism’s vast compendium of rabbinic literature includes other sources of wisdom and guidance such as midrash, a form of biblical exegesis that incorporates elements of Jewish tradition and legend.
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