Ancient Jewish Religion and Culture

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The rabbis’ ability to adapt biblical traditions--including dietary laws, observance of Shabbat and the festivals, and worship--for life in exile enabled Judaism to survive the transition beyond the Temple period, and ultimately to persevere throughout the ages.  The Mishnah (a collection of law edited around the year 200 CE) and the Gemara (a commentary on the Mishnah, discussing its teachings and connecting it to the biblical text, compiled in approximately 500 CE), record opinions and discussions relevant to life in a world that no longer preserved Temple-based institutions and traditions.

Rabbinic authority, however, did not remain unchallenged.  In addition to references to resistance in rabbinic writings, there are numerous amulets and incantation vessels attesting to the use of magic among the Jews of this period.

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