The Talmud is a multi-volume book of Jewish law which expands upon the Mosaic law as given in Scripture. In the traditions of the Jews, it was regarded as the Oral Torah. The Talmud was preserved and transmitted orally until the Middle Ages when rabbis were being persecuted and killed in significant numbers. Fearing that it would be lost, rabbis committed the Talmud to print.
The form of modern editions of the text follows a fairly regular pattern: Mishna and Gemara. The Mishna is ostensibly a statement of a principal from rabbinic law or tradition. A section of commentary, Gemara, follows. Gemara often takes a vaguely argumentative tone, as the doctrinal positions of competing schools may be offered, with the most pithy and clever comment given as a last word on the subject.
Interest to Christians
As one of a handful of classes of rabbinic texts, the Talmud contains a mixture of exegesis, tradition, and historical commentary. It offers evidence of how rabbis interpreted several Messianic prophecies.