The great monuments of the earliest period of Hebrew literature are the Old Testament and the Apocrypha. Parts of the Pseudepigrapha and of the Dead Sea Scrolls were also produced before the conquest of Judaea by Titus. The literature of the Jews developed mainly in the Hebrew language, although there were also works in Greek, Aramaic, and Arabic.
In the 2d cent. A.D. began the Talmudic period, which lasted well into the 6th cent. In these centuries the great anonymous encyclopedic work of religious and civil law, the Talmud, was compiled, edited, and interpreted. The Midrash—a collection of halakah (found also in the Talmud) and haggadic material—likewise forms part of the Hebrew literature of that period. In the 4th cent. the Targum to the Pentateuch and to the Prophets was finished. The 6th and 7th cent. saw the development of the Masora in Palestine. In Babylonia meanwhile many valuable additions to Hebrew literature were made by the Gaonim after the 6th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.