An Introduction by Spencer Cardwell
As far as translations of the Talmud, you first have to realize that you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for complete editions. Here is my thoughts on each major set.
The best copy of the Talmud is the
Complete Full Size Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud English Volumes (73 Volume Set)
Current Price: $2500
This is by far the best edition ever printed. The Aramaic text is presented on one page with the translation on the alternate. It is considered the best edition but with that price I could never justify buying it.
Next is the…
Koren Talmud Bavli (38 Volumes)
This is a good edition to start with because it contains a ton of commentary with pictures and diagrams to help you understand. It is sold as individual volumes about $40 each. So the price is about $1,520.
Soncino Hebrew/English Babylonian Talmud (30-Volume Set)
This is another excellent translation with the original language and the English. I don’t know much about it besides it costs around $900.
This Talmud is a 1903 translation. It is incomplete but is is about 20 volumes. This translation is not only old, but it is controversial because the translation is very poor and inaccurate. It is available online for free and a print copy might cost $300-$500 dollars.
I personally have a copy of Jacob Neusner’s
The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (23 Volumes)
Current Price: $650
This is the copy owned by BYU’s library. It is good scholarly translation but a little unconventional with how the mishnah and gemara are presented. I could send you pictures of it if you are interested.
I got mine for $100 a while ago so the price does go up and down.
That about does it for complete or almost complete editions of the Talmud.
You can also get abridgments such as the
Everyman’s Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages – $20
The Talmud: A Selection (Penguin Classics) -$20
If you do not know much about the Talmud these volumes might be a good place to start.
The Talmud is, at is core, a legal text. It can be super dull, but rewarding if you like to spend hundreds of hours to understand Jewish legalism of the 2nd- 5th century AD.
Editions of the Talmud go up and down in price a lot, so if you wait, you can get a edition for a much more reasonable price. I got my copy for $100 after months of looking.