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This volume brings together a set of classic essays on early Rabbinic history and culture, seven of which have been translated into English especially for this publication. The studies are grouped round three themes: sources, methods and meaning; tradition and self-invention; and Rabbinic contexts. The first part contains essays that made a pioneering contribution to the identification of sources for the historical and cultural study of the rabbinic period, articulated methodologies for the study of rabbinic history and culture, or addressed historical topics that continue to engage scholars to the present day. The second contains pioneering contributions to our understanding of the culture of the sages whose sources we deploy for the purposes of historical reconstruction, contributions which grappled with the riddle and rhythm of the rabbis' emergence to authority, or pierced the veil of their self-presentation. The essays in the final part made contributions of fundamental importance to our understanding of the broader cultural contexts of rabbinic sources, identified patterns of rabbinic participation in prevailing cultural systems, or sought to define with greater precision the social location of the rabbinic class within Jewish society of late antiquity. The volume is introduced by a new essay from the editor, summarising the field and contextualising the reprinted papers.