GEMARA gə mä’ rə (Aram. גְּמָרָא). In Jewish lit., the term that indicates the commentary of the Mishna in the Talmud, which was developed in the early centuries a.d.
The term Gemara possibly comes from the Aram. verb גְּמַר, meaning “to complete” and indicates the commentary of the text of the Mishna, which was based on academic discussions of Jewish scholars in Palestine and Babylon. The Mishna consisted of the code of Jewish laws, drawn up about a.d. 200, which brought illumination to the text of the Mosaic laws and made further application of those laws to human experiences. The Gemara commentary together with the Mishna was called the Talmud.
This Gemara material was developed mainly by two schools: (1) The Palestinian, the material of which came basically from Tiberias in the 3rd and 4th centuries a.d.; and (2) the Babylonian, which was produced in such academies as those at Sura, Nehardea, Sipporis, and Pumbeditha, from the 3rd to the end of the 5th centuries a.d.
The Gemara teachers, called Amoraim (i.e., interpreters), in their commentary on the Mishna treated this document as they did the OT, inspired and holy.
M. L. Rodkinson, The Babylonian Talmud, 2nd ed., rev. (1916), xv-xix; Hebraic Literature, tr. from the Talmud, etc. (1944), introd. by M. H. Harris.