This systematic introduction to the Talmud of Babylonia (Bavli) answers basic questions of form: how is this a coherent document? How do we make sense of the several languages in which it is written? What are the principal parts of the complex writing? Turning to questions of modes of thought, the account proceeds to address the intellectual character of the Bavli and in particular the character and uses of its dialectics. Finally, questions of substance come to the fore: how does the Talmud relate to the Torah? and how does tradition enter in? These basic questions of rhetoric, topic, and logic that anyone approaching the text will raise are dealt with clearly and authoritatively.