"In the opinion of virtually every modern scholar, 'the Talmud was never closed'—not only in the historical-factual sense, but also with regard to the manner of its understanding and study.
The method of Talmud study was an extension of the Talmud itself.
Its interpretation and analysis required the student continually to involve himself in the discussion, to evaluate its questions and argumentation.
As a result, abstract reasoning and the dialectic method became an integral part of the Jewish culture.
The open-ended character of talmudic discussion did not detract from the reverence felt toward the Talmud as a text with religious sanc¬tity.
The methods of study, like the conclusions of the work itself, became the undisputed basis for religious legislation in all subsequent generations.
Both medieval Jewish philosophy and Jewish mysticism, despite an ambivalent attitude toward the exclusive study of Talmud, treated the Talmud with great respect, and later kabbalistic literature even found in it concealed allusions to mystical truths.
In the final analysis, the Talmud was understood as, and in fact created, the unique phenomenon of "sacred intellectualism."
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "Talmud" in The Strife of the Spirit, p. 83, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz