Students of the Talmud may encounter some strange and troubling passages, especially within its aggadic sections.
This is hardly a new phenomenon. Skepticism regarding Talmudic realia — scientific, historical, and other non-legal observations recorded in the Talmud — far predates the modern period. The reliability of Talmudic medicine, for example, was questioned by the Geonim of Babylonia as early as the tenth century.
Much of this material can be understood only in historical context. When the sages commented on nature they drew on popular beliefs or used the limited observational techniques of their age. The rabbis acknowledged their own scientific shortcomings; they conceded, for example, that Gentile astronomers had bested them in a debate about the sun’s path at night.