Menachem Mendel

Menachem Mendel RSS Feed
 
 
 
 

Was the Mishnah Written Redux

In an earlier post I contrasted the theories of J.N. Epstein and Saul Lieberman regarding the question of whether the Mishnah was written down. I just bought The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature, which includes an essay by Dr. Elizabeth Shanks Alexander on orality and rabbinic literature. Shanks Alexander describes the disagreement between Epstein and Lieberman in a different light than I had written. According to her,

Following Epstein, Saul Lieberman accepts the anecdotal evidence for early written versions of the Mishnah. He understands the role of the written texts, however, to be exactly the opposite of that argued by Epstein. Whereas Epstein argues that the written versions were to be accepted as authoritative over the flaws of human memory, Lieberman argues that only the oral versions performed in the academy had authority. (p. 50)

In his discussion of the question Lieberman does state that the opinion of Saadiah Gaon, who felt “that every scholar wrote the Mishnah for his private use” is correct. (Hellenism, p. 84) In addition he also writes about early versions of the Mishnah in a way which can be interpreted as being written down, but I am not sure if he feels that there ever was a written copy of Rabbi Judah the Prince’s Mishnah (in comparison to those of e.g. Rabbi Akiba).

After looking over The Cambridge Companion quickly. It seems like a well spent $25 for someone who is interested in the modern study of the Talmud.

One Response to “Was the Mishnah Written Redux”

  1. 1
    Menachem Mendel:

    After looking over The Cambridge Companion quickly. It seems like a well spent $25 for someone who is interested in the modern study of the Talmud.
    how does it compare to the other books you had mentioned in “Modern Talmud Study I”?

    –mivami
    Anonymous | 06.25.07 – 1:49 pm | #

    Prof Cahana said once in class something to the effect of, “Well duh [I'm paraphrasing of course] – Lieberman himself memorized everything, and Epstein didn’t move without a million little notes. Gee I wonder if that influenced their theories…”
    Lia | 06.25.07 – 10:42 pm | #

Categories

Tags

Archives

Recent Posts

Meta

Sign up for an email subscribtion to this blog.

Michael Pitkowsky

Biblioblogs

Daf Yomi

History

Israel

Jewish Law

Judaica

Law and Legal History

Politics

Religion

Talmud