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.