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Torah in the MouthWriting and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE - 400 CE$
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Martin S. Jaffee

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140672.001.0001

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Composing the Tannaitic Oral‐Literary Tradition

Composing the Tannaitic Oral‐Literary Tradition

(p.100) 6 Composing the Tannaitic Oral‐Literary Tradition
Torah in the Mouth

Martin S. Jaffee (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

While rabbinic texts represent halakhic tradition as a tradition transmitted by word of mouth, the surviving texts show many signs of having been composed in their extant form with the use of writing. The present chapter offers some examples of the interpenetration of oral traditional elements and written compositional elements in the shaping of early rabbinic texts, such as the Mishnah in particular. The focus is on materials that employ classic oral genres such as narrative and song (in Mishnah Tamid), complex lists (Mishnah Eruvin), and sophisticated mnemonic codes (Mishnah Pesahim). The chapter concludes with an attempt to reconstruct an oral‐performative narrative that informs parallel written accounts of the red heifer ritual as described in Mishnah Parah and Tosefta Parah.

Keywords:   interpenetration of oral and written tradition, lists, Mishnah Eruvin, Mishnah Parah, Mishnah Pesahim, Mishnah Tamid, Mnemonic codes, narrative, song, Tosefta Parah

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