Tannaitic Tradition as an Object of Rabbinic Reflection

Martin S. Jaffee

in Torah in the Mouth

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140675
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834334 | DOI:
 Tannaitic Tradition as an Object of Rabbinic Reflection

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This chapter studies the representations of the oral nature of rabbinic law (halakhah) and text‐interpretive tradition as found in the earliest extant rabbinic literary sources: the Mishnah and the Tosefta. In these early Tannaitic sources, the tradition of halakhah is represented in a variety of ways: as oral‐literary tradition per se; as a tradition of ritual (rather than civil or criminal) law; and as the innovative decisions of rabbinic sages. It concludes that in contrast to Pharisaic conceptions of the antiquity of “ancestral tradition,” the earliest rabbinic texts insist upon the oral nature of the halakhic tradition and, paradoxically, upon its relatively recent origins in Hasmonean‐Herodian times. This point is made clear by the fact that only a few minor halakhic norms are conceded to precede the first century b.c.e. as “halakhah to Moses from Sinai.”

Keywords: Halakhah; Halakhah to Moses from Sinai; Mishnah; Tannaitic sources; Tosefta

Chapter.  10477 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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