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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

15 - Mishnaic Hebrew: an introductory survey

Mishnaic Hebrew (MH) is the language of the Tannaim and Amoraim in Palestine and Babylonia. The literature of the Amoraim was formed over a period from the end of the third century down to about 500 CE. Most tannaitic texts were redacted in roughly the period 200-50 CE, when Rabbi Judah the Patriarch completed his compilation of the Mishnah. The language reflected in the texts of rabbinic literature is equally known through external evidence, such as the Copper Scroll from Qumran and the letters of Simon Bar-Koseba discovered in the Judaean desert. Down to 200 BCE, the literary language was Biblical Hebrew (BH), even in the late books of the Bible, such as Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles, and Esther. Most scholars agree that MH originates in the language spoken in various regions of Palestine throughout the period of the Second Temple. Throughout the Second Temple period and for centuries later, Hebrew was in direct contact with other languages.
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The Cambridge History of Judaism
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