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Introduction to the Symposium: What is (the) Mishnah?

  • Steven D. Fraade (a1)

The following four papers originated in a special session of the History and Literature of Early Rabbinic Judaism Section at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 19, 2006, in Washington, D.C. The panelists were asked to review and constructively critique one another's recent works on the Mishnah, with an eye toward setting each within the larger corpus of recent scholarship on the Mishnah and its broader literary and historical context while addressing how each contributes to the larger question, what is (the) Mishnah?

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1. A similar session comprising three papers was held at the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies, December 16, 2006, in San Diego, California. The papers at that session were presented by Beth A. Berkowitz, Chaya Halberstam, and Judith Hauptman, once again reviewing one another's recent work on the Mishnah. Their works are referred to in the following papers, and it is hoped that their papers will be published separately.

2. Although later talmudic commentators and legal codes presume these terms here to refer to specific corpora of either the Mishnah or the tannaitic midrashim, it is highly unlikely that this is what the talmudic text has in mind.

3. For recent (inconclusive) surveys of the possibilities, see Strack, H. L. and Stemberger, G., Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, trans. Bockmuehl, Markus, 2nd rev. printing (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 135–38; Elman, Yaakov, “Order, Sequence, and Selection: The Mishnah's Anthological Choices,” in The Anthology in Jewish Literature, ed. Stern, David (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 5380, esp. 65–70; and Simon-Shoshan, Moshe, “Halachah Lema‘aseh: Narrative and Legal Discourse in the Mishnah” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2005), 8299.

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AJS Review
  • ISSN: 0364-0094
  • EISSN: 1475-4541
  • URL: /core/journals/ajs-review
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