This thread is a repository of information about the Mishna, particularly information that might help understand it during the 1st to 4th centuries, and possible influences it or its development might have had on the development of Christianity.
The Jewish community of Palestine suffered horrendous losses during the Great Revolt and the Bar-Kokhba rebellion. Well over a million Jews were killed in the two ill-fated uprisings, and the leading yeshivot, along with thousands of their rabbinical scholars and students, were devastated.
This decline in the number of knowledgeable Jews seems to have been a decisive factor in Rabbi Judah the Prince's decision around the year 200 C.E. to record in writing the Oral Law [though it probably started in the first century; see below]. For centuries, Judaism's leading rabbis had resisted writing down the Oral Law. Teaching the law orally, the rabbis knew, compelled students to maintain close relationships with teachers, and they considered teachers, not books, to be the best conveyors of the Jewish tradition. But with the deaths of so many teachers in the failed revolts, Rabbi Judah apparently feared that the Oral Law would be forgotten unless it were written down.
In the Mishna, the name for the sixty-three tractates in which Rabbi Judah set down the Oral Law, Jewish law is systematically codified, unlike in the Torah ...
... in order to know everything the Torah said on a given subject, one either had to read through all of it or know its contents by heart. Rabbi Judah avoided this problem by arranging the Mishna topically ...
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the ... and-mishna
The Mishna supplements the written, or scriptural, laws found in the Pentateuch.
Mishna (mĬsh´nə), in Judaism, codified collection of Oral Law—legal interpretations of portions of the biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and other legal material. http://www.encyclopedia.com/philosophy- ... ism/mishna
The Mishnah consists of six orders (sedarim, singular seder סדר), each containing 7–12 tractates (masechtot, singular masechet מסכת; lit. "web"), 63 in total, and further subdivided into chapters [peraqim, singular pereq], and paragraphs [mishnayot, singular mishnah] or verses. The word Mishnah can also indicate a single paragraph or a verse of the work itself, i.e. the smallest unit of structure in the Mishnah. For this reason the whole work is sometimes called by the plural, Mishnayot.
Because of the division into six orders, the Mishnah is sometimes called 'Shas' (an acronym for Shisha Sedarim – the "six orders"), though that term is more often used for the Talmud as a whole.
The six orders are:
- Zeraim ("Seeds"), dealing with prayer and blessings, tithes and agricultural laws (11 tractates)
- Moed ("Festival"), pertaining to the laws of the Sabbath and the Festivals (12 tractates)
- Nashim ("Women"), concerning marriage and divorce, some forms of oaths and the laws of the nazirite (7 tractates)
- Nezikin ("Damages"), dealing with civil and criminal law, the functioning of the courts and oaths (10 tractates)
- Kodashim ("Holy things"), regarding sacrificial rites, the Temple, and the dietary laws (11 tractates) and
- Tohorot ("Purities"), pertaining to the laws of purity and impurity, including the impurity of the dead, the laws of food purity and bodily purity (12 tractates).
. . <snip> . .
There are .. references to the "Mishnah of Rabbi Akiva", suggesting a still earlier collection [David Zvi Hoffman, Herbert Danby]. On the other hand, these references may simply mean his teachings in general. Another possibility is that Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Meir established the divisions and order of subjects in the Mishnah, making them the authors of a school curriculum rather than of a book.
Authorities are divided on whether Rabbi recorded the Mishnah in writing or established it as an oral text for memorisation. The most important early account of its composition, the Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon (Epistle of Rabbi Sherira Gaon) is ambiguous on the point, although the Spanish recension leans to the theory that the Mishnah was written. However, the Talmud records that, in every study session, there was a person called the tanna appointed to recite the Mishnah passage under discussion. This may indicate that, even if the Mishnah was reduced to writing, it was not available on general distribution.
During the centuries following Rabbi Judah's editing of the Mishna, it was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis. Eventually, some of these rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentaries on the Mishna's laws in a series of books known as the Talmud.
The rabbis of Palestine edited their discussions of the Mishna about the year 400: their work became known as the Palestinian Talmud (in Hebrew, Talmud Yerushalmi, which literally means "Jerusalem Talmud").
More than a century later, some of the leading Babylonian rabbis compiled another editing of the discussions on the Mishna. By then, these deliberations had been going on some three hundred years. The Babylon edition was far more extensive than its Palestinian counterpart, so that the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) became the most authoritative compilation of the Oral Law. When people speak of studying "the Talmud," they almost invariably mean the Bavli rather than the Yerushalmi.
The Talmud's discussions are recorded in a consistent format. A law from the Mishna is cited, which is followed by rabbinic deliberations on its meaning. The Mishna and the rabbinic discussions (known as the Gemara) comprise the Talmud, although in Jewish life the terms Gemara and Talmud usually are used interchangeably.
The rabbis whose views are cited in the Mishna are known as Tanna'im (Aramaic for "teachers"), while the rabbis quoted in the Gemara are known as Amora'im ("explainers" or "interpreters"). Because the Tanna'im lived earlier than the Amora'im, and thus were in closer proximity to Moses and the revelation at Sinai, their teachings are considered more authoritative than those of the Amora'im. For the same reason, Jewish tradition generally regards the teachings of the Amora'im, insofar as they are expounding the Oral Law, as more authoritative than contemporary rabbinic teachings.
In addition to extensive legal discussions (in Hebrew, halakha), the rabbis incorporated into the Talmud guidance on ethical matters, medical advice, historical information, and folklore, which together are known as aggadata.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the ... and-mishna