Selected Topics from: G. Stemberger, Introduction to Talmud and Midrash
Meaning of word:
From root YSP:Addition, Supplement -- to the Mishnah.
Term appears in Talmud-- Not clear that it refers to the same work, or to a particular work.
Perhaps it is a generic term for traditions that interpret the Mishnah.
Description of Tosefta:
Same as Mishnah:
- Six Orders
- lmost all the same tractates
- Some discrepancies in order of Tractates within Orders
- Composed in same Hebrew dialect as Mishnah.
- Same rabbis as in Mishnah, though the Tosefta contains more material from the last Tannaitic generation.
Redaction of Tosefta
- Talmudic associations with Rabbi Nehemiah, Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Hosha'yah cannot be verified by independent evidence.
Relationship to Mishnah
- Different phenomena:
- Slight variations, or added explanations.
- Different attributions of authors, or of unattributed statements
- Related material not included in Mishnah (especially in Aggadah)
- Comparative summaries of laws in theMishnah.
- Preserves older versions of material in the Mishnah.
- Purpose of Toefta
Diverse theories, some farfetched:
- Portions of the Mishnah that were later excluded
- Attempt to challenge the authority of the Mishnah and its redactor by presenting alternative material.
- Supplementary material to enhance study of Mishnah.
Relationship to Talmuds
- Basic facts:
- Talmuds contain much material that is similar or identical to the Tosefta
- Talmuds often seem to be unaware of material that is found in the Tosefta.
- Jerusalem Talmud seems much more familiar with Tosefta than Babylonian.
- Proposed explanations
- Tosefta was composed after the Talmudic era, from material found in Talmuds.
- Individual Talmudic rabbis were familiar with Tosefta, but the redactors of the Babylonian Talmud were not.
- Questions have not been resolved yet.