Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We don't have (and more's the pity!) R' Yehudah Hanassi's autograph copy of the Mishnah (well, okay, it's a controversial issue whether he actually wrote it or only arranged it orally), or Ravina and Rav Ashi's of the Gemara, etc.

But what is the oldest known manuscript of the Mishnah, Gemara, Mechilta, or any other part of Torah Shebaal Peh? (Or perhaps there are manuscripts of Geonic writings - responsa, Halachos Gedolos, or whatever - that predate any known copies of the foundational texts?)

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The oldest written Torah Sheb'al Peh (though not exactly a manuscript) would seem to be the recently-discovered mosaic of the ancient shul in Beit Shaan. The Hebrew Wikipedia article about that shul (which was destroyed 1300 years ago, and existed a few hundred before that) can be found at this link. Here is their image of the mosaic (I hope I'm allowed to use their image link):

The text is similar to passages in Yerushalmi Sheviis. An analysis of this text can be found in Teshuvos Mishnas Yosef 1:51, and at the end of Kaftor Vaferach vol. 1 (in the 3-volume edition).

share|improve this answer
2  
Wow, what an old Wikipedia article! 1300 years, you say? –  Seth J Nov 15 '11 at 2:56
1  
Context, @SethJ, context! (But I agree that misplaced modifiers are good for a laugh sometimes. :) –  Dave Nov 15 '11 at 5:02
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.