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In the Rambam's introduction he writes:

וחיברו חכמי משנה חיבורין אחרים, לפרש דברי התורה: רבי הושעיה תלמידו של רבנו הקדוש, חיבר ביאור ספר בראשית. ורבי ישמעאל פירש מאלה שמות עד סוף התורה, והוא הנקרא מכילתא; וכן רבי עקיבה חיבר מכילתא. וחכמים אחרים אחריהם חיברו מדרשות. והכול חובר קודם התלמוד הבבלי.

That Rabbi Akiva wrote a Mechilta. Presumably, the Rabbi Yishmoel is the one identified by the Rambam earlier as well since he doesn't clarify anyone else, even though he authors a work starting from Shemos and someone much later authors Bereishis.

Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmoel are several generations before Rabbeinu HaKadosh. And although the Rambam allows that things were written for personal use before Rabbeinu HaKadosh, these works don't appear to be personal notes.

  • The quote doesn't say anyone wrote anything. – mevaqesh Sep 28 '17 at 13:26
  • @mevaqesh, That is exactly how the Rambam uses the word חיבור. רבנו הקדוש חיבר המשנה. ומימות משה ועד רבנו הקדוש, לא חיברו חיבור שמלמדין אותו ברבים בתורה שבעל פה; אלא בכל דור ודור, ראש בית דין או נביא שיהיה באותו הדור, כותב לעצמו זיכרון בשמועות ששמע מרבותיו, והוא מלמד על פה ברבים. I realize that others hold Rabbeinu HaKadosh didn't write anything down, but the Rambam is very clear. – Yishai Sep 28 '17 at 13:30
  • No. Chibber meant composed. One can compose something and also write and disseminate it, or compose something and not write and disseminate it. – mevaqesh Sep 28 '17 at 13:32
  • @mevaqesh, If you want to support such a contention in an answer, go ahead. But reading that into the Rambam is, generously, a דוחק גדול. Most of his uses of חיבור become nonsensical when reading that way. – Yishai Sep 28 '17 at 13:35
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    @mevaqesh, " Until Rabbenu Hakadosh there were no hibburin that were disseminated but there were hibburin that were not disseminated." But that isn't at all what the Rambam writes, rather רבנו הקדוש חיבר המשנה. ומימות משה ועד רבנו הקדוש, לא חיברו חיבור שמלמדין אותו ברבים בתורה שבעל פה; אלא בכל דור ודור, ראש בית דין או נביא שיהיה באותו הדור, כותב לעצמו זיכרון בשמועות ששמע מרבותיו, והוא מלמד על פה ברבים. – Yishai Sep 28 '17 at 14:34
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I believe most scholars (if not all) do not interpret the Rambam as suggested in the question. Instead, the Rambam is referring to the Mechilta of R. Shimon [bar Yochai] whose collection is generally in accordance with R. Akiva.

The initial groundbreaking work was done by Friedmann, which he treats in his intro. to his Mekhilta edition (here, s.v. מעתה), and demonstrated that Rambam was referring to what we have today 'Mekhilta of Rashbi'. Later R. DZ Hoffman published his edition of the newly organized Mekhilta of Rashbi on Shemot and corroborated (here) Friedmann's theory(ies). See also Prof. Finkelstien's perceptive take on the Rambam's phrasing here versus his phraseology in his intro. to the Mishnah (here), intimating that "Mekhilta of R. Akiva" was compiled by Rashbi. See R. Kasher (note 5) for another later example of agreement (unanimous, AFAIK) on interpreting Rambam here.

Regarding the general question when the Tannaitic Midrashim assumed textual form, Albeck shows in his מבוא לתלמודים & מבוא למשנה that it was after the closing of the Talmud. Until then the texts (i.e. the lessons) were transmitted orally slowly gaining structure and organization.

  • That doesn't help the question. Rabbi Shimon was only one generation later. – Yishai Sep 28 '17 at 17:56
  • @Yishai and so? – Oliver Sep 28 '17 at 18:04
  • so why did he write down Torah She Baal Peh? – Yishai Sep 28 '17 at 18:05
  • @Yishai Ah, you mean it doesn't help your new question "Why did Rashbi write down TSBP?". You'll need to first prove that he did [put pen to paper]. Rambam is merely speaking of a collection (mechilta) which follows the school of R. Akiva, ultimately ascribed to Rashbi as its refactor. – Oliver Sep 28 '17 at 18:12
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    @Yishai It was not clear that the question was according to Rambam in particular, rather than merely using him as the background for the question. Indeed, the question was not tagged Rambam. || As such, those who disagree with him certainly are acceptable as answers. This is completely independent of what Rambam means... – mevaqesh Oct 1 '17 at 15:11

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