The editing of rabbinic texts is much more complicated. The documents which have come down to us in the multifarious forms of mishnayot, midrashim, halakhot, aggadot, targums and talmuds cannot be considered to be authored literature. They are only kind of snapshots from a world of exegesis and school opinions. When recently reading the Mishnah tractate Sotah together with Midrash Sipre be-Midbar with my students, we had to answer the question of variant readings in parashat sotah with reference to the warning of witnesses in the case of adultery or suspicion of such. One student asked in some surprise: do the different manuscripts of one treatise also testify to different schools of opinion? Such, indeed, is the everyday experience we have in studying a rabbinic text using manuscripts and the subsequent tradition more or less based on manuscripts.

Giuseppe Veltri, “From The Best Text To The Pragmatic Edition: On Editing Rabbinic Texts”, in The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature, eds. Reimund Bieringer, Florentino García Martínez, Didier Pollefeyt, Peter Tomson (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2010), 67.

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