(5) Relation to Other Works: (a) Aramaic Targumim on the Torah; (b) Mishnah; (c) Tosefta; (d) Talmuds. (See: *Mishnah: The Mishnah as a Literary Work; Halakhah in the Mishnah; Aggadah in the Mishnah.) Hoffmann drew a clear and persuasive distinction between the midrashic schools of R. *Ishmael, that differ from one other in their homiletical methods, midrashic terminology, the names of the major sages mentioned in them, and in the body of the exegeses. Epstein, developed and expanded upon the distinctions between these two schools, while at the same time defining the unique character of each of the specific tannaitic teaches that, alongside the common elements of the midrashim belonging to each school, the differences between the midrashim are to be afforded greater prominence. Ishmael are marked by a relatively high degree of uniformity. Akiva, in contrast, are not homogeneous, and are to be divided into two subcategories that differ from each other in many realms: (a) exhibit a number of unique characteristics, both linguistically and with regard to their content, and have only very tenuous ties to the Mishnah of R. This division, by itself, raises the possibility that the two groups of from the school of R.
Halakhic Midrashim () contain both halakhic and aggadic (i.e., nonlegal) material from the tannaitic period, arranged according to the order of verses in the Torah, in contrast with other major compositions of this period – Mishnah and Tosefta – in which the material is arranged by subject.
Some of the reasoning is formulated as a dialectic dialogue, during the course of which several alternative interpretations are suggested, and explanations are presented as to why a certain interpretation is to be accepted, and not others.
Other verses are frequently cited as proof texts in the course of the midrashic interpretation of the specific verse under discussion.
The above evidence teaches that the literature of the tannaitic Midrashim was originally much more extensive and richer than the extant written works.
Such a perception requires us to beware of the drawing of unequivocal conclusions on the basis of the partial data that we possess, that are merely the tip of the iceberg.
מִדְךְשׁי הֲלָכָה; "Halakhic Midrashim"), the appellation given to a group of tannaitic expositions on four books of the Pentateuch. Akiva: (a) Distinct Exegetical Methods; (b) The Division into Schools; (c) Redaction of the Material from the Schools. Hoffmann similarly demonstrated that the midrashim on each of the Pentateuchal books that have come down to us represent, in fact, these two schools, with one midrash from the school of R. Ishmael, extant for each of the books of the Torah (except for Genesis). Akiva are merely representatives of the literary product of two academies, that originally included two parallel midrashic redactions for each of the Pentateuchal books from Exodus to Deuteronomy.
This body of tannaitic literature will be discussed below under the following headings: (1) Characteristics of Halakhic Midrash: (a) The Collections; (b) The Term Halakhic Midrash; (c) Literary Nature and Relation to Early Midrash; (d) Authority of the Bible; (e) Development of Exegetical Methods. Aside from the unlikelihood that the redactors of a school for the exegesis of the Torah would begin their activity with the Book of Numbers, or would be satisfied with midrashim on the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, support for the existence of additional baraitot that are preserved in other compositions, most importantly, the Tosefta and the two Talmuds.
We have not as yet uncovered written halakhic documents of proto-rabbinic orientation from the earlier period in which the Judean Desert scrolls were composed, thereby impeding our search for the main reason for these differences.
Additionally, at times the midrashim tend to append to the narrow interpretation of the verse expanded and extensive discussion of halakhic matters and aggadic topics that only indirectly bear on the verse.
Most of the midrashic interpretations are unattributed, but the name of the rabbinic author of the midrash is often mentioned at its beginning or end.
Whatever the cause, it seems that the literary formulation of the in the tannaitic period was the result of several factors: (1) the canonization of the biblical literature and the conception that no books were to be added to the biblical canon bolstered the need to produce other compositions that clearly distinguished between the Bible per se, on the one hand, and its interpretation by the rabbis, on the other; (2) the consolidation of a more uniform version of the Bible and its sanctification, specifically, constituted a necessary condition for the composition of the exegetical interpretation of this text that would be based, inter alia, on a close reading of details in the accepted version; (3) the multiplicity of halakhic details that had no basis in the simple readings of Scripture, and the increasing gap between the early biblical law and the later rabbinic halakhah, furthered the need to create an updated compilation of halakhot and halakhic biblical exegesis; (4) the external polemics directed against the legitimacy of rabbinic halakhah, and the argument that it was only a human interpretation, led to an elaboration of the exegetical methods that had the potential for weakening these claims, while at the same time reinforcing the necessity of presenting the close link between the halakhot and the verses in independent compositions; (5) the internal debate between the different exegetical schools of the tannaim themselves also intensified the need for the redaction of midrashim by each of these schools.
Another possibility is that external governmental prohibitions against Torah study, and the fear that this would result in the Torah being forgotten, spurred the process of a new summation of the halakhot, whether redacted by subject, as in the Mishnah, or in the order of the verses in the Torah, as in the as the authoritative and obligatory word of God.