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Tetralemma in the Mishna and the Tosefta / הטטרלמה והטרילמה במשנה ובתוספתא (חלק ראשון)

מירב (טובול) כהנא and Meirav (Tubul) Kahana
Lĕšonénu: A Journal for the Study of the Hebrew Language and Cognate Subjects / לשוננו: כתב-עת לחקר הלשון העברית והתחומים הסמוכים לה
Vol. עא‎, No. ג/ד‎ (אלול התשס"ט), pp. 287-308
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24327851
Page Count: 22
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Tetralemma in the Mishna and the Tosefta / הטטרלמה והטרילמה במשנה ובתוספתא (חלק ראשון)
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Abstract

The tetralemma (τετράς, λημμα) is a logical scheme made up of four statements. Each statement is composed of two characteristics or attributes (A, B) and their opposites: (A, B), (-A, B), (A, -B), (-A, -B). Tetralemma and trilemma are very prevalent in rabbinic literature, particularly in its halakhic parts. This paper provides a complete description of the tetralemma and trilemma documented in the Mishna and in the Tosefta, and explores the various scheme patterns as they relate to the order of their component statements, as well as the factors that affect their order. Also explored are: what affects how the characteristics are ordered within each statement; the various rhetorical elements expressed in the structure under discussion; and the role of the tetralemma and trilemma within the wider context. Although, theoretically, tetralemma and trilemma statements can produce up to 24 patterns, based on the order of their component statements, only a small number of these patterns are indeed realized in the Mishna and Tosefta. In a large number of the cases, we can identify the variable that determines the order of the statements in a particular scheme. In some cases, the consideration is one of content, in others, style or syntax, and on occasion, the overall structure of the discourse determines the order of the statements in the pattern. This examination of the features of the tetralemma and trilemma clearly points to the redaction of these texts and to the stylistic awareness of their redactors, or of the transmitters of tannaitic traditions.

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