Mishnah, Or Mishna (late Heb., study), the earlier part or text of the Talmud, forming a compendium of decisions, based on oral traditions, respecting the laws and religious rites of the Jews, and first systematically arranged by the patriarch Rabbi Judah the Holy and his school, toward the close of the 2d, or according to others in the first half of the 3d century. It is written in Hebrew, and divided into six principal parts and 63 treatises. Of the former, the 1st treats chiefly of prayers and the duties of husbandmen; the 2d, festivals; the 3d, marriage relations; the 4th, judicial subjects; the 5th, matters concerning the temple; and the 6th, the institutions respecting purification. For a full analysis of the contents of the Mishnah, see Herzog's Real FncyMopddie, article Thalmud, which also contains an extract from the Talmud, showing the relation of the Mishnah text to the commentaries (Gemara) of the early rabbis. Among the numerous separate editions of the Mishnah are those by Surenhuis (6 vols, fol., Amsterdam, 1698-1703, translation and notes in Latin), and by Heine-mann and others (6 vols. 4to, Berlin, 1831-'4, with punctuated text, German translation in Hebrew characters, rabbinical commentaries, and brief explanations). A free translation in German, with occasional paraphrase and explanatory notes, was published by Rabe (3 vols. 4to, Onolzbach, 1760-'63). De Sola and Rap-hall published an English translation of 18 treatises (London, 1843), and Geiger a valuable Lehr- und Lesebuch zur Sprache der Mischna (Breslau, 1845). - The Mishnah is a very important aid in the critical study of the New Testament, illustrating many allusions to Jewish usages.
But in Christian Europe this body of Jewish learning, of priceless value to Christianity as well as Judaism, narrowly escaped destruction from the fanatical violence of ignorant zealots. Only a few manuscript copies remain. (See Hebrews, vol. viii., pp. 594-'5, and Talmud).