The Mishnah is preserved in a web of exegetical texts—the Tosefta, the alakhic midrashim, and the Talmuds—which have accompanied it iroughout its history of transmission. A common problem in mishnaic:xtual criticism, therefore, is to clarify the extent to which elements of the Mishnah's exegetical tradition have become part of the the text itself. It is for this reason that a question most appropriate to other literary texts is so difficult to answer for the Mishnah: at what point does the history of the text's creation end and the history of its transmission and interpretation begin? In a certain respect, of course, in the mishnaic case this question is conceptually flawed. By posing an absolute distinction between the redactionand transmission-history of the Mishnah, one reifies processes which, in fact, are most difficult to distinguish. Epstein in particular has shown that the text of the Mishnah, in the recension of Rabbi (Judah the Patriarch), remained relatively fluid for some centuries after its promulgation, ca. 200 C.E. Thus, the mishnaic text-types now available are in a very real sense no less the creations of the Mishnah's later students (the amoraim, or “explainers”) than they are the work of the Mishnah's authors.