Manuscripts of the Tosefta
There are 3 extant manuscripts of the Tosefta: Vienna Manuscript, Erfurt Manuscript, and London Manuscript. Besides the three manuscripts there are also small sections of the Tosefta that were found in the Cairo Geniza and the European Geniza and are known as the Geniza Fragments. Saul Lieberman, in his edition of the Tosefta of Seder Nezikin, considered one of these fragments a manuscript, known as the Schocken manuscript, although most scholars consider it a fragment since it is only a few pages long.
The Vienna Manuscript
The Vienna Manuscript is the only complete extant manuscript of the Tosefta. It was written approximately in the end of the 13th, beginning of the 14th centuries. It is written in square Sephardic script on parchment and contains 327 folios. Its catalog number is Hebrew Manuscript #20, Austrian National Library in Vienna (Cod. Hebrew 20, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien). The Vienna Manuscript is missing the following 10 small sections of the Tosefta due to missing folios.
1) Demai, middle of chapter 5 – chapter 8
2) Terumot, chapter 1 – middle of chapter 2
3) Nazir, middle of chapter 3 – middle of chapter 4
4) Sotah, middle of chapter 6 – middle of chapter 7
5) Bava Batra, middle of chapter 2 – middle of chapter 4
6) Sanhedrin, middle of chapter 8 – middle of chapter 9
7) Makkot, chapter 2
8) Ohalot, middle of chapter 4 – middle of chapter 5
9) Mikvaot, middle of chapter 3 – middle of chapter 6
10) Zavim, middle of chapter 1 – middle of chapter 3
At the end of the manuscript there is a short history of its travels. In the Jewish year 5100 (1340) it belonged to a man by the name of Rav Menachem Bar Avraham. He sold it in the month of Tamuz of that year to Rav Daniel Bar Moshe Hakohen for 10 ½ gold coins. Then in the Jewish year 5307 (1547) it was purchased by Rav Yosef Bar Yehoshua Hakohen of Genoa, Italy for 40 gold coins. This Rav Yehoshua was a known historian who wrote a book Emek Habacha on the history of the Jewish people. Then in the year 5490 (1730) it was bought by some Rav Yakov. Finally, in 1843, the manuscript was in the possession of Rav Avraham Ginsburg who sold it to the Vienna Library for 200 florins.
The Vienna Manuscript, folio 15. End of Berachot, beginning of Peah.
The Erfurt Manuscript
The Erfurt Manuscript is the oldest extant manuscript of the Tosefta, although it is not complete. According to Saul Lieberman, in his introduction to his edition of the Tosefta, it was written sometime during the 12th century in Germany, by an Ashkenazi scribe. The Erfurt Manuscript contains the first four Sedarim (Zerayim, Moed, Nashim and Nezikin) of the Tosefta and the first four and a half chapters of Masechta Zevachim. After that the manuscript stops implying that it was never finished by the original scribe. It contains 226 folios, 222 of which is the Tosefta and the last 4 is some other material.
The history of the Erfurt manuscript is partially written on its last page and partially in the Memorial Book of the City of Erfurt. The gist of the receipt written on the last page of the manuscript is as follows. In the Jewish year 5020 (1260) it was owned by Rav Yakov Bar Simcha. This Rav Yakov owed some money to Rav Elazar Bar Yitzchak Halevi. A third of this manuscript, together with another book was given to a third party, Rav Yehudah Bar Shneur, to be held as collateral until Rav Yakov paid his debt to Rav Elazar. The story continues in the Memorial Book of the city of Erfurt, Germany. In the year 1362, the council of the city of Erfurt sold a bunch of Jewish manuscripts for 34 marks. Prior to that these manuscripts laid around for many years in the building of the city council in Erfurt, including during the Jewish pogroms in 1349 which followed the epidemic of Black Plague. In 1879, 16 of these manuscripts were found in the Erfurt Evangelical Church Library and among them was the manuscript of the Tosefta, labeled N.11V.12. In 1879 this collection of manuscripts was transferred to the German National Library in Berlin, where they remain today. The name of the Tosefta manuscript remains to be the Erfurt Manuscript, based on the city where it was originally found. The manuscript is labeled in the Berlin National Library as Staatsbibliothek (Preussischer Kulturbesitz) Or. fol. 1220.
The manuscript contains blood stains on it, which suggests that one of its owners was murdered or at least very hurt during some violent encounter, at which point the manuscript was taken away from him. I would suggest that it is very possible that this happened during one of Jewish pogroms in Germany, which is how the manuscript made its way to the Erfurt Evangelical Church, where the manuscripts stolen from Jews were collected. But this is only a theory.
The Erfurt Manuscript, folio 16. End of Berachot, beginning of Peah.
The London Manuscript
The London Manuscript is the most recent and 2nd shortest manuscript of the Tosefta, as it contains only Seder Moed and Masechta Chulin on 73 folios. It is estimated to be written in the 15th century in Sephardic African writing style. The manuscript is kept in the British Museum, labeled London British Library Add. 27296.
The London Manuscript. Shekalim, chapter 3.
The Schocken Manuscript
The Schocken Manuscript is not really a manuscript but rather a large fragment of the Tosefta. It contains only 4 folios with a small part of Seder Nezikin. The end of chapter 11 of Bava Kamma through chapter 5 of Bava Metzia. The fragment itself is not complete, because the pages are ripped. The manuscript is kept in the Schocken Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Jerusalem and is labeled Manuscript 2041.
The Schocken Manuscript. Bava Metzia, chapter 5.
The Geniza Fragments
The Geniza Fragments of the Tosefta mostly originate either from the Cairo Geniza or from the European (mostly Italian) Geniza and are dispersed throughout various collections in many libraries around the world. Among them is the oldest extant fragment of the Tosefta dating from the 10th century, from the city of Norcia, Italy, which contains a part of Masechta Nedarim.
Geniza Fragment from the Italian Geniza. Bologna, Italy, Archivio di Stato, Hebrew fragment 14. Sephardic square script. 13th century. Tosefta Megillah, end of chapter 1, beginning of chapter 2.
Oldest extant Geniza Fragment of the Tosefta from the Italian Geniza. Norcia, Italy, Archivio Storico Comunale, Hebrew fragment 1.1. Oriental square script. 10th century. Tosefta Nedarim, section of chapters 5 and 6.