From pp. 11-12 in the introduction:
and from pp. 320-322 in the conclusion:
In all, however, it appears that the Baytusim may be authentically traced to twelve different contexts. Some of these contexts include two rabbinic sources that mention the Baytusim, while some have parallel passages that do not refer to the Baytusim at all. In sum, the Baytusim passages include one from the Mishnah, seven from the Tosefta, two from the Palestinian Talmud, four from the Babylonian Talmud, two from the Scholion to Megillat Ta’anit, and one from Avot de-Rabbi Natan.
The traditions assign, often with polemical overtones, views or actions to the Baytusim or to one of the members of the group on a broad array of topics. While most of the traditions present views or actions of the Baytusim on halakhic matters, at least one tradition presents the argument of the Baytusim in what may be regarded as a theological context. The halakhic contexts within which we find the views or actions of the Baytusim expressed include Temple-related items such as the incense-offering of the high priest on the Day of Atonement, judicial issues such as the punishment deserved by the zomemim (refuted) witnesses and ritual issues such as the willow branch ceremony celebrated in the Temple on Sukkot (Tabernacles).
In search of some unifying characteristics, some historians have proposed sociological explanations of the views of the Baytusim. More often, however, the Baytusim have been portrayed as having taken a literalist approach to Biblical verses and as having rejected the general validity of the Oral Law. Virtually every rabbinic passage which refers to the Baytusim has been interpreted in this light. The Baytusi interpretation of three Biblical verses in the Scholion to 4 Tammuz clearly presents the Baytusim as advancing a literalist position. The ARN portrayal of the Seduqim and Baytusim as having departed from the Torah has also been taken as equivalent to a rejection of the Oral Law. Moreover, most of the other traditions – dealing with the status of the Baytusim with respect to ‘eruv haserot, their understanding of the manner of incense offering on Yom Kippur, their rejection of the sages’ Sukkot ceremonies, their alternate dating of the ‘omer ceremony and the festival of Shavuot, and their disagreement with the sages regarding two court procedures – have also been understood as emanating from a general rejection of the Oral Law. This approach has found support amongst medieval commentators as well as modern historians.
In truth, however, while it is clear that the conclusions of the Baytusim are presented as differing from those of the sages or the Perushim, it is not clear that rabbinic sources view the Baytusim as having offered a sweeping rejection of the Oral Law and as having adopted a consistently literalist approach to the reading of the Bible. First, two of the three literalist interpretations attributed to the Baytusim in the Scholion are offered by tannaim elsewhere in rabbinic literature. Secondly, the ARN assertion that the Baytusim “departed form the Torah” appears to mean that they departed form the mainstream of the sages; it does not appear to imply any rejection of a general methodology or direction. Thirdly, in each of the other passages, there is never even an allusion to a rejection of the Oral Law. Rather, the arguments of the Baytusim are presented as independently-formulated opinions with which the sages or the Perushim took issue. Fourthly, in at least one case – T. Kippurim 1:8 and P. Yoma 39a-b – historians have recognized that the opinion of the Baytusim is not more literal than that of the sages. Finally, if the Baytusim were indeed viewed by the rabbis as being literealists, it is somewhat puzzling to understand why they are not presented as citing and explicating more Biblical verses. In point of fact, the Baytusim are perceived as having offered Scriptural proof in only three instances: the Scholion to 4 Tammuz, T. Kippurim 1:8 and P. Yoma 39a-b, and the Scholion to 8 Nisan. Indeed, even the parallel passage to the Scholion to 8 Nisan – B. Menahot 65a-b – does not cite the Biblical verse.