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Version 004 Dumah finally online, despite the obnoxious draughts which have been invading Poland for the last several weeks. This version of the inventory is substantially larger than its predecessor (726 units versus 585 units) and features the following changes.
  • The most significant improvement is the introduction of the monster class of entities. The same rules apply as with the remaining classes and the monsters are defined by the list of its examples, which include figures usually connected to the chaoskampf myth such as Behemoth or Leviathan as well as the anthropomorphized Gehenna and Sheol. 
  • Since it was impossible to find a monster whose name would start with “D” (save for draqon, but it does not sound rabbinic enough), the patron of the current version is Dumah, the angel responsible for the deceased spirits in the underworld.
  • Talking about spirits – various types of ruchot received specific numbers to mark their affiliation to particular classes: ruach1 is for angels, ruach2 is for demons while ruach3 is for ghosts.
  • Also, this change was reflected in the very name of the database which is now “electronic inventory of angels, demons, ghosts and monsters in early rabbinic literature”.
  • Several new topics have been introduced, e.g. voracity to denote units which speak about entities’ appetites and dominion to mark entities’ connections to various elements like fire or rain.
  • A new category of information was introduced: biblical reference. The column contains, as the name implies, the biblical sigla being referred to in the main text. For now this is a new test feature for an eventual development.
  • The summaries sheets now have the conditional formatting to make it easier to recognize certain patterns and regularities.
  • Some slight corrections and clarifications have been made to the way the material is tagged in the inventory. Here I would like to express gratitude to the users from all over the world for all the feedback I have gathered since the publication of the version 003 “Gabriel” of the database – thank you very much!
  • For the time being all the classes (i.e. angels, demons, ghosts and monsters) can be considered (more or less) complete. This means that after almost two years (I started working on the inventory in summer 2016) the Babylonian Talmud is done and with this very important milestone I can move on to the other corpi of the early rabbinic literature, most importantly the Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash Rabbah collection.

The future plans are as follows.
  • The topical tags need further clarification and ordering, since many of them were conceptualized and applied on the go what resulted in sometimes all too complex structure. This needs to be ordered into a clear two- or three-tier tag system which was initially intended.
  • The very endeavor as such demands a more elaborate theoretical and methodological basis. This means the main principles laid out in two first papers on the inventory need to be carefully revisited.
  • Some initial reconnaissance has been made in both Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash Rabbah, but it is yet to be decided which one goes first to be included in the inventory. This however will happen no sooner than the above tasks are completed.
  • The estimated (though rather optimistic) date of the publication of the version 005 of the database is fall 2018/winter 2019.

Meanwhile grab some popcorn and enjoy brand new monstrous anecdotes from the Babylonian Talmud.