The first version of the database of the biblical supernatural entities (codenamed Ariel) has just been published. Just like the aboriginal iteration of the Talmudic database, this one also should be treated as an early (think: alpha) version, even though it offers much more than Azazel did back in 2017.
- The Ariel version contains almost 200 units and covers the entire Hebrew Bible. It bases on the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and utilizes the World English Bible translation. The process of construction of the database roughly followed the same rules as was the case with the Talmudic database. Specifically, it meant consulting the literature on the subject, electronic searches for the specific terms performed on the source texts, division of texts into units and annotating them using the categories devised earlier.
- It covers most of the biblical angels. Two basic points of reference in construing the list of the biblical SEs were Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Old Testament and the current (version 006 Uzzah) list of the Talmudic entities, which also serves as the basis for the division into the specific classes of the SEs. The database also includes a couple of units speaking about the SEs belonging to the remaining classes. In most cases these were found in the textual proximity to the accounts speaking about angels.
- The genres base on the general division into three main types: anecdotes, statements and advices (the Talmudic database distinguishes between two subtypes of anecdotes and hence offers 4 genres). In order to give justice to the specificity of the Hebrew Bible, Ariel acknowledges also the native biblical genres such as narrative, law or prophecy as a separate category.
- The topics follow from the ones developed for the Talmudic database. Since some specific subjects turn out to be tackled more often than others, it was decided to add a number of new tags. These however did not change the general topic outline.
To be expected in the next version (002) of the biblical database:
- supplementing the class of angels with the remaining types;
- incorporation of the class of demons;
- introduction of a more fine-grained partition into units.
The expected date of publication of version 002 – the first quarter of 2022.
The scope of the projectThe inclusion of the biblical database means a significant growth in the project range and complexity and hence some changes in the web site layout. Some of the categories (entities, topics, Talmudic and biblical figures) have been uploaded and nested as spreadsheet files. Although this may cause issues with loading time (especially on older machines), this choice was necessary to accommodate a more complex tag ontology, described with a greater precision.
More importantly, however, from now on, the Elyonim veTachtonim project is no longer restricted to the Babylonian Talmud. As the Ariel version proves, the system developed earlier can be easily applied in different contexts and in the future the project will cover other corpuses of Jewish and Christian religious literature. It is safe to say, though, that its applicability is even more universal and in the longer scope corpuses originating from entirely different cultural and religious entourages will be included as well.
The Ariel version of the biblical inventory has been created as a part of the grant The Construction of the Database of the Supernatural Entities in the Hebrew Bible using the System of the Elyonim veTachtonim Project (Excellence Initiative, [H.1.12.2020] MiniGRANTY POB Heritage) issued by the Jagiellonian University.
For more information about the project click here.