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Version 006 Uzzah

…has been finally delivered. The most important changes are listed below.
  • The single most significant improvement is the introduction of the number of categories pertaining to the formal aspects of the texts. The current version of the database acknowledges the language of the unit (Hebrew, Aramaic or mixed), the attribution (or the lack thereof) of a given tradition to the specific sage and the mention of the specific sage in the contents of the unit. Each of the sages is also adequately annotated in the system in terms of his geographical (Palestine or Babylonia) and chronological origins (Tannaite, Amoraite, Stammaite, etc.). The recognition of these formal aspects opens up totally new modes of macro-scale analysis of the contents with the more precise dating being just the tip of an iceberg.
  • In addition to the above, the 006 version recognizes a range of other formal aspects: the volume of a given unit (measured in the number of characters), the number of tags used to annotate it and the presence of its parallel (i.e. identical or nearly identical) accounts in other places in the BT. The incorporation of these categories allows for a more detailed and nuanced description of the database contents.
  • This version also accommodates the separate category of biblical figures mentioned by the units. Together with the long-standing biblical references (which still need appropriate treatment though) the category of biblical actor will serve as an important connecting point between the Talmudic database and the biblical one, which – as already mentioned in one of the previous posts – has been in active development for some time now.
  • Version 006 is slightly bigger than 005 (797 units versus 743) and this growth is mainly due to the more fine-grained division into the specific units. In addition to this, a several previously unrecognized accounts have been added with most of them speaking about the ghosts in the context of the resurrection of the dead.
  • A handful of brand-new SEs has been recognized (e.g. sar shelesh of Pesahim 118a-b, gandropos of Hagigah 3b and golem of Sanhedrin 65b). The #animal tag used to annotate the units speaking about monstrous animals (with prime example in Bava Batra 73b) has been exchanged with the #wildthing in order to avoid confusion with the #animal tag belonging to the #habitation category and deployed to indicate the place of residence of a given SE. Finally, Belial has been moved from the category of demons to the category of angels and this decision has been motivated by the way it is portrayed in the Dead Sea Scrolls (especially CD 5:18; 1QM 17:5-6), New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:15) and apocrypha and pseudepigrapha (e.g. Jubilees 15:32).
  • A few new topics have been added, inter alia #pneumogony (to denote units speaking about the creation of ghosts) and #demiurge (to denote the skill of creation of the world or its part). Some other have been rearranged. Hence, the #throne tag is now the third-tier tag of #heaven and #cosmogony belongs to the #spheresoflife. Yet some others have been slightly changed, e.g., #sukkah is now #sukkot.
  • Last but not least, some minor and cosmetic errors (redundant spaces and comas, typos, etc.) have been corrected.
The present version of the database has been prepared as a part of my ongoing research project The Supernatural Entities and Their Relationships with Humans according to the Babylonian Talmud from the Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives (SONATA 14; Registration number: 2018/31/D/HS1/00513) financed by the National Science Center, Poland.

Issues still to be addressed:
  • revision and correction of the new categories, especially the ones pertaining to attribution and actors;
  • proper development of the biblical references;
  • inclusion of the still missing SEs.

The expected date of the publication of the version 007 is the first quarter of 2022. With each version I am also more and more confident that speaking about the “final” one – something I myself find guilty of in the past – is short-sighted. With this being said, however, I estimate that the version 007 will be the last one before I move on to other projects.

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Very special thanks go to the students participating in the Thematic Seminar: Supernatural Creatures - a Cognitive Perspective, with whom I have spend many inspiring hours discussing the nuances of the project. Uszanowanko!