Today I had the pleasure of presenting at The Sixth International Congress of Religious Studies: Belief – Imagination – Knowledge. New Paths of Religious Studies in the 21st Century. The conference took place on-site (finally!), but I did the test recording of my paper and uploaded it on YouTube.
The Babylonian Talmud is a massive textual composition containing the lore and laws of the post-Judean sages inhabiting the Persian Empire during the reigns of the Sasanian dynasty. Among many other subjects, the corpus tackles the problem of the supernatural entities and their complex relationships with humans. It is exactly this sphere, in which the angels, demons, ghosts, and monsters betray their mental anthropomorphic features. The rabbis devote numerous passages to such questions as: what could these entities perceive and how did they interact with the world? what did they know? what skills did they possess? and above all, in what ways were their mental capacities relevant to humans’ everyday life?
The main purpose of the present scrutiny is to address these topics in a systematic and comprehensive manner by acknowledging the gamut of the rabbinic traditions contained in the corpus and by presenting them from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. This task will be carried out with the help of Elyonim veTachtonim – an electronic inventory of supernatural entities in the early rabbinic literature (https://elyonimvetachtonim.project.uj.edu.pl/), which – apart from serving as a thematic concordance – allows to perform various calculations.
This presentation has been prepared as a part of the project The Supernatural Entities and Their Relationships with Humans according to the Babylonian Talmud from the Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives financed by the National Science Center, Poland (registration number: 2018/31/D/HS1/00513).