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Data

Our workflow began with using the Babylonian Talmud as printed in the standard, Vilna edition in Hebrew/Aramaic.  The digital text is from Sefaria.org, downloaded from their Github site.  The text was first cleaned through a number of processes.  We then used a list of names of rabbis to identify places in the Talmud where rabbinic names appear next to each other in any one of several patterns that we found to indicate a citation.  We manually double-checked a sample of the results and found that it was highly accurate, both in including all relevant citations and in excluding false positives.  We hope to soon publish a formal and extensive account of our workflow.

The data has some innate limitations.  We cannot tell the historicity of these citations from the data alone.  Our research suggests that the citations describe a network that is historically plausible, but from this data alone we can say little more than that.  The rabbis themselves sometimes disagree about the names in citation chains and we know that names were changed by scribes as part of the long process of the transmission of manuscripts.  A future research project is to check our citation network against ones that can be constructed from other manuscripts of the Talmud (and, in fact, other rabbinic texts as well, such as the Palestinian Talmud).

There are also ambiguities in the original data that we could not fully preserve.  Different rabbis sometimes share the same names or nicknames.  We had to definitively map these ambiguities to particular individual rabbis.  While the vast majority of our citations seem to make sense and align with some of the traditional and modern scholarship that attempts to reconstruct rabbinic networks, some don’t – those are cases that need to be investigated further rather than taken for granted.

We have made some datasets available for use.  They are each archived in ResearchGate.

Rabbi Tagging Database:  This is our “canonical” list of all rabbis in rabbinic literature, with crossreferences for rabbis who are referred to with different names.  Link is here.  DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28624.12803

Rabbi Interval Database: This is a spreadsheet of all of places that rabbis occur close to each other, with various aspects (e.g., the span or interval between them) broken out.  Link is here.  DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.35335.01448

Rabbi Quotes:  Spreadsheet of all citations found in the Babylonian Talmud.  Link is here.   DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24429.82401

Gephi File.  This is the file that can be downloaded and read into Gephi.  The visualizations on this website were produced from this file.  Link is here.  DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.18125.26083

 

 

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