03 May 2017

For all of you who plan to be in Cracow, Poland next weekend (May 5th-7th): feel invited to attend the 2nd Demonological Conference "Deliver Us from Evil... Apotropaic Customs and Objects in the Civilisations of the World". The schedule together with abstracts and detailed practical information is available on the conference web site. My presentation on the types of the apotropaic techniques deployed in the Babylonian Talmud will take place on Sunday at 15:10. The study bases on the version 002 which is almost done and needs just some polishing before being uploaded in June. I attach the abstract below.

“Arrow in the Eye of Satan” (bSukkah 38a). Apotropaic Customs and Paraphernalia in the Elyonim veTachtonim Electronic Inventory of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in the Early Rabbinic Literature

The world presented in the Early Rabbinic Literature [ERL] is the world inhabited by numerous supernatural creatures which live side by side with humans. These entities range from the angels performing their divine missions through the demons prowling the dark places up till ghosts and spirits dwelling in various foods and as such capable of inducing painful diseases. Obviously then, in order to survive in such world one had to possess the professional knowledge of special apotropaic customs and paraphernalia. The Babylonian Talmud [BT] contains over one hundred such passages speaking about the means of repelling, appeasing or taming the supernatural creatures. All these instances in turn, can be classified according to the particular type of the apotropaic technique applied in the given situation: in some cases these are the citations from the Hebrew Bible which chase away evil spirits while in other one has to resort to some non-biblical spells and barely legal magic. The main purpose of this presentation is to reflect on both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of this classification and to see whether there are any correlations between the specific techniques and the entities being the subject of the apotropaic actions.

23 March 2017

Just a quick update about the state of things.

  1. The quest for entities of the Babylonian Talmud is going well. The working spreadsheet contains over 600 units (which is thrice as many as in the published version 001) and covers both angels and demons. As previously stated, I hope to upload the version 002 in June.
  2. I have discerned two new classes of entities: monsters and gods. These, however, need some more polishing so I am a bit hesitant about publishing them in version 002 and plan to include them in version 003.
  3. I have prepared a simplified and (hopefully) functional feedback form. Just go to the appropriate tab in the main menu above.
  4. Meet BaalPeor (above, to the right) - since I am not always here, he is going to be your host 24/7. Just do not mind his manners: apart from the knack for exposing his posteriors he is a wonderful person.
Last but not least - I would like to express my gratitude to all the good people who provided me with encouragement and feedback or simply helped to spread the news about my project. Thank you very much!

11 February 2017

Hello, world!

...and welcome to the Elyonim veTachtonim project web site. As of today the first version of the database is finally available on-line and:
  • covers the Babylonian Talmud [BT];
  • bases on the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (English) and Wikitext Talmud Bavli (Hebrew, Aramaic);
  • distinguishes between three classes of entities: angels [ang], demons [dem] and ghosts [gho];
  • (more or less) all the units involving dem of the BT are done; these with ang and gho are still in the stub form;
  • distinguishes between six genres: biblical anecdote [bib], rabbinic anecdote [rab], cultic protocol [cult], pragmatic advice [prag], proverb [prov] and statement [stat];
  • recognizes a number of entities and topics;
  • covers all the attitude types.
Currently the following tasks are pending:
  • covering the remaining corpuses of the early rabbinic literature [ERL];
  • revising and cleaning up the database;
  • supplementing the angels and ghosts of the BT;
  • adding new topics;
  • adding new themes: personage.
Estimated date of the publication of the next version: June 2017.