An extraordinary study by a researcher in the field of Talmud at Ben Gurion University and a bat researcher at Tel Aviv University has resulted in the development of an innovative tool for analyzing the social connections created between the sages of Judaism and Christianity in the first centuries AD
"The use of customer technologies from animal research, on ancient texts enabled an innovative point of view that connects disciplines," said Prof. Michal Bar-Asher Siegel, the editor of the study. The research findings were recently published in the prestigious journal - Humanities & Social Sciences Communications (Springer Nature).
While Judaism and Christianity are known as separate religions, in fact these two religions developed side by side. The old assumption was that the two developed independently after the "parting of the ways" in the first century AD, but new studies reveal a multi-layered system of interactions throughout the first centuries AD. This question has been investigated so far only based on a limited knowledge of the sources, but innovative research offers a completely new set of methods taken from computer science, for understanding the connections between Jews and Christians in late antiquity. Precisely the connection between an animal researcher and a text researcher succeeded in advancing the historical study of the relations between the Jews and the Christians in the first centuries AD.
Prof. Michal Bar Asher Siegel, Researcher in the Department of Israel Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev andProf. Yossi Yuval, the head of the Sagol School of Neuroscience and the head of the Laboratory for Sensory Perception and Cognition in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University proposed to combine their research fields in order to analyze historical connections between religious communities. how? Based on the analysis of social relations between bats built by Prof. Yuval, Prof. Bar Asher Siegal made a visual diagram of the social relations between Christians and Jews. Instead of presenting interactions between people or places, the researchers presented literary interactions that indicate historical connections between religious communities, based on texts written by rabbis from Babylon and the Land of Israel as well as texts drawn from Christian traditions from the first century to the sixth century AD.
Yes, just like on Facebook or Instagram, the researchers were able to indicate relationships according to a sequence of connections, which developed over hundreds of years, in complex visual paintings.
The research reveals new insights into the relationship between the two communities. For example, rabbinical sources have been found that showed a polemical attitude towards early Christian traditions but more inclusive attitudes towards later Christian traditions. Moreover, the Jewish sources know the Christian sources from wider and wider geographical areas the later the texts are. The application of the analysis of the network of connections makes it possible to identify the most influential texts that indicate the importance of certain traditions for the two religious communities.
"This approach, which uses network mapping, is a tool for discovering new insights that are difficult to see from reading the locations alone, especially when using large networks," noted Prof. Yossi Yuval. Hence, the network that was built is not only a tool for describing the known data, but is a means by which the network can be enlarged and lead us to new scientific paths that are unknown today.
More of the topic in Hayadan: