Friday, July 01, 2011

An Israeli Algorithm Sheds Light on the Bible

There's a new software that's developed. It analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors. They've applied it to the Bible.

From a piece on NPR...

For millions of Jews and Christians, it's a tenet of their faith that God is the author of the core text of the Hebrew Bible — the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. But since the advent of modern biblical scholarship, academic researchers have believed the text was written by a number of different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas and linguistic styles and the different names they used for God.

Today, scholars generally split the text into two main strands. One is believed to have been written by a figure or group known as the "priestly" author, because of apparent connections to the temple priests in Jerusalem. The rest is "non-priestly." Scholars have meticulously gone over the text to ascertain which parts belong to which strand.

When the new software was run on the Pentateuch, it found the same division, separating the "priestly" and "non-priestly." It matched up with the traditional academic division at a rate of 90 percent — effectively recreating years of work by multiple scholars in minutes.

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