28 October 2017

Those who could not attend the lecture in person now have the opportunity to listen to my demonically induced stuttering (in Polish) and appreciate some random images contained in the presentation. Enjoy!

Shout-out goes to Pracownia Metodologiczna IJP PAN for being such a lovely audience. Many thanks!

08 October 2017

It is with pleasure that I inform about my forthcoming presentation Elyonim veTachtonim – elektroniczna baza aniołów, demonów i duchów wczesnej literatury rabinicznej. Praktyczne i niepraktyczne zastosowanie projektu [Elyonim veTachtonim - Electronic inventory of angels, demons and ghosts in the early rabbinic literature. Practical and non-practical application of the project] which will take place as part of the series Digital humanities lunch or: how to taste digital humanities [Digital humanities lunch albo: jak ugryźć humanistykę cyfrową] organized by Pracownia Metodologiczna IJP PAN in cooperation with Towarzystwo Miłośników Języka Polskiego.
The event is scheduled for October 27th 2017 at 13:00 in the Conference Room of the Instytut Języka Polskiego [Institute of Polish Language] of the Polska Akademia Nauk [Polish Academy of Sciences] (Al. Mickiewicza 31, Cracow, Poland).



Below I paste the presentation sneak peak.

Elyonim veTachtonim to meryzm pojawiający się kilkukrotnie we wczesnej literaturze rabinicznej oznaczający całość istot nadprzyrodzonych, zarówno tych „na górze”, tj. aniołów jak i tych „na dole”, czyli demonów. We współczesnym hebrajskim tachtonim oznacza również „majtki”, ale jakkolwiek demony lubiły rabinom zaglądać pod tałesy, to jednak nie bielizna zacnych mężów będzie nas tutaj interesować. Elyonim veTachtonim jest bowiem nazwą kodową trwającego obecnie projektu mającego na celu skonstruowanie otwartej internetowej bazy aniołów, demonów, duchów i innych istot nadprzyrodzonych wczesnej literatury rabinicznej. Owa baza z kolei służy przede wszystkim jako katalog-bestiariusz oraz konkordancja tematyczna umożliwiająca szybkie zlokalizowanie i zestawienie wszystkich fragmentów tekstu (obecnie tylko Talmudu babilońskiego) mówiących o konkretnych istotach. Nie jest to jednak jedyne możliwe zastosowanie: zarówno forma jak i struktura bazy dopuszcza istnienie różnych innych aplikacji inwentarza. Które z nich jednak mogą okazać się użyteczne?
Wszystkich potencjalnych Słuchaczy proszę o zapoznanie się z artykułem przedstawiającym podstawy teoretyczne i metodologiczne niniejszego projektu (W. Kosior, Elyonim veTachtonim. Some Methodological Considerations on the Electronic Database of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in Early Rabbinic Literature). W sytuacji odczucia TL;DR w konfrontacji z tekstem artykułu, proszę o przejrzenie poszczególnych zakładek na stronie projektu. Podczas prezentacji poświęcę co prawda kilka minut na streszczenie głównych założeń projektu, większość czasu jednak chciałbym wykorzystać na omówienie praktycznego (zarówno faktycznego jak i wciąż potencjalnego) zastosowania inwentarza. Zwłaszcza w tym drugim względzie liczę na feedback ze strony Słuchaczy.

The presentation is in Polish. If you do not speak Polish, come anyways to bump a fist and grab some coffee.

05 July 2017

EvT version 002...

…is finally online! The most important changes and improvements include the following.
  • The contents of version 001 Azazel have been generally revised and the description of all the units reconsidered.
  • The class of angels has been significantly developed. Version 002 code-named Belfegor contains over 560 units (versus 290 of ver. 001) of which 386 speak about angels (versus 113 of ver. 001). The ghosts of the BT are still in the stub form with only 26 units and as such still need a separate treatment.
  • Despite the leap in numbers the classes of angels and demons are far from completion. The study allowed to discover numerous other entities unrecognized by previous scholarship but these still need running a dedicated complex search.
  • What is more, the classification of some of the entities needs to be reconsidered.
    • For instance, although in versions 001 and 002 batqol has belonged to the category of angels, it seems that she should be relocated to a hypothetical separate category including the anthropomorphized aspects of the god of Rabbinic Judaism like midah (divine attribute) or shekhinah (feminine divine presence). 
    • Similar is the case with these from among the entities which bear a human name (e.g. Yosef and Yonatan) and as such seem to be ghosts rather than demons.
    • The problem is most apparent in the case of ruach which tends to appear in various collocations which are currently recognized as the names of entities belonging to different classes, e.g. ruachqodesh is an angel, ruachtzaraat is a demon while ruachtumaah has some qualities of a ghost.
  • Some lesser editorial changes have been introduced, e.g. since all tags are one word in length, the comas proved redundant and as such have been removed.
  • A more detailed description of the theoretical and methodological background of the database can be found in the recently published paper available on the PJACNS site, my academia.edu account and personal web page. Please remember: if you plan to use the Elyonim veTachtonim database in your research, make sure to provide the full bibliographic data in references: Wojciech Kosior, Elyonim veTachtonim. Some Methodological Considerations on the Electronic Database of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in Early Rabbinic Literature, “The Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture. New Series”, 2017, 5 (1/2017), p. 89-112.

To be done in version 003 (expected code-name: Belzebub):
  • supplementing the angels and demons with the remaining and less popular entities,
  • reconsidering the classes of entities,
  • supplementing the topics with more detailed tags,
  • covering the ghosts of the BT.

The estimated date of the publication of the next version: December 2017. Meanwhile, head to the Database tab and enjoy the company of angels, demons and (some of the) ghosts!

29 June 2017

I have some bad news and some good news.

  1. The bad: the revealing of the version 002 will be slightly delayed due to duties overload. Still, the polishing should not take more than two weeks and you can expect the update mid-July.
  2. The good: the paper presenting the theoretical and methodological background of the EvT project together with a user manual of a kind has been finally published and can be grabbed from here. If you plan to use the database in your research, please make sure to consult it, providing full bibliographic data in references: Wojciech Kosior, Elyonim veTachtonim. Some Methodological Considerations on the Electronic Database of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in Early Rabbinic Literature, "The Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture. New Series", 2017, 5 (1/2017), p. 89-112.

Meanwhile, stay tuned.

09 June 2017

It is with pleasure that I inform about my forthcoming lecture during Ex Nihilo. A “Zero Conference” on Research in the Religious Fields organized by the European Academy of Religion in Bologna, Italy (Sunday 18th - Thursday 22nd of June, 2017). The panel I am participating in, titled In-Between Humans and Gods. The Diversity of the Supernatural Beings in the Ancient Mediterranean Religions takes place on June 20th (Tuesday), 13:30-15:00 at the Department of Language, Literature and Modern Culture (Via Cartoleria 5) in room no VII.



My lecture, The World of Supernatural Entities according to the Elyonim veTachtonim – Electronic Inventory of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in the Early Rabbinic Literature will focus on the theoretical and methodological background of the project with a special emphasis on the conceptualization and operationalization of the "supernatural entity".

I would like to express my gratitude to the following institutions for their generous financial support (in alphabetical order):



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!