Jews in Time and Space

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2016121025

Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 31 – n.1-2 – 2016

Key words: Jewish history, world history, logistic analysis, religious canon, Hebrew Bible, Talmud.

Abstract

Using data on the birthdate and birthplace of authors for the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and the post-Talmudic rabbinic literature, this study quantitatively tracks Jewish history up to the 20th century revealing a series of pulses of cultural activity that can be represented as S-curves. The development of each of these main sections of the Jewish religious canon is shown to constitute an independent coherent development process. The pattern of successive pulses of books entering the Jewish canon persists over millennia. This shared canon, both stable and growing, allowed coordination between far-flung community networks. The geographic locations of the successive pulses trace the migratory pattern of the Jews over the course of world history spanning much of the globe. Analysis reveals a current 2000-year pulse of Jewish cultural activity with several centuries remaining before it reaches saturation. Modernity becomes evident in Jewish history with sustained pulses of activity in the arts and sciences beginning with the onset of political emancipation in Central and Western Europe and moving on to the United States. The method employed in this study sheds light on the continuous coherent development of a Jewish religious canon and offers new perspective on the historical migration of the Jewish people over the last three millennia.

Wernick, I.K.

Program for the Human Environment,
The Rockefeller University,
1230 York Ave,
New York, NY 10065, USA.
E-mail: iwernick@mail.rockefeller.edu

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