Comparative network analysis as a new approach to the editorship profiling task: A case study of the Mishnah and Tosefta from Rabbinic literature

Avital Zadok, Maayan Zhitomirsky-Geffet, Jonathan Schler, Binyamin Katzoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social network analysis of characters in historical works is a popular research methodology in the study of historical literature. This article proposes using this methodology to characterize and comparatively analyze editing styles of similar historical literary works to determine whether they were edited by the same hand. To that end, the study proposes constructing a network of characters for each of the works being studied and to compute standard statistical measures for these networks, thus producing a network-based profile for the editing style of each work, which can be compared to the profiles of various other works. To determine the effectiveness of this new approach, it was tested on two similar works from the realm of Rabbinic literature - the Mishnah and the Tosefta. Our findings show that despite the abundant structural, thematic, and linguistic similarities of the works, their network-based profiles demonstrated clear differences between them with respect to various parameters, like the degree of connectivity, density, and centrality of the networks and their communities, and also with respect to the usage of different types of relationships in each network. These differences are reflected in the network features of the works, rather than in their texts, and so it would be difficult to identify them using direct stylometric analysis on the texts of the works, especially given the stylistic and thematic similarity between them. The approach presented in this article forms a basis for developing automatic classifiers to identify different editors and editing styles based on works' network-based profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1720-1739
Number of pages20
JournalDigital Scholarship in the Humanities
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of EADH. All rights reserved.


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