In late antiquity, a revolution in information technology transformed the practices and possibilities of knowledge. At the cutting edge of this development, several third- and fourth-century figures in Roman Palestine deployed the emerging technology of the column-and-row table as a novel tool of historical and literary scholarship. The Christian scholars Origen and Eusebius and the rabbinic sages of the Palestinian Talmud adapted this specialist technology from grammar and astronomy, and put it to work to structure complex textual corpora. As a “textual machine,” the table generated new possibilities of knowledge. Bringing together literary and material evidence, this study analyses the “how” (working methods) and the “who” (human actors) involved in these innovative late ancient projects. I interrogate the pragmatics and the ethics of late ancient tabular thinking in order to locate these projects within broader histories of knowledge construction, in late antiquity and beyond.
Knowledge Construction in Late Antiquity
Trends in Classics - Supplementary Volumes
Coogan, J. (2023). Tabular Thinking in Late Ancient Palestine: Instrumentality, Work, and the Construction of Knowledge. In M. Amsler (Ed.), Knowledge Construction in Late Antiquity (pp. 57-82). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783111010311-003