28 March 2011

Rabbinic Popularity in the Mishnah I: סדר זרעים

Yesterday, I seized the opportunity - partially while I was watching over my new daughter - to begin looking at the Mishnah to see who appears most frequently. It was a new curiosity of mine: I hope to look through the entirety of the Mishnah and see who appears most frequently. If I somehow find the time, I would also like to go through the Tosefta. (By the way, if somebody has already done this work, I would very much appreciate a reference to said work or listing.)
So yesterday, I went through סדר זרעים and found that Rabbi Yehudah was the most mentioned rabbi throughout the סדר. What follows is a listing of the Top Ten most commonly mentioned rabbis (or groups of rabbis) in סדר זרעים as well as a listing of each of the tractates with the most commonly referenced rabbi (or set of rabbis) within them:
Top Ten:

1 - רבי יהודה
2 - רבי אליעזר
3 - חכמים
4 - רבי יוסי
5 - רבי שמעון
6 - בית שמאי
7 - רבי מאיר
8 - בית הלל
9 - רבי עקיבא
10 -רבי יהושע

And here are the tractates:
ברכות - רבי יהודה
פאה - רבי יהודה ורבי עקיבא
דמאי - רבי יהודה
כלאים - רבי יוסי
שביעית - רבי שמעון
תרומות - רבי אליעזר
מעשרות - רבי יהודה
מעשר שני - בית הלל ובית שמאי
חלה - רבי אליעזר וחכמים
ערלה - חכמים
בכורים - רבי יהודה

I don't know yet what all this means....

6 comments:

Eli said...

Please tell me you did this by some automated method, and not by manual counting...
FWIW, I'm not sure these numbers actually mean anything. I can't imagine that they were consciously meeting a quota.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Eli - I wish I could, but I don't know of any way of automating the counting. So, I did it the old-fashioned way: scanning through and tallying up the count.
As far as if the numbers mean anything - I believe that they do mean something, although certainly nothing like a quota or the like.

Eli said...

If you have an electric version of the texts, you should be able to do a search for "* רבי" and tally the results.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Yes, I could, but then I would have to be looking for specific rabbis.... In any event, although it's been taking some time, it's still been nice to get a bird's-eye view of the Mishnah and for me to swoop in where I see some interesting action going on....

Eli said...

No, I meant do a wildcard search. It'll find all names. Then just tally the results by name.
I do understand the appeal of the bird's-eye view, though.

Drew_Kaplan said...

I could do that, but it doesn't seem as reliable (not that my counting is perfect, either - I'm sure I've missed a few mentions here and there), especially for rabbis one might not be looking for. Plus, looking for רבי, himself, would be impossible (he has appeared several times so far)!
But, yes, the bird's-eye view is definitely the silver lining :)