Sunday, October 16, 2011
Researchers create computer algorithm to help identify Bible's authors
A group of Israeli researchers has built a computer algorithm that analyses biblical text to decipher its different authors.
The algorithm, which compares sets of synonyms, along with common words like prepositions, identified two main writing styles in the Bible: priestly and non-priestly, Discovery News reported.
Computer scientist Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University, a member of the team that developed the algorithm, noted that one of the interesting results is that the synonyms for "God" weren't that important.
"Some of the (synonyms) that do the heavy lifting on the Pentateuch had been noted before by scholars, but the most famous synset-names of God-actually didn't help at all," he stated.
That may sound counter intuitive, but Koppel notes that there are about 150 different sets, so the fact that a word of historical significance doesn't help isn't that shocking.
To test out the algorithm the researchers took two well-known books of the Bible, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
They cut the text up and essentially mixed them together at random. The algorithm managed to separate the two with near 99 percent accuracy, so that showed the method worked.
Koppel stressed that the algorithm can't say exactly how many authors the Bible has (or doesn't have). But it can say where styles change that can shed light on debates over authorship.