Computational commentary of Rabbinic legal texts

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The paper demonstrates structural differences between Rabbinic and Roman legal abstraction by providing computational commentary to sample passages related to the Rabbinic concept of "damages" (neziqin) and the Roman concept of "delicts" (delicti). Passages are selected from Talmud Yerushalmi Bava Qamma 1:1 (2a-b) and Justinian's Institutes 3.13 and 4.1, and supplemented by parallels from the wider Rabbinic and Roman legal corpora. First, the paper presents text samples marked up with a common dictionary in Extensible Markup Language (XML). Second, the XML annotation informs a symbolic representation of the legal rules and legal state of affairs discussed in the text samples by using the Prolog logic programming language. Third, the XML annotation is converted into a conceptual network in Web Ontology Language with a Description Logic reasoner (OWL2) which declares conceptual entities and the way those entities relate to each other. The computational commentary of a small sample of texts illustrates, on the one hand, the methodological difficulties of striking a common ground for modelling Rabbinic and Roman law. On the other hand, it demonstrates the remarkable potential of applying the tools of knowledge representation and the semantic web to texts which are outside the horizon of scholars working in legal AI.
Period23 Jul 2019
Event titleThe Annual Conference of the British Association for Jewish Studies: What is commentary?
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Rabbinic law
  • computational modelling