Computational Topic Models for Theological Investigations

Theology and Science 20 (1):69-84 (2022)
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Sallie McFague’s theological models construct a tensive relationship between conceptual structures and symbolic, metaphorical language to interpret the defining and elusive aspects of theological phenomena and loci. Computational models of language can extend and formalize the conceptual structures of theological models to develop computer-augmented interpretations of theological texts. Previously unclear is whether computational models can retain the tensive symbolism essential for theological investigation. I demonstrate affirmatively by constructing a computational topic model of the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas from Summa Theologica (Second Part, in English translation) useful for interpreting not only the Thomistic text but also recent papal encyclicals.



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