I received several excellent comments to the last post.  I do not have the data to respond to most of them; to assemble just  the data – which often requires expert judgment on each of the over 13,000 instances in the dataset – would be a worthy project but one that would require many resources and collaboration.  In fact, I think it points to the need for more richly tagged versions of rabbinic literature that contain not only manuscript version and morphological information (the contents of current digital editions) but also content marking (e.g., places, names, relationships, citations and citation formulas, historical strata, hermeneutics).  Although we don’t yet have such tagged texts to work with, I am glad that the relatively thin dataset that I am working with is at least generating
productive questions.

As to some specific points raised in the comments:

  1. I do not yet have immediate plans to do this for the Yerushalmi, although it would not be hard;
  2. Thank you, Gary, for pointing out my anachronistic suggestion concerning liturgy;
  3. Finally, Gary’s hypothesis for Malachi turns out to be close.  The below table shows the citation numbers for Malachi in the Bavli.  While the end verses are prominent, it is 1:8 that stands out: Will you present a blind animal for sacrifice – it doesn’t matter!  When you present a lame or sick one – it doesnt’ matter!  Just offer it to your governor; Will he accept you?  Will he show you favor? – said the Lord of Hosts.

Malachi 1:7

1

Malachi 1:8

21

Malachi 1:11

3

Malachi 1:13

3

Malachi 2:3

1

Malachi 2:5

1

Malachi 2:7

3

Malachi 2:8

1

Malachi 2:9

1

Malachi 2:11

1

Malachi 2:12

1

Malachi 2:13

1

Malachi 2:16

1

Malachi 3:3

1

Malachi 3:5

1

Malachi 3:6

1

Malachi 3:8

1

Malachi 3:9

6

Malachi 3:10

10

Malachi 3:16

10

Malachi 3:18

1

Malachi 3:19

3

Malachi 3:20

1

Malachi 3:21

1

Malachi 3:22

1

Malachi 3:23

10

Malachi 3:24

1