Accordance Blog
Dec 8, 2009 Rick Bennett

The Search for ‘Sacred Names’

Last year, almost to the day, I wrote a blog post on our release of Comfort and Barrett's, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. In that post I highlighted some of our enhancements to the book, which included creating a separate corpus of morphologically-tagged Greek texts that are contained in the book (collated in canonical and manuscript order).

As soon as I became aware of this project I started thinking of ways in which this resource could be used to contribute to the field of New Testament textual criticism. At the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston I ran some of these ideas by a friend in the field and received a positive response. So, I drafted them up as a paper proposal for the International Meeting in Rome, which was subsequently accepted.

At the meeting in Rome I presented on how this resource can be used to search for and analyze the distribution and form of nomina sacra (Latin for "sacred names") in early New Testament papyri. The scribal convention of writing certain words in an abbreviated form with a supralinear stroke is one of the visible distinctions of Biblical manuscripts, and has long captivated the attention of scholars in this field. My paper set out to show the chain of research on this phenomenon, and how the Accordance version of Comfort and Barrett's work makes it possible to analyze, in one place, all the occurrences of nomina sacra in New Testament papyri up to the 3rd century.

One of the other highlights of my paper was that I revealed a further enhancement of the Accordance edition of Comfort and Barrett's work, namely the inclusion of five new papyri not included in the print edition: 𝔓118-121, and 𝔓123. During the Annual Meeting in Boston I was able to show Philip Comfort our work, and asked him to consider creating new transcriptions of papyri that had been discovered since his work was published that fit within his date criteria (up to c. 3rd century). This he graciously agreed to do. In Rome I was working with a prototype of this module with the new papyri, but wasn't able to announce this new enhancement until our official release (now included as a free update of the module). The new papyri added by Philip Comfort have been grammatically tagged, and recent updates to Accordance offer enhanced searching for nomina sacra-two developments that were indispensible for my research.

Because I showed how this tool was able to meet a perceived need in the field of textual criticism instead of merely giving a demonstration of its general features, I believe it was well received. In the discussion that followed we were also able to identify an error in the transcription in the first edition of one of the papyri. You can see some additional details on my paper, along with others in the Working with Biblical Manuscripts section, at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog

While I have attended various SBL meetings during the last several years, it was a privilege to be able to present for the first time at the International Meeting in Rome. I would like to thank both Accordance and Reformed Theological Seminary for this unique opportunity.

Those interested in studying the text of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament can now do so in an unparalleled fashion, including access to these additional papyri with the unlock of this module on the Primary 8.4 DVD.


 

Apr 10, 2009 Rick Bennett

Maximizing your Hebrew Potential, II

In my last post, I discussed the Hebrew workspace I use in my Hebrew Syntax class, and how you can use Accordance to enhance your Hebrew experience. In this post we'll continue working through the tabs in that workspace.

Hebrew Workspace

The second tab (from the left) is used to display the results of word searches. Since I'm addicted to right-clicking (old habits die hard), I use that method to do word searches within the text I'm working on. You can also use the drop down menu, or resource palette to accomplish the same task.

BHS Word Search

By clicking on the details of the search, I can quickly view the distribution of hits across the Bible. In my prefs (cmd ,), I've set it to display the Table everytime I access the details of a search. In the Table you can see that this word occurs primarily in the Psalms. In the Hits Graph, I can triple-click on the part of the graph representing the hits in the Psalms and my search results will drop down down to those hits.

Search Window Prefs

Table of Hits

The next tab, labeled 'TC', is setup to display some text-critical resources available in Accordance.

Text-Critical Resources

One thing I've done to save from having to re-enter the verse reference I'm working in is Tied the contents of this tab to my main BHS tab.

Tie Tab

One could probably write an entire article on what is going on in this verse, but I'll restrict my discussion here to a brief description of the resources displayed, and in the following post I will describe how to interpret some of the data that can be mined from this workspace.

At the SBL Annual Meeting in 2007 we unveiled the Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Manuscripts modules (see announcement here, and article on the importance of these texts here). This represents the first (and still only available) morphologically-tagged edition of the Biblical finds from Qumran. In addition, we also have the English translation, and Notes (DSSB-E).

In this tab I have the DSSB-C (a collated module of all the fragments in canonical order) displayed in parallel with the BHS text, and the LXX. Below that I have the Notes for the DSS English translation, the BHS apparatus (see the previous post for a description), and the Revised CATSS MT-LXX Parallel Database. Just like I've done with the BHS Apparatus, I have set the DSSB-E Notes module to display all Scripture refs in the DSSB-E text. By hovering over any link in the Notes, it will display the verse in the Instant Details box.

Dead Sea Scrolls Bible

In this workspace tab you can clearly see the wealth of information that is readily accessible in Accordance. In the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical manuscripts, and the Revised MT-LXX Parallel Database, these resources are not available anywhere else. In my next post I will explain in more detail the textual features and variants of this passage using the compare text feature, and the other resources.