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Edited by Madalina Toca and Dan Batovici

Ancient translations of late antique Christian literature serve to spread the body of knowledge to wider audiences in often radically new cultural contexts. For the texts which are translated, their versions are not only sometimes crucial textual witnesses, but also important testimonies of independent strands of reception, cast in the cultural context of the new language. This volume gathers ten contributions that deal with translations into Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, Old Nubian, Old Slavonic, Sogdian, Arabic and Ethiopic, set in dialog in order to highlight the range of problems and approaches involved in dealing with the reception of Christian literature across the various languages in which it was transmitted.

Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture

Visualisation, Data Mining, Communication

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Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant

Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture presents an overview of the digital turn in Ancient Jewish and Christian manuscripts visualisation, data mining and communication. Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant, it gathers together the contributions of seventeen scholars involved in Biblical, Early Jewish and Christian studies. The volume attests to the spreading of digital humanities in these fields and presents fundamental analysis of the rise of visual culture as well as specific test-cases concerning ancient manuscripts. Sophisticated visualisation tools, stylometric analysis, teaching and visual data, epigraphy and visualisation belong notably to the varied overview presented in the volume.

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Liv Ingeborg Lied

Abstract

During the first decades of the twenty-first century, a growing number of libraries and collections around the world have digitized their manuscript holdings, making manuscripts visually accessible online. Exploring the outcome of these digitization processes as an ongoing media shift, the present article discusses the potential consequences of the new visual availability of manuscripts to paradigms and practices of textual scholarship. How may the increased presence of manuscripts online contribute to a change in editing practices, as well as the academic reader’s expectations for the content and format of critical editions? How may the increased presence of digitized manuscripts online affect studies of manuscripts – beyond editorial practices, and (how) will the digitization of manuscripts change the needs of scholars to access manuscripts in libraries and collections?

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H.A.G. Houghton

Abstract

The adoption of digital editing software has led to a significant change in the process of creating a critical edition of the New Testament, as embodied in the Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior. Data is no longer gathered as a collation of witnesses against a standard base text, but in the form of complete transcriptions of individual manuscripts which then form the basis of an automatically generated apparatus. This chapter outlines the procedures involved in creating a body of such electronic data. In particular, it considers the accuracy and transparency of the current transcription process for this edition, suggesting that proofreading is an important stage even if a double-blind approach has been used for the initial transcriptions and arguing for a fuller use of the TEI Header to describe the source and limitations of the transcription. It also addresses the publication and release of XML files, proposing that such scholarly work is best made available in the form of individual files consisting of a single biblical book and under a license which only requires attribution to the original creators when the data is re-used rather than restricting data to non-commercial use or stipulating that derivatives must be released under the same terms (share-alike).

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Jennifer Aileen Quigley and Laura Salah Nasrallah

Abstract

This chapter offers a history of the edX/HarvardX course “Early Christianity: the Letters of Paul”. It delineates the pedagogical considerations for the development, structure, and implementation of their course, reflecting upon our experiment in whether and how feminist pedagogy could be deployed in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). We constructed a MOOC that formed a “classroom” or community where all learners contributed to the production of knowledge. This construction included broader strategies of decentering: the organizing faculty member was set alongside other experts, and even the figure of Paul was less of a focus than those to whom he wrote. The chapter offers quantitative data about course participants and qualitative data about the experience of the teaching staff and online students, which may be useful to developers of other such courses in Religious Studies. But the real aim of the chapter contends that MOOCs should keep as a key goal the crafting of a public, free, and critical space for students who express a desire, no matter their location on the globe, to learn about and to discuss the Bible.

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James F. McGrath

Abstract

McGrath’s chapter on the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife sets aside as settled the question of the papyrus’ authenticity, and explores instead what we can learn about the Digital Humanities and scholarly interaction in a digital era from the way the discussions and investigations of that work unfolded, and how issues that arose were handled. As news of purported new finds can spread around the globe instantaneously facilitated by current technology and social media, how can academics utilize similar technology to evaluate authenticity, but even more importantly, inform the broader public about the importance of provenance, and the need for skepticism towards finds that appear via the antiquities market?

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Stephen J. Davis

Abstract

The Yale Monastic Archaeology Project (YMAP) sponsors work at monastic sites in Egypt. Part one of this article reports on the discovery of manuscript fragments in the Church of St. Shenoute at the White Monastery near Sohag and on procedures and complications related to the tasks of photo-documentation and digitization. Part two focuses on the cataloguing of Coptic and Arabic manuscripts at the Monastery of the Syrians in Wādī al-Naṭrūn, where the goal of digitization is complicated by monastic concerns about cultural heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the control of manuscript content in the digital age.

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Peter M. Phillips

Abstract

This chapter explores the power of visual culture within the European social imaginary, focusing on the role of the image within the social structure of European history and the more recent “pictorial turn” in contemporary society. The paper explores specifically three examples of the text of the Bible in contemporary visual culture: an exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels; celebrity tweets which include Bible references or verses; and the recent Hollywood blockbuster film, Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky. In each case, the chapter explores the impact of the visual over against the text itself. Is the text strengthened or diminished by its encounter/intersection/merger with the visual?

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Thibault Clérice and Matthew Munson

Abstract

Much attention has been given in the last several years to the task of automatically extracting semantic information from raw textual data and the best algorithms and the best parameters to achieve this task. But the accomplishment of this task need not be an end in itself. Instead, the data that is produced by these processes can be used to answer questions outside of purely linguistic studies. This paper aims to help make these algorithmic processes more accessible to other humanities disciplines by considering how one can qualitatively assess the results returned by such algorithms. It will introduce an effective and yet easy-to-understand metric for parameter choice which we call Gap Score. Then it will use Gap Score to analyze three distinct sets of results produced by two different algorithmic processes to discover what type of information they return and, thus, for which types of hermeneutical tasks they may be useful. Our purpose in doing this is to demonstrate that the accuracy of an algorithm on a specific test, or even a range of tests, does not tell the user everything about that algorithm. Gap Score introduces a qualitative aspect to the assessment of algorithmic processes that recognizes that an algorithm that might score lower on a certain standardized test may actually be better for certain hermeneutical tasks than a better scoring algorithm.