Thursday, November 29, 2012

SBL Chicago I, Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior pt 1

Here is my first report on the SBL in Chicago. The first session I attended was:

Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior
9:00 AM to 12:15 PM

Holger Strutwolf, director of the INTF in Münster presided and Zeth Green, University of Birmingham, Troy Griffitts, INTF Münster, and Hugh Houghton, University of Birmingham presented the first part on:

Technical Developments: the Workspace for Collaborative Editing and the NT.VMR


Below is a summary of my notes. Note that they are based on the presentations but supplemented with information available elsewhere, not least in the on-line NT.VMR 2.0.
1. Introduction

Collaboration for the Editio Critica Maior between the INTF in Münster and ITSEE in Birmingham came about because of the adoption of the same software (Collate developed by Peter Robinson), which began over a decade ago.

Further steps have been required to continue the collaboration. The first is the development of the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NT.VMR, now in version 2.0) which includes the Kurzgefasste Liste. The website invites community collaboration to improve access to the raw material. The NT.VMR is an AHRC funded project.

A related project is the Workspace for Collaborative Editing (WCE), co-funded by the AHRC in the UK and by the DFG in Germany. The goal is to create a suite of nine on-line tools (Work packages 1-9) primarily to enable the International Greek New Testament Project and the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung to work together on the Editio Critica Maior of the New Testament. 

The software development is being undertaken in Birmingham by ITSEE and in Trier by KoZe (Kompetenzzentrum für elektronische Erschließungs- und Publikationsverfahren in den Geisteswissenschaften). [Presumably, all these tools will be integrated into the NT.VMR. Subsequently, the tools can be used for other textual traditions as well.]

2. Workspace for Collaborative Editing (WCE)
Zeth Green and Hugh Houghton presented some of the components of the WCE:
A basic stage, after determining the content (of the whole MS and of each page) and material of a manuscript and assigning it an official Greg.-Aland number, is to handle the transcription of its text (Work package 2). This transcription work is done using unicode fonts and xml encoding following the TEI initiative). Naturally, transcribers cannot work in xml directly. Therefore, the team in Trier has developed a transcription editor which saves transcriptions in xml (for an example of this output, see here).

Another stage is the collation (comparison) of manuscripts. Here CollateX (Work package 3) is replacing Collate 2.0 which was originally developed by Peter Robinson (Robinson is also involved in developing the new version). Members of the team in Birmingham are implementing CollateX into the VMR. 

Hugh Houghton gave a demonstration of CollateX. The tools seems to be very convenient. First he did a number of regularizations (telling the software to eliminate genealogically insignificant variants relating to orthography, etc, before the comparison). After regularization, Houghton demonstrated how easy it is, technically, to combine and adapt the desired length of variation-units.

However, from a philological standpoint, it is sometimes not so easy for an editor to decide what segment of text should be compared to what. To borrow something from another  presentation, this work should be based on the principle expressed by Klaus Wachtel, “as short as possible, as long as necessary,” taking into account two corresponding factors: grammatical sense and the attestations of the manuscripts.

I had a question relating to this particular step: does the software allow you to choose one variation-unit within another? This feature has not yet been developed, Houghton replied, but it will.

After running the collation of the texts as divided into the desired variation-units, CollateX will create a textual apparatus in a raw format, which is then exported in a format for further use by the editors, for example, the application of the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (software included in Work package 5) in the variation-units, in order to determine the relationship of whole texts and individual variants and to reconstruct the initial text (Ausgangstext). Part of the final steps is to produce another electronic tool for publishing the apparatus (Work package 7).

3. NT.VMR 2.0
Troy A Griffiths demonstrated the NT.VMR 2.0 (NT.VMR 1.0 here). The manuscript room has four basic components which were demonstrated:

1. The manuscript catalogue (Liste)
2. Images of New Testament manuscripts (and the possibility to add links to images, e.g., by pasting an URL)

[These two components are accessible under the meny "manuscript workspace"]

3. Indexing tools). For a detailed account of this component, see Jan Krans's account here.

4. Transcription editor – a simple interface to enable anyone to create electronic versions of the manuscript text

[The result of indexing and transcriptions are integrated into the manuscript workspace and associated with each manuscript. Apparently, Work packages 1-2 are already integrated into the NT.VMR 2.0]

This first part was followed by three presentations by Klaus Wachtel, Siegfried Richter, and Martin Karrer. To be continued ...