Monday, January 10, 2022

Update from Alan Bunning on Center for NT Restoration


The following is the latest update from Alan Bunning on his Center for New Testament Restoration.

It’s probably about time to give you another update about what has been going on lately at the CNTR. Although there have been several updates to the CNTR website since the last newsletter, much of my work has been related to documenting and presenting various aspects of the CNTR project. Here are a few of the highlights:

1. I made a short CNTR Introduction video, providing a higher-level overview of some of the CNTR’s goals and purposes in a way is that geared toward the average person. I also made a technical video on the CNTR Database for scholars who may be interested in collaborating with the CNTR and working directly with the data. 2. I gave a presentation on “The Universal Apparatus” at the Bible Translation Conference in October which was well received. It outlines a method for providing a simpler format for displaying variant information, while also providing more complete information resulting in greater accuracy. I later gave a slightly different version of that presentation at the 2021 Society of Biblical Literature Conference, Nida Institute - Copenhagen Alliance section held in San Antonio in November. I spoke a second time at the SBL conference giving a presentation entitled “Orthographic Priority for Interpreting Homophones in New Testament Manuscripts” in the Biblical Lexicography section.3. I put the finishing touches on the first computer-generated Greek New Testament which I am calling a beta version for now. This represents an earth-shaking milestone in the field of textual criticism where subjective decision-making that results in different critical texts can now be replaced with objective scientific statistical analysis. This work is based on several papers, two of which have been accepted to the upcoming 2022 Society of Biblical Literature Midwest Region conference in February:

  • “Scientific Definition of Variant Unit Boundaries” – provides an objective scientific definition for the boundaries of variant units that can automatically be identified by a computer algorithm, where previously there has been no standard.
  • “Corpus-Based Statistical Measurements of Textual Reliability for New Testament Manuscripts” – provides a scientific statistical measurement of the textual reliability of individual New Testament manuscripts against the entire corpus of data.

Currently, even with a limited dataset, the resulting text is only about 1% different than the Nestle-Aland 28th edition (but we won’t worry about why the NA28 is “wrong” about 1% of the time 😊). Lord willing, both the computer-generated Greek New Testament and the Universal Apparatus will show up on the CNTR website in some fashion in the spring. But this will probably require some significant changes to the website, so I am not going to commit to any particular time frame.4. There are also some initial talks with a major Bible publisher about the possibility of using some of the CNTR’s technology to publish a new open-license Greek New Testament for the purpose of serving the global Church, particularly in the area of Bible translation. I am cautiously optimistic about the prospects, but there is nothing firm at this point. So that is what I have been up to recently. If you want to get more involved with the CNTR project, here is how you can help:

  1. Pray for my work on the CNTR project: For wisdom in manipulating some very complex data and algorithms and for good relationships as I work with others in the field.
  2. Donate time to the CNTR project: There are occasionally some smaller projects that can be farmed out to volunteers, but they usually require knowledge of Greek, computer programming, or both. Let me know if you have those skills and some free time available to help out.
  3. Donate money to the CNTR project: Any donation you can give enables the project to continue and is much appreciated. Click on the donate button at the bottom of this message and you will be directed to a secure website to give.

Many thanks to those of you who have been supporting the project, financially and otherwise. It is indeed very much appreciated! Let me know if you have any questions about any of these things and may God bless you through the new year!Alan Bunning, D.Litt.Executive DirectorCenter for New Testament Restoration

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