Computer Assisted Tools for Septuagint/Scriptural Study: 1995 Report to the National Endowment for the Humanities


Final Performance Report (UPDATE 12/31/94)

Because the project supported by this grant is essentially a continuation of an earlier funded project, this report will attempt to cover the entire project, with some attention to its various phases. Note that the project still continues, but without NEH funding.

During the previous grant periods (7/82 - 6/88) we accomplished the following, to which comments on more recent developments are appended in the "UPDATE" sections:

(1) Establishment and Maintenance of project offices at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and at the Hebrew University (Jerusalem). At Penn, the CATSS facilities have become a subset of the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts (CCAT), which coordinates such activities. Pertinent hardware at Penn includes an IBYCUS System H-P Minicomputer with four terminals (and a micro- IBYCUS Scholarly Computer with CD-ROM reader that can serve as a fifth terminal, or as a stand-alone station), three types of printers (matrix, impact, and laser), tape drive, and a 404m disk drive. There is also an IBM terminal connected to the University's IBM mainframe and to the mini-IBYCUS System, with its own CD-ROM reader and printer accesses, and a Kurzweil Data Entry Machine (KDEM) with its own tape drive. In Jerusalem, the project exchanged its PRIME computer diskpack for online access and equipment on the IBM system.

(UPDATE) In the new grant period, the KDEM machine and some of the aforementioned IBM equipment have been upgraded (including, now, a Pentium level machine with CD-ROM reader), and an Apple Macintosh SE/30 work station with CD-ROM reader, HP scanner, HP Deskwriter printer, expanded internal memory and a 40m hard disk has been added. This provides greater flexibility and efficiency in processing the relevant materials and in maintaining contact with work at Jerusalem and at other cooperating centers. In addition, the project now shares in the use of a RISC 6000 workstation, owned jointly by the Religious Studies and Classical Studies departments at Penn and focusing on the work of the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts. This provides the CATSS project with an added source of computing power and flexibility (running UNIX), as well as better contact with the worlds of the Internet. Some of the CATSS/CCAT texts have been mounted on that machine to facilitate Internet access (via Gopher or FTP), and use of the World Wide Web is providing even more visibility and distribution possibilities (see, e.g. Robert Kraft's homepage).

(2) Training of graduate students and staff to operate the equipment and assist with the goals of the project. This has included exchanges of student staffworkers between Jerusalem and Philadelphia, to the great benefit of all involved. It has also involved the development of formal courses on the application of computer technology to textual research.

(3) Aquisition, production, and distribution of the necessary textual data for analysis and manipulation by the project, and for scholarly research in areas related to the project interests. Most of the CATSS material available in summer 1987 has been included on the 1987 CD-ROM produced jointly by the Packard Humanities Institute and CCAT. This includes the Old Greek "Septuagint" text of Rahlfs, purchased from the TLG Project; the Hebrew "Masoretic" text of the Stuttgart edition, encoded under the direction of Richard Whitaker and Van Parunak at the University of Michigan (funded by the Packard foundation); the Latin "Vulgate" Stuttgart text, obtained from Tuebingen through the Oxford Archive; morphological analysis of the septuagintal materials, produced by CATSS-Penn; parallel alignment of the Hebrew and Greek texts, produced by the CATSS staff at the Hebrew University; and samples of the Greek textual variants, encoded by means of the Penn KDEM and reformatted and verified by CATSS-Penn (on CATSS products, see also below). A computer diskette containing samples of the CATSS materials has been distributed through the CCAT at Penn, along with diskettes of the biblical texts in Hebrew and Greek. The entire range of available data could also be obtained on tape from the CCAT at Penn and from the Oxford University Archive.

(UPDATE) The aforementioned 1987 PHI/CCAT CD-ROM has been sold out since mid-1990 and in 1991 the PHI Latin part of it was updated and put back into circulation, along with a selection of the more widely used biblical texts. Meanwhile, all of the CCAT texts on the original CD-ROM have been made available on diskettes (in corrected versions when necessary) and several new texts and/or tools have been added: e.g. the second half of the Hebrew-Greek aligned text, more of the Coptic Bible, a short Coptic-English Dictionary. Access to CATSS materials is also being provided now through the InterNet (FTP, Gopher, WWW). There are plans to produce a revised and updated "biblical" CD-ROM, independent of the PHI Latin, in the future. CCAT now has the capability of producing CD-ROMs on site.

(4) Aquisition and development of the necessary computer programs to analyze and manipulate such materials. These include the powerful searching, sorting and editing features built into the IBYCUS Systems; David Packard's Greek morphological program package for the IBM mainframe; Richard Whitaker's Hebrew morphological program package developed for the project; John Abercrombie's programs for automatic alignment of the Hebrew and Greek texts; programs for verifying and reformatting the automatically encoded Greek variants; programs for printing in Hebrew and Greek characters as well as English; programs for preparing data for CD-ROM storage and distribution; and various other programs, large and small, to facilitate various aspects of the work.

(UPDATE) Much additional program development has taken place for accessing the CD-ROM from IBM/DOS microcomputers, often in cooperation with other developers. Packages of programs for the Macintosh have also been acquired (e.g. Pandora from the Perseus Project at Harvard, which has subsequently been marketed with CD- ROM for Mac) or developed at Penn, including software for identifying and reconstructing fragmentary biblical (and other) papyri. File transfer between our three main systems (IBYCUS, IBM/DOS, and Macintosh), and to the international electronic networks (via the UNIX workstation with such features as FTP, Gopher, WAIS, Archie, Veronica, WWW, NetScape, and the like) is now reliable and commonplace. Other, non CATSS software developments of note include the COLLATE program for the Mac, by Peter Robinson at Oxford, who plans to adapt the program to accommodate the format in which CATSS has been processing the textual variants.

(5) Complete morphological analysis for all of the Greek materials except the textual variants, and appropriate updating of the dictionaries for the MORPH program. David Packard's Greek MORPH program itself has been installed at Manchester University (England) for general use, and the analyzed Greek Jewish scriptures have been made available on the 1987 CCAT CD-ROM and by the other means noted above (tape, diskette, InterNet).

(UPDATE) Extensive corrections to the Septuagint Morphological Analysis materials were made in Summer 1990, and the resulting files were released to distributors in December. Some errors and inconsistencies remain, but are currently being identified and corrected with the help of Bernard Taylor at Loma Linda CA (see the bibliography below). Meanwhile, the sister project for morphological analysis of the Hebrew text has been taken over by Westminster Theological Seminary, under the direction of Alan Groves, with various products and programs developed and distributed.

(6) Complete alignment of the base texts in Greek and Hebrew. This material continues to be corrected and modified in Jerusalem. A system for adding the Greek variants and morphological analysis to the aligned text has also been developed in Jerusalem. The entire parallel text is available to interested parties, and the first half is included on the 1987 CCAT CD-ROM.

(UPDATE) The second half of this material was released on diskettes and tape in 1988. In Jerusalem, Galen Marquis has developed Macintosh based software to work effectively with the aligned and analyzed texts ("CATSS-Base"), using a data base management approach. Others have done similar things with the Macintosh "hypercard" program. For the IBM/DOS world, software called "LBase" (Linguists Base) has been developed by John Baima, in cooperation with CATSS/CCAT, to the same end. The Jerusalem team continues to verify and correct the aligned text, with updates provided periodically.

(7) Encoding of textcritical materials for most of the Greek Jewish scriptures. The main work is being done at Penn, although certain books have also received attention elsewhere. The only materials in completely final form by the end of the first major grant period were the books of Ruth and 1 Samuel. The main programs and procedures were in place for finishing this task, but considerable staff time would be needed.

(UPDATE) This demanding aspect of the original project is still in progress. The books of Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, Daniel, Canticles, Job (in its various textual forms), and some of the Minor Prophets, have reached the penultimate level of encoding and reformatting, and have been made available to interested parties for testing and comments. The remaining Minor Prophets, Genesis, Numbers, 2 Kings, 1 Esdras, Psalms, Wisdom, Sirach, 1-4 Maccabees, and Tobit are well along. Much of the rest has been scanned and reformatted in a preliminary manner but awaits the detailed editorial work needed to produce the desired consistency and quality for distribution. Meanwhile, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), has issued its recommendations for annotating textual variants (Kraft served on the TEI working group on textual variants), and the CATSS project looks forward to adopting those standards as its textual variant files are readied for general distribution and prepared for linking to the parallel text and morphological analysis materials.

(8) High visibility through publications and publicity relating to the project. Project reports and updates have been presented regularly at the meetings of professional societies such as the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, the Society for Old Testament Studies, and the Society of Biblical Literature, both in the USA and abroad. Project personnel have also reported to special symposia sponsored by the Delaware Valley Faculty Exchange and the Lehigh Valley Colleges (at Lafayette), as well as the Penn Alumni, and the project has been represented at various sessions of the World Conference of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem), International Association for Bible and Computer, and the twin humanities organizations, the Association for Computing and the Humanities and the (British based) Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing. At a more popular level, CATSS has received mention in articles in Discover Magazine, New York Times, Jewish Exponent, CD-Data Report, various religious publications, as well as in more local media. For fuller bibliographical information, see the appendix.

(UPDATE) Subsequent to the initial grant period, there has been no abatement of interest in the project, and representation on the Internet and at scholarly conferences continues apace. Kraft has helped to coordinate the information on computers and biblical studies for various projects and publications including his own OFFLINE columns for the Religious Studies communities and the Humanities Computing Yearbook (Oxford; ed Ian Lancashire).

(9) Encouraged and contributed to the development of international cooperation in computer assisted textual research through regular contacts with individuals, projects and centers throughout this continent and the world at large. We have made it known that our materials are available to all interested scholars at cost, and have urged reciprocity.

In this connection, Robert Kraft has served as chair of the Computer Assisted Research Group of the Society of Biblical Literature, and until 1994 edited the "OFFLINE" computer information column in the Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion and in Religious Studies News, as well as distributing it first through relevant InterNet electronic discussion groups (such as HUMANIST, IOUDAIOS, RELIGION) and archiving it on the CCAT Gopher. John Abercrombie, on behalf of CCAT, also edited a regular electronic mail column entitled ONLINE NOTES (BITNET) until about 1991.

(UPDATE) The recent publication of part 1 of the Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by Johan Lust et al., of Jos Weitenberg's parallel Greek / Armenian text of Jonah, and of Bernard Taylor's Analytical Lexicon to the LXX (see the bibliographical appendix, below) indicates that major cooperative byproducts from the project continue to appear, of which we expect to see many more.

(10) Established a wider base for continued funding of the project and related work. In addition to the Universities directly involved in the work at Philadelphia and Jerusalem, funding has come especially from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Penn- Israel Exchange Program, the Israel Academy of Sciences, the Jewish Publications Society, and the Packard Humanities Institute. Various other contacts have been made and continue to be explored.

(UPDATE) Pursuit of funding has posed a major problem throughout the life of the project, especially since it often requires time and energy on the part of the Principal Investigator that could more usefully be put to the scholarly tasks of the project. Some income has been realized from distribution of texts produced by the CATSS project, either directly from CCAT or through a network of "secondary distributors" (including some CD-ROM products), but the continued pressures of needing to find matching and other funding often have proved to be counterproductive.


Update 08 July 1999 (originally submitted: 01 April 1995)

Robert Kraft (