b-hebrew digest: November 01, 2000
Harold P. Scanlin
scanlin at compuserve.com
Fri Nov 3 13:20:09 EST 2000
Permit me to add a few remarks on Kirk Lowrey's response to Don Elbourne's
questions about the announced edition of L from LOGOS.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Kirk Lowery [mailto:kelowery at cs.com]
> > Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2000 8:11 PM
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: Re: BHS, WTT, & L
> > On 31 Oct 2000, at 10:44, Don A. Elbourne Jr. wrote:
> > > I was wondering if someone could clarify a few things for me
> > > the Hebrew text.
> > I probably have most of the pieces to this puzzle.
> > > I know the BHS is "based" on Codex Leningradensis but is the text
> > > consistently L throughout, without exception? Or is there any place
> > > where the editors placed a variant in the text and attest to the L
> > > reading in the apparatus?
The editors of BHS strove to present an accurate transcription of L within
the limits imposed by representing the text on the printed page. This
editorial procedure is called a diplomatic edition. One must remember,
however, that it is extremely difficult to produce a 100% diplomatic
edition. For example, L, along with most other manuscripts marked
begadkepat letters that lack a dagesh with a raphe, a horizontal line above
the letter. This is almost always redundant, so virtually all printed
editions drop the raphe. Perhaps the Hebrew Bible edition that comes
closest to a 100% diplomatic edition is the _Cairo Codex to the Prophets_,
published by CSIC in Madrid. That edition includes raphes, line fillers,
and follow the line lengths in the manuscript.
> > The difference between the "Kittel" edition (which was a true critical
> > edition)
If by "true critical edition" one means a willingness to propose
conjectural emendations, the Kittel/Kahle differs from BHS. Otherwise
"true critical edition" is a valid description of BHK and BHS.
> and the BHS (1987) is substantial.
"Substantial" in the current discussion may be misleading. The first two
editions of BH, often called "Kittel," used the Rabbinic Bible for the
running text. Kahle, having access to L, used that manuscript for the base
text of the third edition, sometimes called BH3 or BHK. This edition is the
immediate predecessor to BHS which, of course, also uses L.
>> The BHS biblical text is much
> > closer to the Leningrad Codex,
I'm not sure that I agree with "much closer"; BHK and BHS share the
intention of representing L in the running text. There is, of course, a
world of difference between the two apparatuses. Quantifying the
differences between the manuscript readings of L found in BHK and BHS would
be an interesting project, but I don't think it would produce an abundance
>> although the marginal massora were highly
> > edited by Weil.
An important point. In this case, BHK actually is much closer to the
masora parva (marginal masora) of L than BHS.
>> And BHS does not include the massorah gedolah, but only
> > references to them,
Nor does BHK, but the forthcoming BHQ will have both.
>> and does not have the non-biblical texts which are
> > included in L.
These carpet pages, etc. are pretty much only available in the excellent
facsimile edition. Some pages have been transcribed, though these
transcriptions are scattered in obscure publications of the last 100+
> > The electronic version -- in its final form -- reflects as closely as
> > possible the 1987 BHS biblical text (consonants, vowels, cantillation)
> > only.
The e-files are a nearly 100% accurate representation of BHS 1987.
Subsequent printings/editions of BHS have incorporated a number of
corrections and improved readings based on a careful examination of the new
photos, not only the excellent facsimile edition, but even higher quality
> > I assume -- but do not know -- that the Hebrew text which is displayed
> > programs like GramCORD, Accordance, Logos, BibleWorks,
> > BibleWindows, etc.,
> > use the Hebrew text found in MORPH.
Software vendors are expected to identify the exact form of e-BHS they are
using, e.g. BHS(1987), and inform the users if the Hebrew text has been
modified or upgraded in any way. It would be good if all vendors would
conform their Hebrew text to the latest printing of BHS (5th edition,
1990's - Sorry, I don't have the precise date at hand), although we realize
that this is not an easy task.
> > > The reason I'm asking is because Logos Research Systems has announced
> > > their plans to place the Leningrad Codex into electronic format.
> > > I've been working under the assumption that I have the full text of L
> > > at my disposal with the printed BHS, and the digital WTT.
With the exceptions noted above, you do.
> > The only time one knows one has L is when using the facsimile edition
> > L. I would not call BHS L, nor MORPH's Hebrew text L, although they
> > lie along that direction of the spectrum. And then, of course, there
> > the interpretive questions of whether a glyph is simply faded or
> > erased.... :-)
. . . and ever here the printed edition of BHS occasionally helps by
footnoting places where, in the judgment of the editors, the scribe of L
made an obvious spelling mistake. Look for the sic. notes, so you have the
anomalous reading as well as the corrected reading.
> > > If I'm correct, then what would be the advantage of the new Logos
> > > edition, if the text would be the same as we already have with
It's hard to imagine what the value of such an edition for most users would
be. There's always room for another careful examination and transcription
of L, but when the work is done the differences of opinion regarding the
reading of the consonants and vowels will be almost non-existent. If I
were to guess, there might be one or two differences per BOOK! I might be
wrong, even though my guess is based on my own reading of the color photos
of L and the careful research of the folks at Westminster and elsewhere.
When it comes to the teamim (cantillation) there would undoubtedly be a
much higher number of differences of opinion. We already have another high
quality transcription of L done by one of the great Masoretic scholars of
our day, Aron Dotan. I do not know if Hendrickson's plans to issue a(n
improved) reprint of Dotan will also make available an electronic version.
> > This question cannot be answered until we know how the text
> > originated and
> > was conformed to L. Further, we need to know how the user will
> > have access
> > to the text, is it searchable? if so, how? etc. There will also be an
> > electronic version of BHQ, eventually. As the successor of BHS, I know
> > that the intent is to follow L even more closely. But how the
> > editors have
> > chosen to do this is, of course, yet to be revealed.
As I have tried to demonstrate, doing a new transcription of L requires a
variety of highly specialized skills. The credibility and reliability of a
new edition depends on sharing relevant information on methodology and
> > Kirk E. Lowery, Ph.D. Email: KELowery at cs.com
> > Associate Director Phone: 215-572-3854
> > The Westminster Hebrew Institute Fax: 215-887-5404
> > Westminster Theological Seminary
> > P.O. Box 27,009
> > Philadelphia, PA 19118
A few additional observations on Elbourne's recent posting:
> While the news from Logos is interesting, I failed to see the advantage
> having a second electronic edition of the same underlying text. If the
> version and the eBHS and the print BHS differ, it will be difficult to
> which is a more accurate representation of L
An important point
> without access to a facsimile.
. . . or a well documented report from the LOGOS editors on the results of
> What would be ideal is a software package with a full searchable Hebrew
> and then be able to toggle between the searchable text and a digital
> facsimile of L, but perhaps that is asking too much.
BHQ is looking into this, but the enormous size of image files adequate
for serious research is a technological challenge. You need nearly TWO
CD's to hold high-res images of just Isaiah!
> I asked Logos for more information and received this in response:
> The initial drop of L will be straight text, for comparison purposes.
> like there are alternate versions that are available for the Greek, L
> provide an alternate to the BHS which could be handy in lieu of the lack
> apparati for the Hebrew text in electronic format.
I don't understand the point here. The only relevant footnotes in this
regard are the few sic notes mentioned above.
> This will a lengthy project, overall. Our long-term goal is to create an
> alternate text to the BHS, complete with lexemes, morph data, and
> even glosses.
But what's new here? If the LOGOS version of L is as close to BHS (maybe
even approaching 100%, especially without the teamim) there's not much to
gain. And other software vendors also offer morph, etc., etc. Naturally,
LOGOS is entitled to do their own work on all of this, but it sounds more
like a marketing alternative than an academic enterprise.
> Of course, L and BHS are not replicas of each other.
. . . but VERY close, within the aforementioned parameters
> Kittel had access to L
> when he was piecing together the BHS text,
Kittel probably never saw L. He used the Rabbinic Bible text for his two
If they meant to say Kahle, he used L, but he never worked on BHS
> but he also used other
> manuscripts, as I understand it.
"He," and later, the editors of BHS examined many other Hebrew manuscripts,
but they did not introduce any readings from any of these manuscripts into
the running text. In that sense, both BHK and BHS are diplomatic editions
of L and not eclectic texts.
> Stating that L and BHS are taken from the
> same source is misleading and improper.
If by "L" they mean their projected new electronic edition the statement is
neither misleading nor improper. The burden of proof is on LOGOS to
demonstrate otherwise. If by "L" they mean the manuscript, then of course
the statement is true but irrelevant.
> L is L. The BHS uses readings
> (perhaps a majority) based on L.
What do they mean by "uses"? BHS does not use non-L readings for
establishing the running text.
> He did not answer my question regarding who was doing the work. I'm going
> press him again and see if I can get some more info. If anyone is
> I will report back here. As you said, there are interpretive issues
> with typing the text and it would be good to know who is behind it.
This is absolutely essential. The lack of precision in understanding some
of the complex editorial and text-critical issues in the LOGOS reply does
not build confidence in their ability to produce a quality alternative to
e-BHS. In the interest of scholarly research on this most important
complete manuscript, the Bible Societies and the entire academic community
could benefit from LOGOS's efforts. It is incumbent on those proposing new
readings of the manuscript that they put forward their proposals for
> current WTT caries with it a certain level of respect because of the
> scholars who have overseen the project, but if the new edition is simply
> hammered out by some software companies text-geek department, I would
> hesitate abandoning the one for the other. Are my concerns justified?
Harold P. Scanlin
United Bible Societies
New York, NY 10023
scanlin at compuserve.com
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