[B-Greek] The Value of Tools

Ian W Scott iscott at tyndale.ca
Mon Oct 5 14:40:45 EDT 2009

Yes, my last comment meant that the credibility of strictly online 
materials is growing now to the point that scholars will be more willing 
to publish directly to electronic form. I don't quite agree, Randall, 
that there are six-figure budgets that must inevitably be paid by 
someone for all of these projects. After all, LSJ, Bauer, LEH, Muraoka, 
etc. were not produced by massive subsidies and their *production* 
(i.e., the scholarship) was not financed by sales of the books! These 
resources were produced by scholars whose main support came from holding 
a university post. Moreover, the projects that have been costly to mount 
have always depended on either government or private grants (e.g., 
archaeological digs). My point is simply that the revenue generated from 
the sale of books has never (and still does not) play a large role in 
funding the *research and writing* of scholarly tools. When we look at 
the tiny margin of the sale-price that makes its way to the scholar(s) 
involved, this becomes obvious. This is why our Online Critical 
Pseudepigrapha is possible. My co-editors and myself have been able to 
work on it because of our faculty positions, and even the programming 
for the publication platform continues to be done on a largely volunteer 
basis. But if, as we hope will happen, we get an injection of money to 
speed up the platform development, this will come from granting agencies 
just as it would if we were writing print books (e.g., the Brill series 
of texts and commentaries on Jewish literature). What hampers us most 
with the OCP is not "production costs." It is the unwillingness of so 
many scholars to pitch in and contribute to a project that will yield 
"only" an electronic text.



Randall Buth wrote:

> On Sun, Oct 4, 2009 at 10:40 PM, Ian W Scott <iscott at tyndale.ca> wrote:
>> The solution to this pricing problem, I think, is for us academics to be
>> willing to publish first-run materials online. The production costs are so
>> much lower for a strictly electronic publication that the materials can
>> easily be presented free or at a very nominal charge. And let's face it,
>> many of us publish very expensive volumes for which we see little or no
>> royalties. This is the approach taken by several online journals (JHS is
>> perhaps the most familiar to many). There is also an interesting SBL
>> monograph series that is going straight to electronic publication. And, of
>> course, the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (which I help to edit), and the
>> Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon.
> This illustrates what I was discussing.
> The C. A. L. lexicon project received a governmental grant of at least six
> figures, possibly 7, in order to produce that online reference.
> George Kiraz, who is working hard on restoring Syriac, cannot compete
> with such funding, so his new materials and republished materials end up
> quite expensive. I've heard estimates that Rosetta Stone cost upwards of
> $500,000 for a language. Someone needs to pay for such work.
>> (There's also the TLG, though its single-user
>> fee is pretty steep). But we still don't have a project (that I'm aware of)
>> to produce a rigorous NT lexicon in online form.
> when I mentioned a first century lexicon, I was not referring to another
> NT-limited dictionary, but a lexicon that would
> a. show the available vocabulary in the audiences of Luke and Paul,
> b. provide Eng--Grk access to that, and
> c. provide Grk-Grk.
> the last item might profitably be developed on an NT level for students
> to learn to appreciate its benefits, though it should then be extended
> to the whole "1c dictionary project".
> Anyway, in order to develop such tools, someone needs to pay for
> the infrastructure. Investing ten years of work and putting it on the
> web for free won't put bread, wine, and olive oil on the table. (Nor
> tacos, huevos rancheros, and cerveza, or any other cultural combo.)
>> I think what we tend to
>> lack is scholars who are willing to "give up" the perceived credibility of
>> print publications. My sense, though, is that we are near the tipping point
>> on this.
> Didn't understand this last idiom, I took it to mean 'watershed', the point
> where things start to run in another direction, affairs start to
> radically change.
> Randall
>> Randall Buth wrote:
>> Thayer ($18.21) is an excellent NT Greek resource
>>  at an excellent price.  BDAG ($115.35) is by far the
>>  most over-rated and over-priced resource discussed on this list.>
>> Your comparison actually points out that Thayer is very
>> considerably underpriced.
>> This is a result of our copyright laws. Because
>> Thayer is out of copyright, you are basically paying for the paper
>> and printing. For BDAG you are interacting with the true current
>> economy. This is creating a skewed market in many humanities
>> fields. A person can enter 80-90% into learning most areas for 'free'.
>> And then a person pays a real, full price for the remaining 20%,
>> which makes the remaining 20% feel 'overpriced' to the person
>> enjoying many reprints and downloads.
>> I don't know what to suggest about this new kind of pricing hurdle
>> that is being created at the 80%-90% level of any field. Where new
>> material is massive-numerous enough to approach the price of
>> reprints, things are fairly smooth like with some American textbooks,
>> but for specialized work the price gap can make the specialized
>> material even more specialized and rare. This skewing factor will
>> only grow and strengthen as the internet grows, where the
>> percentage of 'new' material in any field will shrink, causing the
>> perceived dollar value of remaining material to be even more
>> incongruous. The biggest danger that I see here is that in another
>> fifteen years market values will not support the research and
>> development of many new products in the humanities and these
>> will be in the hands of the governments, foundations, and 'endowed
>> establishments (running off of interest from previous generations)',
>> in an even greater role.
>> (Humanities have always been at the discretion of the 'lords/gentry'.)
>> On the other hand, the wider access to the bulk of the material
>> will allow an explosion of what might be termed hobby/amateur
>> repacking of that 90% of material in the public domain.  I'm sure
>> that James (Ernest) and James (Spinti) have been discussing these
>> things in-house (separate 'houses') for some time.
>> So things will get better at the beginning end
>> and economically tighter at the creative end.
>> Will the middle be low priced as an extension of the 'beginning', or
>> will it be high priced because of the economics of the 'end'. Or will
>> a gulf separate the middle towards the two ends, or will it grow
>> and smooth out and connect the two ends? The Thayer example
>> might suggest the 'gulf' model, leaving me to wonder who will fund
>> the unfettered 1st century dictionary that we need?
>> a. Greek-Eng (all available vocab for Koine 1st c BCE-2c CE)
>> b. Eng-Greek (covering all available vocab for K 1cBCE-2cCE)
>> c. Greek-Greek (covering all available vocab for K 1cBCE-2cCE) ?
>> [and with technology, maybe with triple audio, m-FOSFOROS,
>> k-FOSFOROS, 're'-FawSFOROS (but no FOSFARAS, Zondervan
>> will change]]
>> We are looking to the 'endowed'.
>> --
>> Randall Buth, PhD
>> www.biblicalulpan.org
>> randallbuth at gmail.com
>> Biblical Language Center
>> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
>> ---
>> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
>> B-Greek mailing list
>> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
>> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
>> --
>> Ian W. Scott
>> Associate Professor of New Testament
>> Tyndale Seminary
>> Toronto, Ontario, Canada
>> iscott at tyndale.ca
>> http://www.ian-w-scott.com
>> ===================================================
>> Paul's Way of Knowing: Story, Experience and the Spirit (WUNT II.206; Grand
>> Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008).
>> ===================================================
>> The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (Atlanta: SBL, 2006-). Online:
>> http://www.purl.org/net/ocp


Ian W. Scott

Associate Professor of New Testament

Tyndale Seminary

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

iscott at tyndale.ca <mailto:iscott at tyndale.ca>



/Paul's Way of Knowing: Story, Experience and the Spirit /(WUNT II.206; 
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008). 


/The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha/ (Atlanta: SBL, 2006-). Online: 

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